Running a business while also navigating in this uncertain world (on many levels) involves a huge amount of shifting around behind the scenes. While I’ve lost a large chunk of my physical business (tours, retreats and classes), I’m very fortunate to also have a digital and mail order branch to my business. This has meant that while one chunk has disappeared for a while I’m scrambling to increase the capacity in other areas. It’s coming together well but it’s exhausting! Most of these changes are going to invisible to you as a user but they allow me to expand my online business as seamlessly as possible.
I thought you might like to know a little bit about what’s going on behind the scenes?
Much of this new world order involved video. I had an older macbook computer that never let me down. It chugged along happily for most everyday tasks I asked it to do. However it didn’t have a dedicated graphics card and rendering a 15 minute video on it took over 2 hours. So the first update for me involved a new computer. I thought that would then be smooth sailing but I managed to get caught in a mac os update that caused the computer to keep restarting instead of sleeping. I spend 2 hours on the phone with apple care one Saturday morning just for them to tell me it was a know fault and would be corrected in the next update. Not a huge deal BUT definitely added to the layers of time consuming tasks on my plate.
This year I’ve spent more time with local enterprise office courses, many of them focused on website optimisation and end user experience. I designed the website for myself; I was sick of all my online products in different places so I designed it to host physical and digital products all in one place. I also wanted it to be extensively tagged so that I could create good search functions and categories.
However I have not spend much time checking out how comfortable the end user was, and if knitters were able to find what they needed. In my last newsletter I put a survey together to find out how user friendly the site was. Fortunately most people loved it the way it was, but I did discover that a lot of the features that were suggested were already there. This made me think that I might need to have more signposts?
The survey is still open until the end of June if you want to add your thoughts (raffle also for book giveaways!) – you can find it here.
One change I’ve added it to reduce the block of text you get at the start of product pages.
Don’t worry though! The extra info hasn’t gone away, I’ve just moved it further down the page. As so many people are now using phones to browse it made sense to have short text, the purchase button and then the rest lower down if you want to learn more.
One problem that came up was website navigation, in particular using pattern searches. I’ve got a lot of patterns so they are all catagorised in a few different ways. On the website if you click on ‘patterns’ you will get a drop down menu.
This menu lists ‘Type’, ‘Yarn Weight’, ‘Technique’ and ‘Construction’. Click into one of those and you’ll get a full list of options. This should make it easier if there is something very specific you’re looking for. I think that it’s fairly well catagorised but if you don’t hover over the buttons long enough it’s possible they aren’t working for you.
Another feature that may also not be obvious is the alternative currency option.
On both the top and bottom of every page you’ll find a drop-down menu for currency. In it there is the option to order in euro, US dollars, Sterling and now Canadian dollars (CAD) and Australian Dollar (AUD). I don’t control the exchange rate so it fluctuates over time. You will be charged in your preferred currency not euro. If you don’t change the currency euro is the default.
If you are ordering on a mobile you need to click ‘menu’ to find the currency option which is at the end of the menu.
This is still an ongoing project, I’m trying to reorgnise my online classes (Bluprint is closing down and I’m just doing online classes myself now) so that they’re easy to navigate and integrate as much as possible. They are hosted on a different website (Teachable) and that’s caused a few problems for people as it means there are multiple logins. I’ve just put a new FAQ section together to help with common problems that come up. (Click on Info and you will come to the FAQ). I’m very proud of this page, even though for the end user it may not look like much, it was hours of digging through back end of my website to find good ways of creating it!
And that’s the hard part about technical work on a website. It could be days of work but as an end user what you see is so small! It’s not the big flashy changes that make a difference to you but the little tweaks and easier to find information.
It might give you some insight into the constant exhaustion I’m feeling right now. Every day involves learning, navigating and thinking through problems. It’s fun most of the time but definitely hard work!
The largest chunk of work I’ve got left to do now is the KAL section. There is so much information available from past KALs that I want to spend some time gathering it together into workshops and putting together a good searchable section so you can find all the information in one place. It’s a big job …. see you at the end of the summer :-)
5 thoughts on “Behinds the Scenes”
My goodness you can now add advanced computer skills to your skill set. I can appreciate the physical and mental commitment necessary to ensure your business is sustainable and successful. Thank you for all your hard work, as an end user, I certainly appreciate it. Xx
Oh wow hard mental work for sure Carol. Thank you for the change on the yarn selection you showed in this newsletter. I will visit the site and navigate around and enjoy your updates.
Thank you for all you do. Most of all, I appreciate the currency conversion tool. As far as the website contents are concerned, everything is laid out logically. As an end user, I appreciate websites that make information readily available through as few links as possible. Having to dig down deeply for what I need on a website is maddening, much like having to navigate through a phone tree menu until you finally push “0” for Operator!
I return to websites that are logically laid out and easy to navigate. Side bars and drop down boxes work for me. When all is said and done, you’ll be a master of computer skills!
I think that this explains why your patterns are so well written and reinforced with tutorials. You’re willing to get down in the weeds to make the user experience the best possible. Well, this in addition to creating interesting knitting patterns and beautiful, wearable yarn. Your attention to detail is exquisite and although your hard work is invisible up front, it definitely shows in your end products and classes. I have all your blueprint classes I believe and I can’t tell you how often I go back to review something, especially your short row class. I’m still waiting for Bluprint to tell us how we will be able to download the classes we own for good. Right now it’s a laborious process so I hope that they make it easier. Thank you Carol for always thinking of the end user!
The easiest way I have found is documented on this web site; https://sewmodernbags.com/how-to-download-video-classes-from-bluprint-or-craftsy/.
It requires a 20.00 piece of software, but saves a lot of time.
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