E-commerce made easy

Thinking about getting into Internet commerce? How do you tap into this growing marketplace?

Consider that of the e-commerce sites that succeed, there are two types:

1. The marketing site, an offshoot of a “real-life” company’s marketing program. This type provides added product or company information. It usually pushes visitors to contact the company, either by phone or by signing up for an e-mail list.

2. The selling site, an online store. Selling sites need:
• A catalog with product details (images, benefits, specifications, prices).
• A secure shopping cart system to accept payments and track orders. It should allow customers to view their carts, continue shopping or check out. We provide the Cart32 online shopping cart because of its customization, flexibilty and numerous features.
• A credit card processing service or a system to take phone orders.
• Company and product details to instill customer confidence.

Most online merchants use a credit card processing service such as Authorize.net that charges a monthly fee. If your business isn’t large enough to warrant such an expense, you may accept checks or money orders, or use an online service like PayPal. For a small fee per transaction, PayPal collects check or credit card payments and then transfers the funds to your bank account.

For a selling site to succeed, you must promote it both on and off the Web. Optimizing your pages and registering with the few major search engines is the cheapest way to go. But may get better results with:

• Traditional marketing and PR.
• Direct marketing by mail or by e-mail.
• Trading links with other Web sites.
• Pay-per-click advertising on search engines.

I have used the Google AdWords pay-per-click program. So far, the clicks have resulted in enough client inquiries to make the expense worthwhile.

Because my field is highly competitive, I thought a print advertising campaign might be more effective for my company. So I added a toll-free phone line with a listing in the Yellow Pages. I still receive enough inquiries to justify the cost although these days, most people search online rather than in the phone book.

Like me, most e-commerce enterprises experiment to find out which marketing efforts work best.

Once you get visitors to your site, make sure you provide an environment that’s easy for them to navigate — and eventually buy. Customers should be able to find the products they want in just a few clicks. If they have to go through many levels or menus, they may just click right off your site.

An e-commerce hosting setup with shopping cart can cost as little as $18 per month. Contact Sheer Web Design at 856-881-6000 to find the best plan for your business.

How do I send out a press release?

Publicity is free, and great when you can get it! Sending a press release to editors of newspapers and other media is the best way to begin. Start small with local papers and build your presence up from there. (See Sample Press Release at bottom)

If you’re persistent, you’ll soon get calls for interviews. After one news outlet publishes a story about you, other media will likely jump on the bandwagon.

To start, search for and make a list of all the publications (magazines, newspapers, etc.) and on-air media (radio and television stations) you want to contact. Most media outlets have a link you can click to send your press release. It helps to call each one to confirm the best editor/department to send your information to and the deadline.

You can also use press release submission websites such as:

To give you an idea of what a press release should look like, I’ve included one below that I sent out for an organization. Here are tips to write your own:

The press release itself should be straightforward. PR Log has some excellent tutorials to make sure your notice is in the proper form.

  • Start with the Headline. Something short and snappy to grab attention.
  • Next is the Summary. It should provide essential information to the media: the who, what, where, when and why. Boring? Yes, but just present those five facts, and you can add more colorful stuff afterwards. When editors see the needed info front and center, they’ll get a good impression and will be more likely to read further.
  • Body
  • Dateline: The release date and city.
  • Introduction: The first paragraph can contain the summary info in greater detail.
  • Details: Further explanation, background history or other info that further explains the intro paragraph. Here’s where you can add personal details that will make the story more interesting, such as the hardships you faced in running your business, community organizations you’re active in, or where you’re located. What makes you or your organization unique?
  • About: Background info on the company or organization.
  • Contact: Name, phone number, e-mail address, mailing address for the contact person. The e-mail address should be the same as the organization e-mail; e.g. for the organization “Jerseyiris.org,” ther contact should be “Someone@Jerseyiris.org.”

Many outlets will post your article verbatim.  So give them the plain facts and just enough extra to stoke people’s curiosity.

After you submit your press release, follow up with a phone call if possible, to confirm that the recipients got your release and to ask if they have any questions.

Here’s a sample release. This group got numerous newspaper calendar listings and some mentions on radio and TV.

Colorful Iris Flower Show Coming to Medford

The Garden State Iris Society presents a free Medians Iris Show on Saturday, May 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Medford Leas Community Center, Route 70, Medford, N.J.


