Website Launch – Part Two. Picking a new theme.
For those of us who are not trained in the details of building a website, and doing a Website Launch, learning how is steep hill to climb. From my own learning process I can share the way I sort it out in my brain. An expert in this area might describe it differently, but this is the way it makes sense to me. Hopefully, you will find the analogy helpful.
First you pick an eCommerce platform on which you can build your website. I started out trying to learn a couple of them which were way too complex for my non-techie brain. Then a friend recommended Shopify www.shopify.com which turned out to be much simpler and easier for me to learn. I originally built my website on Shopify in 2012 and am still on that platform.
eCommerce platforms are like a desk with drawers full of stuff you need. Your website will be sitting on top of that desk along with lots of other websites. In the desk drawers are much of the background “stuff” already set up for you like a shopping cart, check out, credit card processing, handling sales tax, calculating postage, printing postage and a lot more. There is a format for creating your products where you can define things like sizes, colors, etc. You can put a group of products together to create a “Collection” like “Harnesses”. All of that “stuff” is already in the desk drawers. Then, you can add functionality, like our Rewards Program, by adding “Apps” like you do with your iPhone.
All that work is done in the background. The part you never see. It’s where I spend my time.
The part you see is the “Theme” which is the layout that gives the website its overall look, feel and style. This includes things like color scheme, style elements, banners, carousels of pictures, pull down menus, and how you move around the site to shop. It gives you a feel for a company or brand and outlines your shopping experience. It’s what makes Macy’s website look like it does and why Nordstrom’s or Saks’ websites look different. They all sell women’s clothes, men’s clothes, shoes, etc. but their brand is different, so their Theme or layout is different to reflect that.
There are more Themes than you can imagine and choosing one takes time. I’m not visual so it’s difficult for me to look at a Theme and imagine what it will look like for my business. When I design a new dog outfit, I take the fabric, trim, buttons, etc. and play with them on the cutting table. I have the pieces in my hands and move them around until I create a design I like. You can’t do that when you’re selecting a theme so I kept looking at one, then another until I could “see” the differences.
Fortunately, Shopify lets you sort the Themes by things like Small Inventory, Big Inventory, or Industry. I selected Big Inventory and Clothing and Fashion Industry. Then I asked my hero, Ryan Stull from the Small Business Development Center, https://ociesmallbusiness.org/coachella-valley/ , to look at them and tell me which ones he thought would work well for my business. He gave me a few to start looking at. And, for the next week, I went through those and others looking at the layout and the functionality. I got it down to two finalists for my next meeting with Ryan. Here’s the two finalists.
Both themes had a lot of features, were brand new and totally mobile friendly. They may look a lot alike but their features and what I can do within the layout is different. Not one better than the other. Just one more fitting for my business. The one I chose, Fashionopolism, offered a menu which lets me sort my collections in several different ways. So, for instance, you could shop for boys or girls, or you could shop for cats, small dogs, large dogs. It seemed like a way to make the shopping experience easier and faster for you.
Here’s what the menu of collections looked like in the Demo for this theme. It gave me the ideas for how I want to create Collections to organize and group my products.
So Fashionopolism was my choice. It has a new look and feel and very different from my current website. And the pictures are all lifestyle pictures not just products on a white background. So, how do I take this forward and turn this layout into Spoiled Dog Designs’ new website? Stay tuned!
In my next blog post I will talk about learning how the theme works, doing a lot of new photography, building the Collections, and figuring out what goes where.
Mark your calendars, our new Website Launch for Spoiled Dog Designs is August 25, 2021.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope you enjoyed it and stay tuned for the last segment of our blog about our new website launch.