People keep asking me about the new look of my website and what I think about the company that I used for it, SoopSee. I thought I’d do a review of the service here, so that I can answer everyone in one shot ;o)
First, let me give you a little bit of background info on my site and what I’m trying to achieve with it: I launched beadmask.com in 2002 (prior to this I had free sites which just looked ugly and unprofessional) . My friend Julia helped me by creating a simple template so that I could learn some basic HTML and put my site together. The site featured my masks and beadwork, along with a small sampler of the vintage beads and cabochons that I collect and sell. But my pictures were lousy and it wasn’t very easy for people to find what they wanted.
I realized that I would probably do better with two separate sites – one for the beads and one for my work. This time I just hired Julia to design it for me – as you can see by her site, her web design skills are far superior to mine. The site that she designed for my beads is gorgeous ( it’ll go live soon, I’m just finishing off the product listings) but I realized that the moment I launch this beautiful bead site, it will outclass and out-date my original site. So instead of simply creating one site, I was suddenly scrambling to finish the bead site AND overhaul the mask site. I was toying with some basic design ideas for the mask site (color scheme, background, layout) but it would a lot of time to complete, in addition to the work needed for the bead site. I was beyond overwhelmed…
Then I discovered SoopSee which is a tool that serves to integrate all aspects of your web presence (such as an Etsy shop, blog, twitter) into one cohesive website. It’s in beta, so you can use this service for free or opt for a “premium” membership for a whopping $5/mo. I chose the latter, as it seemed to offer more design options. The design process only took about an hour or so – I used the background & colors that I’d already been working with for my site and blog, and it just pulled all of the content from my Etsy shop.
The completed website was hosted on Soopsee (you can see it here) and it looked pretty cool there – but when I uploaded the code to my own site, it looked awful. All of the customization that I’d done was lost, and it had a generic look that I absolutely hated. Fortunately, I know just enough CSS that I was able to tweak the code to my liking … no idea if SoopSee allows this, but if it’s going on my domain it’s gonna look the way that I want it to! The end result is what you see now – which is more attractive and functional than what I had before.
I really like Etsy, but it is NOT the sum of my business and I don’t just want a website that funnels people to my Etsy shops. In that regard, SoopSee is not ideal for my needs. However, it is an excellent band aid until I’m able to launch the bead supply site and overhaul the beadwork & mask site. The color scheme and background are similar enough to what I have designed that I should be able to transition to my own code pretty seamlessly when I am ready. It affords me some much needed breathing room 🙂
Bottom line, I think it’s a great deal for the price. It’s not perfect … If you’re hoping for a website that offers much more content than your Etsy store, or one that allows your customers to purchase directly from you, you will probably be disappointed. Also, I found the templates to be sort of boring – their prefab color schemes looked a bit generic to me. That said it is probably ideal for folks who don’t have a website yet and only sell through Etsy. I think they will even host and help you register your own domain name (looks to be around $15/year, but I didn’t really explore this). All told, it’s a quick, easy and affordable way to build an instant web presence – like an online business card. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to set up a simple site with minimal hassle.