April 23, 2018, Medford, N.J. — The Garden State Iris Society invites everyone to stop and smell the flowers at the Mostly Medians Iris Show on Saturday, May 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Medford Leas Community Center, Route 70, Medford, N.J. The show is free and open to the public.

Anyone, including non-members, may enter. If interested in exhibiting, please see the GSIS Web site for details on the rules and show schedule at: http://www.jerseyiris.org

This early-season show will feature colorful median iris such as small dwarf bearded, intermediate bearded, miniature tall bearded and border bearded. Plus, the blooms of everyone’s favorite — tall bearded iris — will be on display in numerous hues and patterns.

Photo opportunity: The garden of GSIS member and hybridizer, Mary Smith, is in bloom at 25 Maple Road, Southampton. Mary grows numerous varieties of iris as well as other flowers. Call (609) XXX-XXXX for information.

About The Garden State Iris Society

The Garden State Iris Society is a club for New Jersey gardeners, growers and lovers of garden irises. Part of the American Iris Society Region comprising New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, the group has active hybrididizers who have introduced new flower colors and designs throughout the world. For more info, see: http://www.jerseyiris.org

Contact: Reesa Marchetti, (856) XXX-XXXX

How does a website stay on the Internet?

Sheer Web HostIn order to appear on the Internet, your website files must be uploaded to a hosting server, and the server’s Internet address must be linked with your domain name. Sheer Web takes care of all these details for you.

Our Sheer Web Host servers are on 24 hours a day with high reliability and Web site speed, keeping your website alive. Free services include e-mail boxes @yourdomainname.com, site statistics, MySQL databases, backups and more.

Summary of Sheer Web Host rates:

Unix & Windows Hosting plans: 5,000+ MB disk space, unlimited domains, multimedia/database support, $109 year.

Windows & Linux Cart 32 E-commerce Hosting, 5,000+ MB disk space, unlimited domains, database, $175 year.

In addition, we offer specialty services such as dedicated and virtual private servers, and Cold Fusion hosting.

Click for more info.

How does search engine optimization work?

Search engine optimization, more than just a  buzzword, is here to stay. You want your site to show up at the top of the listings when a Web visitor searches for keywords, but how do you get there?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer — and no guarantee that you’ll stay No. 1 once you get to the top. That’s because search engines frequently change their criteria for ranking pages. For this reason, Sheer Web Design tracks the standards the major search engines consider when ranking pages. After we make sure a website has the best content and metatags in the page code, only then do we submit it to the search engines. Basic SEO service, also known as digital marketing, is included free with every web design project we handle.

White Hat digital marketing will naturally increase your website’s search engine results position. What does White Hat mean? Search engine ranking that comes from our well-written, solid, keyword-rich content — rather than payment or trickery. We don’t use boilerplate text. Instead, we work closely with you to create personalized content that represents you and your company.

Submitting a website to the search engines is an important step, but submitting too often can actually lower your rankings. And you should never submit before your pages are ready for the scrutiny to follow.

So what should you do? You can make some basic changes that will improve your impact — on site visitors as well as search engines — no matter how the search criteria change.

Start at the top of your home page and follow this guide to improve your page:

Title Bar: The bar at the top of the browser window that displays your page should contain between 50 to 70 characters including keywords and your company name.

Make sure the title bar is different on each page. Some search engine experts recommend that on inner pages, you put your company name after the title. Example: “Multivitamins: Joe’s Drug Store”

Metatags (keywords hidden in your page code) are not the ultimate solution to search engine rankings. Many engines ignore them completely. Use metatags only to reflect the text that is actually on the page.

Content: Search engines read words, not graphics. So concentrate on that text. The ideal home page contains about 450 words. Include your most important keywords, the ones potential customers would use in a search to find you. Put these words in your headings and repeat them as often as possible (without being obnoxious to your human visitors).

Images: Be sure every graphic you use contains an “ALT” tag that describes what the image shows. This wording will appear before the actual images load so that search engines and visually-impaired visitors can read it.

Incoming Links: Most search engines raise the ranking for sites that have incoming links. These links should be from high-quality, related sites. To see how many incoming links your site has, search for “link:yoursite.com”.

If you don’t have many, consider starting a link-building campaign. Seek out non-competing sites in your industry and ask them to exchange links with your site.

