Clearly, a complete 1,000 page book could be written on how to maximize your chances for success on the web with your online business. This will just cover the basics in how it relates to using the OpenCart software. In a general way we will look at some of best practices out there that have been used and are continuing to be used as well as those things to shy away from.
Opencart can be used for many genres of online commerce, not just as shopping cart. Its MVC-L is very light weight and flexible and can be scaled up or down and/or customized to fit any platform or idea. However, the majority of people that download Opencart are using it for a shopping cart in effort to sell goods whether virtual/digital or physical.
A DO/DONT LIST
1-Purchase good Web Hosting
Don’t even sacrifice performance for budget. Find a way to purchase a good web host for your Opencart store. This will be home to all of your customers. You want to be able to offer the best possible end-user experience while visiting your website so purchase a hosting package that will suit your needs. Many factors can be involved but the truth is the more traffic you get and the more files you store the more you will have need to upgrade from Shared Hosting to VPS/Dedicated. Some just start off with a VPS/Dedicated but others can’t afford it right off the bat. There is a great Opencart Article I wrote on the differences between web hosting types and which would be best for your needs http://forum.opencart.com/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=67805
By far the most Opencart Compatible Web hosting out there is by Arvixe so we recommend you start your search there: http://www.arvixe.com/
2-Have a good marketing plan
Even if you just plan on standing on the street corner passing out fliers, this is still a plan. Have in mind what you will do to promote your company once the website is launched. This can be done in many ways from hiring a separate SEO FIRM to doing it all yourself. There are basics in SEO that must be covered before you can expect to rise the ranks in GOOGLE and only after those basics are covered should you consider spending money on a 3rd party SEO Solution. Get the word out, but not too prematurely.
NEVER CALL GOOGLE BOT TO YOUR WEBSITE UNTIL IT IS READY TO BE INDEXED.
Make sure to always use the <meta tg=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow”> if your domain is live on the web. You don’t want Google indexing content that will confuse people and/or get you in a position you don’t want to be in in terms of rank.
NEVER USE ROBOTS.TXT TO TURN AWAY ALL ROBOTS
If you tell Google bot that it is forbidden to crawl your entire website it may take MONTHS for the bot to return. I have experience in this area. Only use the Meta Tag I mentioned above. Keep the BOT coming back but just tell it not to index or follow.
3-Make your website visually appealing and easy to navigate
Yes, don’t post an ugly website. If you are not a graphics designer, don’t try to be. Find help, or find a template on Opencart.com that fits your needs. The Opencart shop is already set up for smooth navigation so not much needs to be done in this area however you may need customizations done. People tend to start messing around with the code base and the front end design and before long their website is no longer SIMPLE and easy to navigate, but now complicated and bloated with too many extensions. Keep it simple, and light. Use APPLE.COM as an example of how to keep it simple and light.
Other tid bits:
- Don’t use more than 3 types of fonts on your website at a time. Keep things consistent and underwhelming.
- Don’t use bright colors on dark backgrounds unless they truly are compatible. You don’t want to go blinding people do you?
Just a few of the many ideas that have been discussed over the years on how to cover the basics when deciding to venture out on the web with your first company.