Tools of the (e)Trade
Depending on your site's purpose in life, you may need few or many tools in order to make your online business venture work. First, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you going to design your site yourself?
    If so, you'll need:
    • experience and /or training in web design (unless you go with the template or wizard-based tools that many all-inclusive services offer)
    • a good computer with plenty of RAM (128 Mb and up) and hard drive space (6 Gb minimum)
    • web design software -- either WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) or a text editor (if you know html)
    • a scanner or digital camera -- for product or service photos
    • image editing software
    • illustration software to create graphics
    • FTP software for uploading files to your web site

  2. Are you going to sell products from your site?
    If so, you'll need:
    • a merchant account -- or some way to accept payments
    • shopping cart software -- or some other way for shoppers to enter and keep up with their orders
    • secure servers if you're accepting credit card payment or other personal payment information online
    • software (or other process) to keep track of inventory and orders

  3. Do you have a large number of products or services that need listing on your web site?
    If so, you'll need:
    • a database of product names, descriptions, pricing, and photos
    • a system for establishing product numbers
    • a system for inventory management
    • technical know-how in incorporating the database into your web site

  4. Does your product or service require sound, video or animations?
    If so, you'll need:
    • equipment to capture video and/or audio
    • software for editing your video and/or audio clips
    • software (and training) to create animations
    • a broad-band Internet connection (helpful, but not absolutely necessary)
    • or, a resource to whom you can farm these out
Regardless of how you answered the above questions, you'll need a computer with a good Internet connection for e-mailing and maintaining your site.