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#1 greenugly

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 06:58 PM

I am trying to get feedback on a website that I have developed. Is this the place to go for help? Would any body be willing to give me some advice on this site and how I could improve it. This is my first experience with a forum. Thanks

http://www.aphanofasteners.com

Edited by Respree, 07 August 2007 - 07:05 PM.


#2 SEOigloo

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 12:36 AM

Hi GreenUgly,
Welcome to the forum!

I only have a minute tonight to get started on this, but my visit to your site resulted in some important first questions.

1) It seems to me that the homepage of your website is of little value. I would suggest that the homepage be the page that one has to click through to from this front page. Here, on this second page, you have your actual logo, navigation, etc. My guess would be that people will leave the site after taking a glance at your current homepage, because it simply doesn't explain what the site is about. It's more like a definition of the word aphano fastener coupled with a few facts than an actual website where actions of some kind can take place.

2) What is an apahno fastener? Is this something unique that you manufacture, or is this a typical tool of the trade that is sold everywhere. Not being a handyman myself, I'm afraid I've never heard of this article, so forgive my foolishness if this is a well-known item.

When I click through to the second page (the one I'm saying ought to be the homepage) my first impression, thanks to a line above the fold on your page is that what you sell will help me create a beautiful deck...but I still don't understand exactly what an aphano fastener is. Is it a kind of nail, or more like a screwdriver or something? Again, if you target audience will be familiar with this term, and it is just my lack of construction experience that is making me not a typical user, then it may not be a big deal that you aren't really explaining, off the bat, what this product is. However, if Aphano Fasteners are an invention of your own, I would like to see something right at the top of the homepage reading something like,

"Join your decking without unsightly nails with Aphano Fasteners"

I'm getting this hint at what the product is for by reading down below on the 2nd page, but I still feel this isn't being presented as clearly as it should be.

However, on the plus side, at least you've written a lot about it. I like that you've gone into explaining the benefits of your product at length. This is good.

3) A last thing I have time to mention here - when I clicked on the Purchase link, I expected to be able to buy your product. Do you not actually sell these? I'm unclear as to what I'm supposed to do to get some fasteners from you. You are giving prices and talking about shipping, but there is no shopping function. Do you intend for people to call you to make orders? Or, perhaps, email you, or fill out an order form somewhere on the site? That should be made much clearer. Or, maybe one is supposed to purchase from Mild Fence Company? I think if you go back and look at this page, and pretend you've never seen it before, you will realize that you aren't telling people precisely what they need to do to order. Being clear and specific and giving call-to-action directions like Order Now By Phone, or Fill Out Our Order Form, is essential to making conversions from visitors to customers.

I hope others will look into your site and give you some more in-depth feedback. It's great you are asking for guidance and I believe some adjustments will really do much to improve the function and usability of your site!
Kind Regards,
Miriam

#3 greenugly

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 12:43 PM

I am so new at this I have spent the past week trying to figure out how to reply. If this gets posted then I want to say thanks for the advice. I tried to do some of what was suggested. I just do not understand it all. I thought that I was supposed to have a fast-loading intro page and that was what I was trying to do. But I hopefully changed the site for the better. Please let me know what you think. Thanks

#4 SEOigloo

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 05:20 PM

Hi Again!
You've done a very good job of implementing the suggestions I made. Good work, and a big improvement. I now know instantly when I hit your home page what you sell and what the purpose of your product is. This was an important step in the right direction.

The purchase page has become much, much clearer, too. I now get it that if I want to make a purchase, I need to pick up a phone and call that number. Good job on this.

In regards to your question about the point of a homepage, you'll be glad to know that you page loaded instantly for me, and this isn't something to be concerned about. Your homepage is the most important page of your site, and it needs to provide as much relevant information as possible. You will still run into websites using front entry pages, unfortunately. Why are these bad? Think about it this way:

If I find your website via a search of Google, for example, and I click on your listing, I have already made a commitment to enter your website. I should not then have to make a second commitment to click on another page to enter the actual useful part of your site. Front entry pages act as though the user has to say twice that they want to come in, and cause the user to click more times than they should need to in order to get down to business. Because of this, I consider it a huge improvement that your homepage is now a real homepage rather than a front entry page. Very important.

A couple more suggestions you might like to make use of:
The blue border around the picture of the decking looks unprofessional. People don't really use these anymore. These borders are automatically created when you make an image into a link. To remove the effect of this, you can add: border="0" into the image source link so that those blue lines will go away. You're already making it clear that people can click that image to enlarge. You don't need to repeat this message by having the blue border.

Your 800 number ought to appear in the logo of your site, as does your email address. I'd rather see this than your www. Assumedly people can simply look up in their URL bar to see your URL, and it's not really necessary to include the web address in the logo. The phone number is much more important.

