If the templates offered by the eCommerce products do not work for you, then most likely you are looking at some development effort. You can hire a web developer/designer to either modify a standard template of the eCommerce product or to develop a new website for you.

There are several companies that allow you to post your project and have multiple vendors bid on it. I have tried www.elance.com and www.odesk.com.

There are several key considerations when posting a web development project:
1) You need to know how you want your website to look like.
It works better if you can provide websites similar to what you like. If you need help in this area, you will need to hire a web designer who can work with you on the look and feel of the website. Many web developers know the technology side but will not be very helpful in designing the look of the site. Ideally, you can find a vendor that provides both web design and web development and has done websites similar to the look you want. Make sure you have looked at their portfolio of work.

2) You can describe all the functionality and features of the website.
The better description of the project you will provide the more accurate bids you will receive. It is very important to have all features documented in writing especially if you are working with an offshore vendor. There are features that relate to the display of the website for example – you want the website to display related products when looking at a specific product or you want to have a sort feature that will sort products by price. There are also features that relate to back office functionality that the customer doesn’t see. For example – ability to enter new products, abilitity to bulk load multiple products from a file, ability to load images, ability to delete a product, ability to integrate with a payment provider like Pay Pal, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), etc. It can be a good idea to subscribe to a trial version of an eCommerce product and study all the features that are provided. Don’t assume that a vendor will know what features you want. Unless specified, vendors might provide a bid with the least amount of features so that their bid looks attractive from the cost perspective. Before starting a project, you should have a summary of all included features and functionality in writing so you can have an agreed upon project scope. Either you or the vendor can create this summary.

The cost for a custom website depends on design complexity and number of features. Prices can start as low as several hundreds or go up to thousands of dollars. A website designed from a known website template or another website will be the least expensive in this category.

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