Over the past two weeks I have discussed why a custom website might be too much for your business right now and how your website layout can build long-lasting customer relationships.
But you don’t need to take it all from me. I asked two of my clients to share their experiences running online businesses. Here is why they opted for pre-made Shopify themes for their latest ventures – and why they asked for my help to set them up.
From Etsy to Shopify
Karyn Astleford is moments away from launching Siggi Clothier Co, her new line of play-friendly, gender fluid kids’ clothes.
Her first kids’ clothing line was completely handmade by her and she focused on selling it at local markets and through her Etsy shop. But when she started her new business, she wanted to build a wider customer base and opted for Shopify instead.
“No matter how much effort I put into my Etsy shop and product photos and descriptions, it never really felt like it would be mine, or that I could be taken seriously by customers,” says Karyn. “95% of traffic was from my Instagram page or word of mouth, so there was no benefit to being on a marketplace platform. And there was no way to have a newsletter sign up on Etsy. I started calculating how much Etsy was actually costing me!”
Seemingly Small Changes Can Make a Big Transformation
Karyn brought me on board early in her project to do her full visual branding. Once we’d wrapped that up, she decided to have me do her website too. After I helped her pick a theme, she decided to upload her content directly to the site herself and had a go at creating a layout. And then I came in…
Using the information she had shared in her questionnaire about what her priorities were for her website’s visitors, I changed the order of some elements, removed some, added others, uploaded her brand’s fonts, and made small customizations throughout the site. After Karyn saw it, she sent me this: “What did you do to my website!!! It’s perfect!!!”
Then she elaborated:
“I purchased a theme I liked, plunked in my content and images, and had a look at my site as a whole. I thought it looked great. I rearranged some parts of the home page and main menu and thought it looked even better. After Elise was done, it looked like a completely different website. Like, it transformed into a legit website for a real clothing brand.
“I could tell that Elise really listened to what I needed out of my website. Her questionnaire got me thinking about feelings and actions instead of actual design preferences and details. She portrayed it in subtle yet effective ways on the home page and with the flow of the entire site. Everything she added or tweaked seemed like no-brainers, but I don’t have her laser eyes for these visual details to do it myself!”
It’s Not Just About the Theme
One theme can look wildly different depending on the customizations and layout. Picking a great theme to work from is essential – but what you do with it is just as important.
Karyn is thrilled with how her new site looks: “If I’m going to be selling online mostly, it’s obvious that I should have a really good website that represents my brand well and makes people want to buy my products. It feels like I’m doing my products justice now. They’re beautiful and awesome, and everything else about the brand should match the calibre of the product.”
From Completely Custom To a Shopify Theme
Allie Olson came at websites from the other side. Three years ago she started Indiesew, a social network for sewists and a retailer of indie patterns and garment fabrics. Because of the very specialized functionality Indiesew requires, it was built on a completely custom website.
After only three years, the site has over 20,000 members (whoa, right!?) and is a pillar of the indie sewing community – so much so that my client Alina counted getting accepted by Indiesew as a big success!
Why Use a Pre-Made Theme?
Allie released the first sewing pattern under her own line, Allie Olson Sewing Patterns, in fall of 2016. By spring, she had launched a second pattern and wanted to be able to sell them wholesale. So why did she go with a pre-made Shopify theme?
“I wanted something off-the-shelf that would be easy to set up and maintain. It would have cost more and taken longer to modify Indiesew.com to contain a wholesale portal. It’s a self-built site so it’s really expensive to have a developer make changes to our code base.
“I also wanted to keep Allie Olson Sewing Patterns separate from Indiesew. I have lots of experience with WordPress, but for years I’ve been hearing is that Shopify is the best ecommerce platform out there from my fellow sewing pattern designers. I didn’t want to waste time on trying to make something work on a different platform; I wanted a stellar website from the beginning.”
Why Outsource the Theme Customization?
Allie didn’t just slap together a theme on her own. Instead of sifting through Shopify’s 60 themes to find the perfect one, then spending hours setting it up – when visual branding and web design are not her areas of expertise – Allie bought my Shopify customization package.
“I just don’t have the time for all the minutiae that is involved in setting up a website. Tweaking the theme’s appearance, resizing images, etc. is no longer appealing to me. I’d rather have a broad vision and work with someone who understands that and can execute it flawlessly. Elise did that.”
Allie was up and running with her wholesale ecommerce site in less than a month. And she got all of my web design expertise applied to her site on a much smaller budget than a custom website.
How to Launch Your Website Before the New Year…
I have never offered a discount before and I may never offer one again…but I’m going to offer one now ONLY to my newsletter subscribers! If you’ve been dreading your website and want to launch before mid-January, you are going to want to get in on this.
Sign up for my email list to receive the details and launch your website in time for the new year!