Website to Wonderful

Our next site review is www.somethingxtraspecial.com, a site where Sue sells silver jewellery and in particular some rather gorgeous little silver peas in a pod for twins, mothers, sisters, you name it. Let’s go.

First impressions

I look at a lot of craft sites (I make jewellery in my spare time) and my first impression of Sue’s site is that it’s really very good. You would not believe the number of people with jewellery businesses who have online shops with blurry photos and no prices or measurements. Not here. Sue apologises quite a lot (Postage! silver costs! OMG terms and conditions!) and she really doesn’t need to. The peapods, birds and leaves are gorgeous.

xtra1

Images and information

The main product photos, shot against a reflective bone china background are very clear and show a lot of detail. Descriptions are great. There is a zoom feature and a range of alternate views; all very important if the customer is get a good idea of what this physical product will look like. Photos are very subtly watermarked, too.

A few of your images could work better, I think: you occasionally show pendants etc on what looks like a plastic store mannequin. These certainly show scale but they are very cold-looking and I think they cheapen things a bit. If you can have a real person model – even if you just show the neck! – for these core offerings, that would be very nice.

Product Image

The About page and the hidden maker

If there is ever a page that acts as a kind of flag as to how you’re feeling, it’s the About page.

I was very intrigued by the jewellery, so I clicked on this page in some excitement. What I expected: some sort of story about the pea pods or you as a silversmith. What I got: a photo (of the back of your head) to click on. See below. It is very nice to see a real studio set up but it’s also nice to see the maker’s lovely face!

About page

Click through and I get.. a story about how you sell online because it’s the future, providing excellent customer service yadda yadda yadda. Cannot argue, but it’s not that interesting. But wait…

What Sue isn’t telling you

I did a little digging, because I’m basically a stalker, and it turns out that Sue has a very nice Facebook page, a rather lovely Etsy shop and a Blogspot blog!  Her Etsy shop bio says:

When I was six, my father made me a crystal ring with a beautiful deep red ruby in it. Of course it wasn’t really crystal – it was Perspex which he had carved, and the stone wasn’t really a ruby but red glass, but to me it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen – and it was mine! I still have it. And that is where my love of jewellery making came from.

That is lovely. That is LOVELY. Put it on your own site too. It would go beautifully on your About page. It gives the reader a sense of your vision and values. And I still want to know: why pea pods? There has to be a story there too. You say you get lots of stories back from your customers, so can you use some of them?

The newsletter in the corner

Last thing:  If I sign up to your monthly newsletter I can get tips on silver. Not sure what kind of tips. Not sure how well this will be working for you.

(OK. I need to digress here. I often see online business folk suggesting that jewellery makers give some tips on cleaning jewellery as an incentive for signing up for newsletters. I will not rant. I will simply invite all you jewellers to pretend you are buying some shoes online and think about what you would do if Louboutin or Fitflop or Clarks or whoever suggested you could sign up for their newsletter and get tips on how to clean your shoes. How excited would you be?)

But Sue here has a very nice Facebook page with lots of fans and so maybe her newsletter is absolutely lovely? Maybe you have a Peapod club or you are a witty writer? (I think you are) Feature it. Add a photo or an extract or something that proves I will enjoy opening it amongst the tidal wave of updates from everyone I’ve ever bought from. Because that is the truth of our inboxes these days.

Overall thoughts for Sue:

This is beautiful work and you are doing a very good job.  I suspect you are very modest about your skills so please take all my comments in that spirit.

I do think the site could do with a little bit more personality. You are most definitely there on Facebook and Etsy – but you’re not quite here on your main site. No need to go overboard, but more about you, your inspirations and your background will help the buyer to feel that they are connecting to a bigger story. And there is a bigger story, I think.

If you can turn around and smile at the camera, that’s even better. (I totally get the urge to hide, that is why I am in sepia over there on the sidebar, but it’s pointless really).

You are already writing lots and lots for your various online presences, so I think it’s just a matter of focusing these and deciding where you are going to put your energy, what you are going to leave in or edit out. Take a look at Through The Round Window for a nice example of a designer who manages to be personal while actually staying quite private.

Through the Round Window

 

I hesitate to even say the word, but Pinterest might be relevant… and OF COURSE YOU ARE THERE ALREADY.

GO GET EM, SUE.

Such a beautiful product.

