This guide has been created to assist those who have had no prior experience in managing a web site and want to spend as little money as possible doing it.
2. SELECTING A DOMAIN NAME
You may already own a domain name, but if you don't, please be sure the desired name is available and buy it. See Resources for good, very low-cost sellers. The name will put in the header graphic of your site. You can "park" your domain on the seller's site for free indefinitely, or until you choose a web host.
Your new name will not "resolve" right away, as it will take from 12 hours up to 7 days for "propagation" throughout the internet, though it will probably take only 15 hours to two days. Once it resolves, you will be able to type its URL in your browser and be taken to the "coming soon" page displayed by your domain name seller's servers. You don't have to wait for the name to propagate, however, to point the domain to your new web host's servers.
3. SELECTING A WEB HOST
Please see Resources for good, very low-cost web hosts that offer CPanel, then sign up for an account. These hosts offer plans that cost in the range of 80 cents to 4 dollars a month.
Site Set-Up Information Requirements: When you sign up with a host, you will immediately be emailed general and specific information regarding your hosting account. Look for the following information in the email you receive:
- your web host's name server IP addresses
- your log in and password
- your web site's IP address
(a) Your web host's name server IP addresses will be formatted in either letters or numbers and will look like this:
- ns1.xxxxxx.com, ns2.xxxxxx.com, or
- ns22.214.171.124.0, ns126.96.36.199.0
There may be one to three numbers between the dots. Also, the nameserver numbers, (i.e., ns1 and ns2) may be higher numbers than 1 or 2.
Your web host's name server IP addresses will be where your domain name will be pointed to from your domain name seller's servers. Basically, this operation is performed by logging into the account at the domain name seller's website, choosing "name servers", or "DNS" from the pull-down menu, then removing the domain seller's IP addresses and typing in the web host's IP addresses in the format that was just removed (either text or numbers), clicking "Update", then logging off. It takes from 12 hours up to 7 days for "propagation" throughout the internet, but will probably take only 15 hours to two days.
(b) Your log in and password will give you access to your email accounts, your CPanel and your site's FTP server. Your CPanel enables site management, such as adding and deleting email accounts, site backup, file upload and download, web analytics (your hits and where they come from), instant message board installation, file protection and much more. Your password will be randomly generated and hard to remember, so change it to something you can remember as soon as you get a chance.
You will probably want at least two email accounts for your site: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, or maybe email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. These are easily set up in CPanel.
With your FTP (file transfer protocol) account, files can be uploaded and downloaded, too, permissions can be set, and more with the use of an FTP client that your host will recommend in his email.
(c) Your web site's IP address (different than your web host's name servers discussed above) will look like this, with one to three numbers between each dot:
There may be one to three numbers between the dots.
While waiting for propagation, your web space, CPanel can be accessed with the site's IP address in these ways:
- Your site: http://0.0.0.0
- Your CPanel: http://0.0.0.0/~your_login/cpanel
Your FTP can be accessed with your site's IP address, rather than the URL, in an FTP client.
4. TAKING CREDIT CARDS AND OTHER FORMS OF PAYMENT
Please review the FAQ section regarding an explanation of accepting credit cards on the internet, as well as the pros and cons for each type of merchant account and payment processor. We have chosen 2CheckOut and PayPal to work with. They are both third party payment processors, which means a merchant account isn't necessary, as you basically will be using their merchant accounts. They were chosen because they are compatible with the shopping cart, have no monthly fees attached to them and have low per transaction rates. There are numerous fixed monthly fees involved in having your own merchant account, whether you sell anything, or not. There is no set-up fee for PayPal and a $49 set-up fee for 2CheckOut, which is much lower than merchant account set-up charges. You can review their websites for the details of their services:
There is one thing you should know about PayPal, though. You must have had a regular PayPal account for 90 days before you can convert it to a business account, which you will need to take credit cards. It is quite easy to convert, though.
5. HOW TO PURCHASE YOUR SITE
Just put your selection, or selections in the shopping cart, view the cart, then check out. You will be returned to a Site Specification Form to complete, giving infomation needed to customize and set up your site, then submit the form. You can do this at a latter time, if you don't have all the necessary information at hand. Once the form is received, you will receive an acknowledgement and an indication of when you can expect your site to be ready.
6. USING THE CART ADMINISTRATION PANEL
Directions on how to upload your product photos to the cart Administraion Panel and how to type product descriptions into the Administration Panel are given on the web site of the shopping cart developer, Agora, at:
9. PRODUCT PHOTO RESIZING
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