Notes from Australia

The pain of relaunching my website

When I launched My Wedding Décor in April 2015 on the Shopify platform, I chose the Retina Austin theme by New Zealand-based developer Out of the Sandbox.

The theme was — and is — highly rated by retailers. It looked clean and functional. I could easily add my first 80 products without much assistance. Furthermore, I attracted my first sale 21 days after launching.

Within a year, however, I met a designer who said I would make more sales with a redesigned website.

His redesign — using another Shopify theme, Testament, by a U.S. developer — included a home page with drop-down menus featuring photos to better showcase my décor categories, amongst other features. In July 2016, I relaunched My Wedding Décor with this new look.

With the rise in demand from corporate clients, I launched My Event Décor in January 2017, copying the new design. This time there was a delay of 37 days until my first sale.

Even before I merged it into My Event Décor in late April 2018, some apps and elements on My Wedding Décor had started to break. Our changes had affected the original theme code.

Developer absent

A few months ago, it became difficult to confirm appointments with my designer and to get emails and phone calls returned. His quoted hours doubled. My old rate of $80 per hour grew to $100 an hour without so much as an email to let me know.

Further, his Time Doctor hour logging system disappeared from my invoices. My website and his customer care were failing. Thus it was time to start once more with a fresh theme that would hopefully require minimal development.

Despite looking through dozens of possible Shopify themes, I returned to the original Retina theme.

But my designer had extensively reworked the original theme. It had so many changes that a smooth relaunch with the new version was impossible as existing apps installed on one theme didn’t work with other. Nonetheless, I relaunched the site myself with the Retina Melbourne theme on September 12, 2018.

Remaining apps

I deleted at least seven free and paid Shopify apps before the September launch. I kept only the following apps, which are vital to running my website:

  • Book That App (a rental booking app),
  • Lucky Orange (live chat and live customer tracking),
  • Minifier (image minifying),
  • Shopping Feeder (Google Shopping),
  • Traffic Guard (to block unwanted ISPs),
  • Calculator Builder (which calculates event hire costs in real time),
  • Xero (accounting).

Upon relaunching, I had to fix headline padding, text-wrapping around photos on my blog posts and Contact Us page, and the spacing on the testimonials page.

This relaunch proved to be a useful time to cull non-performing apps as well as to seek ones with lower monthly fees. I have since reduced my monthly app costs from roughly AUD$80 to AUD$53.

I deleted the Shop My Instagram app because I had never received a direct sale in its six months of operation. It was better to let Instagram users explore my website rather than get a link to a showcased product.

I was sorry to discover that the Product Questions Answers app, which allowed shoppers to ask quick questions, is incompatible with my new theme. Product Questions Answers had proved rather useful at closing sales.

The previous coding had enabled me to receive emails that listed the consumer’s name and event date in the subject title, making it easy to triage inquiries. However, I had forgotten it was the coding and not the apps that could make this work.

In 10 days I tried three different apps to create the Contact Us page with none of them able to give me easily identifiable subject lines.

It seems surprising that no apps offer an option to identify email queries via the subject line. I had to use two “Shopify Experts” (Shopify’s directory of third-party service providers) to resolve this issue.

Previous coding had provided shoppers with a dynamic date calculator on the products for purchase (not rent), which would show the number of days to delivery. The first Shopify Expert incorrectly copied the default sample code of nine days, applying it to all products; the second expert solved this issue.

In fact, the second expert has proved so quick and efficient that I have already given her a third job.

It has cost approximately AUD$1,275 to relaunch my website with three-quarters of this to fix errors from the new theme not linking correctly with old coding.

Hopefully, I have now resolved all hiccups with the relaunch.

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