1. E-Commerce Isn’t Easy

    January 9, 2012 by Jennifer

    I just completed a website for a brand new company called My Jeweler Connection and despite having more than 12 years under my belt as a designer and administrator for e-commerce sites as part of my regular job, somehow I seemed to forget how much time and dedication it really does take to run an online sales business and all the complications that come with making it a smooth experience for the buyer.  I do it all day, 5 days a week, so I’m right there if something goes wrong or a customer needs assistance, but this new business was to be run part-time, after the regular 9 to 5, and I think it was a real eye-opener for my clients when they realized all that had to go into it.

    Not only do you need a good product and sales concept, but you need good product photos, accurate product descriptions, and don’t get me started on the complications of shipping!  Well, I’ll get started a little bit…no matter what those friendly USPS television advertisements, or your shipping representative from FedEx or UPS may tell you, choosing the right shipping option is never easy.  Do you need insurance?  What size packages will you send? Are you shipping internationally?  Will you need the packages picked up?  There are so many variables that it can be quite daunting, and to make it even worse, finding an affordable shopping cart solution that can correctly calculate the shipping charges for your customers is always a challenge (it’s been the bane of my existence for 12 years).  I can completely understand the trend for online stores to go to free shipping!

    So, next time you get the idea to sell something online, take your time and do your homework.  You’ll need to have a lot of things ready even before you have a website and then once your website launches, be prepared to invest some real time in updating products, customer service, packing and shipping, if you want to remain successful.

  2. More Visual Art

    April 1, 2009 by Jennifer

    I just completed another project for another artist, Prop Stylist:  Barb Fritz.  After being abandoned by her previous web designer, Barb was referred to me by a friend.  Barb had some very specific ideas as to what she wanted to achieve and wanted a site that was as minimalist and modern as possible.  I have to say, minimalist has never really been my style, but the job of the web designer is to create the client’s vision.  I think together Barb and I created an elegant web site that really highlights her work.

  3. Art for an Artist

    February 2, 2009 by Jennifer

    I  have just about wrapped up the most fun and creative website I’ve had the opportunity to work on for quite a while.  The website is for Tisha Paige, an artist and illustrator.  You can view the site at TishaPaige.com.

    It is a little intimidating for me to create a website for another artist.  I’m used to expressing my creativity and design aesthetic for other people.  For most websites, the client tells me a sort of  “style” they’d like to achieve and leave it up to me to make it happen.   I get a lot of free reign in terms of design.  In this case, I had to take Tisha’s marvelous artwork and translate her vision onto the web.  It was a challenge, but I had such wonderful raw material to work with!  Not only is Tisha a talented illustrator, but she has done some really creative 3-Dimensional work as well as paintings.

    I really got to flex my CSS layout skills with this one in order to place the navigation crows among their paisley branches.  This site also gave me the opportunity to create a complete custom WordPress theme that Tisha will use for her sketchbook and works in progress.

  4. A lesson learned

    August 14, 2008 by Jennifer

    I just completed a website for John A. Alvarez & Sons, Modular home builders in Hudson, NY.  The production process couldn’t have been easier.  I wish every client was as thorough and organized as Jason Alvarez and his staff.  They sent me a disk full of descriptively labled pictures and a text document with page headings and the content they wanted on each page.  From there it was a matter of coming up with a color scheme, navigation plan, create the design and plug in the content.  It was when the site was complete that we ran into problems.

    The previous AlvarezModulars site was hosted with one of those “package deal” companies that provide a domain, hosting account and a web template where you just plug in information and pictures.  While this seems a simple solution for a quick business website, it wasn’t so simple when they wanted to change to a new host for their new website.  The first sign of trouble was that there was NO contact phone number on this hosting site.  It happens all the time, businesses sign up for a hosting account, buy a domain name and promptly lose their log in information.  Support tickets went unresponded to, password recovery didn’t work (because we didn’t know what email had been used to create the account) and so what were we to do?

    In the end we were able to resolve the issues, and I won’t go into the tedious process necessary to recover control over the domain and everything, but I write this post with a purpose.  If I can give potential web site owners any advice it’s this: if there is no phone number and mailing address on your potential web host’s site, FIND ANOTHER WEB HOST.  What I generally recommend is for the website owner to purchase their domain name seperately from their hosting.  That way, you’ll always have control over your domain, no matter what web host you are using.  Buy your domains first, from a reputable Registrar like GoDaddy or Network Solutions.  Then purchase your web hosting from a reliable source that offers 24/7 tech support by phone/email/trouble ticket and clearly publishes their phone number (preferably a toll-free one) and their mailing address.  Once you’ve done all that, make sure you file away your log in information somewhere safe!

  5. The latest project

    March 20, 2008 by Jennifer

    I just wrapped up the ArtAndSportAgainstPoverty.org website for a non-profit organization that uses the power of Art and Sports to help the homeless. They are best known for their international Homeless Soccer tournaments. This site includes Flash animations as well as static HTML and CSS.  It was a real pleasure to work on the site, especially a pleasure to get to work with the amazing photographs by Mae Lambing. I recommend you check out the photo gallery on the ASAP website to see more of her work. Dr. Jeff Grunberg and all the volunteers are making a real difference in the lives of the homeless and I hope you can take a moment to visit their site and perhaps support their organization.