Monday, February 6, 2012

Newly Designed Website Has Gone Live!

After many long days and nights working on it, I've finally decided to unveil my newly designed Explore The Light website. For years I've been utilizing Smugmug as my behind the scenes ecommerce hosting platform for my ever growing image library. For the most part, I'd been pretty happy with Smugmug's service, but it had a couple of major flaws that have been eating at me for the last year or so and finally got the best of me.

First was its less-than-robust search mechanism. Search strings entered had to match an image keyword exactly or no results would be returned. Also, strings in an image's description field were not included in such searches. I had a number of clients express frustration with the trouble they'd had finding images and who knows how many potential clients were lost when they couldn't find what they were looking for and moved on. With an online image collection of over 2000 images (and growing) on my site, the need for a robust search mechanism has become more and more critical.

Secondly (and of even more importance) is that I wanted to move to a business model where all my online print orders are self-fulfilled. That is, whenever a customer places an order through the site's cart system and checks out, the order would come directly to me and I'd print and send it out myself. While Smugmug provides an excellent cart system with their service, it's only available if you utilize one of their third party printers and they've shown no sign over the years of offering a self-fulfillment option (despite many requests for it). Sure, I could eliminate the cart system and require orders to be placed via email, but I want a more professional ordering interface (and I'm sure potential customers do too!).

The New Look!