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The Race to the Finish Line – The Peterkin Website Journey Pt 4

Jodie Photo ShootContinued from last week

The photo shoot goes pretty well.

 

I was reasonably well organised. I knew (kind of) which poses and expressions I needed for each page I’d mapped out.

Still not sure what we’ll do with these ones ‘tho…

I didn’t want my face on every page because…well that’d be weird.

I download the photos from the photographer as soon as we’re done and take them with me and the next day we decide on the images we’re going to use for the landing and the content pages.

Then we start assembling all the pieces, beginning with the landing page, which we used as the starting point for the look and feel of the entire site.

Here are my 6 most important points for creating a landing or homepage…

…after the hours and hours of research I put into just landing or home pages:

  1. The most important thing about your landing page or the first page your potential customers see is the objective and guiding the visitor in a logical way to achieve it.
  2. The visitor needs to feel welcome. It’s the ‘front door’ to your ‘house’. Open the front door and welcome them in. Let them see immediately your business is run by real people. (People do business with people, not websites or companies…)
  3. They need to know they’ve come to the right place –  you have to put across as quickly as possible what you do and who you do it for. Spell out who your ideal customer is.
  4. They’ve never been here before, guide them what to do next – understand what people want to do once they’ve arrived. Put yourself in their shoes. Do they want to check out your products, become a new customer, discover more about your company, see recommendations from others about your company, or see what they can do with your products?
  5. Give them the clear options… (and this is the hard part) without clutter and with style.
  6. Pay attention to natural eye flow, colours and fonts. A particular colour or font might be groovy, but can it be read easily?

There are a stack of other things you can consider, depending upon your objectives, which is of course THE most important thing about not only your landing or homepage, but the entire website.

Here’s a great webinar that’ll give you plenty to think about (I found it pretty boring to be honest, but stick with it…there’s lots to learn.)

If you like shopping, here’s something else to think about.

I like to think of the first page people come to like taking the plunge and entering a bricks and mortar store.

How well do you think it would go down if the Sales Assistant pounced on you and shoved products in your face saying “Buy this!” ” Buy that!” without greeting you and allowing you to get to know the store a little first?

Not well with me, that’s for sure. I like to know a little of their ‘story’ first. It helps me feel comfortable in their space somehow.

How much longer do you spend in a store if you feel comfortable? Are you more likely to spend money?

So anyway, now for the content.

Peterkin Website Pockets & ShapesAlthough I’ve got bit’s and pieces written already, I need to pull it all together and try to stay a step (or webpage) ahead of Shaun and Allison

I gather all my notes and staying true to form, I leave each page until the last minute, until I’m seriously under pressure before I pull the rabbit out of the hat and deliver the content page by page.

I just can’t help it. I’m one of those people who work best with the deadline fast approaching and seriously under pressure to perform. Even now I’m writing this the night before I post (wishing I’d done it earlier so I can watch Ray Donnovan!)

But the truth is I’m absolutely loving it.

I love having a project to sink my teeth into, so I stay up very late each night writing, creating lists for each person to do and mud-map mockups of how each page should look.

My Team is working harder and in fast-motion. We’re all having fun racing to the finish line…

We’re in this together and the atmosphere in the whole place is electric!

Laurence is even working nights from home writing the nearly 4000 product descriptions. She’s been working on them for months, any spare time she’s got, but it’s a huge task.

She’s helping me with the automated email wording and researching for the stockist page too.

Caitlin is still finalising the category filters. Originally we only had 4 filter options, then 3dcart added another feature allowing 12 category filters, which meant you can drill down even more.

She STILL can’t get hold of ECC to work out the integration with Quickbooks and the developer begins working on the integration with our bank, NAB.

In preparation for stocktake, Caitlin prints the count recording sheets from the website data, which enable us to check all products were in the system while counting. She allocates a bay and shelf to every single product, so the stock pick list would be in the right order (we’re excited by this new time-saving feature).

Allison’s busily creating the pretty buttons, images and designing the overall look and feel. She creates most of the pages in InDesign first. Sometimes I sit with her (like a backseat driver) and we design it together.

It’s quicker this way, but not always practical. Then Allison gives it to Shaun who breaks it up into pieces and codes each bit.

Peterkin Website All ProductsWe keep the product selection part of the site very plain and uncluttered.

The products have such beautiful colours and textures and I didn’t want a background, or lots of other ‘stuff’ to clash with them or the function of the site…to display our products in a simple, yet attractive manner and take orders for our business to operate on a daily basis.

In between picking and despatching a record number or orders prior to the website launch, price rise and stocktake, our Warehouse Team are re-packaging bulk 100’s into 50’s and making sure every product has a barcode label on the racking to help with stocktake.

