Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Maintaining a website

We've had the website for three years now, and as much as I love it, it's really hard work and I never really feel as if I'm on top of it. Because of the nature of what I do, I'm always creating and making new products, especially with new fabrics etc as you never know what lovely little gems your going to find when you're out for a rummage in the shops! New products just never seem to sit around for long enough in order for me to get some nice photos, either that or the weather is crap and I can't get outside to take the damn pictures!

I am soooo lucky that I don't have to pay someone a fortune to "do" the website for me, thankfully I have a very patient husband who has quite happily taught himself how to do it for me, if it wasn't for him I'd have no web site at all! We are always debating over the whole "click & buy" scenario too, but to be honest, I'm quite happy with the set up as it is - if I had orders coming in left, right and centre I wouldn't be able to cope as I never seem to have a massive pile of stock - it's generally all for a shop or for stock for a fair!

We spent last night getting rid of the terrribly out of date Christmas web site and making it a bit more spring like - but as usual while I was sitting updating all the text, I'm busy gabbering away to Gregg about how I want to change it before we do the Country Living Fair?!!

I am totally in awe of all the ladies out there who manage to create such beautiful crafts and maintain a web site too, how do they find the time? You should have a look at them, there's Cherry, Samantha and Tracey for starters and Donna, Fiona and Clare are busy working on theirs too, all very exciting.

So ladies, I'd like to pick your brains. I am very much of the opinion that because I am a very small rural business I get away with not being a fancy, slick set up, I don't do credit cards, it's payment by cheque or Paypal and I don't have a brochure (lots of people asked for them over the Christmas spell). I like to think that our lifestyle is very much a part of the business and the business is very much a part of our lifestyle - all very organic - if you see what I mean? Your thoughts on this would be very much appreciated, and thank you to everyone who comments on the site, it really does mean so much to me that people take the time to say their bit.


L x


carolyn said...

Lisa, we (husband and I) love your wesite, it looks very professional and works well. I personally don't see a problem with not having credit cards, paypal covers that afterall. Bearing in mind that many of your products are going to only be available in limited numbers it makes sense not having a cart, you might end up having to do a load of refunds. Ouch. Just read about the angst on Alicia's blog Posie gets Cosy.
But really it depends how you see the business evolving, are you happy with it the way it is? Or do you see yourself growing further into mail order? Do you want to become the next er Cath Kidson for want of an example?
Brochures are lovely but would one generate enough business to 1. pay for itself they, are horribly expensive and 2. increase your sales enough to be worthwhile. Only you and Greg really know the answers to that one.
Do you have business cards to hand out at fairs? They are always useful to hand out so that people can remember where to find you.
Have you seen the Moo cards? Loads of people are posting about at the moment, I bet some of your beautiful photographs would make great Moo cards and apparently you can have your own message printed on the back, they would be great to hand out at fairs.

Tracy said...

Hi Lisa
I have just taken a quick look at your website and it is super x
It is lovely to look at, warm and friendly and above all else easy to use!!!
The lack of taken credit cards is not a problem as paypal does all that we need. I could not run my shop without a credit card machine but i have never had anyone try and phone a payment through from the website.
I agree that it is so difficult to juggle everything and keep it all looking new and fresh. I also struggle with this and feel this huge guilt when either the website or shop looks neglected!
As you know we are moving to Caithness this year and i cannot wait to slowly change my website to more crafts rather than mass produced - i feel that my website is too busy - my problem at the moment is that so much lovely stock is flooding into the shop and i am trying to cram it all on the website!!!
I think you have got the balance just right x
And i so admire you for doing the Country Living Fair - i am determined to be there as a stallholder this time next year - hopefully on the stand next to you!!
Don't worry and don't change a thing - it is lovely just as it is.
Tracy x

Samantha said...

Hi Lisa,
my sister is doing my website otherwise, like you said there wouldn't be one!

I think Paypal is adequate as it is so easy for people to pay that way.

I think there is a plus in people knowing that you are a relatively small operation - gives it that touch of exclusivity!

Samantha said...

Hi Lisa,
if it wasn't for my sister, my website wouldn't be getting off the ground either.

On the paypal front, I think that's perfectly acceptable. I think there can be a plus in being a relatively small company - an air of exclusivity!

Nonnie said...

Hi lisa
I think your website is really lovely. It's one of my favourites because it is fresh and simple looking, very easy to navigate and has lovely products and pictures to look at. I'm going to keep my ordering system very simple when mines set up. Just paypal and cheques. I work a full time job as well so I guess I will have the same kind of struggles to keep it up to date so I want something that I can keep fairly in control of.
I've just had a look at your update and it looks really lovely. I love the new dotty hearts and the dot door stop. I wish I had a door that needed stopping so I could justify buying one!
I really don't think you should change a thing. I agree with Carolyn about the brochures. I'm not sure if they would be cost effective. The moo cards definitely look like a good idea. I'm planning on getting some done myself.
Finally I'm totally in awe of you doing the CL Fair. I would love to be there myself as a stall holder one day. I think you should keep on as you are. Your site is lovely. Nonnie x

Donna said...

