Although I’ve generally confined myself to reviewing individual landing pages, I thought it might be interesting to take an overall look at a book publisher’s site, with specific focus on the homepage. Carrie Kitze is the publisher behind EMK Press. EMK Press is a niche publisher specializing in books about adoption. I’ve known Carrie for several years as my online store, AdoptShoppe, carries several of her company’s titles. Carrie has asked me to review/critique her site to help her generate more newsletter subscriptions, more book sales, and more effective information distribution.
Here’s the background:
- The Goal
No real metrics, but just a lot more of everything.
- The Problem
Current homepage not performing to expectation.
- The Current Landing Page
- Page/Ad that Generates the Click-Through
The Maven’s 10-Point Critique
#1 – Flip the banner elements. Make the logo clickable to the homepage at www.emkpress.com not the index.html page.
Web visitors will tend to view a page in a rough “F” pattern which means the upper left corner is a power position where you want to have a strong branding element. Put the EMK logo in this spot with the tag line adjacent and you’ve immediately oriented your visitor a bit better and strengthened the brand recognition process. Want more internal links for SEO purposes? Have your logo click to the primary domain, not the index page. (Yes, it makes a difference :=) Make sure it’s linked on every page.
#2 – Consider a stronger, more relevant tag line.
The “Toolbox” Press could be anybody. Since you don’t use “adoption” in your logo or your name, you need to get adoption into the main part of your tag line. You do expand the toolbox concept with the secondary tag – Supplying Tools for Children and Adults in Families Formed by Adoption – but 1/tag lines need to be short, concise and punchy. There shouldn’t be any reason for further explanation. If you need it, your tag needs reworking. 2/I find the phrase clunky and cludgy. I think toolbox, I’m thinking building, creating, fixing, making. I bet there’s a way better tag lurking somewhere in content you’ve already written. Also, the secondary line is simply too small and barely readable as it now stands.
#3 – Pick one font and use it consistently.
You’re using several fonts here – that’s usually a dead-giveaway for a homegrown, amateur site. Not the image you want to project as a professional publisher of quality resources. Verdana is a super-clean, web-friendly7 font that works well even in small point sizes. Georgia is a good choice, too, if you like a serif font. Calibri is also nice but newer and older browsers may not resolve it properly. Do steer away from Times Roman which is a terrific font for print but, to my eyes anyway, works lousy online.
#4 – Dump the toolbox image, add your new titles with larger, more prominent images.
You don’t sell toolboxes so why would you use a toolbox image that is significantly bigger than the product you actually sell? Also the charm image gets completely lost. Introduce the jewelry in its own little box or inset to highlight you’re now carrying a line of adoption charm jewelry.
#5 – Consider moving to a 3 column format.
I don’t think the 2-column format really serves you well, especially in the liquid screen you’re apparently using. You can try a 3-column, narrow-wide-narrow format – going static or full-screen – which will allow you to get a lot more content “above the fold” and in front of your visitor in the first pass. You have way too much important content out of view with no hint that’s there more if someone scrolls down.
#6 – Tell me the product images are clickable. One page per product.
Don’t assume your visitor knows what to do – or what you want them to do – when they get to your page. Tell them, guide them, and help them along. They’ll appreciate the time you save them. Don’t mix product on a single page unless your visitor can quickly get the joke. (When I clicked on the charm photo, I went to your order form. When I didn’t see the charm my first thought was I was on the wrong page. Someone else? Sale lost.) Add product titles underneath and make them clickable too.
#7 – Divide up your navigation structure into primary, secondary, even tertiary levels.
Not all site section are of equal importance. So think in terms of information/purpose hierarchy. So, for example, if information distribution and book sales are your site’s main function give those primary status, even expand them a little. Secondary status is About Us, Contact Us, Media, Links, Site Map, etc. (I didn’t see a site map. Get one.) Don’t mix your media section with About Us, make it a separate section. Add photos to your staff bios as they always warm up a company nicely when folks can see the folks behind the site.
#8 – Keep your search function in one place across all pages. Ditto for your newsletter sign-up.
Visitors are lazy and want what they want when they want it so make sure your search box is prominent and always in the same place. Also, give folks the opportunity to “leave something behind” like their name and email address on every possible page. Why not for your newsletter?
#9 – Highlight all the benefits of ordering from you in a fast-read, bulleted format. Spice up with a graphic or two.
Since you know folks come to you with a sense of “crisis”, address their need for quick, in-your-face information right on the homepage. You ship fast? Tell ’em. You ship internationally? Tell ’em. Organize your material by the kind of crisis or other organizational schemes that would make sense to your visitor who’s got a problem and is coming to you for a solution.
#10 – You have free stuff to share? Don’t hide it, highlight it!
Change your navigation bar to read, Free Parent Guides and highlight the subjects you cover, both on the homepage AND the section page. You want to add prospective customers to your internal database? Ask folks for a name and email and let them download as much or as little as they want. Offer to add them to the newsletter list (you get another opt-in shot) or another sort of new title announcement list. But organize the material for your visitors, make it easy for them to review. By topic, author, even freshness (if it’s a brand-new download, for example.) Also, don’t underline titles (or any text for that matter) that isn’t linked.
SEO, SEO, SEO. Your site needs a big-time SEO makeover to help your best prospective customers find you via organic (free) search on Google, Yahoo, etc. But that’s a different sort of makeover for a different time
My thanks to Carrie Kitze for her support of Heifer International.
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