Shaun edits our template until it resembles nothing like the original one we started with.

He creates drop-down menus where there weren’t, changes fonts, the look of the buttons, colours, positions of the different fields, creates a form for registration that connects up with the fields and transfers to Quickbooks (or will anyway when that gets sorted) and basically codes every single page and email in html on the site.

It saved me having to learn HTML, CSS and all that other gobbly-gook that looks like German to me.

Having Shaun on-site has also meant we could do things instantaneously, rather than come across something we needed doing, writing a long-winded instruction to a third-party (who has very little understanding of how your business operates), who then passes it on to someone else, who then puts it in line with all of the other alterations and jobs he (or she) has for the websites she’s working on.

I found this method worked really well for us.

But the best advice I can offer whether you’re creating your website in-house or having a web company do it for you, is be prepared!

Do your research and layout exactly how you want your pages to look.

Take screen-shots of other sites you like the layout and look of, have all your content written and supply all the images and graphics you want, clearly named and referenced

If you’re paying by the hour, it’ll save you a fortune! If you’re having a 3rd party create your site, make sure they have a tested system to extract the information out of you!

I do my best to make sure our customers are informed of all the changes happening and send out a number of emails…but truthfully, very few people read them.

Even when I beg them to.

We launch the new name, logo and branding on the 27th August 2013 after delaying for a day.

You see, as we’d been developing the site ‘live’, we had to move it before launching the name, or people might see it in progress.

This sounds easier than it was, really and what we did caused all sorts of problems on launch day…

Our lesson there was it’s always a good idea to check with the experts before moving locations of websites around the globe…

We spend the next 2 days frantically finalising pages, features, categories and hassling out the developer to finish the integration so we can test the NAB integration.

Peterkin Website 1

Then…

…the developer contacts us and says there’s something seriously wrong.

He cannot complete the integration.

He’s contacted 3dCart and they’ve told him that the National Australia Bank were not recognised as an authorised partner and need to apply to 3dcart and then go through the approval process.

Caitlin hits the roof!

I see her pacing the office with a look of disbelief on her face. She’s looking for someone to yell at, that’s for sure…

I happened to be already on the other line to the NAB discussing B Pay when her and Graham start waving their arms around. I put the guy on hold to listen to the story.

I take him off hold and decide to play it nice instead of going off my head, which I knew wasn’t going to get me anywhere at this point.

Turns out the NAB ‘expert’ (we’ll call him Bruce) has fed us absolute fish heads with his stories about other companies who he’s helped set up their gateways and sold us completely the wrong online banking product!

The guy I was on the phone with happened to know exactly the right product we needed as he used to work in internet banking division. He’s awesome and very knowledgeable. (We’ll call him Awesome NAB Guy or S#!&loads better than Bruce… )

He tells me exactly the product we need and emails the paperwork immediately, which we flip back to him signed. However, he explains, as it is a new ‘application’ as such, it could take up to 2 weeks to go through.

Not the best news, considering our website is supposed to go live the next day and our old site is being shut down on 1st September!

The developer knows exactly the NAB product, which requires Eway as the gateway. So Eway goes between 3dCart and the NAB. (I know, confusing right?). In fact, that’s what he thought he was integrating for in the first place…mad.

So this is all pretty lucky as all he has to do is punch in the account, ‘press a button’ and all would be good.

So our biggest drama now is putting a firecracker up the whatsit of NAB so they fast-track the approval to…

22 hours!

 

I write an email to S#!&loads Better Than Bruce at the NAB, stating what had happened and what I thought they should do. I also ask him to send it up the chain of command.

I put some lovely praise in there for his efforts, which of course encourages him to send it to his superiors.

Caitlin gets to work at 5am launch day to finish her cram to the finish line. I’m there at 6.30 and 7.30 for Shaun.

I log into the test site and see the template’s been all messed up! We try not to freak out. Shaun’s tweaked something and it’s surely a simple fix.

We pounce on the poor guy as soon as he walks in the door!

He starts punching away code at the pooter, with his backpack still on! Thankfully it’s one tiny piece of gobbly-gook code that’s messed things up and re-installing the backup fixes it straight away.

Whew!

But the stress levels have not reduced. I’m functioning on about 2 hours sleep, coffee and adrenaline.

Then we get the email we’ve been praying to the gods for… the NAB has performed a miracle.

Hail National Australia Bank! I knew you could behave like a small business if you tried hard enough!

The developer punches in the code and ‘hits the button’.

There’s no time for testing so we just cross our fingers. It seems absolutely mad, but we have no choice…

We go live.

Or so we thought.

I couldn’t believe there was to be another stumbling block!