In the footer of your site, you should repeat all of your contact information...phone numbers, and complete physical address. This will help to promote trust amongst your visitors and can also assist Google in geotargeting your site for local search-type searches.

It would be nice, when you can afford it, to see some better quality photos incorporated into the site, on the homepage and other pages. I know that this is, at present, a homemade effort and that you are working hard to make the site as good as it can be. Keep in mind that high quality photos do much to sell a product and if, in future, you can get some really good images of decks built with Aphano fasteners, you will be improving the the professionalism of your company on-line.

I hope some other forum members will add to this thread and offer you further advice. Good job on what you've done so far. Keep at it!
Miriam

#5 DCrx

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 01:46 PM

I would suggest a look at competitors like Tigerclaw and Eb--Ty. Specifically I would seek to build a layout which is more professional looking but loads far quicker than either of these competitors.

For example, I would strive for a better visual which shows the difference but can be displayed without having to click to "see the difference." I would try to do a step-by-step visual of the installation of Aphano vs Screws -- but also show the time. Is it 15% faster? Does a deck take an average of 1 hour less using your product? You don't say.

In other words, you've got to give the claim "faster" some context. What's the payoff, the benefit?

The site has some good points in copy. The layout doesn't really present the reader with good visual flow or logical placement. Don't assume the site exists in a competitive vaccuum -- study the competition. Don't copy - improve.

Check out sites like jewelboxing.com -- big graphics, loads fast.

Edited by DCrx, 19 June 2007 - 01:50 PM.


#6 greenugly

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 05:25 PM

Thanks again for the help. I agree that the site does not look very professional. I have tried to copy some of ebtys and tigerclaws look but I also want to have my own look as well. But I can tell that it is not very good because when customers come to the store and see the product they are enthusiastic about it. On-line it is more ho-hum. I know that my pictures are pretty poor as well. Out of 225 visitors to the site only 4 have bothered to contact me. I will continue to try to improve it an appreciate all of the suggestions. I have two specific questions right now. When I search for hidden fasteners I find my site on page 11 of google. Not where I want to be but oh well. But when I click on the link it does not take me to the index page. Why not? That is where I thought people would go first. My second question is: what is the difference between a "reply" and a "fast reply" Thanks

#7 Respree

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 07:53 PM

:offtopic:

My second question is: what is the difference between a "reply" and a "fast reply"


"Fast Reply" is handy when you want to write a short response, one that you can see within the confines of the box provided and where no preview or formatting is desired (such as the post you just made).

"Add Reply" is better suited for longer replies and when text formatting, such bolding, text color, italics and the like are desired. It also the page where the smiley's (emoticons) library is stored, if you want to add some emotional emphasis to your words. :thumbs: Here is the Cre8asite Tour, for your reference, which will explain more about the formatting codes available.

Edited by Respree, 19 June 2007 - 08:04 PM.


#8 greenugly

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 07:16 PM

Sorry for asking a question off of the topic. I still would like to know why my index page does not load first. And, are meta tags valuable any more? Some sites say yes and some no. Thanks

#9 victor363

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 02:30 AM

Prepare yourself! I am going to eviscerate your website to expose the glistening meat of its failure.

So, I am going to apologize in advance to you as this post is somewhat condenscending and won't do much for your self esteem. However, it is your loss if you don't take my advise seriously. All the advise I offer is to the best of my knowledge true. :fingerscrossed:


The most important, imperative, essential, life breaking change I can recommend is to make your pages more relevant to what people are typing in on the search engines (unless of course you aren't trying to drive traffic online).

Right now, all your pages are designed to rank high for people who type in 'aphanofasteners' in the search engines. Big mistake. I'm not going to do your keyword research for you; but given the fact that google only shows 19 matches for aphanofasteners, this forum being second to your website, I am willing to bet that you aren't getting alot of traffic from the search engines.

First off, what the hell is an aphanofastener? Obviously its is a product name; but what does it do? Also, what benefits does it provide to you? Brainstorm all of the relevant benefits your mysterious product does, as well as all of the uses. Than conduct keyword research on them, transforming them into phrases or keywords people are typing into Google. Record the respective traffic.

Than, type in each phrase yourself on google so that you get an idea of what your competition is like. You should have canvased the market by now and will have the information you need to sell to several different marketing niches which are represented by represented by keyword queries.

Second most important thing
Create a bold size 18 font headline in the top center of those pages you have devoted to targeting the keyword queries mentioned above. It is crucial that you match that headline exactly with the keyword query people are typing into Google. For some reason, this is when people screw up most - so, I will repeat myself. The headlines of each page should match the keyword phrase people are typing into Google. It doesn't have to be an exact match (I lied), you can edit it a little to make it flow (less is more here though).

