Building and designing your website can be simple or very complicated. It all depends on the tools you use, the functions you need on your site and your skill level. If your site doesn't require a lot of interactive features or complicated graphics, you might wish to use one of the template- or wizard-based design tools available for sale, or offered free by many Web hosts. If you go this route, make sure you get software specifically for designing a storefront so you'll have shopping cart and commerce tools available. It may also make sense for you to initially set up your site using this type of software. Then, if your business grows, redesign the site with a program that has more features and gives you more flexibility. Or have your site redesigned professionally. This way you're taking less of a gamble with your time and money.
If you're up to the challenge, designing your site using a traditional Web-authoring software program can give you a lot more control over its look and feel, and even its functionality. You can add a lot of things like rollovers and simple animations using these programs. But -- and this is a pretty big but -- it takes time, skill and a little creative talent. If you've never worked with HTML or Web pages and don't really understand how they work, then it's going to take you quite a bit of time to get a good site up and running. If time isn't an issue, then you may be fine. But it will definitely be worth the effort to get some training in a specific WYSIWYG Web editor program or in HTML (HyperText Markup Language), the code behind most Web pages and the Web's most common language. You can get free HTML training at W3Schools.com.
Whether your build your own site or have someone do it for you, you'll want to learn how to optimize it. That means adding certain words or codes that will enable your website to be found by search engines, like Google. All your Web pages should have meta tags, which are hidden from the viewer but give the title of the page and a brief description about it. You can also put similar tags on your page images. The text on your Web pages is also part of search engine optimization [source: SmallBusinessWebsites].
Optimizing your website can be a complicated issue so for more information, read our article How Promoting an Online Business Works.