Author Archive

Zazzle likes Froyo!

August 9, 2010

Last week we posted about how our Zazzle design tool works well on Apple’s iPad tablet. This week I’m here to show you how well it works on Google’s Android OS!

Android OS Version 2.2 (codenamed “Froyo”) is the latest iteration of Google’s rapidly growing mobile operating system. Not all Android phones have been updated to Froyo yet, but for those that have, designing on Zazzle just got a bit better.

One of the main issues when using a mobile browser is not being able to upload images from your phone’s memory or SD card to a web site like Zazzle. I won’t get into the technical details of why that is, but Froyo circumvents the issue by supporting full Adobe Flash 10.1.

No, Zazzle’s design tools are not written in Flash. But we do support a small Flash based image uploader right within our tools. It’s seamless, so you probably never even noticed that it uses Flash (and if you don’t have Flash installed, it simply falls back to using the default browser upload control).

In any case, Android 2.2 can now take advantage of our Flash uploader and allow you to upload images you have saved on your phone!

Show me!

First, navigate to a design tool. In this example, I went to create a mousepad using my HTC Evo Android phone, which recently got the Android 2.2 update.

After clicking on “Select image” from the Get Started box, I see my image upload screen. From here I can choose to add an existing image from My Zazzle Images, or upload a new image.

Let’s upload a new one by clicking on the “Select Images to upload” button. This is where the magic happens! Before Froyo, this button was disabled. Now it’s available, and clicking it brings you to a list of images on your device:

Cool! Now just touch the image you want to add. In this example, I added “Androidian Man_4.jpg”, but all the images on my phone (including photographs I took with my phone’s camera) appeared on this list.

After the image finishes uploading, it appears on the mousepad! Simple as pie!

So who out there uses Android, and are you on Froyo yet?

New Design Tool Changes

July 30, 2010

Howdy folks,

As you may have noticed, we just launched some improvements to our design tool!

  1. Text rotation on all products – this was previously only available on binders
  2. Consistency with our product page – we recently changed the layout of our product page to make it easier to purchase and now our design tool matches and provides a consistent user experience
  3. Fixed several usability issues.

The Changes

Let’s walk through all the changes.

First, as mentioned above, you can now rotate text on all products! This has been one of our most requested features, and it is now available!  Just look for this icon:

This will allow you to do this:

Ok, now onto the rest of the changes!

Main Layout

Design Tool

The screenshot above shows the new layout containing two design objects: an image (“sun_18″), and text (“This is a test”). The first thing to notice is that there are two distinct main actions:

  1. Customize it!
  2. Choose your style and color

By clicking on “2. Choose your style and color”, the panel slides up and displays the product options. Clicking on “1. Customize It!” displays the design tools again.

Design Tool Product Options

The Toolbar

The toolbar contains all options for manipulating your images and text.

Design Tool Image Toolbar

Different icons and options will automatically be displayed depending on what objects you have selected (text or image).

Here’s a list of all the available icons are:

Shrink

Enlarge

Rotate

Select font

Font size

Text color

Text alignment

Fill image

Fit image

Advanced options

Above the icons are two menu items, “Edit” and “Arrange”. The Edit menu contains basic actions that allow you to cut, copy, paste, delete, and change background and border colors.

The Arrange menu provides more actions for centering and aligning objects, rotating, resizing, and sending to front/back.

Re-ordering Layers

When you are working with many objects in one design, the order the objects are stacked in determines which objects appear on top of which when the objects overlap. We’ve made it easier than ever to change the order of your objects. Simply drag them where they need to be!

In the left corner of every object is a textured grip area that you can grab with your mouse and drag. In the example above, we are dragging the blue circle image above the red circle.

Posting For Sale

The Post For Sale button has been changed to a link. You can still find it under the design controls area, next to the Email links.

The button was too prominent and was a bit confusing to new users who simply wanted to customize and purchase an item for themselves.

More info

For more detailed information, please read our Design Tool Basics help topic, or just start creating now!

New Seller Features!

March 15, 2010

Last week saw the launch of a few cool new features for sellers, as well as the return of the Featured Products category for your stores! Let’s walk through all the new goodness…

My Products Actions Menu
First, we consolidated a bunch of product actions under one simple actions dropdown in your My Products section. This was done to visually clean up the page and organize all the actions that could be performed on a product in one convenient menu.

Actions Menu

This menu allows you to:

  • Edit (open full edit dialog)
  • Set store category (quick way to change what category this product belongs to)
  • Add to Featured Products (see below!)
  • Send to front (for sorting)
  • Send to back (for sorting)
  • Delete (remove this product)

Featured Products
Thanks to great Seller feedback, Featured Products are back and better than ever! Now you can add as many products as you want to the Featured Products category, sort them however you want, and display them on your store homepage! 

