Monday, June 1, 2009

An early look at the Shoe Designer

Please tell us what you think in the comments.


  1. Nice work - very cool indeed. I think the diagram design is clean and simple - wouldn't want it more "cartoonish" - making it clear which bits can and can't be changed will save user frustration I guess. Good luck with it - I'll be checking in regularly!

  2. design is one thing, how are you going to manage the fit - having a wife and daughter who both have very narrow feet, how will the online user ensure that the shoes will fit them? Often, when trying on shoes one pair of a size do not fit well but another (same size, style etc) does.

  3. Ell - Thanks for the feedback. :)

    Pwhitehouse - It's a very good point you raise re: sizing and one we haven't resolved completely. At this stage we plan to run some trials and test a variety of ways to attempt to get sizing right:

  4. pwhitehouse - and if you have any ideas on how we might solve the sizing problem please feel free to share them!

  5. So I've had my oats today, and it's time to comment again. So can I just say that your business venture is proving to be a very good chat up line for a newly single man in Sydney. I now have carte blanche access to all these women in bars, and I can just walk up, say "hi" and talk to them about shoes for a business I'm involved in...

    ...anyway, whilst my 'research' has brought about many a funny story, one serious comment continually comes to mind. Women it seems are not like men (I know, hard to think!) in as far as they don't just buy shoes because they need shoes. Part of the reason for purchase is the buying experience...heading to the shops, meeting with the girls, trying on a few pairs, the flattery of the sales assistance, the glamour of the store not all parts of the shopping experience are pleasurable, but how are YOU going to make sure that the shopping experience your customers have doesn't miss an element that they essentially value, and how can you use your medium of sales channel (t'internet) to gain an upper hand in the customer experience?

    Discussions should be held over a beer!

  6. Less cartoony if possible. I think for simple shoes, the cartoon like images are fine, but for more complex shoes with different fabric and colors, women are going to want a very realistic snapshot of what the final product will look like.

    I think Dom brings up a good point. But I think the ability to customize and feature pictures of their shoes on Facebook or their blogs is a good way to get the flattery they itch for. A large benefit of shopping for shoes at a store is so that you can be physically intimate with the shoe before buying it, and some of that is lost over the net. But with Shoes of Prey, the customer is still spending a great deal of time styling the shoe so there will be a good feeling when the customer confirms and buys.

    Personally, I know alot of women out there who would avoid crowded malls, and would rather sit and craft her dream shoe, to match the clothes they already have at home. Not to mention all those insane brides out there that will pay top dollar for shoes that match her dress :) Can't forget the bridesmaids too.

    Not sure if you guys considered pricing yet, or if you want to reveal ballparks. But I imagine these will be high end shoes. However, what if I just wanted simple red pumps, will I be charged the same price as one that orders ornate, strappy gold sandals? Or will certain fabrics/styles/accessories cost more to put on the shoe?

  7. Dom, good to see you're eating your oats again and are back to posting, and even better to see that Shoes of Prey is helping with your single chat. I always figured the business would be of more help to women, but glad to see it can work either way. :)

    Dom and Hazel, excellent points about the experience on the site needing to be A1 for women to want to use it and even better, keep coming back. It's something we're giving a lot of thought to and we should actually do a separate post on, but our basic early 0thoughts:

    1. We want the designer and the site to be fun to use, like playing a computer game.

    2. We want to build a whole stack of fun social features into the site. eg:
    - Most popular shoe designs (give points to designs based the original designers receive glory by being listed on a scoreboard).
    - Upload a picture of your dress and get input from others on the perfect shoe design.
    - Leave comments on shoe designs.
    - As Hazel suggests, post your shoe designs to Facebook, blogs and other places online.
    - Follow other designers you like

    In an ideal world, we want the site to actually be more fun than regular shoe shopping. That's gonna be hard, but that's the goal.

    We'll defo do a separate post on this.

    And your point on pricing Hazel, I'd actually drafted a post on that a few days ago and just put it live, would love to hear your thoughts! :)

  8. Hi guys,

    Really impressed with what you're doing.

    My first critical/constructive thought is about how best to capture the true visual appearance of the materials. I've bought a leather manbag from a physical store but I'd previously seen it online, and even photographs on the online store seemed quite different from the appearance of the bag in person.

    A glance at photos of shoes in this earlier post ( shows the materials have quite a complex visual character that may not be captured by the 'flat' cartoon. I may be abusing a word here, but my guess is that more 'specular' materials (with different visual character depending on viewing angle) will be hardest to capture.

    Perhaps including actual photographs of the material in different lighting conditions and/or videos of the material moving within fixed lighting conditions would show the true visual nature of the material (albeit in a different shoe context).

    Re shoe sizing: surely there are universally agreed metrics that can be used to characterise shoe fit? I'm thinking of those awesome movable metal shoe template thingies that you would use at Mathers to get your school shoes fitted two sizes larger... You could provide instructions on how to measure the relevant dimensions to work out your 'size'.

    Or maybe skip the measurement altogether, and let users download and print a paper template showing nested foot outlines, and they match their foot to the size...?

    These features would certainly make me feel more comfortable buying womens' shoes.

  9. Ben, very good thoughts there on the lighting issues and trying to capture the visual characteristics of the leather.

    Mike's video in this post doesn't show it too clearly, but we'll have a decent representation of the leather highlighting the 'specular' ;) aspects of it as much as possible. We're planning to take a good quality photograph of every shoe we make, and we're thinking when you design a shoe we might show photographs of similarly designed shoes, and shoes that use the same leather as you've chosen... and I think your point highlights that we should move that idea from a thought to implementation.

    Sizing is definitely tough. Those metal foot measuring machines you mention are called 'Brannock' machines. I'm actually trying to buy one at the moment, but the trouble is we can't ship one to every customer to use in their homes, and the hardest measurement for us to get is actually the circumference of the foot around the ball joint little toe knuckle where the toe joins your foot, and the brannock machine doesn't take that measurements anyway. We'll hopefully have a very beta version of the site ready in about a month so we can start testing different ways for customers to take those measurements to determine which method works best.

    Thanks again for your thoughts Ben. :)