Lisa I woud just like to echo the sentiments of those who have alredy commented and say that I think you are doing exactly the right thing already. There is no need to change as far as I can see. I think I too have been dragging my feet a little because I am scared that things may get out of control and be too busy. I want my business to grow slowly and organically as yours has. Brochures are expensive and become out of date very quickly and do not allow for changes of heart or a sudden burst of inspiration when you add another item to your stock. A website can accomodate this easily. I love your website I think it is fresh looking, easy to use and the photos are beautiful. xxx

jo said...

I agree with the comments already made, your website is fabby and brochures are expensive to print and to post. Most people these days can get online somewhere which I think means the website is the right way to go. I think the Moo cards are super and costs effective too, you could give loads of them out at the CL Fair. Totally envious as I can't even get the the Fair as a visitor nevere mind a stall holder..hope it goes really well

Cat said...

I've just looked at your website for the first time and I think it's beautiful. I agree that paypal is fine instead of credit cards, and I like the more personal feel of your site compared to larger ones, it will reassure people that they're dealing with a human being!

Primrose Hill said...

Wow, thank you all for commenting and saying such wonderful things about the site, I really, really do appreciate it - I even made Gregg sit down last night and read all your comments, he was really chuffed! You have all confirmed what I've been thinking, so thank you - sometimes you just need that little bit of reassurance from other like minded people who can understand what your blethering on about?! Yes, that personal touch is something I feel quite strongly about so I'm glad that comes through the site - the only thing I'm going to change is to make it a wee bit bigger with all the new spring goodies!
Thanks again,
L xx

Twinkle Pink said...

Hi Lisa, if it helps to add anymore, I love shopping on the web and do unfortunately shop a lot.

I always find it a bit of a bind to put all my credit card details in, I much prefer using Paypal, after all you only have to remember the password.

Hope it adds to anything.
Best wishes Ginny

VintagePretty said...

Your site is lovely (what would we do without clever husbands?), very pretty and yet functional. Online payment doesn't have to be very slick, I love the way you accept cheques (very few people do nowadays, although I still rather like 'em) which keeps it more personal, as if you're transacting with a person at the other end.

Good luck with your website remodel!

Cherry Menlove said...

First of all I would like to apologise for the length of time it has taken me to write a response to this post. It has been a busy week and although I know you understand that I still feel bad about it as I really do want to help if I can.
I love your website. I too only accept PayPal as it is now internationally recognised as a safe way to pay for everything. I too take all of my pictures and update the site by myself. So I know where that feeling of uncertainty about it not looking professional enough comes from. But if somebody else had created your website and blog you would look at it and I know that you would think it was just wonderful and you would feel totally comfortable purchasing from it. I think of my blogs, website and products as works in progress and see massive changes from season to season.
In reference to the comment about it being and organic process I say "YOU GO GIRL!!!!"
I really do not want to see mass produced items dressed up as rural chic. I lament the way that smaller designers have gone global and lost a sense of rustic charm in the process. Of course it has bought them tremendous wealth and power and I would find it very hard to turn that down if it meant I could spread the word about seasonal living and supporting local business. So the only person I can direct you to, who in my eyes is getting the balance right, is Hugh F-W and his River Cottage. His ethos is right on the money (pardon the pun) and he has found a very good, clean middle ground.
I feel like I have rambled and not made much sense. But I would urge you to go forth and conquer as many people as you can with your wonderful style and home grown products. You are part of a fantastic cottage and crafty style rustic revolution.

Cherry x

Jane said...

Lisa - You know I love your site - I would say stick to your vision of what Primrose Hill is - don't get sidetracked by buying too much in and don't get bogged down by thinking that a photo is never perfect - go with good enough - they always look perfect to me anyway.

Gigibird said...

My friend and are are planning a website and I think yours is just perfect - do you really need a shopping basket facility when you have a small product range? I think it's great the way it is. If you are selling what you're making and have a good work/craft/life balance why change?

Joanna said...

I've been bad at posting comments of late, its been very busy with the move. I just wanted to say I love your website. It all looks very tidy and intriging. I have always wanted to make my website just that bit different from a shiny shopping cart experience. That does not go with what I sell. I must find time to up date it with the new large square cards and I have some ideaas to add some free downloadable colouring pages and print. I think paypal works fine too like verybody else. I even think some websites that you can't pay by paypal is annoying becuase if you have some money in your paypal acount you can do it all there and then rather than finding your bag and card etc.