Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Does Your Website Say About You?

This week’s follow up to “Are You Ready To Market Yourself?” will focus on your website and user experience. This won’t be the ins and outs of building a store or setting up shopping carts, instead I want you to look at your website from a user’s point of view. What sort of message are you sending and what sort of experience are they having?

First Things First

As we’re all aware, first impressions are lasting. This counts for websites too, maybe even more. When a customer is looking for something particular and finds your website they have no preconceived notions of who you are or what you do. They do however form them as the page is loading. How long does that take? Are there too many large images that take seconds to load? Are they immediately assaulted with google ads and flashing banners? I hope not.

Those first few seconds, and yes I do mean seconds, on your website can make or break a client. Most people only spend a matter of minutes on sites they like and visit regularly. On your site if they can’t find what they need quickly or don’t want to wade through too many bells and whistles to get to the information, you’ve lost them.

A quick aside - While flash can make some pretty interfaces and landing pages, I highly recommend against using it. A flash website or intro often takes precious time to load and these days no one on an iPad can even see your site. That’s a lot of people to cut out with unnecessary design.

So take a quick look at your website from an outsiders eyes. What is the first thing you see? Is it inviting? Does it give you a sense of what this business or artist is about? Most importantly, does it make you want to see more?


This is the most important part of your website. I mean it, really. Most of your visitors are on your website for a purpose, they want to know how to contact you, they want to see pictures of your work, or they want to know when your next event is. Can they find that information on the first page or with one click? If not you should seriously consider fixing that.

I like pretty things and I can appreciate websites that are “designed”. But unless the purpose of your site is to simply be a thing of beauty, then you’re going to loose potential customers who don’t “get it” but were still thinking they wanted to buy your jewelry.

Is your navigation bar easy to find? Do you need to scroll to see it? Are the words easy to read and figure out where they’ll take you?


Bad photos or a complete lack of are another instant turnoff for new visitors. If I can’t really tell what color those earrings are or see the detail of that ring I’m not going to buy it.

The key things to remember when choosing photos for your website:

  • Are they well lit? You’re looking for true colors, soft shadows, texture and contrast. You want the image to pop and still show the finer points?
  • Do they have a sense of scale? For anything to be worn a photo on a model is a great idea, then the buyer can tell how long the earrings are, how the front of the blouse hangs, or how sheer the fabric is. (It’s also not a bad idea to include dimensions in your descriptions.)
  • Are they in focus? If you do nothing else, at least make sure your images are in focus, please!

If you have not read Etsy’s Guide To Photography, stop now and do it!

Links and Proofreading

These two go together because they’re one in the same. The most often unnoticed mistakes are dead links and typos. Not only should you be proofreading all your text over and over again, you should be testing your links.

I would wager that every time you read a section of your website you find one thing wrong or out of place. I make a habit of looking at one page a week that I haven’t visited recently just to make sure everything is as it should be. I often find an extra space, missing comma, or just a headline that wasn’t formatted right. That’s usually on my 4th read.

Same goes for links, check them and re-check them. Sometimes you misspell a word in the address or you move something and don’t get everything updated. I’ve also had my web hosting service change things on the back end and suddenly a page isn’t where it should be.

It never hurts to be too careful. And one day you will look at a page and honestly be able to say everything is as it should be.

What are some of your website pet peeves?

Here are the other articles in this series:

Are You Ready To Market Yourself?

Branding: It's All About Experience and Benefit

Customer Service - Do You Know What Your Customers Experience?

Is Your Website Marketing For You?

I encourage comments directly to this post, but also feel free to email me directly with questions, reactions, struggles, etc.

If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Jen from Mama's Magic Studio about joining SFEtsy!


Katy said...

As a web designer...I even struggled with my website. I wanted it to look like something I would draw...and I wanted it to refresh on it's own. I chose to use Wordpress...which works well with Etsy and also my Flickr account. It's allowed me to keep my website up to date without having to update it myself. :)

nerd JERK said...

It great to see so many thought-provoking questions in one place. Although I don't have my own dedicated website for my brand (yet), it's simple enough to translate them into questions that relate to my Etsy store. For example: as far as navigation goes, how easy is it for someone to contact me? Do I show them other products to buy?

Thank you for asking these questions, Genevieve. Some of us didn't even know they needed to be asked, let alone answered. :)

Even said...

i have two sites, which i had to build because etsy's checkout can be challenging for some.
also my blog,
which i think is in more need of help!

it seems like there is always more to do, this article helps me feel like i have at least started with the proper priorities. i'd love to hear any feedback if you visit!

(sf etsy blogger cafe night?)

Jen (Mama's Magic Studio) said...

such great advice! my website has been a "work in progress" for years now... sigh. i appreciate being prompted to think about all this (again!)

Lightbox SF said...

I'm glad I was able to get you all thinking about your websites. I know how easy they are to ignore, but they are our face to the world and need to be as presentable as possible. Sometimes we can't help getting a poppyseed stuck in our teeth or lint on our eyelashes, but it does matter how quickly and graciously we fix our mistakes.

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