Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Spiral Light Candle: Website; New Phones Now Working

Right now, Spiral Light Candle's website, spirallightcandle.com, is up and running. It's doing everything it's designed to do: which doesn't include taking online orders. The Spiral Light Candle retail storefront, Spiral Light Candle Corp. Storefront at Amazon.com has been around for a while now, and got updated recently.

Which brings me to a big of Web nostalgia.

Remembering the 'Good Old Days'

Back in the 'good old days,' you'd see "UNDER CONSTRUCTION" graphics on many websites. I liked the animated ones. There were silhouettes shoveling; and a frazzled programmers pounding a keyboard, with a hammer in one case.

They were funny, attention-getting, and a useless distraction.

I haven't seen that sort of thing much lately. Partly, I suspect, because website developers and users realized that a good website is always 'under construction' in some way. It's a rare business that hasn't changed something about products, services, prices - or seasonal sales.

There's something to be said for maintaining a consistent visual style on a corporate website. On the other hand, it's wise to distinguish between "consistent," "archaic," and "apparently abandoned."

Making Sure it's "Coming Soon"

Not all bad ideas for websites are as obviously misguided as, say, green-on-purple text or an investment service with an animated puppy on its 'about us' page.

Sometimes a caffeinated developer decides to re-name pages that customers have bookmarked/Favorited/whatever: because 'everybody's using [this week's hot database software].'

"Coming soon" announcements, like anything else, need to be managed, updated, and sometimes removed. But I think they're basically okay. I'll get back to that idea.

Flash, a Movie About Coffee, and Clueless Supervisors

Then there are the dilbertesque supervisors, who are a lot funnier in the comics, than in real life:

(Scott Adams' Dilbert, used w/o permission)

Technology, Telephones, and Me

My son is more tech-savvy than I am, but I get along with computers pretty well. I've even learned to cope with telephone menus.

Automated telephone menus have improved since companies started using them. A lot. I think it helped, when someone realized that the most loyal customer would eventually get fed up.

I've learned quite a bit about telephone menus in the last few days. Spiral Light Candle now has a working customer service section - complete with a mercifully-short menu. Spiral Light and the service we're using got the system up and running yesterday.

Spiral Light Candle's system isn't quite so simple on the 'company' side, but I've gotten familiar with the basics. Which is a good thing, since I'm answering phones for the company now.

Also doing the occasional spreadsheet, and whatever else I can lend a hand with.

"Currently Working on Our Website"

I mentioned Spiral Light Candle's new website yesterday. The developer has a nice, clean, and simple home page; easy-to-spot navigation; and graphics that unobtrusively match the product line.

I like it. More to the point: it's being done by a competent developer, and isn't any fancier than it needs to be.

The software that will support our online ordering is still getting tweaked, but I heard yesterday that it's progressing. In the right direction.

That's why I don't have a problem with this snippet from Spiral Light Candle's home page:
"...We are currently working on our website, so please check back again soon...."
We won't launch the new website tomorrow. At least I don't think so. But work on Spiral Light Candle's website is in good hands.

I'm looking forward to seeing the result.

Related posts:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Spiral Light Candle: New Website Coming; New Phones Here

I saw a mockup of Spiral Light Candle's improved website this afternoon. We'll be keeping what's up at spirallightcandle.com/ for now, since the technology that's 'behind the screen' isn't quite finished.

Meanwhile, there's the Spiral Light Candle Corp. Storefront at Amazon.com for online retail orders.

We've also got a new phone system, that's letting me take orders. We tried it out for the first time late this afternoon. It works, and I'm learning.

Slightly-related posts:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Spiral Light Candle's New Amazon.com Photos

Spiral Light Candle's storefront on Amazon.com has new/updated photos now: Spiral Light Candle Corp. Storefront.

I'd taken the original photos, some months ago: with a somewhat less-than-top-end camera. It was high time we get something better to show off the spiral-burning candles.

