As a jeweller I have quickly learnt that jewellery designing and making is only a small percentage of what is involved in running my creative business. I think the perception is that I sit around and twiddle away making pretty designs. In reality setting up and running my online business, speaking to stockists, developing the company as a whole, market research, planning budgets, and marketing take up the majority of my time.
In particular setting up a website with ecommerce has been the top of my priority this year. I wanted to create a professional site for customers to purchase my jewellery. I didn’t want it to look homemade but I also had a limited budget so knew I couldn’t afford a designer, top notch features, and top photography. I have worked hard over the past year to develop it and have learnt a lot of do’s and don’ts over the past year.
Really research other websites…
I really started researching a wide range of sites, I listed features I liked and wanted for my site, but also made a note of why I felt some sites weren’t successful in my opinion. I looked at huge profitable sites such as ASOS, Astley Clarke, and Feel Unique and tried to pin point exactly how they manage to lure in customers and entice you to purchase their products.
I spent months researching, looking at logos, colour schemes, layouts and icons. I still continue this research to see if there is anything I would like to add to my site or improve. There is a long list of features I would love to add, or things I feel need adjusting, but that is for another pay day.
I felt this research gave me the confidence to start designing my website, and also gave me a strong idea of how to go about planning a website.
Be prepared for it to take time…
The whole process of developing and designing a website takes a great amount of time. While I never thought it would be instant, I didn’t expect to still be planning and making changes.
However I realise now, in order to keep ahead, my attention will need to remain on my website, it will need occasional homepage tweaks and re-designs to keep returning customers interested, it needs updating with blog posts and fresh content to benefit my search engine optimisation rates, and in general there are always improvements I can make to improve customer sales.
I have learnt that it needs a great amount of time and patience to get right.
Be clear to your developer…
I designed my own site using Photoshop. I found myself a developer and passed my plans on. The site has gone through several phases of updates, the latest being a better checkout layout. The clearer I am to my developer the better. If I provide all the artwork and very clear instructions, it saves me a lot of time trying to plan the design. I now outline exactly what I want where, what should link to which part of the site etc. Clear instructions and plans save money and time, being too vague to your developer only opens up the plans to the wrong interpretation.
Social media is a great networking tool…
I managed to find some great affordable photographers through Facebook. It is a great tool to find people who can help you.
I follow other jewellers and creative businesses to firstly follow the growth of their business, but it also tells me what companies they use for their photography, who they use for their PR, what shows they are going to be doing, what stockists they are with, and generally shows me opportunities which could be viable for my business.
Be too picky…
I am very picky about everything on the site. While my budget is limited, I know what I want to change and I will change it. Websites are expensive and you must aim for it to represent you in the best light. It can be the first impression you provide so it must look professional.
While it can be impossible to get everything to look and run the way you would prefer initially if on a tight budget, don’t give up, make small changes as and when you can. Soon your site will really develop.
Invest in user testers…
This is the next phase for me. User testers are great for helping you establish points you might be missing. I will set my user tester particular challenges; for example find out what my returns policy is or find my Dandelion Little Seed Pendant and add it to your basket. My user will film and narrate them completing the challenge, and will then outline anything they had difficulty with and suggest changes which could benefit my sales rates.
About the author: I am a jewellery designer and maker who crafts handmade silver jewellery. I have run my jewellery business for two years and took the plunge to launch my own e-commerce website this year to target a wide market, but to also keep up with others in my industry who are beginning to set up online. I have learnt about basic SEO, conversion rate optimisation, web design and development and the running of online businesses through helpful business blogs and generally through the experience of actually setting up a website from the start and trying everything possible to develop a professional website.