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 Yahoo Storefront Design Tips - Part 1

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Sangeeta 80

Number of posts : 187
Age : 38
Registration date : 2008-03-28

PostSubject: Yahoo Storefront Design Tips - Part 1   Mon 7 Apr - 22:47

It's no surprise that Yahoo Merchant Solutions recently won the Small Business Computing reader's poll for best e-commerce platform. For new Internet merchants looking for an online store that's easy to launch, few platforms offer the simplicity and affordable price that the Yahoo solution does.

Yahoo's package offers newbie merchants Web hosting, domain registration, and a plethora of site building tools, all in one place. As soon as a merchant agrees to plunk down $39 a month (with higher fees for advanced versions), they have a template storefront, and they can set up a credit cart account with Paymentech, a Yahoo partner.

One moment you're a Web surfer, and presto 39 bucks later you're a storeowner.

But just having 39 bucks to blow doesn't make you a successful merchant. And just being one of the vast army of sellers who runs a templated storefront doesn't mean you'll make enough to retire to Tahiti.

To be truly successful, many Yahoo storeowners develop their store far beyond the basic template design. Not content with a cookie cutter layout, they jazz up and spruce up their site, adding design features to help enhance the shopper's experience and their own bottom line.

But how? What features do Yahoo merchants most commonly add to Yahoo's basic template to increase online sales?

Hiring a Helping Hand
In many cases, Yahoo merchants look for an outside designer to take their store to the next level. Enhancing the template takes technical expertise that many storeowners lack they're merchants, not techies.

There are so many Yahoo storeowners, and such large demand for enhanced Yahoo store design, that a community of Web designers who focus on Yahoo has grown up. Type "yahoo store design" into Google or, better yet, into Yahoo and you'll see a legion of design firms geared for merchants on the Yahoo platform. None of these firms are officially part of Yahoo, they merely re-design the company's default e-commerce platform.

These designers help Yahoo storeowners to improve both a store's aesthetics and its user interface. Their goal is to make the site of a small time operator look and perform as well as far larger operations, and so create greater trust among shoppers.

These designers often build mock-ups for merchants prior to launching the revamped storefront. The re-design process can take anywhere from a week to several weeks, and the merchant has plenty of decisions to make beforehand.

That's because a re-design job is typically a matter of choosing from a menu of options (listed below) and, of course, the more options, the more expensive the job.

One key fact about the Yahoo store: Yahoo's e-commerce platform is coded with a proprietary language called RTML, which outputs HTML. So hiring a Web design firm that doesn't work with this language won't produce optimal results.

What Does It Cost?
The question that many Yahoo merchants ask 'What should I expect to pay for a re-design?' is hard to answer. In fact, there are probably as many different prices as there are design firms that do the work.

One design firm told ECommerce Guide that its basic services range from $350 to $1,500, for which it provide improved templates. Its next tier starts at $3,000, which it calls its custom re-design, though it still contains some of Yahoo's templated features. For $6,500 this firm does a complete re-design, head to foot "You'd never know it was a Yahoo store," they claim.

Another re-design firm noted that its price varies widely based on what a customer wants, but the average price was $3,300 to 3,500, which includes full graphic design, a handful of additional features, and greatly enhanced SEO.

Still another Yahoo design firm said its full package is priced at $1,200, which includes several months of keeping an eye on the clients' sites to make sure their traffic is increasing after the makeover.

One president of a successful design firm noted that when other design firms charges $2,000 for a Yahoo makeover which he considers too cheap to be credible all they're really doing is uploading pre-designed templates. "It takes about 15 minutes, and they make $2,000 but they get away with it because other firms charge more."

Adding confusion, these prices can't be compared on an apples to apples basis: One designer's $3,000 deluxe job might be another designer's low-end quickie or both designers might fail to lift the store's design to a truly competitive level.

In short, to get a good deal, a merchant must do the legwork of talking with several designers, looking at their portfolio, and checking references and past customers to see if their prices appear to be a good deal.
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