Hi Rick, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Tricky3 consists myself, a couple of front-end programmers, and Margarita Alaon a designer and illustrator I have been working with for a couple of years. Our main focus is eCommerce and we pride ourselves in being Shopify specialists. We originally collaborated on the Official Brand website and have since launched several more stores.
I also work with some other very talented designers and have collaborated on some cool project: Blu Kicks with Fernando Munoz is a personal pet project and my boys at Taylor Stitch always have something interesting going on either their main site or one of their side projects’. e.g. All Over Is Here: http://oliversapparel.com
You are now featured on Shopify’s site as an expert. Before working with Shopify, did you try other eCommerce platforms?
I actually worked at a data center whose owner was interested in setting up a SaaS eCommerce platform and investigated most of the solutions available at that time, hosted and otherwise. Shopify came as recommendation from a friend who I was talking to about the process.
I was really impressed as it was streets ahead of everything else in terms of usability for both developers and store owners. A few others have sprung up since but really none that have changed the game much in my opinion. Another friend had a family shoe business and I figured I would take it for a spin with them, then I set up a couple of stores for another employer (selling SCUBA and ice-hockey gear), and the rest is history.
Why would your recommend Shopify to other designers or to anyone looking to open an online shop?
Shopify is incredibly easy to use as a shop-keeper, not least with their all-new admin panel, and their Liquid code is a dream to use for coders. However, I think that this ease-of-use can give an unfair illusion.
People often ask me “what it would take to build a site like http://taylorstitch.com“. The honest answer is “blood sweat and tears”. Not mine or the owners’ alone, but a battalion of dedicated, talented, motivated, and relentless team-members, all working towards a well thought out goal: envisioned, planned, thoroughly executed, iterated and improved on constantly.
People often tell me they want a site that looks exactly like Bonobos’. I tell them to look at Bonobos again in a week’s time and tell me if it is still exactly what they want. Retail stores re-merchandise all the time. They are in a constant state of flux. Your eComm site should be no different. Shopify is a means to an end and it makes that side of things very easy.
What are some of the things that make you cringe when you visit online shops?
Bad product photography. My personal favourite is clicking on a product image that pops up some kind of modal with an equally-sized, or even smaller, “detail image”. What’s the point?! As I have said elsewhere, your photographs are your products — http://goo.gl/gbbIvM — they should absolutely not be an afterthought.
I have talked countless people out of building a template that photographs can be slotted into afterwards. Their consideration should be part of the design process. Forget your point and shoot… and even your friend who has an SLR! A professional eCommerce store needs professional product photography.
What the tools you work with (software, apps, online tools,…)?
Shopify is a Rackspace-hosted Ruby app so stores and their assets are not hosted on an Apache server. Their is no FTP. Because of that, I switched to Mac after getting seriously involved with multiple stores. That opened up a couple of options for interacting directly with store assets via the Shopify API, rather than via their web interface.
I use TextMate for coding, Firebug for inspecting and Chrome Edge Inspect for mobile device testing. I have an agency account at fonts.com and jumped in early on earl.io for crowd-sourced user-testing. Roboform is a gift from the heavens. I couldn’t be without my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. CSS3Please and gridcalculator.dk are my go to web tools. Also the Shopify Cheat Sheet: http://cheat.