Building an Ecommerce Website? | Where to Start?

There is a growing number of hosted services, Content Management Solution (CMS), and plugins available both free of charge and paid to establish your online store. If you have no coding skills but open to picking up some basics and need to either build a small store or assist a client in doing so, the recommended choices might include; WordPress with either integrating WooCommerce or Stripe plugins. 
Magento is another option that is among one of the most reliable platforms out there, but it is much harder to master and requires considerable technical knowledge to customize exactly to your preference. But make no mistake, it is very powerful and worth considering if you are scaling out or working on a large project.

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Alternatively, go for the very simple and easy to use fully hosted cloud-based solutions like Shopify or BigCommerce. These are increasingly popular and practically remove all barriers. Although it is worth you picking up some HTML/CSS to customize your store further. They are not without their drawbacks but for those who refuse to go anywhere near code and don’t have the resources to hire a good web developer, these are great options. Remember, you are effectively renting the site and never truly own the asset.    


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Firstly, decide what solution is best for you or your client, and either execute it yourself or hire someone who can. Remember all coding languages have their own specifications and limitations. Don’t rush the decision, instead, do your research to avoid wasting time and resources going down the wrong path. It is all too easy to overcomplicate things here. Sometimes a simple solution might suffice.

Database & Languages

When choosing a programming language you need to consider flexibility, Reliability, Scalability, and Database.

The database is what stores both the customer and transactional information required for customer care and inventory management. 

A good Database is crucial when managing multiple products and customer transactions. In general, if you have built your eCommerce store on any custom platform you most likely already have a database as standard.  If you are using, say WordPress with a WooCommerce plugin then that plugin uses both its own and WordPress database. WooCommerce stores order based customer data, including billing/shipping information as default, irrespective of whether the customer is a registered user or just a guest. Typically WordPress has fields to store both guests and registered user’s email and the time/date registered.  

Recommended Programming Languages for eCommerce Sites

Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento are considered some of the best solutions out there for any eCommerce site, but Magento is self-hosted and the one that would require a Magento developer to custom fully and unleash its full potential.

Below will look at some of the most popular programming languages for eCommerce sites across the globe.

PHP

Widely adopted cost-effective server-side language to create dynamic and interactive websites. Used heavily across the world by eCommerce web developers. Platforms like Magento use this and so does WordPress. It is a highly scalable language and suitable for functional-orientated or object-orientated format.


Out of the box options available, ideal for the non-developers using Content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Magento, Zen Cart which all can be customized and scaled to meet the needs of almost any eCommerce store. 


PHP has been around for a long time (1994), and is highly supported due to its popularity, rest assured, you can rely on the expansive community to overcome almost any challenges related to integration with other technologies or optimization.  

Ease of Learning: Relatively Easy but writing ‘clean’ code can take time. 

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Python

Python is a high-level language, relatively easy to learn, and very popular so comes with plenty of resources and library support for developers. It is perfect for building out large scale eCommerce websites and ideal for developers who wish to showcase their ideas immediately.
Python is the most popular language for machine learning and used extensively by the likes of major eCommerce players such as Amazon.

Full custom development using Python makes a great deal of sense if you are serious about building a large scale site to handle many thousands or millions of customers, and require specific or unique features which are not readily available elsewhere.      

Building a Python site from scratch might not be suitable for those with more modest aims and a limited budget. There are, however, off the shelf solutions, where you effectively rent a website that can be customized with a little CSS/HTML, but you never truly own the asset. These can still work out rather expensive long term, so consider carefully.

Ease of Learning rating: Beginner Friendly

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Java

Java is an object-oriented server-side language that is highly reliable or even considered the most reliable, used everywhere, supporting large-scale projects, and creating highly versatile eCommerce websites.  It is one of the most in-demand languages making it particularly ideal for job seekers.

Ease of Learning: Beginner-friendly, no previous coding experience necessary. 

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JavaScript

JavaScript is extremely prominent as a result of its performance and dynamic ability. It is likewise one of the few languages that are commonly approved and sustained by major web internet browsers. This language makes it possible to build interactive eCommerce internet options and also functions actively with CSS as well as HTML. It is a lightweight client-side object-oriented language, used for making responsive and interactive elements which vastly enhances user experience. If you intend to become a front-end programmer then it is required for you to learn JavaScript.

Ease of Learning: Beginner friendly and easy to learn basic concepts in just one day.

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Ruby & Ruby on Rails

A general-purpose object-oriented programming language and Ruby on Rails refers to the framework used to build web applications, Shopify being the most well-known user. Rails are not the programming language, it is the web framework which uses Ruby programming language.  There are a number of start-up eCommerce sites built using Ruby on Rails. The major reason behind its appeal is its versatility as well as efficiency in creating complicated sites. Dribble and  Airbnb are examples. 

If you require a highly customized eCommerce store with many options, can be built fast yet cost-effective then it might be a great option to use Ruby on Rails. 

Ease of Learning: Easy to learn if you are proficient with other languages.

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HTML

The HTML language assists you with styling the appearance and overall look of the site, messages, images, headings, links, page formats, and every other aspect of the website. This language is useful in creating a design and also a web framework. HTML is dynamic and enables you to build an attractive eCommerce site with very minimal coding. Numerous developers utilize HTML to develop their website. Think of it as a skeletal system that holds the webpages and also their working /functions together.


Ease of Learning: Very easy to learn. You do not need to have had any previous coding experience.

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In Summary

Understanding the various languages and frameworks out there is something both eCommerce entrepreneurs and those who work within the industry can benefit from.

It is getting easier to develop incredible eCommerce sites with impressive functionality and style that will engage your audience. This means it is getting easier for your competitors as well. We recommend staying in the loop and keeping up-to-date with emerging technologies.


When hiring a developer, it would do no harm to have at least some base knowledge of the relevant languages which will greatly help you communicate your requirements and vision to them.

Whether you intend to do a deep dive or just pick up the basics to make tweaks here and there, do check out some of our links to blogs reviewing some great courses. You might be pleasantly surprised by the amount of free content available which you will soon find a comprehensive navigation list and direct content within our upcoming training module.