Third most important thing
What part 3 of what SEOigloo said. Your website has no call to action anywhere to be found. Implementing one would multiply your conversion rate several times over, if my guess is on the money.


:) ;) :spambuster: :spambuster: :spambuster: :spambuster: :yuk: :spambuster: :spambuster: :spambuster: :spambuster:
Tenth most important thing


Do you think your site looks unprofessional as well?

Not every piece of copy on your page should be emphasized.

But it is important that your email address is consistent with your other site links, such as your links for about
.

Never use blue for text thats not a hyperlink!

  • Even if your hyperlinks are a different color than blue
  • even if the text isn't underlined
  • even if you are selling color monitors to people browsing your site with black and white monitors

Keep all the layout consistent
Failing to condition your customers will destroy user confidence in your website.

Its evil to tell someone to:
[click here] :oh-so-lonely:
only to let them discover that '[click here]' is not a hyperlink.
Also, this is not the 90's, don't use words like 'click'; that should be implied since your customers should be conditioned to use underlined blue hyperlinks..

If you hire a flash programmer, and he gets carried away on your website; you are likely to kill several people with epilepsy.



To make your site more professional, limit yourself to

headlines that are used sparingly

Normal text (arial or verdana is best according to usability studies).

Underlined blue hyperlinks

and bold text

Edited by bragadocchio, 03 January 2008 - 03:17 PM.


#10 greenugly

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 07:36 PM

I still have some self-esteem left. Not much I admit, but I am hanging in there. I have tried to implement much of what I have been told. I am not sure that I understand it all unfortunately. I want people who are looking for hidden deck fasteners to find my site. So I have used keywords throughout my pages (including alt tags) to that end. Is this correct? I do have a call to action, on the purchase page. Is this not enough? Keep picking on my site, I appreciate all the help I can get. Thanks

#11 swainzy

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 08:54 PM

Victor363,

Here is and example of the kind of review we like to see at Cre8 - a thoughtful and positive feed back framed in a curteous manner:
http://www.cre8asite...e...st&p=232761

I don't like to take the chance of offending a person who has offered up their work in a sincere attempt to learn and improve.

Just my opinion. <_<

#12 Respree

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 10:28 PM

:offtopic:

Hi greenugly.

I'd like you to keep 'hanging in there', so I'll offer you some encouragement.

Building a successful website takes time, patience, knowledge in many web disciplines, testing, and most importantly, making mistakes -- in doing so, we discover ways that don't work, leading us one step closer to ways that do work. It's very much like a sculpture that is continually evolving and is never 'really' done. All of us started at exactly the same place -- knowing nothing. It is from there, we took baby steps toward learning how to build and market websites. Much of it is trial an error and, in many cases, there no definitive right or wrong.

Should I use green or blue? Should my font be bigger or smaller? How many times should I mention my keywords?

Try to resist that natural reaction of becoming overwhelmed at the journey ahead. Make improvements to your site one step at a time with the understanding that it will take time for your site to go through its natural evolution toward improvement.

The website hospital can be a bit brutal at times. It takes courage and a thick skin to put your site up for review, but I can show you many hundreds of grateful site owners that were glad they did. Think of it this way. If you got a hundred responses like, "great site," "good work," and "I love it," at the end of the day you'd be scratching your head saying to yourself, "What do I do next?" Honestly, complimentary comments, while nice to hear and a great ego booster, don't move you one step closer toward improvement.

Hang in there. Fortune favors the bold.

Edited by Respree, 28 June 2007 - 10:34 PM.


#13 Ruud

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 10:56 PM

Hi greenugly,

My apologies for the rather ... harsh ... reply you might have noticed earlier in this thread. Sometimes the eagerness to help reflects the frustration with our own crappy site more than it does the site reviewed.

When I clicked throught to your site I read nothing but immediately zoomed in on this image section:

Posted Image

I hovered my mouse over it to see if there would be something to click and -- yes!! -- there was a larger photo.

Right then and there, between seeing the small image and that first click, you had explained me what this "thingie" is and what it does.

I would move this image up on the page. I also would remove the quotes from "see the difference". From which butcher would you buy, the one with the sign Fresh Meat or the one with "Fresh" Meat?

Knowing that not everybody is handy with browsers I would also have this image open in a page so that it is easy for people to continue browsing your page. At the same time you can use that page to tell more about this amazing product.

Ok, now apart from all the usual problems we face (how to rank? how to sell?) your problem is that you're selling an unknown product. You cannot rely on the product itself; it will not draw enough traffic.

Compare it to this... You need "stuff" improved on your site and I have just the right thing: the Haggino Blomo Promoter. Would you ever search for that? No... Likewise I, someone who has gotten into serious problem using Scotch tape, would not search for Alphano thingies at any time.

