My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #213: Website Updates

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 01-02-2011 02:58 PM 3911 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 212: Looking Ahead Part 213 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 214: The Growing Business »

It seems that there is always something new to learn. I am happy that I like learning new things though and I hope I always feel this way.

I spent the working portion of my day yesterday learning how to do more stuff on the site as we are preparing it for the latest update. Although it took a little time and effort to learn the processes on the new software, I am really happy with the results and how things are beginning to look. It has only been a couple of months since we changed over to the new software and I am beginning to feel reasonably comfortable in changing things around on it. As many of you may remember, I was apprehensive about changing over and it looked as if it would be far more complicated than what I was used to. As I see the many new features that this software offers and how nicely things are presented, I am very happy that we decided to forge ahead and learn the new stuff. Things are coming easier now and overall management of the site takes far less effort than it used to.

The challenge I faced yesterday was setting up a discount that my customers could receive by typing in an designated code. I want to offer this discount to my mailing list customers as a perk for them being on the mailing list. I believe that there needs to be some incentive for them to join the list and this was the easiest way to reward them. Prior to reworking the site about a year ago, I had about half the number of customers on my mailing list than I do now. Of those people, there were many that had joined the list several years ago and a large portion of them had changed email addresses, as many of the addresses were no longer good. I wouldn’t exactly call them qualified buyers.

In the past year however, I have really put an effort into cleaning the customer list up and removing the ‘dead’ addresses and making sure that everyone on the list wants to be there. I also make sure to send out a mailing at least once a month to let them know what is up with the site and to keep them interested. As a result, not only has the customer list grown, but it also consists of more qualified buyers who are really interested in what I have to offer. As a result of this the site is becoming a stronger building block of my business every day.

As with doing anything for the first time, it was rather tricky to code in the steps to make the discount function as I wanted it to. I wanted the customers to be able to type in the code in a designated place on the order form and automatically receive the discount off of their order. Sounds easy, right? Not necessarily for someone like me who is ‘numerically challenged’. It was a two step process which included coding on both the form and also setting up an ordering rule and making the two processes recognize each other and match. I played around with it for a bit and after a few unsuccessful tries, I got it to work around midnight last night. I was so proud because I didn’t even have to contact customer service to do so! YAY for me!

It may sound silly, but I LIKE being able to do these things for myself. I don’t want to have to depend on anyone else to get them done and if I want to change something, I want to be able to do it when and where I want without having to ask and wait. My partner has done much of the work on the new site and I am very grateful for that, but I am slowly catching up and actually understanding what he has done and how he has done it. I think in a good small business like mine, it is important for each person involved to know how to do just about everything. That way if one person is away or ill or anything like that the business can still function. I have always felt that way but this is the first time that it has been possible in my business.

So all the new things are up and running on the site. Not only did this update include the new patterns that I have to offer, but it also includes the videos and we changed the format of the articles and tutorials so that people don’t have to download them to read them. We realized that for people with slower connections, downloading articles just to look at them could be cumbersome and many would not want to bother. Everything is reformatted to be read right online and it is a much easier way to get our information to our customers.

These small things really make me happy. Piece by piece, it seems that everything is falling into place. I still have a way to go, as I have to work on the customer’s gallery page which showcases projects that my customers have sent me, but for the most part, the site is really looking good. I need to write my update letter and send it out to them later on today, but even that is a pleasure with the new software, as I am now able to add pictures and the overall look of the notice matches my site and looks quite professional. The new software is a great asset to the overall business.

After that is accomplished, I am going to be working on some new designs for the painting pattern designer that I spoke of the other day. I want to at least get a drawing to her as a starting point and go from there. I am also organizing the information that I will be using for the March show and beginning to set up the classes that I am teaching. Each class will be about 50 minutes in length and I want to provide as much information as possible in that time frame that will be pertinent to all levels of scrollers. I will also be providing written material to go along with the class so that they will be able to come out of it with some clear notes and a good understanding of what I am going to teach. This will help me feel better organized and able to face the crowd.

So it is a busy start to the new year for me. I had to look on the calendar today to check and see that it is Sunday. With the crazy holiday schedules, it is sometimes difficult to remember what day of the week it is. I feel as if I have had a lot of time off though recently and I am anxious to dive into things and move forward. Most places won’t be open until tomorrow, so that will give me a chance to have an extra day today to get ahead a bit. It is a great start to 2011.

I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing and creative day!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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