Sandi’s Ts Site Review – Let’s Go Shopping!

    August 1, 2003

Sandi : What’s in your store window today? Thinking through, a bit of research, and common sense will go a long way toward helping you sell more T’s. So, let’s go shopping.

Where’s your store directory?

Your site needs a consistent, visible navigation scheme.

Briefly, there’s a standard, common-or-garden Web layout that has evolved, because it makes sense and it works. People can become confused if your site doesn’t conform. The layout goes pretty much like this:

  • a top banner, with your company name, logo, colours and what-have-you;
  • a “strip” of images or text under the banner (or sometimes down the right or left side of the page) listing the different sections available – i.e., the navigation bar;
  • the main content area for images and text;
  • and often a footer area with copyright info, privacy policy, and other legal shtick.

Your navigation bar could have these elements (for example): T-shirts, Jewellery, How to order, About Sandi’s T’s, FAQ, Contact. Right at the top of the page, on every page. That way your customers can always find the essential tools to admire – and purchase – your products.

Be absolutely, strictly consistent. If the link under an image says “Marine Life”, head your target page with “Marine Life” – not “Wonders from the Sea.” And if you say “click on the pictures below to see more” – we may expect a larger version of the image. Which brings me to:

What’s in your shop window?

I’m looking at your home page at 1024x 768 screen resolution – and none of your products are visible. Your shop window is empty! On each page, have your product images, prices and ordering information link right where we can see them. For example, showcase one piece with a large photo, and have the others in smaller versions – thumbnails – which could then link down the page to the product details.

Use your table layout to subdivide your page “real estate” more efficiently. Then you can have information and pictures side-by-side, rather than having everything stacked – long, long pages are killers.

Have your friends go for a pretend shop and report back to you on how easy it was to find your products and how to purchase them. This exercise can be an eye-opener – would you believe that many people won’t know to scroll down the page? And ask them what all of your navigation images mean – that may also surprise you.

What kind of store is this?

Quality or discount? The many animated GIF’s are a bit like too many light bulbs flashing on a marquee. Tone it down, and you’ll save on page load and create a more professional, inviting look. You don’t have to have images for your navigation – save the images for your products and increase their impact. And research major online stores to brainstorm site color schemes and layout ideas.

Business or Personal?

Finally, I strongly recommend that you separate the business and personal aspects of your site. Focus. Make this site totally about showcasing – and selling – your T-shirts and other products. Houseclean everything that doesn’t actively promote your business and sell your products, including the counter and personal affiliation buttons. For example, you’ll certainly want to keep the PayPal logo and info – that’s essential for purchasing. But others are not.

Sandi, I hope these comments will help you rethink your layout and strategy, and I hope you sell a million T’s!

Best regards,
David Roddis

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