So... If you and I were to sit down and figure this out... What would people who would, in your opinion, benefit from this product be searching for?

Some things that come to my mind: decking, patio, porch... Are there other uses? Clapboard? Roofs? Sheds? Cottages?

Now with those topics in mind you can start writing about things these people might need, interest, want.

As much as I regret it, I have to cut the review short here. One of those "it's late and I still want to see my family" kind of things. BUT... I suggest you read up as much as you can about SEO around here. If you are pressured for time and have the money to spend I feel really comfortable recommending you the SEO Book. That's a non-affiliate link: no-one is making money from that recommendation.

I hope to revisit this review but in case I don't -- hand in there, this is just the beginning!

#14 Respree

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 11:02 PM

And, now for some advice. <_<

I think you should rethink your page strategy a bit.

I'd have to agree with Victor that there is a great deal of emphasis on 'aphano fasteners' rather than 'hidden fasteners'. This emphasis will lead the search engines to 'believe' this is what the page is about. I can understand the branding rationale behind this logic, but I think it will hurt you from a search engine optimization perspective.

I think you're also missing an opportunity for people who may not even know about hidden fasteners. How about people who just want to build a deck? Create additional pages explaning step by step how this is done. Think like your potential customer, answering questions they might ask.

- Can I 'really' do this myself?
- What are the risks it will be a disaster?
- How much is this going to cost?
- What tools will I need?
- Can I do this by myself?
- What raw materials do I need? (this is a perfect place to introduce your 'hidden fasteners')
- What can I do to ensure it is structurally sound?
- What are the common mistakes people typically make?

I'll bet you can think of a hundred more questions like this. Educate your customers. Give them free information. Then, give them every reason why your fasteners are superior to others on the market.

In creating this content, it will give you other opportunities for search optimization, which will bring people to your site.

"What does this mean to me?"

A common mistake in salesmanship is providing features and stopping there. Customers do not care about things like features. What they care about are benefits.

Let's take a quick look at the bulletpoints on your homepage (my comments are in red).

- "Cost less than other hidden fasteners."
Gives the reader no frame of reference. As I am reading this, I have no ideas what fasteners even cost. Does 'cost less' mean $9.99 instead of $10.00 or $3.00 instead of $10.00. Here, I'd recommend setting up another page linking the words 'costs less' to that page, comparing an average job using your fasteners versus a variety of other fasteners, with the conclusion of the page showing the 'total cost savings'.

Allow for easy replacement of individual deckboards.
Again, no frame of reference. What's involved in replacing a deckboard that doesn't have a hidden fastener versus one that does. Write an article and quantity exactly how much time they'd be saving (again, benefit [i.e. time saved], rather than feature)
Require no cutting, pre-drilling or countersinking.

Need no biscuit jointers or sledge hammers for installation.
This one leaves the layman hanging. What is a biscuit jointers and why would a need a sledge hammer. Create another page demonstrating the disadvantages using biscuit jointers and sledge hammers and why your way is better.

Well, you get the idea, which you can now apply the same concepts to the rest of your bullet points.

"- Allow for the expansion and contraction of deckboards.
- Work with all standard composite decking and any preferred side gap.
- Come with a 100% money-back guarantee and FREE SHIPPING.
- Can be installed from above, or below, the deck."

I hope you find these comments helpful to you.

Edited by Respree, 29 June 2007 - 11:12 AM.


#15 EGOL

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Posted 28 June 2007 - 11:02 PM

The most difficult part of being a webmaster is coming up with a lot of good content related to your product. You have a great start on that with the photos and explanations. So, you are off to a great start on the item that causes most websites to perform poorly.

Like me, your design skills are still developing and this takes a lot of time to get things right. Keep working on it and you will improve. One of the fastest ways to improve is to take a course from a good designer or sit with one for a while. You will get better.

After several years of making sites I finally decided that I needed professional design help and hired an experienced person to redo my best site. It was a bit of dough but the amount of time that I spent trying to make something that looked 1/2 as good was worth a lot more than what I paid. So, in the long run I really got my money's worth.

If you go that route an important thing to do is select a designer who is also an SEO. That will get you the two most important things for website success - a good look and the basis for good rankings.

If you prefer to go on your own with the design keep working and practicing and you will improve. Study SEO also because it can be an important part of the design and site structure. Each year I can look at my work from 12 months ago and can tell that my skills have grown.

#16 victor363

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 10:27 PM

Greenugly; I’m sorry for the ‘tough love’ post – rereading the review I gave, I didn’t mean to sound so harsh. I wrote that post late at night and should have been more diplomatic. :embarrassed: But your website already looks a lot nicer and more professional.

