Tech Talk: The Very Basics to Build a Fashion Website

mix race saleswomen holding dresses fashion boutique big shop female clothes shopping mall interior cartoon characters full length flat horizontal vector illustration

With many of our social media followers being entrepreneurs with side hustles, especially in the fashion and beauty industries, we decided to launch a Tech Talk series with John Conley, owner and Chief Social Media Servant at Samsona Software. He’s the author of the soon to be published eBook, “The 2020 Business Guide to Digital Transformation Governance: How to Technologically Transform Your Organization for the Cloud.”

No, we’re not going to get geeky or nerdy, but wanted to help clear up the very basics behind creating modern, responsive, and visually appealing websites with social media integration and optimization. For the sake of disclosure, Samsona Software is part of Samsona Corporation, the parent company of our main sponsor, 50Plano.com.

Let’s dive right in…

CM: Thanks for helping us launch our Tech Talk series, Mr. Conley. With the fashion industry making a big, fabulous splash on the internet and social media in particular, where can up and coming fashion and beauty entrepreneurs learn to get online with their ideas?

Conley: You’re welcome. There are plenty of websites and videos, with a few geared towards the fashion and beauty space. The well-respected McKinsey Report just published a white paper on fashion industry trends, with an emphasis on internet technology. I think that shows just how far the fashion industry has come. That article is a good place to start for fashion entrepreneurs so that they at least come up with a good business plan based on the feedback in it. I also recommend checking out an article posted earlier this year describing in simple terms how to start an online clothing store. Finally, I’d recommend visiting the Fashion or Beauty sections of Wix.com to get ideas of the visual appeal of modern fashion and beauty sites.

CM: Those are great ideas. Thanks. Help our audience understand what makes fashion and beauty websites look so sexy and stunning, and how they can at least understand how to customize the look and feel of their sites to get an advantage over the competition. [Continue after image]

Conley: Today, entrepreneurs have a choice between their own websites versus only relying on a standard social media shopping feature as offered by Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, Pinterest and others. Most of the public is conditioned to doing the bulk of their online experience through the major social media platforms. So any entrepreneur launching their own website is competing with that. But with the right social media integration strategy, independent websites can maintain a visually appealing and customer-oriented experience from the social media platforms to the website, and back again. In other words, when your customer clicks on a link to your independent website from your social media pages, they won’t notice the difference, which is your goal.

CM: Glad you brought up social media integration. What things are needed to make those independent websites a seamless user experience for potential customers?

Conley: Without getting too technical, there are certain web page elements entrepreneurs should be familiar with before creating their websites. Every web page has two major elements: cascading style sheets (CSS) and web page markup language known as HTML.

CM: Those sound kinda geeky. Can you explain both in plain English?

Conley: Sure. Let me use a house to explain. Every house has a foundation and structure, walls, windows, etc. When first built, the house is there, but is very plain. There’s no paint, no carpeting, to pictures hanging on walls, no plants, nothing. This is what HTML is to every web page. It provides the foundation and structure of every page, but is plain like an old 1990s website. Going back to the house metaphor, that’s when you need an interior designer-decorator to come in and make it beautiful and pleasant to the senses. CSS is the interior designer of the HTML web page “house.” HTML5, the latest version of HTML, offers even more sexy features for the fashion industry than its predecessors.

Fashion quote, Letters and face of beautiful girls.

But the metaphor does not end there. Once you have a house with interior design, you still need certain features like plumbing and electricity to bring water and electricity into the house, and to remove water from the house when used. Utility companies provide these services. Likewise, a web page needs “services” to bring customer and product data into the web page, and then to move data from the web page to a database or specialized services behind the scenes. One of the most popular web page languages for this is JavaScript. For mobile devices, a very popular version of JavaScript is jQuery. I also recommend Adobe PhoneApp for creating mobile apps, which are similar to web pages.

CM: Wow, lots of helpful info. I never thought of web pages that way, the whole house and interior design metaphor. Mind blowing. You mentioned JavaScript and the idea of services behind the scenes. Is some of that related to what we keep hearing about cloud computing?

Conley: Yes indeed. So sticking with the utility company metaphor, cloud computing is similar to utilities. They provide a set of core services that small and large businesses need to conduct business without a cost to bust their budgets. Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft (Azure) are two of the biggest cloud technology “utility” companies around. The utility services that businesses need are database services, security services, networking services (such as when you have business operations in Dallas and Atlanta and need both cities talking to each other over the internet), and so on. Some companies also offer specialized utility services for accounting, human resources, and marketing, among others. When JavaScript, jQuery or other web page language needs to connect with these utility services on behalf of your web page, they talk to utility services in the cloud that are called “Software as a Service” (SaaS) services. To help understand this, think of how Texas broke up the electric utility industry years ago. There is a Electric Retailer and an Electric Wholesaler (those are not the exact terms, but stick with me). Oncor is the wholesaler, but my retailer is Reliant. Similarly, SaaS services are the “retailer” for cloud hosted “wholesalers.” Entrepreneurs don’t need to worry about the wholesalers in this article, but the SaaS retailer is good to get familiar with as that’s the group they will choose. Microsoft Office 365 is an example of a SaaS retailer that the average person is very familiar with.

CM: Very helpful into. I think the readers can digest all of that. Any final thoughts for this inaugural tech talk series?

Conley: I’d like the reader to take away from this interview that the glue between your pretty fashion and beauty web pages, and real business data behind the scenes, is what your small company needs to stay ahead of the competition and deliver excellent customer service. Understanding these basics should help you find the right web developer for your independent website. If you have friends who are good with social media stuff, hire them to wire up your website to your various social media pages as web developers can sometimes charge a lot for these services. Of course, if you need further help getting things started for your website, you can always reach out to me on this site, or SamsonaSoftware.com.CM: Ok thanks a bunch, Mr. Conley!

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