We’d done (what we thought anyway) was some clever re-direction tricks to put a temporary landing page at www.peterkin.com.au for the few days between when people knew the name, and the site launch, in case they looked at the site.

You see, previously we’d been working on it live as nobody knew about it.

But apparently it takes time for all the servers in the world to catch up when you point it the domain to another place.

Obviously I can’t really explain it now because I glaze over when our I.T. Guru Phil (who’s paid to understand this stuff) explains it to me. I filed it into the ‘need to know – NOT’ file in my brain.

Phil the I.T. Guru comes to our rescue that day. He’s pretty good at that. He gets it working, but it takes a few hours before everyone’s able to see the site.

I send the launch email.

Website

Then we wait. It’s a bit weird. There’s no catastrophe to contend with.

We watch the registrations, comments and emails pour in.

Job done. Thanks guys. I’m really proud of what all of us have achieved.

Alex_Caitlin _Jodie_CelebratingShaun_Celebrating

Now to figure out stocktake for Monday!

Cheers Jodie

The Peterkin Website Journey Pt 1

The Peterkin Website Journey Pt 2

The Peterkin Website Journey Pt 3

The Peterkin Brand & Logo Launch

People buy from People, not Companies…The Peterkin Website Journey Pt 3

…Continued from last week

Which was a good thing too as I lost my Graphic Designer to motherhood just before the move and her replacement just ‘didn’t work out’. Our Guillotinist and machinery operator moved back to Queensland (they always go home), so I was trying not to panic while juggling all these balls in the air!

It wasn’t working…I was hyperventilating!

So we move. (I think I’m still to tell that story…)

Our I.T. specialist goes to Canada for a wee holiday (great timing). He was going to install the new server before he left, but ran out of time. We cross our fingers the old server holds up, but can’t install Quickbooks as it’s going onto the new server. This means we can’t test the integration.

Remember the easy Quickbooks plug in for 3dCart, which was one of the main reasons we went for 3dCart in the first place? It doesn’t work for the Australian version of Quickbooks…awesome.

We have to find another program to ‘bridge’ between 3dCart and Quickbooks because the inventory’s actually done there…it seems nothing is straight forward.

We go for ECC (E Commerce Connector by Webgility), but are unable to test it until we can install Quickbooks on the new server. Catch 22.

But we still don’t have a name or logo!

By now we have a fair idea though. It needs to be connected with me. (Read our name story here.)

You see, I’ve been studying marketing for years. It’s part of my work/hobby thing.

One of the things that resonated with me is the Marketer’s Creed. Found here in one of the blogs I subscribe to. One of the articles states:

“People buy from people, not companies.”

I’d been thinking about this for a long time and had come to the conclusion I was going to have to be that ‘main’ person. After all, the entire ‘flavour’ of the company comes from me. All the emails come from me. I direct the look, feel, decide on the products etc.

So although I feel a little uncomfortable about using my surname as our company name, I warm to the idea when I think about the fact there’s no boys in our family to ‘carry on the family name’. We are at the end of our particular line…

In a sense, this is my way of continuing the family name.

So I commissioned the logo…

We decide we just have to pick a go live date and go for it.

Then the server breaks down and we have to get the ‘back-up’ support to figure it out. No emails or orders are getting through to us. Eventually, we use my laptop and connect to our website via my mobile’s hot spot to get the orders underway for the day. Graham and the ‘backup guy’ spends a lot of the day on his phone, brow furrowed and slowly moving his head from side to side. It doesn’t look good.

Eventually, he patches it up enough to get it going and we firmly book in our server migration date as soon as Phil gets back from Canada.

Now to sort out the payment system.

We had meetings with our bank’s (NAB) shopping cart guru who’s over from the east coast. He tells us this is all pretty easy to set up internet payments and he’s had clients do this before. He’ll give us the name of a couple of developers who can do the integration. Caitlin keeps ringing and emailing him and eventually, he gives us the name of a developer on the east coast, which we contact. He says he can do it and it’ll cost $1000 for the integration.

Who would’ve thought?

Meanwhile, I advertise for a new Graphic Designer. The resumes I get are outstanding and varied. But I’m looking for a multi-talented Designer, who can do the ‘pretties’ on the site, be our in-house expert digital printer, as well as change all the things in the template I don’t like. It doesn’t have drop -downs, the category filters are looking weird, I don’t like the colours and my eyes glaze over when I look at html or css. I need them to do that as well.

This is not one person. Or if it is, they’re rare. Very rare.

I know that now.

I first employed Allison. A talented and very creative Graphic Designer with an eye for colour and definitely an eye for design.

Then I met Shaun. The winning comment for me was “I love coding and designing pixel by pixel.” Yep. Code geek. Perfect.