Site Map: Good for visitors and search engines, too!

Other than paid or sponsored search engine listings, there’s no way to guarantee top page rankings for all your keywords. But improving your page content is a great way to start, and it will benefit your marketing efforts in many ways.

Invite search engines in your ‘back door’

Here’s another way to draw search engines and visitors to your site: invite them in the back door with information pages. Don’t just submit your home page to search engines. Submit these secondary pages, too.

Information pages contain plain facts — without sales pitches — on a particular subject. They give you the chance to show yourself off as an expert while giving visitors essentials they won’t find elsewhere.

Once they see your know-how and skill at work, they’re more likely to buy your products or services.

To create a good information page:

1. Be brief. Discuss only one subject per page. It’s better to create several shorter pages than one long page that takes a long time to load.

2. Don’t try to sell anything here. You can mention your product, but only in passing. Try explaining the topic, the problem and a solution. You can say your product or service helps to solve the problem, but link to a sales page to fully promote your product.

3. Avoid jargon: Try not to use complex, industry-specific terms unless you’re sure your audience will understand them. If you must use words your visitors aren’t familiar with, explain them in a separate FAQ (frequently asked questions) or glossary page.

Submit each information page separately. Within a few months, you should see a new group of potential customers finding your site.

Pay-per-click for my website?

The only way to guarantee top search engine rankings for your keywords is paid advertising. Google, Bing and Yahoo all offer pay-per-click (PPC) programs that will certainly draw more attention to your site.

But you must carefully analyze and target your keywords before creating a pay-per-click ad. If not, you’ll get clicks from people who are not qualified customers. And you’ll pay for these non-productive clicks.

I have tried PPC programs, and I’m still working on refining my keywords. At first, about half the paid clicks to my site were from people trying to sell me something instead of buying services from me. So I added “negative keywords” (keywords from visitors I don’t want to click to my site) such as “free web design,” “help wanted” and “cheap web design.”

Google, Bing and Yahoo give you ROI (return on investment) calculators to figure if the “good” clicks bring in enough money to make up for the non-productive clicks.

PPC programs let you bid, according to a budget you set, for top search engine placement on your keywords.

You decide the price you’re willing to pay for each person who clicks on your listing. You don’t pay for impressions (as with banner ads) where a person sees your ad but doesn’t click on it. You pay only for those interested enough to actually click through to your site.

You choose a maximum, from as low as 5 cents USD per click. In addition, you set a daily budget you don’t want to go over. You get a three-line ad linked to your website. It appears in the right column or at the top, marked in color as an ad, when someone searches for your keywords.

You can change the ad yourself as often as you wish. That’s a good thing because you’ll soon see which words get the most effective clicks, and you’ll likely want to experiment with your ad text.

In my experience, the serach engine companies do a fine job of tracking the clicks and getting your ads to appear.

I recommend you try it for a few months to see what works for you.

Just let me know if you want to try a pay-per-click program for your business.

Should I copyright my work?

This information provided by U.S. Copyright Office.

Do I have to register with your office to be protected?

No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration.”

Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?

Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration” and Circular 38b, Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.

What does copyright protect?

Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “What Works Are Protected.”

How is a copyright different from a patent or a trademark?

Copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. Ideas and discoveries are not protected by the copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be. A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others.

When is my work protected?

Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it?

The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.

Is my copyright good in other countries?

The United States has copyright relations with most countries throughout the world, and as a result of these agreements, we honor each other’s citizens’ copyrights. However, the United States does not have such copyright relationships with every country. For a listing of countries and the nature of their copyright relations with the United States, see Circular 38a, International Copyright Relations of the United States.

Should I register my trademark?

From the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

Is registration of my mark required?
No. You can establish rights in a mark based on legitimate use of the mark. However, owning a federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides several advantages, e.g.,

  • constructive notice to the public of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the mark;
  • a legal presumption of the registrant’s ownership of the mark and the registrant’s exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration;
  • the ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;
  • the use of the U.S registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries; and
  • the ability to file the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.

When can I use the trademark symbols TM, SM and ®?

Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the “TM” (trademark) or “SM” (service mark) designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO.

However, you may use the federal registration symbol “®” only after the USPTO actually registers a mark , and not while an application is pending. Also, you may use the registration symbol with the mark only on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the federal trademark registration.

