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Monday, February 27, 2006 

A note on reviewing websites

Dear Jewelry Designer:

While I am absolutely delighted to check out your beautiful jewelry creations, I am loathe to wade through your crap of a website to do it. Harsh? Yes. But I'm doing you a huge favor by pointing out why people are bailing on your site and not purchasing your lovely designs.

A good design is essential for e-commerce. I'm not saying you need to invest in a high-price designer or have a degree in graphic/web design. I'm saying there are plenty of free web design sites (and templates) available online and I urge you to use these references to build a better, more user-friendly site.

So, why does your site suck so much? Choose one:

• The navigation is horrible. It took me 4 clicks to find your product images.
• Music. GET RID OF ALL MUSIC ON YOUR BUSINESS SITE. Nothing cheeses me off more than being subjected to loud, crappy music. If I have to scramble to find the "off" button or if there is no "off" button for the music, I leave the site no matter how cool your product may be.
• Flash Overload. I dig Flash and other animations -- IF they have a purpose. Do you have a spinning logo? A little movie playing on the side? Do you have a splash page that opens up a new window when clicked? Garbage. Get rid of them. If the Flash serves as your navigation interface or your gallery, make sure they work correctly.
• Too much information. I love learning about who the designer is, what makes her tick, how she got started... However, that stuff belongs in a "blog" or "about me" section, not on the front page. Also, be vary careful about what personal information you share on your business site. Knowing about the fight you had with your boyfriend's mother is a huge turn-off. I, Buyer of Jewelry, do not care about your personal drama when I'm shopping on your site.
• Cluttered site. Please organize your site in some manner. Categories are your friend and will help people find the items they want to buy from you.
• Fake light bursts on jewelry images. You know when you take a picture and light reflects off a shiny surface? Some you are putting fake light reflections on your items. Ugh!
• Distracting background images. Your site should showcase your designs, not distract from them. If all else fails, use a solid color background (white is better than black).
• Broken links. Fix them.
• "Sold" items mixed with the currently available pieces. I understand that you want to showcase your past works. Great! I love to see them. I ask that you move them to their own category as to not get my hopes up. (It's a little nit-picky, I know.)
• Slooooow loading sites. I have broadband. If it takes more than a minute (ok, 30 seconds) to load your pages, it's too damned big. Make sure your images are properly sized and that all of your scripts are working properly.
• Confusing shopping cart, no return policy, no privacy policy, no way to contact you with questions ... all equal bad customer service. Please make my shopping experience as painless and simple as possible. I work hard for my money. Don't make me work harder to spend it.

What makes me sad is that you have lovely products that I want to buy. If you spend just a little time cleaning up your site and getting rid of the "fluff", you'd gain me (and likely many others) as customers.

Your pal,