New Store Homepage Options
You can now
show the following on your store homepage:

  • Products (display products with your default sort)
  • Featured Products (displays the special Featured Products category)
  • Products from a specific category (displays products from any category in your store that you choose)
  • No products (don’t display any products)

For more detailed information on how to set this all up, see How to Configure What Shows in Your Store

New Category Displays
There are now five different ways to display your product categories in your store:

  1. Full grid (shows all icons in a grid)
  2. Full grid with category names (same as above but with text links under each icon)
  3. Scrollable (one row of four icons that scrolls horizontally)
  4. Scrollable with category names (same as above but with text links under each icon)
  5. Text only links (shows a grid of text links only)

You can select how you want your categories to display from the Edit Content page in My Account.

Associate Center
If you are a Zazzle Associate that makes money referring people to Zazzle, the information in the Associate Center is very important. That’s why it now has its own tab under My Account! Favorites can now be found under your Account tab.

So…what’s YOUR favorite new feature?

Rainbow Spotted Outside Zazzle HQ. Still Looking For Leprechaun.

March 8, 2010

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, this nice double rainbow was spotted outside the Zazzle offices. The pot o’ gold is long gone, however, and we’re still looking for the leprechaun responsible.

Rainbow spotted outside Zazzle office in time for St. Patrick's Day.

Finding Zazzle artists one tattoo at a time…

November 9, 2009

When I decided to get a tattoo on my arm (to cover an older, smaller, less cool one I already had) I wanted it to be meaningful to me, and much more elaborate and colorful than my original one. Being a guitar player, I decided I wanted it to be a guitar-themed design…specifically a Paul Reed Smith guitar, which is a brand I love for its feel, looks, and unique sound. My idea was that I wanted the guitar to somehow be coming out of my arm, signifying that the music is in me. Yeah, ok, a little corny, but hey, that’s what I want!

Finding an artist to design my concept was going to be a challenge. My wife, also looking to get a tattoo, was referred to a shop in San Jose called LuckyStars Tattoo Studio by a fellow Zazzle employee (thanks Mark!). Luckily, it was just a few miles away from our house, so we scheduled our first meeting.

We instantly felt comfortable there, and judging from their amazing portfolios, we knew we made the right decision. I explained my concept to the artists, and showed them a picture of my guitar. Martin, the owner, instantly said Jesse was the man to do it. Handing over the picture, I went home to wait for the call for when his designs would be ready to review.

About a week later, I heard from Jesse. He showed me two different designs, and I immediately chose the one I felt came closest to my vision. Both designs were amazing, but I wanted the guitar to take center stage, and I chose the one where it clearly stood out. I scheduled my first sitting and couldn’t wait to get started!

The day came and Jesse got to work. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous since my last tattoo was so small and plain that it hardly counted as me having been inked. The first session took a few hours and we got the outline done. It looked awesome!

Tattoo outline

Notice the little alien head outline? That’s my old tattoo. This one will be covering that up. So the outline is cool, but the real work had yet to be done.

I had full confidence in Jesse to make this look amazing. I couldn’t wait for my next session and get some color going! These sessions took time, so Jesse and I would talk a lot. I told him all about Zazzle and what we do, and he was instantly interested in joining.

Session #2 came up and the results were just amazing. He added the muscle tissue under the ripped skin in the design.

tattoo_2

Again, we talked more about Zazzle and how he might get his artwork online. My third session was scheduled for Halloween at the San Jose Tattoo Convention. For this session, we set up a trade deal…a few hours of tattoo work in exchange for me setting up his Zazzle store. Win-win! He sent me some of his artwork in digital format and I created a store for him, complete with a custom look and a selection of products with his artwork.

Here’s Jesse working on my arm at the convention.

Jesse at the San Jose Tattoo Convention

And here’s what was accomplished in that session:

tattoo_3

It’s still a work in progress, but it’s already looking great! I of course showed it off at work, and the reaction has been great. That, coupled with the artwork I put up in his store got the attention of our Artsprojekt folks. Artsprojekt, for those who are unaware, is a curated platform that empowers emerging and established artists to connect, collaborate, and showcase their original art with fans and consumers. Artists get invited to join Artsprojekt, and based on Jesse’s portfolio of work, he fit the mold perfectly.