If you’ve enjoyed this, do share it. You can also sign up for updates delivered right to your email. If you’d love your own strategic site review, away from the public gaze, with more detail, then you can book a session with me. I’ll be adding a Shop page shortly with the full details and prices but in the meantime you can email me.

Next up: The creative coach.

Previous post in this series: The case of the online stylist.

 

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Over the next few days, I’m featuring five brave small business owners who volunteered their sites for a website review. Their businesses are pretty diverse yet many of the issues with their websites are actually quite similar. In my comments, I try to put myself in the mindset of the first-time visitor to the site, who will decide what do in the space of a few seconds. As always, every website is a work in progress – no site is perfect.

First up is Susie (Jones?), whose site has the intriguing title Have you Met Miss Jones?

We’ll start at the Home page.

Haveyoumetmissjones

First impressions: this is a simple, elegant-looking design in black-and-white, with subtle pops of blue. Wait, is this really the home page? It feels like a page of detail. The font is quite small and there’s a lot to read here before understanding what Susie is offering. It’s all a little bit mysterious, and I’m not sure that readers will actually have the patience to investigate further.

A couple of other things to note: there are lots of social sharing buttons at the bottom, which don’t really make sense for this page; there is a form for signing up to something, but it’s not clear what; and the website title, right at the top of the screen (not shown on the screenshot) gives very little away. Your title is very important for SEO, and in the case of a location-bounded business like Susie’s, it should indicate much more about her services and her location.

The About page

missjones2

So now I’m going to the About page, because I haven’t really met you yet. A good About page will explain the heart of your business and introduce your people. It will often say something about your customer, too. Susie’s About page is quite guarded. There is a weeny picture (what are you wearing??) and a bit of background.  There’s also a section on what it’s like to work with you, in which you say…it’s very time efficient. Services page: same again. No prices.

Hmm. I don’t know. It doesn’t feel very motivating, and I’m wondering what really brings your customers to you.

Are they just busy, so that this is like the fashion equivalent of online grocery delivery? Or is there a deeper need here, that you’re not spelling out? Maybe they have to look presentable but they hate shopping because it’s a nightmare finding a jacket that fits properly, and they’ve put on 2 stone in the last year eating junk food between meetings? Maybe they’ve had a baby recently  and so they haven’t read a fashion magazine in 2 years and have no clue what the hell to buy.

I say all this because I think it’s an interesting service but my own feeling is that someone who will buy you online has to be very, very sure they want to work with you before they get in contact. You have to prove right here on the page that you can do this and do it in the right way.

Let’s go over to the blog.

Here I find myself letting out a breath that I didn’t know I was holding, because this is lovely!  There isn’t much content, but what’s there is great. The post on how to dress for a christening has some beautiful looks and is written in a warm and sympathetic style. Now I’m persuaded!

missjones3

 

General thoughts for Susie:

For me, the big question is how much you want to write for this site.

There are two main ways to go.

One is to create a site which acts as a online brochure for your services, where the blog is incidental. If this is how you’ll work, put all your effort into making a stylish and approachable site that showcases your approach right from the Home page. But you (and your style) have to show up in a much more positive, arresting way right on the page, and you have to figure out exactly what your customer needs from you before they can buy with confidence.

(For an example of how this can work, take a look at another London-based stylist, Caboodle Style, who absolutely nails this. Her blog is only occasionally updated, but she knows her customer inside out, and she provides them with everything they will need in order to buy from her.  That is one carefully designed website, let me tell you).

caboodle

The other approach is to be blog-led.

This can work if you love to write regularly, and you have the design & photography skills to make it all look great. A blog-led site has the blog double as the home page. People fall in love with you and your voice and start investigating your offer. Stylists like Grasie Mercedes and photographers like Susannah Conway use this approach. Here’s Grasie’s style-heavy approach.

smgrasie

 

My final tip: Talk to your customers about why they really use your shopping service. How did they feel before? How was the experience and how did they feel afterwards? Is it truly about the time? Is it about style, or insecurity, or lifestyle upheaval, or the access to you and your personality? If you can truly understand that, I think you’ll be able to create a service and content that connects easily with customers, whichever way you go.

If you’ve enjoyed this, do share it. You can also sign up for updates delivered right to your email. And – I forgot to mention, how much do I need someone to review my site – if you’d love your own strategic site review, away from the public gaze, then you can book a session with me. I’ll add a Shop page later this week with the full details and prices but in the meantime you can email me.

Thank you so much Susie for volunteering and best of luck!

Next up: a rather lovely jewellery site.

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