Chapter 13: Website Design

Navigating Site Design and Product Photos

Website Design with Strikingly

Website design was relatively straightforward using Strikingly. I highly recommend this site builder to novices especially. Effectively a simplified version of square space, the tool allowed me to build some quick templates for www.thenxtstop.com that looked good enough to launch with. It has simple e-commerce integration too that was fine for our first products.

The Product Photo Nightmare

The tricky part though was getting the e-commerce piece set up with the right photos. I have absolute newfound respect for photographers and graphic artists. To take truly great product photos is an art in itself, and to “Photoshop” them to perfection requires a masterful touch.

Since I had no money (or camera) in Dallas, I read a few shopify articles on DIY product photography (here’s a good one) using a cell phone, went to Michael’s for supplies, and got to work. I shot 4 angles for each hat and color, for a total of 30 shots (back shots were reusable). Never in my life has a task taken so long or been so frustrating. The process was as follow: clean the hat (e.g., remove lint), postion it, snap photo, send via Bluetooth to computer, open in Lightroom, use quick trick to make white background, move to photoshop, remove all irregularities or imperfections, crop to right size, save, and upload to site. It took me roughly 40 hours to do I believe. Painstaking does not begin to describe it. Yes, I got better along the way, but I will gladly pay someone (and I now can, thankfully) to do this right.

The message was clear: DON’T SKIMP ON YOUR PRODUCT PHOTOS!! SAVE TIME AND DO IT RIGHT, EVEN IF IT SEEMS EXPENSIVE. The corollary there is to ensure your photographer is good. You may think it would be impossible to screw up a photo of a hat sitting flat on a display. You can, trust me.