So Jesse’s store was migrated to the Artsprojekt platform, and he’s now one of the newest artists being showcased on the site! All it took was three long tattoo sessions to find our latest superstar artist. Easy! :-)

Check out Jesse’s store at http://www.zazzle.com/JesseDeering

All About Sorting and Browsing

September 2, 2009

Well, it’s been quite a day here at Zazzle! Last night’s release is out and there’s a buzz going around…we can feel it…it’s pretty buzzy ’round these parts. I think the most common questions we’re getting are related to our new Store Category Sorting and Browsing feature. Yes, it’s a mouthful…but that’s ’cause it’s a pretty meaty piece of…well…meat :-)

In a nutshell, Store Category Sorting and Browsing is a powerful feature that makes Zazzle stores easier to navigate for customers, and easier to merchandise and promote for store owners.

  • Store Owners can set the display order of all categories and products within their store.
  • Store Owners can upload icon images to represent any category in their store, or use a default image generated by Zazzle.
  • Stores can be set to display a scrollable list of categories, or a fully expanded list of categories.
  • Customers can sort products in a store Alphabetically, Reverse Alphabetical, by Newest, or by Popularity.

If you don’t read anything else in this post, read these help topics!

We just pushed out a couple of detailed help topics on this feature, with fancy screenshots and everything!

Below is a sample of what a scrollable Store Category list could look like in your Store.

Sample scrollable Store Category list

Zazzle’s Friday Muy Caliente!

July 28, 2009

This past Friday was the first Friday Caliente at Zazzle. And just what is Friday Caliente? Why, it’s a hot sauce tasting event for anyone brave stupid enough to subject their taste buds to some torture!

We lined up a series of fire ranging from fairly mild all the way up to what essentially can only be described as pouring gasoline down your throat then swallowing a lit match.

Ok, so I LOVE spicy food. And I can handle my heat with the best of them. As a matter of fact, like a few others at this event, I was able to eat my way through all the store bought sauces with only minor wounds. However, when Eric brought out his homemade bottle of…well…pure evil…things started to happen.

He calls it formula W263. We call it Devil’s Sweat…and that’s pretty much the only name I can post on this family friendly blog :-)

Check out the vid…

Store Customization Showcase!

June 12, 2009

Wow, you Zazzlers out there really blew us away with your amazing talent and creativity! Ever since we released the Advanced Store Customization Beta, our incredible Zazzle Community hit the pavement and worked tirelessly to build their own brands, create innovative user experiences, and perhaps most importantly, help each other out in our forums.

Below is a showcase of some our favorites so far…

Ars CelticaSaundejmLisa Marie ArtThe Hobby ShopPhete FirstSugar vs SpiceThe BootiqueBarton-Le-Clay DesignDIY GemsLoony BoutiqueVisual NewbieShopaholic Chick

Keep up the amazing work…we honestly can’t wait to see what you guys do next!

For more tips, tricks, and advice on this feature, be sure to visit the Advanced Store Customization beta forum. Many folks have already written detailed and very informative tutorials to help you get started.

Announcing Advanced Store Customization!

May 7, 2009

You’re up on the stage, in front of millions, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, a song that’s been done to death. How do you stand out? How do you make it NOT sound like Karaoke? Easy. Change the tempo, add different inflections, improvise a vocal run…basically, you make it your own, dawg! (ahhhh, he said it!)

The same idea applies to your Zazzle store. Some store owners add pizzazz with header graphics, some add HTML in their description. But most stores have the same basic layout…until now!

Introducing….

asc

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Zazzle has now opened up the ability to customize your own storefront however you see fit. Edit CSS and HTML directly, add your own pages, display what you want, where you want it.

Download Full Documentation (Recommended)

This blog post will get you started, but for more complete documentation, please download the Advanced Store Customization Guide (1.9Mb, PDF) .

You must be this tall to ride

Be forewarned…this is currently in open BETA, which basically means we are testing this feature and cannot provide official support. To use this feature successfully, it is highly recommended that you have a working knowledge of CSS and HTML, and some familiarity with XML. Keep in mind that by messing around with the direct code behind your store, you could very easily break it and render your store unusable, forcing you to revert to defaults and start over.

So, what can it do?

Well, you can pretty much do almost anything you want with this. I won’t go into detail on how to write CSS or HTML, but let me show you some examples of the power it provides you:

  • Retropolis Travel Bureau – Amazing use of CSS
  • Clone Wars – This is the official Clone Wars store on Zazzle. It was built using the same techniques that the Advanced Store Customization allows. Check out the header section and the background image. Nifty.
  • Star Wars – Same as above…but looks so cool we had to show it!
  • Hikingviking – Excellent use of a background image to make the site pop. Also check out the blog and store “tabs” at the top. The blog links out to this store owner’s blog, which happens to look just like his storefront!
  • Life Embellished – Nice use of an office theme with a paper background and manila folder content area.
  • Nuclear Tees – Great example of a complete change in navigation and store home page

Neat! I want that!

