As you can see, the old site wasn’t exactly ugly, it was really clean and simple actually. To save money, I have used Dreamweaver to create the site myself since 2005. Dreamweaver was easy to learn and I gradually picked up a tiny bit of html understanding. The shopping cart for the old site was programmed with PayPal.com and I simply entered my styles and prices and then embedded the code in my Dreamweaver files before uploading onto the web. The best part about this system was the low cost (like Etsy, you only pay when you get orders, with no monthly fees).
But the biggest downside to the old site was the PayPal shopping cart, I couldn’t do discount codes and customers were directed away from jesslc.com to complete their transaction. This was fine, but wasn’t as professional and seamless as other sites with integrated shopping carts. And with the new identity, I was ready to take the website to the next level as well.
After going through a variety of navigation and layout options with Meghan, we settled on the final product you see now. I love how she came up with the tiny dotted border on the navigation at the top, it adds just enough pattern and texture to be interesting but not distracting. She also created a creative way to navigate using the coral drop down menus so you can shop quickly if you know what you’re looking for.
(Note: I recommend viewing the site with a Mac or using a Firefox browser, we have found that Internet Explorer does some strange things to the coding and makes some elements appear incorrectly.)
For the shopping cart and hosting, I trusted my good friend Tim, who recommended that I choose Shopify.com. Shopify makes product page loading a breeze, updates your files as you make changes automatically, and integrates with a lot of payment providers (including Authorize.net, Google Checkout, and PayPal). There is a monthly fee for Shopify, but so far I think it’s definitely worth it for the higher quality site.
To collect payment, I decided to go through my bank (Chase), and Authorize.net. The cut that each takes is slightly lower than PayPal, but I recommend running the numbers with your bank and with PayPal to see what works best for your products and order volume. Though getting approved, moving the paperwork along, and getting my accounts with the bank and Authorize took a few weeks, once I had the accounts confirmed with the bank, plugging the connection into the Shopify site was a piece of cake. I was able to process transactions in about an hour.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of “business-only” blogs (especially if the store only talks about its products and has no readers), I think the Shopify blog feature is the perfect place for me to easily update upcoming events for Jess LC. It’s simple, and to the point. (Inspired by Jeanine.)
So basically, to sum everything up, I hired Meghan to create the templates, web layout, and overall site navigation and structure. She did a fantastic job, was super friendly and professional, and was patient as I made a million little suggestions. Since I was so prompt returning all her requests and vice versa, we were able to complete the website a week or two ahead of schedule.
I then talked to my bank and got the shopping cart account set up and plugged it into my site with a few phone calls to customer service. After that, my buddy Tim and I spent a few hours making the domain transfer from the old site to the new one. And voila, Jess LC now has a new home to grow into.