An E-Commerce Journal Part 2
Setting Up the SiteA fantastic young programmer named Marcus was assigned to our site by the server people in California. Marcus would do all of the database programming and I would create the HTML. Tammy and I both would input the artwork.
Since the server would be set up to generate a page for every painting, Tammy and I needed to only create the building blocks. The server would put it all together.
We took a picture of every painting using a Kodak DC280 digital camera and a two-point lighting system. The lights sat at a 45-degree angle to the paintings and shone through a polarization filter to reduce glare. The paintings were held in place with magnets. Before the trip, I went to a local sheet metal dealer and bought a piece of metal 4 feet by 5 feet and tacked it to the wall. I then went to a fabric store and bought a black, burlap-like cloth and covered the entire thing. This made for a magnetic wall. We bought ten round magnets that held the unframed paintings and started taking pictures.
Each picture was sized and then made into a thumbnail. A short description and a long description of every painting was fed into the database over a period of almost two months.
It was all put onto a server known as a "development" server. That's a password-protected server where you build the site and test it before it goes live. After our two months of work, the finished site was viewed by 25 different people to beta test it for any problems.
We hired a professional copywriter to proof the site. The fee we had worked out was never paid. She fell in love with one of the paintings and asked if she could have it in return for her services.
The beta-testers found problem after problem. Some were big; some were small. All were sent to Marcus and all were fixed. The main problems were navigation and the shopping cart.
We found that many of our users couldn't get to the pages that discussed an individual painting. Links were added and images were made active and that was repaired pretty easily. The same people returned and reported that the site was now very easy to navigate. We're satisfied with the results because all the people that tested the site after the changes were made commented on how easy it was to get around.
A couple of people had trouble with the shopping cart. They would put in paintings and then the paintings would disappear. It took us a while to figure it out. Those people had their cookies turned off. Marcus went to work and altered the entire system (he's amazing) so that everything now works totally without cookies.
We can proudly say that StreetArtist.com does NOT use ANY cookies.
It's now three weeks later. We go live in under a month. All 622 paintings are in. The 623rd went to the woman who copy-edited the site. All is well. It's now a simple case of setting up the Secure Socket Layer, getting a Verisign encryption certificate and beta testing the system that accepts secure credit cards.
Accepting Credit CardsWe were assured that this was a simple process. Ha! Never let it be said that anything that involves money is easy.
The first part went smoothly. We went to the bank and opened our merchant account. That's an account that allows you to deposit money from a person's credit card.