Sandi’s Ts Site Review – Emphasize Business Aspect
I believe everything on a web site speaks for, or against, the product or service being sold. The Sandi’s T’s site (http://sandists.ecorp.net), in my opinion, suffers from a loss of credibility and some usability issues as well. The ICRA labeling appears in the header for each page that I checked, and if memory serves it should only be on the main page that was submitted to ICRA and rated.
Being an “old-fashioned” dotCOM type of designer I prefer full domain names instead of subdomains such as http://sandists.ecorp.net used by Sandi’s T’s. A subdomain takes away from the site’s credibility to anyone who knows what a subdomain is all about.
The next item was the use of so many clipart images, many of them animated. Sandi’s T’s belongs to web-rings and although they may drive traffic, I believe they poorly target shoppers since web-ring visitors may be more curious than anything else. I feel web-rings are more oriented and useful for personal, collector’s and hobbyist’s web sites – but not business. The site also suffers from the overuse of animated graphics. Other non-business type items on the site include the infamous guestbook, the memberships to other organizations on each page (LinksToYou, links4trade, digital women, dotcom women, theunityribbon.org) which should probably be placed on their own page.
Near the top of the main page is the “logo design by…” link which takes the web visitor away from Sandi’s T’s web site just to see who created her logo. When placing such links I always prefer to have them open in separate browser windows so that the visitor, as curious as they may get about that external link to someone else’s site, can always find their way back to the original web site, mine, hopefully where they will purchase my product or service.
A lot of text is centered and bold, this causes the pages to be longer and reduces the effectiveness of using bold text, which is to make something stand out from the rest of the page. There are also many things that appear on seemingly every page that should probably be placed on their own page such as payment and shipping information. There should also be a page dedicated to explaining what crafts you sell, and whether or not all of them are hand-crafted.
There is also the issue of the navigation scheme, which I feel is weak:
- navigation is not obvious with buttons or button-looking links repeated throughout the site
- the category names are not repeated the same throughout the site (for example Fruits & Flowers = Fruit and Flower Splendor)
- category names are in different order on the main page when compared to the picture links at the top of other pages
- the navigation bar at the top relies on people memorizing the navigation scheme by pictures – text-based would be better
- There is also the issue of ordering, how to order is not stated clearly, and requires too much searching of the page to find the “How To Order” link. The online public has gotten so used to point-and-click
- purchasing that its just asking a bit too much to have them search for the ordering information, and choose the proper order form once there.
If you are looking for hand-made t-shirts, sweat shirts and matching jewelry made by a real person then Sandi’s T’s is a good place to find them. With targeted visitors and design improvements this site could easily quadruple its sales ….. at least quadruple.
The site suffers from incorrect ICRA labeling, the use of a subdomain which will be harder to remember, poorly targeted visitors that may find the site from web-rings, and from an external link to the logo creator which may take some visitors away from the site either because they were only there out of “web-ring curiosity” or because they “lost your site” because they are new to the Internet. Two personal peeves: I do not like FrontPage authored sites, and the deprecated <FONT> tag is used (try CSS stylesheets instead).
The page design needs to be re-considered with a particular eye toward navigation design and continuity and the organization of information. The constant centered and bolded text should be done away with except where appropriate (headings, important notes, and the like). It should be very clear from the first page how to order and what items are for sale, or links to that information should be easy-to-find.
I think only people who place a high value on hand-made crafts and are good with their computers and the Internet will end up purchasing from Sandi’s T’s. Others who may otherwise purchase from the site may be driven away after they cannot easily figure out how to find their way around (navigation), how to order, and/or how to find out exactly what items are for sale (t-shirts, sweat shirts, jewelry, home/kitchen items).
Overall: 4 – confusing navigation, not easy to figure out how to order or what is for sale
Navigation: Overall: 3 – needs much improvement
Navigation: Consistency: 7 – category names change, the navigation scheme changes, otherwise consistent
Navigation: Intuitive: 3 – this site requires too much searching around and in-depth reading to make it easy enough for use by today’s point-and-click online buyers
Ease of Use: 3 – novice web users will be lost and confused, those with a good grasp of web sites may also become lost and confused
Style: 2 – the site is cute, not business-like
Image/Graphic Quality: 5 – graphics are about a 5 and need to be replaced by higher-quality graphics (without so much movement), but the pictures of products are about a 7
HTML Editor: 2 – FrontPage (merely a pet “peeve”)
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