A couple decades ago the thought of creating a website seemed daunting to those unfamiliar. Whether someone owned a storefront, offered a service. And wanted to showcase their profile or writings online, the options were limited. Coding looked very intimidating and appeared as a foreign language. Early platforms that were put in place to build a website usually offered just a couple pre-set templates. It could not be customized to the person’s preferences. For instance, blog writing quickly gained popularity. Yet the standard interface made it difficult for stand out and visually express themselves. In the past, creating a unique website with specific tools and functionality, usually involved an expensive team of developers to handle the backend. They ensure the sites stayed up and running. Professional looking monetized websites or those that could showcase their product, therefore, were more seen as those from major companies like Gap or Nike.
However, the past decade has shown leaps and bounds in the ability for virtually anyone to design a website as they imagine. And moreover, create a professional looking or monetized site with very little to no coding experience nor expensive costs. This provides a great opportunity for small businesses expanding as anyone anywhere can buy and have products shipped or services completed. What makes this possible is the arrival of website creation platforms. Big names include Shopify, Woocommerce, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and WordPress. All these platforms have a multitude of templates or themes to choose from, in all different styles, including recommendations for different types of businesses or sites. These themes are either free or can be purchased. Once the user signs up for a plan, they can easily get started by selecting to upload one of these themes. While certain sections and colours are uploaded as well with the theme. The user can then access any colour palette or text font they wish. Images and content are also easily inputted with a simple drag and drop. If the user wants to create something more elaborate, such as a dynamic moving image or fades on their site, there is an option to enter code. The great quality of these platforms is the instant support, often via online chat. Where a tech support worker can assist with the coding aspect or any other features or questions.
For many small businesses that sell at local markets, these platforms also have payment devices such as Shopify card swipe or the Square Reader, to accept face to face card payments from customers. These devices can also sync with their online store to upload inventory, keep record of the orders, and also send the email their receipt by email. All this can be achieved by simply inserting the device in a smartphone or tablet. Also connecting to any device via Bluetooth. Shopify in particular has been a leader in identifying and offering the best way to offer e-commerce on mobile and portable devices. What is interesting is that their analysis has shown that it is not enough to simply make a site mobile friendly. But greater simplicity and basic functionality for easy checkouts is what drives sales. Therefore, Shopify has integrated these features in the overall design of their themes, codes, and templates. It is great for those new to e-commerce or web design as essentially Shopify has done all the research and leg work for their customers on what works best for online consumers and influences improved sales. It is not easy for smartphone consumers to navigate countless menus on a smaller screen. Usually, a quick straightforward streamline from landing page to product info, add to cart, and check out, guarantees less abandoned carts.
A mobile framework of this sort is something other companies place a lot of emphasis on. For instance, online mobile gaming is built specially for one handed controls and easy to understand gameplay. There are many online casino sites like Kong Casino that have made a mobile first approach to designing innovate slot games. While these online slots can be played on any devices, for smartphone there is a seamless integration that does not sacrifice quality, functionality, or enjoyment. Whether a mobile slot or on desktop, the standard grid is to spin 5 reels, 3 or 4 rows, a specific number of payways. And be rewarded with many chances to win real money. Just like website builder platforms offer a variety of styles that are suited to any user. These online slots come from many different themes and features so that players are never at a loss to find a new and fresh game. For example, ‘Great Rhino’ from Pragmatic Play takes players on a Safari adventure, Yggdrasil’s ‘Vikings Go Wild’ lets you join a Norse clan of warriors, and Blueprint’s comical ‘El Jackpotto’ features Mexican Luchador wrestlers as well as a fiesta of spicy food. All these slots are designed with easy to understand control and immersive visuals.
So what is the main challenge for those creating a website? Because it has become very simple to start a site, usually in just a handful of clicks, the web itself is flooded with online stores. Therefore, the key is to stand out not only in appearance and features but in google rankings. This is why SEO or Site Engine Optimization is essential as it utilizes keywords so that content rich websites appear higher in organic google search results. For instance, there can be hundreds of pizza shops in a certain radius that all appear when someone searches. Yet the first few results are more successful because they have focused on different variations of pizza related phrases or keywords (such as pepperoni or best pizza in Brooklyn); popular search keywords. Marketing, via ads or social media, is also extremely important but carefully worded SEO and a design gives an edge for certain businesses.
There are lots of exciting possibilities in the future of online shopping. One innovative advancement these platforms are integrating is creating mobile apps for online stores. So that customers can receive notification updates or even place orders. The great aspect of these improvements is that it can take many small businesses to another next level. That would have been extremely challenging to achieve beforehand.