I've posted this half-size video before. If you're in a place where background sounds are a factor, take note - the video comes with music. No words, though:
"Spiral Light's Spiral Burning Self Filling Candle"

(shown half-size: full version at YouTube)
anoasisproduction, YouTube (July 28, 2011)
video, 1:31

Now, the obligatory 'for more information' contact stuff:

Somewhat-related posts:

Friday, November 18, 2011

"A Candle With a Twist" at Grand Forks Trade Show

I'd been looking forward to Spiral Light Candle going to a major trade show in Houston, Texas. That was around the beginning of this month. (November 2, 2011) Instead, we wound up developing a new website. We're still using the existing one, but this morning I got an update on the search and online purchasing software we'll be using. Basically, the new website will look good: and, at least as importantly, work.

Which our current one does, just fine. (Spiral Light Candle, spirallightcandle.com) We've got a video that shows what our "candle with a twist" does, a brochure in .pdf (Acrobat) format, and contact information. If you want to buy our candles online, though, our Spiral Light Candle Corp. Storefront
on amazon.com is probably your best option.

But, like I said, that's changing. Soon, I hope.

The photo near the top of this post shows a display stand in our booth at a Grand Forks trade show, on Tuesday of this week: November 15. That's about an hour's drive north from our home office and factory, which made getting there an economic possibility. Logistics were a whole lot easier, too.

Spiral Light Candle

Spiral Light Candle at Grand Forks trade show. November 15, 2011.

More than 3,000 folks were at the trade show, we got an "amazing" response to our product line, and I'm hoping we'll get that new website up and running soon: It'll give me something nifty and new to write about.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spiral Light Candle in Hillsboro, North Dakota

Yesterday afternoon, I learned that Sapphire's in Hillsboro, North Dakota, has been re-ordering those candles that burn in a circle. The Spiral Light Candle things. Folks are driving in from Fargo, and Grand Forks, to get our self-filling candles.

Then there's Shepherd's Path in Bangor Maine, another place selling our candles. And more than two dozen others, on a list that's seriously out-of-date now.

What impressed me wasn't so much that Spiral Light Candle Corporation keeps getting orders from new retail businesses: it's that they re-order. Quite often, in some cases. Folks keep coming into the stores and buying out their stock. Which is good news for everybody: with the possible exception of whoever has to re-arrange the displays and keep track of inventory. And that's another topic.

This video does a pretty good job of showing what these candles do:

"Spiral Light's Spiral Burning Self Filling Candle"

anoasisproduction, YouTube (July 28, 2011)
video, 1:31

Spiral Light Candle is changing gears right now, since we need to make a whole lot more candles than we did a month ago. It's an interesting situation: My wife's been taking long strands of candle wick, cutting them to length, and shipping the ready-for-assembly wicks back to Hillsboro.

Making long strands of wick into shorter strands. October 28, 2011.

Right now, having wick preparation done partly as a sort of cottage industry makes sense. I'm not sure how long that's going to be the case. My son-in-law and I have been discussing locations for a factory: and that's yet another topic.

Somewhat-related posts:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Christians in Action Trade Show, No: Website, Yes

About an hour ago I learned that Spiral Light Candle won't be attending the Christian Trade Show and Business Expo's Houston trade show. It's the 15th Annual Christians In Action Trade Show, and would have been a fine opportunity to show folks these candles. And a good networking experience.

But we've got finite resources, and the decision was made to focus on getting the Spiral Light Candle website ready for online commerce. Now, a blatant display of self-promotion:

That's Spiral Light Candle Corporation. (spirallightcandle.com)

I also learned that I'll be handling routine maintenance and updating for spirallightcandle.com - which isn't as impressive as it sounds. All the code will have been taken care of by the time the project gets to me: leaving me with a nice, friendly, interface and a list of clerical duties.

I was looking forward to at least hearing about Houston, the Christians in Action Trade Show, and all: maybe even being asked to help out. But that's the way things go. I'm looking forward to seeing how the website looks - and how it works.

More-or-less-related posts:

("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Small Business Watchers