Saturday, January 09, 2016

New Website: Coast Chimes

Screen shot of part of the homepage of Coast Chimes new website
Coast Chimes: New Website
WWW. Coast Chimes

I've made half a dozen different websites for Coast Chimes, starting back 20 years ago. They have ranged from okay to not very good. The further back in time you go, the more easily one could get away with a sloppy website, as at the start people did not expect much! These days, you better have a pretty decent website if you hope to sell.

Today you need to go beyond just okay. You have a fraction of a second to grab the attention of the new visitor, a visitor with a very critical eye, or their finger hits the back button and goodbye potential customer.

Even without any prior website building experience, I believe any artist-crafter could build a fairly decent looking website using Shopify without too many headaches. Taking that website beyond the basic shop to where I feel a website needs to be in today's competitive world will be more challenging.

After my basic shop was up, I felt like I hit a wall. I had ideas I wanted to implement, but the supporting documentation for Shopify was frankly scary complex, and I was scared of really messing up my website.

I approached several experts for hire. Prices were far steeper than I had hoped they would be (in the thousands was not unusual). Also, very few provided a clear vision of what they hoped to accomplish for my site. Why would I hire them if they had no vision? Do they do the same site for a seller of imported plastic toys as for an artist?

So I got thinking, and decided the first thing I should do is figure out exactly what I wanted for my site. That way, I could tell the experts what I needed, and they could tell me if they could do it, and how much it would cost. This seemed a much better approach than my initial: 'my site is a mess, how much to fix it?'.

However, after figuring out what I wanted for my site, I realized that maybe, just maybe, I could tackle this thing myself. So defining what was needed helped enormously. A logo was number one, as everyone says this is extremely important. They also say it is a big deal, and a job for a professional. This can cost in the hundreds, easily. Wanting everything as simple and clean as possible for my own site, I did my own simple and clean logo. It took me 15 minutes. I doubt it is up to professional standards, but I think it looks fine.

The biggest challenge was to arrange all my stock into different collections, and make clickable buttons (rather than visitors having to scroll through 12 pages of mixed stock). I decided on 9 categories, and got busy reading how to make collections in the Shopify help section. It seemed overwhelmingly complex, but once I got going, following each step in the instructions as I went along, it turned out to be not too bad after all. Then I just made small buttons from pictures I already had handy (a picture of driftwood, for example, for my driftwood section), figured out how to place these on my homepage using a grid, and made links. Not bad at all.

Could someone with zero website building experience accomplish this? Probably, given enough patience, asking for help on forums, being bold and trying. I would say the written instructions make things sound a lot harder than the reality, which is often the case with technical things.

So instead of spending a thousand dollars or more, I got to learn some cool things, I got the satisfaction of doing it myself, and, most importantly, I got a much better looking website that I am proud of and happy with.

No comments:

Post a Comment