I still have some self-esteem left. Not much I admit, but I am hanging in there. I have tried to implement much of what I have been told. I am not sure that I understand it all unfortunately. I want people who are looking for hidden deck fasteners to find my site. So I have used keywords throughout my pages (including alt tags) to that end. Is this correct? I do have a call to action, on the purchase page. Is this not enough? Keep picking on my site, I appreciate all the help I can get. Thanks


To answer your question, the most emphasis on SEO a keyword can have is when you use it in your headline (see the second recommendation of my last post for elaboration on headlines). I really recommend keyword research using several different tools to ensure accuracy (don't forget googles tool). Matching your page headline with the exact phrase people type in is very important. For example, it appears that people are typing in 'hidden deck fastener' (767 queries/month) opposed to 'deck fastener' ( note: double check this using several keyword tools, than triple check it. I just made that assumption using one keyword tool and could be off). So, using the keywords 'hidden deck fastener' is going to bring you more traffic than 'hidden fastener'.


To clarify what I said in my last post:

Brainstorm all of the relevant benefits your mysterious product does, as well as all of the uses. Than conduct keyword research on them, transforming them into phrases or keywords people are typing into Google. Record the respective traffic. Than, type in each phrase yourself on google so that you get an idea of what your competition is like. You should have canvased the market by now and will have the information you need to sell to several different marketing niches which are represented by represented by keyword queries.



Posted Image Let me voice a sentiment made by Doc Brown from back to the future: "you must think fourth dimensionally!". Whether you are designing a landing page from scratch, or elaborate on a product benefit using a hyperlink, the page you design should also be a stand alone landing page relevant to the keyword queries people are typing in on Google as well. Always look at keyword queries people type in, and design the page to be relevant to one of those queries!

Let me elaborate. Lets say that you decide to list a benefit of your product as a hyperlink: "constructing a professional looking deck is easier. " Before writing your new page to elaborate on this benefit; endeavor to make this page a relevant search result to a keyword query typed in on google (keyword research again). The phrase 'deck construction', for example, is searched for 5,348 a month ( according to one keyword research tool ). So, perhaps the headline on this new benefit page should be: 'Deck Construction done easier'. The idea is to kill two birds with one stone and make a page that not only elaborates on a benefit, but satisfies what the five thousand people typing in 'deck construction' in the search engines is looking for - thus driving more traffic (and hopefully some sales as well).

Your current page headlines are too long!
EG: you currently have Aphano fasteners: The hidden fastener made for composite decking.
Lets role play for a moment. Pretend you are one of the 767 people typing in 'hidden deck fastener' into the search engines every month (keyword research again). After you type in the phrase 'hidden deck fastener', you open up the top 30 google results into different browser tabs. Then, you quickly go through those 30 opened tabs in less than 15 seconds, searching for the page that is more relevant. This is why you put keywords into headlines! A headline that says "hidden deck fasteners" will immediately be recognized as a relevant result within a fraction of a second. Now the headline Aphano fasteners: The hidden fastener made for composite decking
, which you currently use, takes a moment longer to recognize as a relevant result. For one, you aren't matching the exact phrase they are using (missing the keyword 'deck'); but also, the first thing anyone reads is 'aphano fastener', which will cause many people to ignore the rest of the text in the headline and close the page right then and there. Make your first impression count!


Sorry about going on a rant in my last post greenugly and sarcastically explaining to you why shifting text formats looks unprofessional. :violin: But honestly, as long as your headlines are distinguished, redesigning your site to look more professional should probably be not an immediate priority (just my :twocents: ). After you hone your site marketing (which this post is about), than a site redesign may be worth your time. But now, I just honestly don't see it doing much for you.

Internet marketing and website design are two distinct fields (though they intersect at some points). Typically, website design increases sales on a linear scale. Example, inserting a 'request a quote' button with more contrast may raise sales 200%; text appearing below an image instead of on top (the best practice btw) may increase conversions by .02%, or changing the background color of your input fields from white to yellow may increase sales by .04%. On the contrary, internet marketing efforts, improve sales on an exponential basis. This is where sales come from. If you took the worst marketed website in the world and improved the design so conversions increase 1,000%; the math formula for how much more you would be selling would be: 0 sales X 1,000%. Thats my theory at least - I'm sure many would disagree.


Greenugly, I Frankensteined a mock up of your site in photoshop which you might want to consider emulating . Notice that I include a 'request quote' call to action, above the fold, and I change the background page color to (#e4dfb8). The 'request a quote' button should drive more traffic to your sales page, compared to the current 'purchase' hyperlink you employ.

Posted Image


Good luck with your endeavors! Please let us know if you have any additional questions or wish for clarification on anything. :innocent:

Edited by victor363, 29 June 2007 - 10:44 PM.