Web copy that works

Direct Dialogue = Web Copy That Works.

To create effective Web copy, talk directly to your site visitors as if they were sitting across the room from you. Tell potential clients what you can do for them. The word “you” should appear frequently throughout your pages.

Use short, hard-hitting sentences in brief, two- to three-sentence paragraphs. Bulleted lists are excellent: they lead the eye down your page. And sentence fragments? Formal grammar may so no, but on the Web they’re OK — as long as they help make your point.

  • Write as if you’re talking to someone.
  • Use contractions (“where’s” instead of “where is”).
  • Be informal.
  • Use simple words. If a one- or two-syllable expression works, why use a longer one?

After you’re finished, read through the text and trim all unnecessary words. Web copy should be roughly half as long as a print version on the same topic.

Tell potential customers how your product or service will benefit them. For example, don’t just say, “Our syrup contains natural chocolate and sugar.” Try this: “Your recipes will win raves from your friends when you add our syrup with its natural chocolate and sugar.”

Keep your most important copy on the first half of the page (“above the fold” in newspaper lingo). Many readers won’t scroll down, and they may miss text on the bottom of your page.

Use your spell checker, but for the final analysis, read the page out loud to yourself. Does it sound like you’re really talking to someone, or is it stiff and formal?

Insert images that help to make the content more understandable.

Now that we’re clear, let’s write short, snappy copy that sells!

What is a bookmark icon?

faviconA bookmark icon, also known as a shortcut icon, Web site icon, URL icon, tab icon or favicon, is a miniature image associated with a website. It may be a smaller version of the logo, a portion of the logo, initials, or a representative icon.

When someone visits your website, it appears in the browser address bar. It also shows in the visitor browser tab and bookmark list.

The icon adds a touch of professionalism and class to your website, as well as instant recognition when a user has multiple browser tabs open.

bookmark icon example


What is responsive design?

responsiveBecause mobile Internet usage just keeps growing, it’s important that your website be mobile friendly. And with responsive design, you have a site that looks and works well on just about any screen size.

How does responsive design work?

We build responsive websites so that the framework, and all content and media, adapt to display on different devices. When a user views the site on their desktop, they get the full view. But users visiting the same site from a smartphone or tablet will see the site has resized and shifted to fit on a smaller screen.

With a responsive website design, you needn’t worry about having different websites for various devices or making sure that your site runs properly on a mobile device.

View Sheer Web Design’s client portfolio to get ideas for your website.

In addition to responsive design, bookmark icons as well as search engine optimization are included in most of our packages. We also can provide you with a logo, stationery to match, and QR codes.

Want social networking links such as Facebook or Twitter on your website? Sheer Web Design will get you started.

Our website design coordinates with your marketing and promotion efforts. Most of our web design clients see their business increase as a result.

Call 856-881-6000 or Click for a free consultation to start your website design.

What’s a Domain Name and how do I get one?

You must own a domain name in order to have a website. The domain name is your address (URL) on the Internet.

If Sheer Web is designing your website, we’ll be happy to assist you through the process of registering a domain name.

First, decide on a name and some alternatives in case the one you want isn’t available. Avoid hyphens, numerals or letters that people can easily mistype. Special characters such as ‘@’, ‘/’ and ‘?’ are not allowed in domain names.

The “.com” version is the one most people are used to typing in their browsers. However, many more descriptive addresses are now available, such as “.menu” and “.golf.”

Note: Your company or personal name doesn’t always make the best domain name. Use of keywords in the name can help your site’s search engine ranking.

Show the possible names to lots of people — your partner, your kids, your family, your friends.

Ask yourself which name:

1. You feel comfortable saying, over and over.

2. You don’t have to tell people how to spell.

3. Helps explain the website’s purpose.

4. Is the most memorable.

Then see a domain name registrar.

Our Sheer Domain Names division is an economical registrar. If the name you want is already taken, Sheer’s Name Suggestion Tool will show you similar names that are open.

Note: If you register the name yourself and Sheer Web is designing your site, designate us as your administrative /technical contact, and forward all confirmation messages to us. You will be the registrant and will retain ownership of the name.

Just remember, once you secure your domain name, you must maintain it. If your e-mail address or contact information changes, be sure to notify the registrar or you may lose the domain name.