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October 13th, 2009 at 00:36 am

What Web Software Should I Use?

What software should be used to develop a web site is a question gets asked at least once a month someplace in the various groups dedicated to Fiber/Needle Art professionals by those who make their art to sell, or self-publish instruction or teach and Retailers

Abiding by my new resolution to make an FAQ type entry for these type of questions (and with the clear understanding this ONLY WHEAT’s Opinion.

Please note: I am NOT looking for work, after more than two years of dealing with major illnesses; I also don’t have all that many extra pennies to rub together. Even so, I am not yet ready to again assume responsibility for any client – Although sitting around treatment places does give you a lot of time to think – Although once we get this the apps all working together, that (selling our services) will change.

Let’s me begin by saying the principle problem with *any* Microsoft product is, well you may know the old joke about “how many MS programmers to change a light bulb?” ” NONE, they just declare dark a new standard.” and that is just when you want it to work with Internet Exploder it boggles the mind what happens when something generated by an MS product is viewed in a non-MS app.

The absolutely critical difficulty with blindly recommending ANY software is that unless one has a feel for the PURPOSE it will be used for, you cannot make an intelligent suggestion.

Please let me make it clear that what works best for me and mine, may not be what you need, but a lot of thought and planning when into our choices, so for this discussion, while not the only options, ZenCart! is the one I know best.

The second step/recommendation I prefer to make is to get and read until your head stops hurting Liz Castro’s book Creating a Web Page with HTML

So what is an Artisan, Self-Publisher or Teacher of Fiber/Needle Artisan or Retailer to do?

It really does not matter if you are an individual artisan, or doing business as a wholesaler or even a retailer who does or does not wish to “sell on the web”.

FWIW – I think anyone who wants to build and/or maintain their own website needs to realize that there are at least THREE maybe FOUR Browsers you need to be sure the final product looks at least OKAY when viewed using those – FireFox, Opera, Safari and possibly Google’s Chrome and maybe others.

In addition, one needs to at least consider how/if it will display in Iphone and similar apps.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I think that ANYONE who sells at ANY Level, should at least consider using a Shopping Cart as their primary “vehicle”. There are several that are open source (free) and well supported by their individual community. In addition, there are a variety of add-in/mods

Personally I am a fan of ZenCart! but then I have invested a serious amount of time energy and effort over the last two years to it, others may have/make other choices depending on what they see as their short and long term needs.

Most open source programs also have reasonably priced add-in/mods that add IMNHO are essential – SEO, Store Location, Wish Listing, and other “would be nice” things. as well as those “paid” apps, ZenCart not only have many “free” even has a very well written (albeit not free) book available in both bound/printed and e-book formats.

I do NOT sell any of the paid mods, but I also do not regret having purchased them. They have made a positive difference – but then it usually takes us months if not weeks to make the buy decision.

Right now we have been building a variety of “test the app” sites and used some in at least one retail domain. We have seen dramatic increases in traffic and even better in orders. Although we do discount for trade professionals in the Retail account, because we do not offer all products for wholesale, so have only very limited “wholesale” customers using that site.

Within the next few weeks*, we expect to “finish” up (or so the two programmers have promised*) the development (nuts and bolts) although not the design (pretty stuff) for a wholesale showcase plus ordering for those eligible for wholesale accounts.

We think that this second site will be what those who restrict their sales to “wholesale to the trade” really need, a showcase for their products, a way to easily keep up to date and provide both a place for Retailers to place their orders, and obtain what they need to use your information for their retail sales – of course, the obligatory blog because that is what will probably continue to drive SEO for at least awhile yet.

For a designer, the way I think of the combination is that your landing page is your business card, your “store” even if it does not allow purchase, is your portfolio and your blog is the “job interview”.

although I have not mentioned much about WordPress in this note, I suppose if forced to make a blind recommendation, it would be reasonable to say that the combination of WordPress and ZenCart! – independently hosted should pretty much meet most of the needs of a Fiber/Needle Artisan.

Interestingly, as I have learned more about ZenCart! I am even seeing ways that, with thought, it can be used exclusively (read that no blog) but you will need to learn a bit of HTML.


Civil comments and questions are welcome on the blog – complimentary or not – so long as the write identifies themselves at least to me. (read that if the user does not have enough gumption to identify themselves to me, then I don’t publish the comment)

*Programmers do not think in the same time frames as the rest of us.
So what you need to do is move to the next unit of time, double it and then you may have a reasonable estimate of when it will really work – Thus, “a few weeks” would likely translate to “a few Month” which doubled, means in about 2 quarters.

  • 1

    Hi Wheat!

    I use WordPress and Paypal on my site. There are lots of good tutorials for using WordPress for a static web site as opposed to a blog.

    Any choice will require a lot of work and organization. The more organized the underlying structure the easier the site will be to maintain.

    Keep up the good work!


    Joann on October 13th, 2009


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