Looking back on last year's lack of updates to this blog, you'd be forgiven for thinking I've been idle for the last 12 months. Well you'd be wrong. In between looking after Mum and keeping the house in a reasonably hygienic condition (I will NEVER be houseproud) I've been plotting.
It's been a big plot and it's taken most of 2012 to get it into a shape where it's presentable enough to unveil to the world. It's still not perfect but it's now in a good enough state to let you have a look at it.
Well my big news is... I've opened a brand new megastore over at Café Press!
When I first joined the site, if I wanted a shop that would accommodate more than one design I had to pay for it. Obviously that didn't sound like a good idea so I stuck to the basic shops, which were free to use but limited to a single graphic. So each time I wanted to offer a new design I had to open a new shop, each with its own individual name and URL. Having them all so disconnected made them difficult to manage and didn't offer a very easy shopping experience to my customers.
Now, thankfully, Café Press have removed the up-front charges for their premium shops so I've taken advantage and brought all my designs together under one new site.
The shop's called Val's Electric Octopus And Friends and here's my handy guide on how to find your way around it, starting with the home page:
1) This is a big shop with lots of sections, so never get lost thanks to this handy navigation bar allowing you to jump easily between designs and products. This is available to use on every page in the store.
2) The octopus logo on the home page and the blue title in the navigation bar take you to my Facebook page Val Woodhouse Art and Design. Give me a Like on there to make sure you're always the first to find out about any new happenings in the shops, this blog or anything else I might be up to.
3) The old style basic shops will still be open, so feel free to use them if you just want to look at one design. Clicking "Learn More" will take you to a page with links to my basic shops.
4) All the existing designs are in the new store, grouped together by themes:
5) The new premium shop makes it so much easier to add new designs, so I'm launching mine with 3 band new Scribbly Rainbows. You'll currently find these in the "~NEW & Exclusive~" section - keep an eye on this for more new designs as the time goes by.
The Scribbly Rainbows are my lively, vibrant take on one of the world's favourite natural wonders. Many causes have adopted a rainbow as their symbol, including Christian groups, LGBT Pride and Autism awareness. These products are perfect for any of those or, of course, anyone who just wants something happy and colourful to brighten up their day.
The full Scribbly Rainbow on a women's long sleeved T shirt.
Matching pairs, such as these decorative steins, make a beautiful gift idea for a favourite couple - "the other half of my rainbow".
When you click on the design you like, you'll be taken to a list of departments - Menswear, Womenswear, etc. This is similar to the layout in the basic shops but I've changed some things around to make locating products as logical as possible.
Clicking on a department then allows you to see everything in that category displaying the chosen design, eg. this is a sample from the Menswear section featuring the new full Scribbly Rainbow.
One of the advantages of the new premium shop is that I can include more than one copy of a product. I loved how the half rainbows fill the small goods like these jewellery items, so I've given you both the zoomed in and zoomed out versions to choose from.
6) What if you know the sort of item you want but you're not sure on the design? Well now I've created a brand new section that allows you, for the first time, to compare products side by side featuring all the different graphics. For this you click on the "Browse By Product" link.
All the departments are laid out in a similar format to those used in the other sections.
This time, larger sections such as Menswear are divided into subsections, in this case based on styles of shirt.
Within each section, all the similar products are grouped together so you can compare the designs side by side.
Clicking on the product you're interested in takes you to a new-look ordering page.
So there you have it! There are still plenty more tweaks to be made and lots of new products I can add but my new megastore Val's Electric Octopus And Friends is now officially open for business. (Truth be told, that hasn't stopped a couple of people already finding it by accident and I was hardly going to turn down their trade!) Come on in, have a good explore round and - better still - treat yourself or a loved one to some of the goodies on offer. It's been a year's worth of work so I hope you like it!