#17 EGOL

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 10:43 PM

Nice follow-up post, Victor.

#18 victor363

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 11:04 PM

Nice follow-up post, Victor.


Thanks EGOL :)


GreenUgly, one other point I forgot to mention: your logo, APHANO FASTENERS appears as crawlabe text. Most logo's are image files.

Right now, I fear that some of the search engines may mistake your logo for a page headline thus reducing the effectiveness of the keywords in your real headlines. I'm not an SEO mad scientist so I can't say for certain though :thinking:

#19 greenugly

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 06:44 PM

I sure appreciate all of the input, harsh or not. Now if I can only find time to implement it all (or most of it). It's not that I can handle much more now but I just read that I should be using CSS rather than the font code. Is this true? I'm just getting used to basic html. Now CSS? Thanks again.

#20 rjohnson

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 02:31 AM

I sure appreciate all of the input, harsh or not. Now if I can only find time to implement it all (or most of it). It's not that I can handle much more now but I just read that I should be using CSS rather than the font code. Is this true? I'm just getting used to basic html. Now CSS? Thanks again.


Hello. In response to your question, I believe that you should use CSS, but through an external file. Spiders will enjoy it more if the CSS code doesn't get in their way. I'm not an SEO pro by any means but I have spent countless hours reading about it this year. Someone correct me if my advice is wrong.

#21 victor363

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 03:16 PM

I sure appreciate all of the input, harsh or not. Now if I can only find time to implement it all (or most of it). It's not that I can handle much more now but I just read that I should be using CSS rather than the font code. Is this true? I'm just getting used to basic html. Now CSS? Thanks again.


Personally I use a CSS stylsheet as it is easier to make site wide changes. I'm sure their are other advantages as well; but I'm not exactly the most qualified person to elaborate on it as programming really isn't my cup of tea :)

If I were you though, I would forget about CSS for the time being; and just keep the fonts in all of your pages as consistent as possible. Your probably going to want to do a site redesign later, at some point down the line anyways, so you can deal with that problem then. Prioritize.

CSS and site design do not create sales - they just sharpen your already existing conversion rate. So focus on implementing the marketing tips discussed above; this will generate traffic and sales on an exponential basis in comparison to any design upgrade you can implement.

just my :twocents:

Good luck with the upgrades and do not hesitate to ask if you need any further advise :)


Best regards,

Victor

PS: Send me an email if you want the 'request a quote' button I used for the mockup illustration above.

#22 rjohnson

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 03:36 PM

Victor,


you are correct,. Without going off on another tangent besides his website review, let me just quickly mention other advantages of CSS:

a) it allows for easier changes because it is analogous to an object oriented approach programming. This means that you design your code for expandability and reusability. That is what an external CSS file allows. You make one change, in one file, and it changes every single page in your website. This is much better than having to change code in every single page.

B) If you format your design with CSS instead of with tables, the page will load faster, and (this is the SEO part I am not 100% sure of), a faster loading page, is better for when spiders crawl it.

#23 greenugly

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 06:18 PM

I appreciate all of the advice. I have tried to implement much of it. If anyone has the time, please let me know if my site looks more "professional". And I have to admit that this forum can be somewhat frustrating. I spend hours (days actually) on my web-site and Victor comes up with a better looking page than I can. Probably took him 30 minutes or less. But it does give me something to aim for as I am in this for the long haul. Thanks again.

#24 BillSlawski

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 07:31 PM

And I have to admit that this forum can be somewhat frustrating. I spend hours (days actually) on my web-site and Victor comes up with a better looking page than I can. Probably took him 30 minutes or less. But it does give me something to aim for as I am in this for the long haul.


That is one of the benefits of spending a lot of time, working on a lot of sites, over a period of a few years. :)

One thing that I would seriously recommend to you is to start a couple of hobby sites, about things that you enjoy - sites that aren't business critical, that you can design however you want, and tweak and change whenever you want, and make them look different than your business site.

I know that takes time, and it's time that could be spent on your site, but if you are going to be the one designing the pages of the site, then the way that you will grow at it is trying new things, and experimenting with them. You can also take classes on design, or look at a lot of the different tutorials online.

I do think that the page does look more professional now. It doesn't look like it was designed by a professional web designer, but it's still ahead of where it was. And, if it makes you feel a little less frustrated, it's a lot better looking than the first couple of sites I created. :)

#25 greenugly

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Posted 09 July 2007 - 06:21 PM

I have decided to stick with fonts for now. I may try to learn css at a later time. Thanks for the advice. I do have yet another question. In order to make a button (which I think looks nicer than a link sometimes) I had to turn one of my html files into a php file. So now my purchase page has a php extension. It seems to work fine on my computer. Could this have a negative effect on my website when others view it? I don't know much about html let alone php. Thank-you

#26 kattalasso

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Posted 09 July 2007 - 08:19 PM

Hi there greenugly. I just submitted my first site review as well. A word of advice - the information you get here about search engine optimization and design is invaluable. I don't know much, but I do know this. Many companies charge you exorbitant amounts of money to do what the experts here are telling you for free.

