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How to Take Your Web Presence beyond Your Site

Take an example of something that almost nobody is going to create on their own: an e-commerce element for a website. That e-commerce functionality would have to validate and process credit cards, calculate sales taxes and global shipping rates, and maybe even keep track of inventory levels.

Creating e-commerce functionality like this requires professional-level programming skills in complex programming languages, as well as — in many cases — access to databases for calculating taxes, shipping, and more.

Not a problem, though. Just because you can’t build it doesn’t mean that you can’t use it! By all means, integrate outside content with your own website. Starting with the simplest, here are three basic ways:

  • Create links from your site to other elements of your web presence. Here are some examples:

    • eBay: Click here to buy my sweaters. Let eBay worry about validating and processing clients’ credit cards or PayPal accounts.

    • YouTube: Click here to watch my new video. Let YouTube worry about streaming your video into a wide range of browsing environments that all require different video file formats.

    • Blogger: Click here to read my blog. Let the programming team at Google set up your blog and create and maintain tools that allow you to read and approve (or reject) comments people post at your blog.

    You can choose design themes from sites like these to “match” them, to various degrees, with your site. And, of course, you can include links from those venues to your site.

  • Embed content from other sites in your site using different HTML techniques.

    If you’re building a medium-range website — one with all the features of the most professionally designed sites, but you’re hampered by limited resources — this “borrowing” option is often your best bet.

  • Hire programmers to develop all the content you need within your own site.

    Hire PHP coders and database experts to manage your mail list and search box; video compression experts to present streaming video; PHP coders (again) to set up an on-site blog; and so on. Be prepared to shell out many tens of thousands of dollars. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a whiz-kid programmer for a child or a geeky friend who can do high-level coding for your site.

If you’re a little light on funds or resources, using some combination of the first two options might serve you well.

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