Tina Roth Eisenberg — "So if I had three tips for someone starting out an e-commerce site the first one is make sure people get it right away when they come to your site (what your product is). There’s no guessing. Make sure that the your brand and what you stand for come across in the feel of the site right away. The second one would be to make it easy to purchase something. Don’t have someone click ten times to get to a shopping cart and then click another ten times to check out. Make sure that if somebody is interested in your product that they can check out quickly and efficiently and the order is on the way.
I think the third would be be consistent. Make sure your brand is consistent throughout everything you touch. Not only on your website, but if you ship something make sure that there is love in the packaging. Make sure that they sense that there is a human being there. Make sure that they feel that there is a human that touched this product and they wrapped it carefully, and there’s maybe real stamps on the packaging instead of just a label. Put care into it, because customers will notice. Just to give you an example: with Tattly we do that. We don’t print our stamps (which we could, which would make it much easier), we go the extra route and put stamps on them. We try to pick fun stamps and we have this manual stamp that we put on so that it has a feel like there was a human behind it. People Tweet about it all the time. They Instagram our packaging. It shows that customers want to feel like they are relating to other human beings who are running a business. Put care into what you sell and do.
I realize that I am very fortunate in that I am a graphic designer so there is a lot that I can handle in terms of building a brand than someone that say, comes from a different background that is not able to. What I have noticed is that it really pays to at least have a designer to do even a little polishing of your product or website, because it just shows: even though you think you did a really good job on that business card or that website by doing it a little bit by yourself, people will sense if something comes across professional or not. So while I understand about people cannot afford hiring a super-polished professional web designer it’s something that I would factor in when you start a business. When you do start something, I assume you are starting it like a product or a website (selling something) - I assume you are doing it because you believe in it. That shows in taking that branding part seriously.
Just a few things to keep in mind. What I would say is that if you have a designer help you a little bit, at least until you get rolling. I understand it’s expensive. Make sure that there is consistency. Consistency in the typeface you use for your packaging, and on your website, and your logo. Consistency is really, really, key. Then make sure the brand message is key. For example: when you come to a site it is really important that someone that comes to your site knows within seconds what you are about. Have a mission, something really short. Don’t let them guess what your product is. It’s really important. Make sure that your site is usable. Don’t clutter it up - it’s not about filling space, that’s something that a lot of non-designers don’t understand is that it’s okay to have white space on your site. It let’s the product breathe.
In terms of working with the designer: make sure that if you hire someone (being a client is not easy, especially when it’s your baby and you are very nervous about it and you might not have a big budget) - be really, really prepared when you hire a designer. Do your homework. Look at sites that you like and be very specific about why you like them. Tell the designer exactly: ‘I like the color scheme; I like the proportions; I like the way it works; I like the carousel; just be as specific as you can be. A designer can unfortunately not read your mind, and if you want this to be a successful collaboration you need to do your part. It’s not like you can just show up and say ‘I want an elegant website’. You need to give them more. I think it is like a two-way street in terms of a successful collaboration with a designer. Just know that it will pay off. People sense if somebody is serious about this. You will be more likely to be respected and picked up by big blogs or by newspapers if there is a sense of professionalism behind it."