One thing that helps me when I'm designing a site and trying to "put all the pieces" together is to have an overall goal and then work from that for a framework, but then just take it ONE PIECE AT A TIME. For instance, if you want to make a nice menu, figure out how to do that with CSS by reading some good blog posts or tutorials. Then as you have time, move on to something else like making the purchase page clearer or coming up with a nice font style that's the same across all pages.

Regarding your last post, I don't understand why you would need PHP to create an image button. Did you use the PHP for the material calculator feature?

#27 rjohnson

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Posted 09 July 2007 - 09:46 PM

I had to turn one of my html files into a php file. So now my purchase page has a php extension. It seems to work fine on my computer. Could this have a negative effect on my website when others view it? I don't know much about html let alone php. Thank-you



A php extension will not cause any negative effects. There are tons of php driven websites online. As there are .asp and .aspx (microsoft's language) and other extensions.

I am also not very clear why you had to turn a page into .php for designing an image button. All you have to do to add an image to a button is use the following syntax.

<a href="pagename.html"><img src="imagepath/image.extension"/></a>

for example

where pagename.html could be :

home.html

and imagepath/image.extension could be

image1.gif


Are you trying to say that you needed to convert the page called http://www.aphanofas...om/purchase.php

to php because you had to add logic / code behind it? If that's the case, then that's fine and it wont cause any negative effects towards users.

#28 tambre

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 11:39 AM

One thing that I would seriously recommend to you is to start a couple of hobby sites, about things that you enjoy - sites that aren't business critical, that you can design however you want, and tweak and change whenever you want, and make them look different than your business site.


i totally 100% agree with this statement.

if you're building a hobby site to anything - tv show, book, movie, gardening, fishing, whatever - it's for your enjoyment and while you still want people to go there and use you as a source of information you still get to design it mostly for you because it's your hobby site. besides it fun to build sites to your hobbies :)

when i started out i built sites to just about anything game, book or movie related. what i did was i looked for people that shared my interest found a really nice site and looked at their source code.

i am in no way suggesting that you gank someone else's code to use as your own. i know it greatly helped me when i learning how to code to take the code of a site that i thought was "pretty" or "cool", shove it into dreamweaver and look to see how they did it. that way i was able to understand how everything was formatted and played together.

you're getting a lot of great feedback from everyone here. you totally came to the right place to ask. good luck, you're doing great! :)

#29 greenugly

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 04:14 PM

I wanted a button that said "buy now" but I did not know how to do it. The material calculator (whose code I "borrowed" from a php tutorial)had a button so I used that code. I wasn't quite sure of what I was doing. It only worked when I changed the file extension to php. All of my buttons now point to the same page. Not exactly what I wanted but it is good enough for now. But how do you make a button? Do I need to buy a button program? Thanks for all the good advice.

#30 tambre

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 05:15 PM

any image editing program will do:

adobe photoshop, macromedia/adobe fireworks, paint shop pro, corel... a free program called GIMP looks to be good. i've heard good things about it.
gimp.org

then you might want to look up some button tutorials. there are lots of good ones out there :)
a site i like is tutorialized.com. they have tutorials for 2d work on the left side. you'll find a link for GIMP and then a link one page in for buttons and how to make them in GIMP. you can look at buttons made in photoshop and other programs too.

once you get the basic idea of how the image editing program works you can really look at any tutorial and build a cool button :D

#31 greenugly

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 05:59 PM

I had just made that last post when I found a site "Tomaweb" that lets me make buttons pretty easily. I think that I spend 4 hours doing what someone else can do in 5 minutes. But I'm learning a lot of good stuff.

#32 victor363

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 12:14 AM

Greenugly,

Your site looks a lot better already :) I would say right now that you own the phrase 'hidden deck fastener'. But since that text is in your logo, which is crawlable text, every page on your site is optimized for that headline (I think). If it were me, I would use an image for your logo, and focus your 'hidden deck fastener' traffic to just one page.

If its not to late; may I recommend you read this article I wrote about buttons. The rule of thumb with buttons is to choose one that can be clearly seen if you were standing 15 feet away from your computer. Try keeping them consistent in appearance as well (to start with at least).

