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What are the major elements that goes into making a good website? What do all t-shirt site need to be a success?

I was wondering what I need to put into my page. Links, taps, images, banners, ect. Can someone help me with this :confused:
 

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Buechee said:
What do all t-shirt site need to be a success?
T-shirts! :)

Sometimes when people come to build their website they forget what the site is for. It's there to sell t-shirts - that's what it needs to communicate. To do that you need to make sure the shirts are visible as soon as possible (i.e. don't hide them away), make it clear they're for sale, what the prices are, good images that show how good they look so people want to buy them, etc.

There are lots of different ways you can go about that, but you want to keep it focused and simple. Don't distract people with needless clutter... it's all about the t-shirts.
 

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(why do I now have visions of neon signs, pointing enormous giant arrows at a lone t-shirt in the centre of the page? okay... it's all about the t-shirts, but also subtlety :))
 

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Major elements imo are:

1) Simplicity -- The user should be able to figure out what you are selling within the first 5 seconds that they visit your site. Avoid flashy animations and advertisements unless you know how to effectively use them.

2) Navigation -- Your navigation needs to be user friendly and efficient. Also, an organized site map, with a hierarchy of where your links go (parent-child linkage for seo)

3) Consistency -- Throughout your pages, you should be using same layout techniques and design....which is great and easy if you use CSS.

4) Security info -- You need to make sure that you have a professional layout and reassure the customer that the site is secure. Having a crappy design and no contact info will make a lot of customers think that you are a two bit operation....and if you are a two bit operation, then play the part of a big timer.

5) Like solmu said, Make sure you customers know that you are selling t-shirts the moment they get to your site. Don't clutter it with text or other unnecessary garbage. Pictures speak a thousand words, visually speak to your customer instead of making them read a lot.

6) Backend structure -- Make sure you site is compatible across platforms and check all resolutions. Also, you need to be aware of your doctype and meta tags for seo as well. I don't know much about seo, but it should be one of your top priorities imo. A good website is one that looks good on the front end, but also has a smart backend.

Thats my 2 cents. Hope it helps
 

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This might help to...what I do for all of my web projects as well as print projects is start off the project by "wireframing" the design. What this means, is that I rough draw my layout concepts, and critique it from there.

Then I build the first couple pages in photoshop (usually the splash page, home page, and one other), just to see how the pages synergize to my intended goal.

After that, I send it a friend to critique, since I always have trouble critiquing my own designs. I sometimes post my design on web forums as well, to get a professional's point of view. Once I am happy, then I go on building the structure of the site design.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the help. Does anyone else have something they would like to add to help me out. The more, the better.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
These are all good points, but I mean what things such as shopping cart, CC processing, Contact info, ect.
 

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Buechee said:
These are all good points, but I mean what things such as shopping cart, CC processing, Contact info, ect.
If you are looking for a good shopping cart, check out an open source shopping cart called zencart. OSCommerce is another open source shopping cart that works well. You can google them to find them. They are free and pretty simple to install if you know the basics to the backend of a website. They also can be setup to take credit cards or go through paypal. Unless you have a good flow of business, I would recommend doing a paypal shopping cart because it doesn't cost you anything to setup and run, paypal will only charge if the person pays with a credit card and its a small fee. If you want to take credit cards directly, you will need to get a secure certificate (encrypts the website so personal information cannot be stolen) which adds to hosting fees and you have to pay somewhere close to 50 dollars a month for the ability to accept credit cards. It can get pricey.

As far as design elements go....make your website simple! Also, when people read websites, they will tend to read it diagonally. When a person reads a book they go from left to right, when people read a website, they tend to jump from the left and down to the right and then down the left and then down the right and so on....whether or not they know they are doing it. Color scheme is another factor, having colors that go well together help and can set make your website have an appeal in the viewers head before they even read anything. Make sure your shirt images are good quality and can be enlarged so people can actually see the designs....most people are hesitant to buy online because of the uncertainty of what they are getting, elimnate that uncertainty by giving them a big picture of what they are buying. I am trying to remember what else I learned in my webdesign classes, but it was awhile ago, I am sure I will remember some more. If you have anymore questions, please feel free to ask.
 

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I'm sure Rodney would agree with this one. I think that cubecart is one of the best free shopping carts out there at the moment. I prefer it over zencart. You should look into both (or oscommerce if you see it fit). Every person has their own preference, but there is a lot of good feedback on the cubecart.
 

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dub3325 said:
I'm sure Rodney would agree with this one. I think that cubecart is one of the best free shopping carts out there at the moment. I prefer it over zencart. You should look into both (or oscommerce if you see it fit). Every person has their own preference, but there is a lot of good feedback on the cubecart.
I haven't heard of cubecart but I will have to check it out. Thanks
 

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but I mean what things such as shopping cart, CC processing, Contact info, ect.
All that info is in the link that Phil posted :)

Here's another great topic with answers:
http://www.t-shirtforums.com/showthread.php?t=1916


I'm sure Rodney would agree with this one. I think that cubecart is one of the best free shopping carts out there at the moment. I prefer it over zencart.
I definitely agree. If I was starting a new t-shirt ecommerce store, I would use cubecart without hesitation.
 

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Buechee said:
I mean what things such as shopping cart, CC processing, Contact info, ect.
Those are all good :)

Also a faq, returns policy, privacy policy (I feel those are a waste of time, but they're becoming standard), shipping prices, size chart, etc.

Just check out competitors stores to make sure you haven't let any of it slip through the cracks.
 

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and then, once you get it just where you think it's perfect, step back and ask yourself, "what can i take away from this design and still have it work?"

you'd be surprised at how many things that you loved about the design are really meaningless to someone who wants to buy your product.
 

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Is this site sponsered by a sell-through program, because it's Cubecart review seems a little over-brutal.
I'm guessing that review was written a long time ago. CubeCart has great documentation, good support via the forums, good userbase with 3rd party addons and lots of features right of the box that I had to pay extra for on my fancy shopsite cart.

I have a feeling that there might be some "angle" to writing a bad review like that. It's pretty inaccurate, so I'm guessing it is done on purpose and for a reason (which is weird since cubecart has an affiliate program which they don't seem to be linking to)
 

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Rodney said:
I have a feeling that there might be some "angle" to writing a bad review like that. It's pretty inaccurate, so I'm guessing it is done on purpose and for a reason (which is weird since cubecart has an affiliate program which they don't seem to be linking to)
I thought a similar thing when I read it. Perhaps their affiliate program isn't as good as the next guys? :)
 

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Any *independant* reviews of the three main free (or freeish) packages out there? We were planning to launch with pretty pricey software, but I'd like to see some good solid info on the quality of the freebies, seeing as you all seem to be raging about them.
 

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I haven't seen any good "independent" reviews of all three.

I've used all 3 of the freeish ones and couple of the top ones listed on that topnetreviews site (including their #1 pick), and all I can say is that if I was starting over right now, I'd pick cubecart.

Of course, everyone will have their own preferences and needs when it comes to a shopping cart solution.
 

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I'm not thrilled with OsCommerce, but I think ZenCart as an alternative is seriously overrated.

If I was starting again I'd take a look at CubeCart, but I'd be seriously considering getting something programmed from the ground up.
 
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