For other artists wishing to set up their own website

for anyone who’s interested in my experience of mrsite and my chosen replacement…

I set up my mrsite website when I was still at college, (I am still convinced it enhanced my overall grades! just by having a domain name with some stuff on it!I was taking the pics anyway and writing artists statements and things, why not stick it on the www too? obviously only works if your degree is related…and yes, I was doing a degree, at an art college, so college not Uni.)
I was pleased with it for about a year and a bit, then it began to really annoy me.

I had the normal one, not pro, and I HATED only having one photo of the items that were for sale, I had a photo album which had other views of the items in the shop, but it was a big giant fudge. I also didn’t like having to manually remove an item when I’ve sold it.
I didn’t like the way shipping worked. you couldn’t have the person select an upgrade to special delivery or international shipping for example. I had to have a separate item called ‘upgrade postage’ which was another fudge.

One hugey big thing that annoyed me was when you wanted to add another page, for example an extra shop for jewellery or cored beads or something, it moved all the other pages one down the list, which meant having to redo all the links, which when your site was as big as mine took ages, and I still missed some. I can recommend if you do go down the mrsite route, make blank pages and then mark them as hidden, do more than you think you will need, make them sub-pages of the things you want as well cause they will move also, so, you might have ‘photo galleries’ and then the sub pages cored beads, jewellery, sets, etc then put spare gallery 1, 2 , 3 , 4 etc etc and hide them. You can also do this for online shop pages, they can be hidden and use them for custom orders,  send customer the link and when they get there you can have ‘hello *nameofperson* welcome to your online shop! here are your items! or something.

I will say, that once the paypal was set up, which wasn’t too difficult, it was an absolute dream, worked perfectly, no problems with it ever. though I didnt know how good it was at the time…
(I have had ‘issues’ setting up the new one, but, nother story!) I had my normal paypal account which went to my current account at the time cause it was the only one I had. I never got any emails from mrsite saying I’d sold something, only ever ones from papal saying someone had paid me. presumably this meant that people who ordered only got confirmation via paypal too? cant remember!

The new one, well I have gone down the cubecart route. its free, (well, there are un-free versions also) you just pay for hosting…but, you will require alot of time and quite a bit of computery knowledge to set it up.

I don’t claim to have lots of computer knowledge, but then I’m of the generation that grew up with computers, lots of knowledge to me is probably different to someone else’s interpretation!

cubecart has forums with the really clever people on who will help dumb noobies out. (yes, I count myself amongst them when it comes to websites) I had to delve in php scripts, html scripts, javascript and CSS. I do not know the languages and all I did was to mess with existing code or paste in code that someone else gave me, I didn’t really write any of my own.yes, I did break it several times.but if you’re like me, you back up about every five minutes as if it was your dissertation so its all ok!

what I really liked about cubecart is, that although its free, what comes with it is fairly basic, then modders (clever people, mod = modification, or module, depending on the type, not to be confused with forum moderator!) come along and write little bits of code which do things in a much nicer way to the basic one, be it prettier or better or more complicated. some of these mods are free and some are not.

for anyone who is interested, my website mods cost me…$9.99 + $24.99 +£10 +£10 I think. that’s an images preview mod, a shipping mod, previous/next with images and a suggestive search with pictures. All the other mods were free and I did all the work myself. none of those 4 mods were essential to make it work, they just make it look/work better.

I really liked the idea of being able to only pay for the extras you want/need and not any others, but basic function is for the most part there.

initially I just tried out cubecart to see whether I got on with it, whether it would do what I wanted, I didn’t initially spend any money on it, and when it became obvious that it was going to be vastly superior to mrsite and that I could achieve it then I spent some money.

some benefits of cubecart for anyone that thinks they can handle it…
*it has proper stock control, even though everything is set to 1 at the moment. but you could have 0, so its still visible, but it could be for ‘sold’, on display in a gallery, or made to order items.
*you can have options for items, eg I have some loose beads, but people can choose to pay me extra to have me make it up into a pendant for them, without having to email me separately and find out about it first.
*you can have as many pics of items as you like (but they come up in a popup window which I thought was ugly, so I bought a mod to make them appear in a much more slick manner)
*shipping options are selected at the checkout and apply to the whole basket, not one charge per item
*the shop is databased, and therefore searchable. I can also put one item in multiple categories, eg recycled bead bracelet goes in ‘recycled range’ and ‘jewellery'<‘bracelets’
*you can redesign the skin however you like, change colours, sizes, placement, everything can be moved and played with (disadvantage being you have to have some clue what you’re doing or you’ll break it!)

a few disadvantages that might put people off
*its not easy!
*it does have a few erm… ‘quirks’
*it will take over your life for a while!
*if you want to get rid of the ‘powered by cubecart’ stuff at the top and bottom it costs £55. I’m putting up with it until my website starts making me some money, then it will be well worth contributing to the clever clever people that wrote this software/program/clever thing
*without a modifiction, customers will have to register with your site if they want to purchase anything. this is not bad for you, as you have their details for following up (not annoying spam style, genuine follow up) and also, they’re going to they’ve to give you their address anyway if they want you to post anything to them!it may put the odd few customers off because they think ‘oh not another blinkin’ password to remember!’

If you are looking to set up a cubecart website, I don’t mind being contacted for links and useful info…more pointing you in the right direction for the info rather than being the originator of it! also if you like something I’ve used on my site and want something like it for your own, I may be able to tell you where I got it, how I did it etc.

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