Here is a freebie: Posted Image

Your purchase page definitely needs a little work. If possible, I would try making the quote you provide on the same page (opposed to opening up calc.php). If this isn't possible, I would definitely include your phone number on calc.php. In addition, it would be the best practice for you to have a button which would allow someone to make a payment for the given quote online, if they wished. Right now there is no call to action to finish the sale (pay you). Displaying your phone number doesn't cut it. This is a big roadblock for conversions and would be something worth hiring a programmer for to get right.

Some minor things:

Google asks that every page on your website be accessible from one static link.... Consider making a sitemap if your site presently doesn't fulfill this guideline.

When writing your copy, use words like 'you' so that you can elicit more an emotional response.


Best regards,

Victor

PS: on your purchase page, after hitting the cacluate button, the page I return to has a php extension and does not load.

PPS: I would still recommend emulating the layout I used in the previous mockup I made for you.

#33 victor363

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 09:21 AM

I spend hours (days actually) on my web-site and Victor comes up with a better looking page than I can. Probably took him 30 minutes or less.
But it does give me something to aim for as I am in this for the long haul. Thanks again.


Greenugly, Let me assure you that your site is far better than the first site I ever built - its just that I have had seemingly a lifetime of experience since than.
......But I can still put my self in your shoes; and for that reason, I hope you will listen to what I am about to say.

While I appreciate the above left-handed compliment you blessed me with - it is unwarranted. When I designed that mockup illustration for you; it was with the benefit of having studied countless websites, eye-tracking heat maps, thousands of marketing articles, any high converting e-commerce site I heard about, 8.7 billion gallons of black coffee, and so forth and so on.


Trust me, I didn't re-invent the wheel for you - as much of that illustration was based off of science as it was with my own artistic experience. Also, don't ignore the copy I included in the mockup (though not my finest work). I hope you take a look at it, and attempt to write all your copy in the first person as well. Don't forget, you want to also surprise broca; as well as elicit an emotional response - which in turn will help make the benefits of your product meet the higher needs on maslows infamous pyramid. But I digress.

If I were in your shoes, I would shamelessly copy the layout of the mockup I previously gave you.


Cheers!


:woohoo:

#34 greenugly

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 01:09 PM

The complement was sincere. I am going to try to implement much of what I was told. I also realize that to improve sales I need an on-line store where sales can be made instantly. I am now putting most of my efforts toward that end. I have no clue how to do it but I have a little time that I did not plan on since we have sold out of the fasteners anyway. When I get my store set up I will always appreciate feedback. Thanks

#35 greenugly

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 06:51 PM

okay I give. I have spent hours reading about oscommerce and mysql and I am totally lost. I only want to sell 7 items on line. Is there an easier way to set up an online store? Thanks

#36 Respree

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 07:19 PM

Many producers of shopping cart programs offer a 'light' version of their product, specifically designed for people who want to accept payments online, but only have a few products to offer. I'm not endorsing this particular product (no personal experience with it), but here is an example of such a program. This particular one doesn't appear to require any programming or technical skills. Maybe something like this would be more suitable for your particular needs.
http://www.shopfactory.com/index1.html

Of course, before making a decision, its probably a good idea to conduct a search on phrases like 'shopping cart light' or 'shopping cart entry level' to review similar products, and choose the product which best suits your particular requirements.

#37 greenugly

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 07:19 PM

I was hoping to get some help with php. I know that I can create a simple form and email the results to me because I have seen it done. I just cannot do it myself. I sell seven items, there is no freight it should be simple. But like anything, the first time is definately a trial. Thanks again for any input.

#38 Respree

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 09:39 PM

Perhaps I was a little confused. In your previous post, you said.

I have spent hours reading about oscommerce and mysql and I am totally lost. I only want to sell 7 items on line. Is there an easier way to set up an online store?


Generally speaking, the definition of an online store is a website that can accept online payments, encrypt credit card information, has a inventory database, transmit the data through a gateway and credit card processor, etc. Combined with the fact that you were looking at OSCommerce suggested a shopping cart was what you were after, just a simpler version of it.

Emailing the results of a form is very different, as it will not offer you the features described above.

#39 greenugly

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 01:26 PM

Your not the one confused, I am. But I did find out that paypal uses email to get the credit card information that they need. I work at a retail store and we have our own credit card station. So, my idea was to encrypt my website and use php to create a very simple online store. I would then use an email account to processs sales. I have stumbled upon a code that I think will work without all the trouble of a database and oscommerce. I do not know much about php but it seems to be very versatile. If I can find the time to do it I think that it will be just what I am looking for. If I am totally wrong please let me know. If not, I will be working for the next few days on making a very simple online store. I appreciate all the advice I have received. Thanks

#40 greenugly

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 02:12 PM

To everyone who has been so helpful on this site I want to say thanks. I do not know how to close this topic but I will not be back. The hidden fasteners are selling very well. Thanks again.



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