Sandi’s Ts Site Review – Understand Your Customers

    August 1, 2003

Sandi’s T’s at
First ask:
–Who is the target customer?
–What do they need?
–What motivates them to buy?
–What makes them want to come back?
–What is the most important thing they need to do on each page of your site?
–What is your most popular set of products?

All your web design issues should be lead by this type of questioning.

From a quick glance at the site, these issues stand out:

1. Get your own URL.
What is ecorp to you? Technologies for learning technologies? For less than you would spend on one McDonald’s meal, you can own your own domain name for a year ( I suggest getting a little proactive about this, and pick out a bargain for 3 years for around $25-30.

Before you settle on a domain name, go to and do a free trial on keywords that have the best hope for boosting your position with search engines. Forget about using a female given name in the title (look less like an adult entertainment site and more like a mainstream product vendor) and choose a name that incorporates a term or terms people will search for when they are looking for quilted T’s or fabric gifts and ideas. Your naming goal should be fewer words, easy to remember, easy to spell and easy to say. Preferably something that communicates a benefit your line of merchandise offers to your target market group.

2. Get a toll-free number and post it dominantly.
Up to 1/2 of your sales from the web will be made over the phone. Be prepared to have someone answer that phone 24/7, or post business hours with the phone number.

3. Think “click quick to a sale”.
Figure out what paths on your web site convert to a sale, and structure everything to move site guests along that path. Shorter paths are always the best. If you can convert to a sale on your home page, good for you. Most site guests only see the home page and if they can’t see a solution to their problem, fast, then they are gone forever. Give people a reason to seek your site again. Sales don’t usually happen with one visit.

4. Do the math for your customer.
I’m just throwing out a wild guess here, but the last thing people want to do is math when they go to a crafts store to buy a T-shirt. Your order process is not clear and you are asking folks to add things up in their head…. or worse, making them think they have to do that at the order page. It isn’t clear how they enter their favorite product’s totals even if they are the type that does math puzzles in their head for fun.

There are lots of very good 4th and 5th generation online catalog packages that are worth the investment. These programs incorporate the best thinking of many individuals complaining to the catalog software creator about features needed to make a sale. You can buy one of those mature programs and benefit from years of problem-solving solutions incorporated in the program for online sales. Often, these programs do a lot of thinking for you so you can plug in your business information, product pictures and descriptions and hook up with a cc/payment system and move on to tasks that draw return guests and buyers to your site.

5. Blinking mania is great for seizures.
But not for every other button on your site. Make your navigation easy to understand and use without driving site guests away with visual cacophony. Choose which links make you the most $$ and make them the most easy to read and the most prominent. Blinking is like sugar, too much and you get sick really fast. Support content should take a support role in position and visual dominance.

6. Mailing list purpose must be for them, not you.
Give people a reason to add their name to your mailing list. Tell them the truth about what you plan to do with their name and email address (privacy policy) and be sure your list management vendor doesn’t gather your email names for spamming list sales. Newsletters must be of vital interest to those who sign up from your site, and should contain an opt-out option that you adhere to. Add testimonials to your sales pages and sign up pages to boost your credibility as you request of a closer relationship with the site guest.

7. Organize your body copy.
Floating, centered text down the middle of a site says “I’m not really ready for business on the web”. Organize content in easy-to-understand, easy-to scan chunks (small paragraphs, short lines) — like newspaper columns. Keep the big money-making chunks of information that offer value for the site guest above the fold.

8. Provide meaningful information and product options.
The web is about information… the big global public library in the sky. You should expect a percentage of guests skimming to get ideas for their own T-shirt crafts. You may want to devote a section of your site to selling patterns so they can enjoy making crafts themselves. You may even want to let them download helpful sewing and preparation hints with pictures of your best selling T’s on happy people in bright well lit pictures (not dark gray images). Then help them buy a pattern with detailed instructions.

You might even offer a companion info set of how to package gifts and what you recommend for maintenance of your product. Make a profit on pattern sales for those who want to do it themselves and provide finished T’s for those who don’t but love that comfortable and clever crafty look. Remember to keep your secret recipe for your best-of-the-best to yourself, so those purchasing your finished product end up with guaranteed superior product.

Meaningful information is appreciated on emailed newsletters and content, too. If the information matches the needs of your target audience, they like it. If not, you can have more problems than you want to deal with.

9. Do marketing on and off the web.
Remember, it takes about 7 positive contacts with a company for the average retailer to make a sale. Most first-time guests don’t buy, but they decide whether to make or accept a second contact at the time they make the first, so put on your best website face for that split second first visit and then give them a reason to return and enjoy what you have to offer. Off-line support marketing means you really are offering a real product to customers for now and for years to come.

10. Compatible, not competitive or nonsense links.
Search engines look for linking that benefits the user. If you belong to a web ring that makes no real sense for your guest, then it likely isn’t the type of link that will help anyone. Choose linking partners based on compatible products that don’t compete with yours. Contact them personally and offer a landing page that has value for their guests, in exchange for the same kind of link for you on their site. Don’t always expect a home page.

This list isn’t exhaustive or prioritized, just off the top of my head. But I wish you well and hope you can use some of the thoughts to improve your site. I still believe the web is great for entry level business artisans who have something to offer the world that no one else can. Don’t be discouraged with the critique process, just disconnect that emotional button for a while and coast on logic through the info you get from this process. Creative people sometimes don’t get business savvy until after a few bumps and that is a shame, because it is the creative spark that nurtures us all.

Best wishes as you move forward!

Marketing and Website Design

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