Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Computer Generated Cake Mock Ups

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
Blue Butterfly real cake and mock up

Blue Butterfly mock up and real cake

Having worked in the I.T. industry for many years, I’m always interested in how technology can help improve the business of cake making. With that in mind, a service I offer my clients is the option to have a computer generated mock up of their cake design. This is something I’ve found most clients love, especially wedding cake clients. This gives them the ability to actually see what the cake will look like and to make changes and see what effect these have. I still use the good old colouring pencil and paper method as well, in fact that is what I usually use first before turning to the computer. But the cake mock ups give a much more realistic picture than my sketches, and also have more correct proportions and give a much better sense of scale and balance, so are more suitable for clients to look at than my scribbles on paper.

The finished cake is never 100% exactly like the computer generated mock up, nor is it meant to be. The mock ups serve purely as a design tool, to help ensure the client gets a beautiful cake that they are happy with. But the mock ups are pretty close to the real thing! You can see this in some of the example pictures I’ve included in this blog post.

Red Tinged Roses real cake and mock up

Red Tinged Roses mock up and real cake

Some clients come to me knowing exactly what they want their cake to look like. Often they have a picture from a magazine or they would like one of the cakes from my website www.deliciouscakedesign.com. In these cases, there is no need for a cake mock up.

Other clients aren’t really sure what they want. This is where the cake mock ups have proved to be an invaluable tool. These clients often have vague ideas or like bits and pieces from different cakes. It is hard for them to picture how all these bits can come together in one coherent cake design. It is up to me to make all the different pieces “fit”. The computer generated mock ups have been really useful in this regard as it allows me to to show the client the exact design I have in mind and where all the different elements they desired have been placed.

Finalising the cake design  can be an iterative process. After showing the client the first draft of the cake mock up, I will let them come back to me as many times as necessary to update the mock up and really nail down the design to something they are happy with.It is a very effective way for them to see what their changes look like and whether or not they work. In most cases, there are only ever one or two changes to be made to the mock up before the client is happy.

Admittedly, this technology isn’t for everyone, and the cake maker requires at least some degree of computer literacy. But for me and a lot of my clients, the computer generated cake mock ups have been extremely useful!

New Delicious website design!

Sunday, August 9th, 2009
Delicious Cake Design website - one of the new cake gallery pages

Delicious Cake Design website - one of the new cake gallery pages

It is has been a very busy couple of weeks, which is why I wasn’t able to post to this blog last week. I’ve been spending every free minute on my new website design, which went live yesterday, and I’m very excited about it!

The Delicious Cake Design website hasn’t been in existence all that long, just for a few months, so some might say it’s a bit soon to be doing a re-design. Especially since I spent so many weeks getting it “just right” in the first place. But I’ve been doing a lot of research into website usability and I realised there was definitely room for improvement. It’s all very well to create something that looks nice, but what good is it if it doesn’t help the user find what they want easily, or encourage them to continue their journey?

With that in mind, I made some changes, particularly to the photo galleries for the cakes. I decided to try and fit more of the cakes “above the fold” of the gallery pages, i.e. put more of the content near the top so the user doesn’t have to scroll down to see the majority of the pictures. The old design had only 2 images above the fold, so if the user didn’t like either of those 2 images they were unlikely to scroll down further to see more of the cakes. As I do such a wide range of cakes, it is entirely possible that there is a cake on the page that they would’ve liked. But they wouldn’t find this out if they didn’t scroll down. So I started by making the pages wider, but still a fixed width suitable for 1024×768 screen resolution. I decreased the height of the logo at the top of the page, then changed the galleries to have 2 rows of 5 thumbnails (small images of the cakes) above the fold. Clicking a thumbnail opens a lightbox showing a larger image of the cake as well as more information about the cake and it’s price. By putting the cake information in a lightbox, I was able to use more of the space above the fold to fit in more cake pictures. Sounds easy, but it took weeks!

I haven’t included individual cake prices up till now, but I felt it was important to put them in. Cake prices vary so much as they are dependent on the different design elements for each cake. It’s hard to even put an “average” price on my cakes, as there is no such thing as an “average” cake, all of my cakes are so different. So by putting the individual cake prices on the site, it will give visitors a really good idea of how much they could realistically expect to pay depending on the extravagance of the design.

Looking at my website statistics, there are very few people who visit with javascript turned off in their web browsers. But because there are a handful of them, I have left the old design for the cake galleries as it does not require javascript. If a user visits with javascript turned off, they will see the old cake gallery pages.

I’m considering allowing users to click some sort of next and previous links to navigate to the next and previous cakes while in the lightbox so they don’t have to keep re-opening and closing lightboxes if they want to see all of the cakes. What do you think?

Why not take a look at the new, improved design, I’m keen to hear your feedback! http://www.deliciouscakedesign.com