When we started our LicensePlateShirts gallery on Zazzle, we actually used the Zazzle API to create an external website where customers could choose a state, then type whatever text they want to appear on that state’s license plate. They would then click over to Zazzle’s design tool with the license plate and custom text already loaded. (See http://www.license-plate-shirts.com/)
This approach works well, but contains a few drawbacks. First, there is a huge time commitment in designing and coding up a website. Even if you already have a website, you’ll need to write some code to add your products. Also, once the user lands on Zazzle, they are dealing with a single product design, and how to change to a different design (another license plate, for example) is not obvious.
Show Me the Buffet
So how do we make it easier for both contributors and customers? For contributors, we need to remove the difficult barrier of writing web code. And customers need to be able to customize an entire buffet of products at once, without jumping through hoops.
Enter project “Template Buffet”…the internal code name for this new feature. Here’s how it works:
1. A contributor creates a set of template products (see documentation)
2. The contributor creates a new gallery product line and publishes these template products in that category.
3. From the Create-a-Product API page, the contributor selects to create a category link. In three easy steps, the contributor generates a web address to this product line. (Visit LicensePlateShirt’s category link)
4. Navigating to this address takes customers to a simple page that shows all the products, and allows easy customization.
No programming needed by the contributor, and no back and forth by the customer to get the right design on the right product. Dinner is served.