People ask me for advice all the time about how to get started building their sites. When I am at a trade show, so many come to me to gather materials for their new website. I always think in the back of my head, "oh boy", do they know how much work is ahead of them? It takes months to do this. I suppose if you did not have a full time job, or a family to care for, then you could probably build one in a month or so. I suppose if your job was web programming, and you only had one site to build at a time, you could build a good one in a month.
There are a lot of inexpensive templates available, a lot of quick sites you could throw up on the web. You could even start with a template and make all changes to it to suit your needs. Template or not, plan on a few solid months to build a good site. Then, plan for days and days of loading up products. Think about what you like in a website when you shop the web.
Our first site was built in 2003. As technology grew, our site started having little glitches, unreadable codes, ways to communicate via browsers that were out-dated. Our site became boring as more and more detailed options became available. It was time to start over, and we were blessed to get a great recommendation from our lead graphic designer. We teamed up with Rob Milburn of Pier Marketing to build our custom site, and custom it turned out to be. He was a "Yes" man. He, like me, says "Yes", then figures out how. One of our biggest challenges is we wanted a shopping cart so that you could keep track of what you were ordering directly from that page, but not a real shopping cart because there are too many custom options, too many price variances with items people want made slightly differently. We don't bill you when the order is placed like most shopping carts will do. It was really fun to be a part of a project where I really could have it my way! This is probably why I have enjoyed designing for my clients for so long...you really can have it your way, and so many of you are starting to catch that wave!
So, my biggest advice when starting out on your own site is have patience, allow for longer than you expect to finish the site. There is a lot of "t"s to cross, a lot of "i"'s to dot, and above all....Like your programmer, I do, and I recommend him to build your site!
Please let us know if you find any glitches in the navigation of our site, we are expecting to have to make a few tweaks in the beginning, items we did not find ourselves.