Updates and shopping cart dilemmas

Still here...though life has taken me on a series of little joy rides lately and sadly required time off from the studio, and out of the field as well. In the meantime, I have at least begun to work on my website again in the wee hours, and I've made some changes I've long intended to make. I've cleaned up some code and have big plans for my site that are yet to come (as in a complete redesign!) But meanwhile, one of the immediate visible changes I've made was to add a plein air paintings section to my website. Here, finally, are the series of plein air paintings I've worked on over the last while, now in one place instead of scattered about on my blog and on a select few pages on my main site.

The other thing I've worked with over the last couple of weeks is experimenting with different online shopping carts-- to the point of tearing out great swaths of hair. In the end, none of the "reasonably priced", "easy to use" (read: hosted) shopping carts that I tested really worked for me, though there were  a few interesting options that I might have considered if I did not already have such an extensive website. One of the more interesting ones that seems to be used by a number of artists and creatives is Big Cartel.  It is a hosted cart, meaning that purchases would need to be made "off site", away from the user's website. If you're an artist looking for such a solution, it might be worth a peek. From what I saw of it, it is attractive and fairly easy to use. One drawback, however, is that there is a product limit of 100, which is not much considering that if you would like to offer several options for one item (for instance, matted, framed, or unframed) they'd have to be listed as three separate products. Of course, there are many other possible e-commerce solutions as well (for artists and craftspeople, Etsy also comes to mind.) But all of the cheaper solutions tend to require that you upload all of your products to their site. Makes sense, I suppose. But for me it would be too time consuming and frankly pretty redundant, as I already have my paintings uploaded to both my site and blog.

In the end, it seemed just as easy to tear my hair out adding one-option  Paypal Buttons to my exisiting site. It ain't fancy, but it's a start. This update is made a little easier using WebAssist's Paypal Extension for Dreamweaver.  My strategy is to start out by populating my site with shopping cart buttons for my smaller offerings, and then gradually work on adding them to all of my available paintings pages as time permits, with the hopes of making the site more online shopping-friendly. Only time will tell if it is a strategy that is worth the extra effort involved, but hopefully I'll gather some clues so that I'll know whether a more robust solution is worthwhile when it comes time to give my site a major overhaul. I'm still in the testing/updating stage for the simple shopping cart that exists now, but so far so good. Oh, and to kick off the cart, I'm offering free one-way shipping in the Continental U.S. for a limited time. :-).