Over the past couple of days I have been designing and putting together a replacement ebay store template for Design-a-cake. This ebay template is my second one, the first being for Max Merch, that was a real learning curve (a backwards one!) ebay is pretty much about 12 years out of date when it comes to web design, with designing for ebay and email templates (which I've been doing a lot of over the past couple of months) the phrase "design like its 1999" is key to sucess. which, is pretty weird, as I've spent the last 12 years trying to keep up to date with web technology (and I'm not afraid to admit that I have been failing miserably in this task!) but now it seems I have to work backwards, and design like I would have back then, back when tables were the key to a good solid design. Here is a JPEG of my design a cake store front, it won't be live for another few days, as I have a few kinks to work out, and another couple of pages to build which link to it, but here is a render I've put together so you can see what it's like when its in ebay.
ebay store graphic

ebay store graphic

                                                                                                                            I've tried to stay clear of rounded corners with this design, the main website (which I had no part in its design), looks similar to the ebay store I have designed (in the fact that there are no rounded corners!) but for both max merch and Design-a-cake, I've pretty much overloaded the rounded corner thing recently, so I thought it was time to go back to straight lines, and break out the gradient fades for this one. Other than the DC logo (I really hope none of Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson's relatives don't ever take up cake decorating as a hobby!) I designed everything myself. While im still a graphic design novice, I don't like simply cutting and pasting. I do a lot of online tutorials, youtube is a great resource for this, as is google, purely for finding other graphic designers who do tutorials, However I feel a little disheartened when I try to find a tutorial for something, and when I find it the whole thing is basically "download this image, cut and paste it, then get this image, cut and paste it" Thats not what I want to be. I want to be able to create everything I make by myself, and if that means that my designs are a bit on the basic side for a while, then so be it. At least I will have the satisfaction that everything I do is my own work. I do draw the line at fonts though. there is simply too much time and effort goes into typography design for me to be able to practically make my own fonts for each project I do, and besides, there are so many awesome fonts out there available for free use that I may as well use them. I might not always feel this way, but at the moment, I simply have to use pre-made fonts for practicality. The same goes for code too, while I LOVE the fact that dreamweaver can do a lot of the work for you, I often find myself hand coding large portions of the site (for email design and ebay templates that are table heavy, the "create table function is a godsend though. I hold my hands up to that! nested tables can be a headf**k!). In this template I decided to go for a CSS rollover for the menu on the left hand side, its been a while since I've done this, and I had to get some help from the epically talented matt who I work with, so I'm not going to claim 100% victory on this one, I couldn't get the text to vertically align properly, and he worked out what my problem was and fixed it for me, so thanks matt! The rest of the code was all me though (promise!) I didn't cut and paste from anywhere, it was all hand coded. If I want to learn, and get better at my trade I think its the only way forward. Brick layers don't look round for pre-built wall sections and slap a few of those together. so why should I? I'm essentially doing the same thing, only digitally. unfortunatly, the "items for sale" section, and the "feedback" section, which really are the meat of the site are controlled directly via ebay itself, as you can see in the image above the styling is less than perfect. There IS a way to make it so I can self style it, but I am yet to figure this out, I have posted on the ebay help forums, and spoken on the phone to technical support, but so far all I have been told is that it can't be done, even when I have posted links to custom ebay stores which have already done it. I'm considering emailing a store or two who have had it done to see if I can get some pointers, but fully expect to be told to p!$$ off, as effectivly I'll be asking for free advice that they have paid for to get. I'll post again when the store has gone live, and once it is live, I'll be working on individual item page templates, to tie everything together. I've found that many even seemingly professional ebay stores don't bother to style their ebay store pages, which totally boggles the mind why they don't? but I'm hoping to use this to my advantage, by presenting DAC's pages in a professional manor, hopefully will give people the reassuring confidence to shop with us. Thanks for reading Chris

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