To save myself time and to avoid repetition I am going to answer these questions here.
Question: Who did I get to design my website?
Answer: Nobody. I did it. I am the only one who builds it, maintains it and updates it. I hope this explains why I never get it updated on time. I can also say I hate every minute of it. I do have the know-how now though, so I see no reason to pay for someone else to do it.
Question: How much did it cost?
Answer: Monetarily nothing. Time wise, hundreds and hundreds of hours. To be honest I am probably way into the thousands of hours. I use OSCommerce an open source program that is free. I do, however, pay for the webspace and the domain names.
Question: Do you have any recommendations on where I can get a shopping cart?
Answer: This one depends. Basically you need to answer the following questions and go from there:
- How much effort and time do you want to invest in your website?
- What does your budget look like?
- Do you mind the headache of maintenance and upkeep?
- Are you picky? Meaning do you want it to look a certain way or you will be frustrated?
- How elaborate are your needs? For instance, how many products are you going to need to list?
- Do you want it to automatically calculate shipping?
If you want to do it all yourself and do not mind learning php script and the like go with either OSCommerce or ZenCart or something. You will still need to purchase webspace and a domain name. For webspace I HIGHLY recommend Acornhost. Their pricing is right and their tech support is excellent. I have never had my website down due to them (I have however torn it down myself with the wrong code). For domain names, I suggest Netfirms. They are reasonably priced and renewal is simple. Managing your domains is easy too. (For instance I have www.CreationsfromEden.ca and www.CreationsfromEden.net that also point to the home page. This would fall under managing the domains).
If you want a fairly happy medium you can buy a template for either OSCommerce or ZenCart and then customize it. You will need to learn the basics of php still to do this and depending on the template, they range anywhere fro $50 to $5000 (exclusive). You would still be responsible for any maintenace or upgrades to the site.
Or you can pay a programmer to do it all for you. From what I can tell, the going rate depends and a website takes many many hours, so it is not a cheap investment. be prepared to spend at least $1000 on something pretty simple. My website at this point is worth about $5000, from what I have been told (I could be wrong).
There are many more options than listed above, but it is based on your budget and time essentially. What works for one, may not work for another. I suggest you check out all of your options and go from there. Many programs offer free trials. Use them.
As a side note... this is what my store looked like before I started programming it... http://demo.oscommerce.com/ . They give you this and you convert it one line at a time to make it your own.
I hope this answers some questions. Have fun!