Home NewsDevelopment Folksy re-design 3: Simplifying and Delighting

Folksy re-design 3: Simplifying and Delighting

by James


The previous two posts in this set of 3 explaining the re-design work, have focused on the layout and how we’ve improved the navigation to make things easier to find. This post looks at the design intent and the focus on simplifying and delighting.


We believe in doing simple things well and have been inspired by the work of the 37 Signals team (read their excellent new book Rework) and others who extoll the belief in building around your audience and the way they behave. Folksy in many ways is a simple service – it’s a retail space for people who make hand crafted things or sell craft supplies. However, over the years this simplicity has not been not mirrored in the platform which has become bloated and difficult to maintain. We’ve looked at how our audience use the service and looked to see where to focus our energy and our resources.

Our aim is to create the best possible platform for designers and makers to promote and sell their work.

So, what have we simplified?

  • We’re archiving Makes and going forward we’re going to be providing ways for people to show how they make things where they can be more effectively promoted as part or a theme or an event. Makes will be archived before Christmas and all existing URLs will eventually re-direct through to their new page.
  • The ‘your profile’ view is changing it’s name to “your dashboard” and in the next few releases we’re going to be improving what is displayed to show your activity and what that means in terms of sales and revenue (as well as other activity like views over time etc). In the meantime item views will not be shown. This is partly due to the way we now serve images on the site and also partly because you can monitor item and shop performance really well through Google Analytics (details of how to add your Folksy account to Google Analytics).
  • Handmade versus Supplies. Supplies have always been treated slightly differently from Handmade items on the system. Supplies could add an unlimited number of items to a listing. We designed it this way because we assumed commercial supplies would form a far larger part of our supply base. In fact handmade supplies are far more significant and most of the best-selling supplies sellers have less than five items per listing (partly due to the fact that newly listed items show up in the index). From this Friday any listing, be that handmade gift, handmade supply or commercial supply will be able to list up to five items in one listing.
  • Keywords are being replaced by specific fields for materials and colours and also location and date (and going forward other specific fields too). Keywords were not actually that useful unless you wanted to search horizontally (for example “show me everything with the keyword ‘paper'”) and have not been used in site search for over 6 months as title and description were effective enough. The new fields will enable us to do things like “show all items created during September 2011” or show all items in the category Home and Garden which are “dark pink” in colour.
Other ways we have simplified the experience of using Folksy is in:
  • Listing. The new one page list and edit is brilliant. We’ll continue to improve how you administer your work and make decisions about what to sell, at what price and when.
  • Copy. The words on the site and in all our communications has been improved so instructions are clear and relevant information is available. We’ve also improved the consistency of how we talk to you and when and where we do that. The “Make tea not war” image on the 404 page has been retired too, mainly because it had got to the stage where people had seen it so many times they were considering starting a war rather than having a tea.
  • Navigating and finding. As discussed in the last blog post, the way you navigate around the site is now simpler and the filtering allows you to narrow down to a product set effectively.


The strapline which evokes what Folksy means to us seems a good seque into our other related design intent which is to delight.

The design process has been a bit zen like; for any given feature or function we look at what we should be getting rid of and in that sense John Maeda is a big influence. He advocates “subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful” and that’s what we’ve done and will be continuing to do. Key to having meaning at all is knowing what you are and what you want to be. We spent quite a bit of time this summer thinking about what Folksy was. The new strapline summed up our thinking and served as a good anchor for the design:

Allowing the layout and the design to show the work more effectively was the key way we sought to delight people. The way work is displayed around the site is now given greater visual prominence. Larger images mean a more delightful visual experience.

The ability to see other items from the item page of a designer or maker also delights as it allows you to quickly scan their work to see if you want to explore further.



There are a bunch of things we’ve put in with no obvious function but designed to raise a smile. It’s not a Where’s Wally thing, but we hope they do raise a smile when you come across them.


Going forward

The imminent release of the new design work shouldn’t be seen as being final. It marks the start of a number of releases of features and functionality, such as:

  • Shipping profiles. This work is already underway.
  • List in more than one category. This is especially key for unisex items but also for those wanting to list in an event category and a functional category, for example, in “Christmas” and also in “Jewellery  > Necklaces”.
  • Search pages. Search will allow you to filter by category and filters could further allow you to narrow down a product set.
  • Themes and Recommended Items. Curated themes will be the most obvious visual change to be seen in subsequent releases – whilst initially you will see a theme on the homepage, themes will soon be promoted across categories. The team will be taking the concept of Featured Items and extending this to “recommended items” across every category.
  • Guest login. Allowing people to purchase from Folksy without registering (but making that a simple “add on” process at the end of buying).
That’s it. Bye for now.


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Lorrie November 15, 2011 - 1:02 pm

Hi there…

When do you expect the new format and design to go live?

Lorrie :)

jamesb November 15, 2011 - 3:09 pm

Hi Lorrie, The release will be happening on Thurs late evening and you’ll see the changes this Fri morning.

hb November 16, 2011 - 12:38 pm

I am looking forward to seeing the new improved Folksy. I am really pleased you are having a guest checkout as I know the current system of having to register as if you are opening a shop is quite off putting to potential buyers.

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