Templates Are In Your Future
In one ten-day period last month I created two blogs (HeroesCureCancer.com and StoryofCancer.org). Create one website in ten days much less two was impossible when I created my first website in 1999. Now, with little prior knowledge, you can create an attractive website in a day by using templates and platforms such as WordPress or Blogspot.
It is easy to change your template too, so if your design looks dated or isn’t converting (moving visitors to buyers) change your template. Expect to spend about as much time changing as you did setting your blog up in the first place. It can take a day to a week based on how complicated the template and how well you operate with Photoshop and Dreamweaver (or some other HTML editor).
Template Design Tip 1: SEO Don’t Forget It
I noticed our CureCancerStore.org website’s Google listing says simply, “Cure Cancer Catalog” in the title (perhaps the most important “meta” information on the page). This title points to an oversight. In most templates SEO is shared and the bare minimum is where most templates start saying things like “home” for your homepage. It is easy to login to Agile7 and change the title to:
Shop To Cure Cancer | 100% Profits For A Cure | Cure Cancer Store
Right at 65 characters (the title character limit suggested by SEOmoz) and this new title is more keyword dense and engaging that what is there now. Google will take a day or two to revisit and change our title, but good lesson is to not forget to review your SEO especially on key pages. Eventually I will go through and write titles for every page, but getting our home page fixed is a good start.
Template Design Tip 2: Adjusting YOUR Perspective
When you use templates such as WTE.net’s Agile7 don’t fight the template. The color scheme of this Agile7 template meant we had to change our logo colors. Worth it to create a robust ecommerce store in a month, but be aware of how the template’s color scheme might impact your other creative.
If you know how to modify CSS (style sheets) you don’t have to live with the template’s starting colors. I don’t so it was easier for me to modify our logo (a logo with little following so it could be flexible). I could have hired a designer who knows CSS to help make changes but that defeats one reason to use templates – they don’t cost as much as writing original code.
Template Design Tip 3: Get Creative & Modify What Is THERE
If you modify a template’s core code you are spending money. I’m very proud of the “brand” area on CureCancerStore.org. Instead of Sony and Nike I modified the area to link to Story of Cancer Foundation websites such as CureCancerStarter.org and HeroesCureCancer.com.
Find ways to get creative with what is there and you will make web design templates work for you.
Template Design Tip 4: Improve Shopping Cart Later
Improvements in your cart such as fewer steps or a more clear sequence map (graphics showing steps) will contribute more to your bottom line than almost any other change, but don’t make those changes right away and never after Labor day.
Freeze your cart from Labor Day until New Years if you are a 4th quarter loaded ecommerce play like CureCancerStore.org. Launch with what came out of the can and improve it after the holidays.
Template Design Tip 5: Tables Are TOUGH
If you are like me and haven’t made the leap to CSS design yet templates are both a gift from GOD and a curse from the devil. Since the templates CSS controls things like how a table is displayed (with or without background, with or without border) going into the code and adding old school tables and other tags that may not be used in HTML5 and CSS3.
I tend to stumble and bumble along until there is ROI on having a pro show me how to fix my “bull in a china shop” design. You can find almost any code you need somewhere online. My suggestion is do the best you can, get through your first holiday selling season, look hard at your analytics and see what is worth fixing.
Oh and start with the cart and work your way forward (cart, product page, category page, home page). Many “new to the web” designers start the other way, but teams I’ve manged, the people I paid to know CSS (lol), have made over $30M in online ecommerce and we did that by knowing when to do what (like NOT working on our cart after labor day).
Most of those hard won web design lessons came the hard way. We messed up and then realized our mess up. There is so much information now you shouldn’t have to mess up half as much (lol).
Follow @ScentTrail on Twitter and let’s connect on G+ and I like to use Scoop.it and promise to share more hard won lessons that can save you time and money. Hope today’s tips about using templates helped.