Since we have several website design folks here in the Forums .... could you please evaluate the following site...
I took a look at your web site, First of all you need to stay consistent on the design. See how you have a nice front page but then the rest is just text? You need to be consistent, and keep the same format through out the whole web site. This is what we were talking about, on one of the forums "when a person takes matters into their own hands and develop a web site and don`t keep the same format.
I`m not at all a website designer, but I am a consumer. Can I throw in my two cents?
While I was waiting for the graphic to load on the right, I read the copy on the left. It`s pretty good and definitely focuses on pearls as a symbol of wealth and luxury. But then the logo is a mermaid? It doesn`t jive. Either go Treasure Island-y with mermaids and pirates and coconuts, or go luxury and royalty, but not both.
I went to Go Shopping and was kind of overwhelmed for a second by all the stuff on that page. The list on the left is extensive and impressive, but again, overwhelming. I suggest you break it up into pearls, gems, beads, jewelry, by color. Then do all the subcategories you have listed. (By the way, the front page doesn`t even begin to go into the myriad of products sold - so much more than pearls!)
I went to ready to wear jewelry, because, well, I`m a girl 338 products is alot to sift through. Again, subcategories.
So I think the number one thing the site needs as far as I`m concerned is organization.
Hope my non-technical viewpoint helps.
Your front page is eye-catching. I do have some problems with the navigation, though.
It seems to be crammed at the top. When I start to read the left text, the nav diassapears. And "Go Shopping" link is buried. I would give the visitor more ways to navigate and shop.
The name of your site seems lost on the bottom, too.
I`ve been warned against having white text on black background, but, somehow I think it works. It`s clear and not too consuming.
Sometimes things are not what they appear to be.
The above mentioned site is owned by an associate of mine. She has owned the site for approx 4 yrs. The site is very successful, averaging over 35,000 visitors per month. The site generates sales in the mid-six figures, with product being "keystoned". But she started out slow and steady. It has taken her 4 years to get where she is today.
Were there times, just like everyone, where she contemplated shutting it down? Hell, yes. Did she give up? Hell no!!
So for folks that beleive that it can`t be done without spending alot of money. That you need a "fancy" web site. Or that the success stories are just that .... stories, I beg to differ with you.
TreasureIslandPearls.com`s success comes from hard work, a desire to succeed, the belief legendary customer service is tantamount to success, a positive outlook, and the PASSION to be the best.
Hats off to Treasure Island Pearls ... and to all others that dare to walk the entrepreanurial life. And yes, I will see you at the top!
What disturbs me about our 2 "web design geeks" is that they never addressed or researched positioning, popularity, or effectiveness within the search engines. Nor was the "source code" ever mentioned regarding meta tags. Nor was functionality of the shopping cart, speed times for large image loading, consistancy of image within the site ect.
Simply looking at a web site and saying "ewwwww, ahhhhhh, thats pretty" does not tell the real story behind websites.
An overall marketing, seach engine submission, and functionality plan needs to be developed prior to the "design", overhaul or implimentation of a web site.
Think of building and designing a web site like building a house. One would not simply go down to Home Depot, buy some lumber and start nailing 2x4`s together. You would end up with a mess, unless you had a design, blueprints, skilled laborers & contractors, and the needed financing to complete the project.
Why do folks think that designing a web site is any different?
I can have the greatest looking "house", (web site), but without the driveway to get to the house (search engine submission stategies), without the proper plumbing & electrical systems (functionality), and without the mortgage (proper funding) the old saying of "If I build it ... they will come" just DOES NOT HOLD WATER!!
I presented TreasureIslandPearls.com as a way to show that if "it ain`t broke ... don`t fix it" works well within the world of e-commerce.
Should TreasureIslandPearls.com update their web site? Maybe. Should they run a parallel store, with all the updates under a different URL? Maybe. Should it all just be left alone, other than a "kick-a$$" marketing campaign to take it to the next level? Most likely. And knowing Stephanie, she`ll succeed in whatever she does ... because she has "the eye of the tiger".
I really dont want to get into a "pi$$ing" contest here. TreasureIslandpearls.com services a niche market. They primarilly sell "wholesale to the public" strrings of pearls and beads for crafts, wedding dresses and gowns, and small designers. They strive on providing legendary customer service and having high quality products. The 6 figure income individual is not going to buy strings of pearls and beads from Treasure Island, except maybe for a hobby. (I am not finacially linked with, nor have any say re: TreasureIslandPearls.com). I was simply using TIP as an example of a successful website, due to hard work, passion, and a committment to legendary customer service.
My original post was to help others understand that a web site can be successful, or any business, without having to invest big bucks on a web site.
Please go back and read my last post ... I think, before you get your "panties all in a wad", you will agree with my assertions.
And if you don`t, that`s OK too.
You all have great points and I would say that you are ALL correct to a degree.
TJG points out well that spending a lot of money on site design isn`t everything. Obviously a solid business plan, some sweat and elbow grease..as well as a solid customer base and word-of-mouth marketing can make your business a major success.
I think the story here is mainly that Stephanie`s success with treasureislandpearls.com was achieved in spite of the website`s design and usability. She obviously made many very good business decisions and some excellent key moves to get her business lifted up.
I do agree that a website can be successful without spending big bucks. However, a website can also be professional and follow the best usability practices without spending big bucks. I think Stephanie would be amazed to see how she could raise her conversion rate with a few subtle changes on the site.
Being in a niche market definitely allows you to get away with more because your customers have fewer choices of vendors...but these conditions may not last forever, so it is definitely worth it to keep on top of your site.
I found a report online for about 30 bucks that offers tremendous help with some of the small things that any novice could put into practice on their site (this one`s for you TJG!!! http://www.uie.com/reports/scent_of_information/ We`ve used this report to help guide some of our usability and design principles here at StartupNation. Web site design isn`t rocket science and you don`t need a professional graphic designer to be successful (look at Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc). With that said, employing the best usability practices (I hate using the phrase "best practices..but it does work here) and web conventions can only help your site. Little things can make a big difference.