Since this is still in beta, the first thing you’ll have to do is enable the feature. Here’s how.

First, go to http://www.zazzle.com/my/gallery/appearance

  1. Select “Create a custom look”
  2. Enable the Advanced Store Customization checkbox
  3. Save your settings

1_appearance

After saving your changes, you will see this warning:

2_warning

Hit OK to enable Advanced Store Customization. Once enabled, a new tab labeled “Beta! Advanced” appears. Click on it to see and edit your Layout and Style code.

3_advanced

In the trenches

Advanced Store Customization opens up the guts of your storefront and allows you to change the code that builds it. It handles this by splitting up your store’s code into three editable parts: Layout (HTML), Style (CSS), and Content Definition (XML).

  1. Layout – This is the HTML markup of all the pages in your store, mixed in with a bit of Zazzle goodness.
  2. Style – This is the CSS of your store. It defines the colors, fonts, backgrounds, and general look of your store.
  3. Content Definition – This is the XML markup that lists pages, modules, and other content areas of your store.

Let’s try one of the easiest store customizations…adding a background image to your storefront. It’s pretty easy.

4_edit_css

In the Style text box (found under My Zazzle–>Store–>Appearance–>Advanced tab), look for the #mainShell section of code and add the URL to an image in the background declaration:

#mainShell {
position:relative;
width:100%;
padding-bottom:40px;
background:#bbccdd url(“http://www.yoursite.com/inc/yourImage-bkg.jpg”) top center no-repeat;
}

Then hit Validate and Save Changes (or select the Preview button to test first). That’s it! Now your store will have a background image! This is one of the easiest changes you can make, but can quickly add some personality to your store. Here are a couple of examples of stores with nothing more than a background image:

  1. Pantera’s Official Merch Store – One large background image
  2. Mim’s Official Merch Store – Repeating pattern background
  3. My own store – Subtle repeating background
  4. Harryterry – Fading stars background

That’s about all I can cover in this blog post, but for more complete documentation, please download the Advanced Store Customization Guide (1.9Mb, PDF) . Like I stated earlier, this feature is in open beta, so there will be no official support for it (don’t call customer support for this!), but we have setup a new discussion forum so anyone experimenting with Advanced Store Customization can discuss their experiences, get help, and help others who are trying it out.

With the ability to completely change the look and feel of your store, we’re hoping to see some really creative designs and layouts! Dig in, folks…time to truly make it your own!

Twittering new Zazzle products – automatically!

April 29, 2009

It’s easy to automatically add your new Zazzle products to a Twitter feed. I’ve done this over at twitter.com/hikingviking. Here’s how:

1. Get an account on TwitterFeed, a service that reads RSS feeds and will lob them over to your twitter account. There are probably lots of services like this, but TwitterFeed has been gaining popularity in my circles, and it does the trick pretty well.

1(b). Note that to sign up for TwitterFeed, you will need an OpenId identity. You have one already if you have a Gmail or Yahoo account, or sign up with one of the other OpenId providers; TwitterFeed gives you a list. (Personally, I like ClaimId because I went to Carolina, too.)

2. Once you’re in TwitterFeed, go to “My Feeds” and click “Create a new feed”, and hook up your Zazzle feed to your Twitter account:

newtwitterfeed2

3. You need your feed url. Zazzle has lots of information about feeds here. The url I’m using looks like this:

http://feed.zazzle.com/hikingviking/feed?ft=gb&at=238898476793705621

Dissecting this url, we know that:

/hikingviking means I’m pulling products from my “hikingviking” gallery on Zazzle.

ft=gb means I’m pulling the “Google Base” formatted RSS feed, which gives me better access to the raw data about my product. The “title” and “description” fields are the actual title and description I have entered on Zazzle, and not html markup that allows images and links to show up in RSS reader applications.

at=238898476793705621 is how I make sure I will earn referral fees if you click through and buy stuff. Feel free to use my associate ID in your TwitterFeed! Or, you probably want to substitute your own. :)

The default sort type on feeds is “most recent”, so I am sure that I am picking up the products I have most recently published on Zazzle. TwitterFeed is smart enough to know what’s new every time it checks, so it won’t post duplicate products to your Twitter account.

4. The other options on the TwitterFeed page are up to you. You will have to trust TwitterFeed with your login information to your Twitter account, obviously. Then, I chose to include “title & description”, to shorten my link using TinyURL, and to prefix my post with “New @zazzle -”. That’s it! TwitterFeed runs every hour and will pick up anything new you have published to Zazzle.


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