Now we have the logo, the data from Caitlin, my head full of all the content (none actually written yet), a huge swipe file for the look and feel,  and the two secret ingredients – Allison and Shaun that we needed to ‘cram’ for the home stretch.

So on August 6th 2013 I contacted the photographer and booked the studio for the next day for my photo shoot. We’d base the rest of the colours for the landing page around the colour palette of my clothes that I’d mostly already chosen, but was missing my orange key colour…

I leave work at 1.30pm to speed-clothes-shop (I bought the orange top you see me in above) before collecting Jackson from school at 3.10pm.

Next week: Part 4 -The race to the finish line

Peterkin Website Journey Pt 1

Peterkin Website Journey Pt 2

The Peterkin Website Journey Part 2

Continued…from last week:

We had to increase our prices. In some cases, we were selling product for no profit at all, which scared the beejeezus out of us.

Thankfully, not every product was like that.

Some we only had to deal with increases from our suppliers (we’ve had 3 from one mill over the past year), freight and the drop in the Aussie dollar.

Fantastic.

We decided to hold off until the new website before the price rise, as it was such a drama and incredibly time-consuming changing pricing in our old systems. The room for error was huge as the data wasn’t synchronized with MYOB, so they had to be done separately…nightmare.

Once we came to terms with our pricing realities, we were able to start drilling down into how 3dCart wanted the data.  Caitlin discovered our existing coding system wouldn’t fit in with the way 3dCart operated…

So we had to re-code…everything.

As we were taking it this far, I thought it would be the perfect time to implement another idea I’d been working on. Change the bulk packs of card, envelopes and our designer paper range to 50’s instead of 100’s.

Everyone thought I’d gone completely bonkers now… As if we didn’t have enough to contend with! My theory was there were a large portion of our customers who purchased barcoded packs because 100 was too much, not because they were on-selling the pack of 10. I figured they’d probably go with a 50 pack and be happy to:

a) save money by not having to pay for packaging

b) not to be throwing away packaging (eco factor)

c) saving the time in unpacking the barcoded packs.

In preparation, we began slowly changing our bulks over to 50 and packing 2 50’s in orders when a bulk 100 was ordered. This meant our order picking staff had to have special in-house knowledge to pick (difficult when training new staff) and before stock-take we had to ensure everything had been changed over.

That’s a lot of unwrapping, counting and shrink-wrapping.

We also had to re-label with our new coding system. So I thought we might as well barcode all our bulk paper stocks so we could use the barcode in order picking!

You can imagine my staff would hide every time I wanted to discuss a new idea for ‘the system’. They knew every time I opened my mouth, it meant more work for them…(sorry guys.)

Our sales since our launch has already proven me right. Barcoded packs have reduced and bulk packs have increased! (I love that I can see that stuff all at the touch of a button – with bar graphs!) Our next stage is picking and checking orders with barcode scanners and tablets… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Meanwhile, Dee had begun work on the images.

We used to have a single icon which was applied to all the products of that type. i.e. A4, with a single image of the product colour.

iPaper Product Icons_Pockets 140 Sq Style A       iPaper Product Icons_Pockets 120x180 Style B

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, I wanted it Hollywood style.

I wanted every product image to depict that exact product. i.e. Every product in every colour and every texture. This meant Dee created around 4000 product images, and their thumbnails… Great job Dee. Thanks.

This took months. About 12 of them actually. When you’re doing such a huge task in between your already flat out job, it takes time.

But a picture speaks a thousand words, as they say and now you can see the product you’re after at a glance, which is all I wanted…

140x140 Pockets Style A Lime Fizz 120x180 Pockets Style B Papaya

Meanwhile, my research continued…

I had an enormous list of features I’d seen on other websites, together with looks and colours.

We were still debating our name, so didn’t even have a logo yet!

And then we decided to move premises…

We continued creating images, trying out templates, playing with category filters, testing testing testing. But my focus had to shift to getting us into the new warehouse. Our aim was to go live at the beginning of the new financial year, which would work in well with our move, our new accounting system and our new server (we couldn’t believe that had to be replaced too!)

But it was too much for this koala to bear. There was still so much I had to organise. We had to pick a project – moving won.

So, once again, we put back the launch…

Which was a good thing too as I lost my Graphic Designer to motherhood just before the move and her replacement just ‘didn’t work out’. Our Guillotinist and machinery operator moved back to Queensland (they always go home), so I was trying not to panic while juggling all these balls in the air! It wasn’t working…I was hyperventilating!

Continued next week

The Peterkin Website Journey Pt 1

People Buy from People, Not Companies…The Peterkin Website Journey Pt 3

The Race to the Finish Line – The Peterkin Website Journey Pt 4