The following sites and downloads are all great resources which are offered for free, or very minimal charge, to help you get online quickly and effectively. Check back often for updates as more are discovered, and for expanded critiques of their functionality and use.
There are many versions of shopping carts available to help you sell directly from your own website. See the e-commerce page for more information on shopping carts. After trialling several versions of commercial shopping carts, I decided to focus on hosted carts for their mixture of features, usability and affordability.
From there, I trialled the major hosted carts, and determined that 3dcart offered the best value for money of the major providers. After signing up my first couple of sites, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they also provide excellent customer service, and I’m pleased to have partnered with 3dcart as the major tool for enabling direct online sales.
The world’s largest online marketplace for trading goods online. eBay started out as primarily a way for individuals to sell second hand goods, but has since developed into a major channel for professional sellers, and this is where most of its growth is coming from.
in 2010 eBay announced its top 2,000 sellers in Australia recorded revenue growth of 38% during 2010, with the most successful merchant turning over $12 million. The smallest member of the group of 2000 had sales of $120,000, while the largest had sales of $12.6 million.
eBay now offers a powerful range of sophisticated selling tools for its professional stores, and a comprehensive eBay strategy is vital to anyone seriously planning to sell goods online.
PayPal is a global electronic payments provider (subsidiary of eBay) which has helped facilitate the growth of online sales, by simplifying the process for both sellers (merchants) and buyers (customers) and also offers buyer protection systems which instil trust into the online sales process.
In the last six months of 2010, 500,000 Australian customers signed up with a PayPal account – the number of transactions of merchants accepting PayPal is growing at an annual rate of 19%.
WordPress is an open source (meaning free) website software tool, which started as primarily a blogging tool and has rapidly grown to become the most popular choice for websites on the planet. This site is powered by WordPress! Read the following blurb taken from their wiki entry:
“WordPress is an open source blogging tool and publishing platform powered by PHP and MySQL. It is often customized into a content management system (CMS). It has many features including a plug-in architecture and a template system. WordPress is used by over 14.7% of Alexa Internet‘s “top 1 million” websites and as of August 2011 powers 22% of all new websites. WordPress is currently the most popular CMS in use on the Internet.
It was first released on May 27, 2003, by Matt Mullenweg as a fork of b2/cafelog. As of February 2011, version 3.0 had been downloaded over 32.5 million times.”
There is also a commercial offshoot of WordPress from the same people that created the original software. They host the software for you for free on their own servers (which is an amazing deal!) but do restrict some of the functionality, like php editing and plug-ins, and don’t allow you to run advertising from the site. For simple websites though, it’s a great place to start:
The following link explains the main differences between the 2 versions:
Joomla is another open source web software platform, second in popularity to WordPress for new websites. It’s a great example of what’s known as a Content Management System (CMS) that’s hosted on a remote server and allows users to easily update their website’s content from any internet connected computer.
Traditional websites are built on the designer’s computer, then uploaded to their host server, and any changes must be made by the designer and then uploaded the same way. CMS systems allow users to bypass the designer and create or modify their own content, saving both time and cost.
Users still need a basic understanding of web development, of course, so often these sites are built by designers, and users modify content they feel comfortable changing on their own.
Joomla is a more complex system than WordPress, offering more features and functionality, but obviously needing more time and skill to operate. From their wiki entry:
“Joomla had been downloaded 23 million times. Between March 2007 and February 2011 there had been more than 21 million downloads.There are over 7,400 free and commercial extensions available from the official Joomla! Extension Directory and more available from other sources.”
Drupal is another open Content Management System (CMS), third in popularity to WordPress for new websites. It’s similar to Joomla, but more complex again for end users. It’s more geared to web developers, offering a more sophisticated potential site, but is the least end-user friendly of the 3.
The following link explains the differences between the 3 platforms:
- Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is Google’s free service for webmasters. See your site as Google sees it, find out any problems they had crawling your site, and share info with them that will help improve your site’s visibility in Google’s search results.
- Google SEO Guide
Google’s own guide for getting your website found online by their search engine. Download here:
An Australian Government web portal with a variety of information and resources for helping organisations or individuals develop an effective online presence.
A powerful free tool for tracking visitor activity to your website.