profound transformation underway

 

Welcome to Part 2 of Monday Mini Makeovers! This is where I showcase some websites of creative micro-businesses just like yours, and give them the once-over.

For each biz I feature, I will give my honest opinion about my initial impressions of their site, with the idea that not only do these good folk benefit from having a fresh set of eyes over their online presence, but that everyone who reads this can also get tips on how to charge up their own online presence.  {And if you’d like to get involved yourself, you can! Just subscribe, and follow the instructions here.}

Let’s meet today’s batch of creatives.

 

Tasha Chawner of tashachawner.com

TashaChawner.com

TashaChawner.com

I met Tasha online a few years back and have got to know her a bit over that time; not only that, but she’s also been a sponsor of this blog for the last few months, which has been great and it has meant that I’ve got to know her even better!

So firstly, I know she’s been planning to give her website tashchawner.com, a whole new makeover for some time. And it seems like she’s already on her way to bigger things! The new layout (above) looks much fresher, brighter and more colourful than the previous one. On the plus side I think it looks nice and clean, and the social media icons on top show that she’s easy to connect with elsewhere. However I would say that the header image still doesn’t convey what the blog’s about. I KNOW Tasha has some absolutely gorgeous photos, and I think she should incorporate one of them into the header to give it more personality.

There’s a whole lot more to this blog than what is suggested by the menu.  I would add a few more menu items, so people can find the various segments she has on her blog; for instance the wonderful “53 pieces of unsolicited advice”, as well as her own photography – and there are several other things she has listed in “what I write about” on her sidebar that could be included. As a wonderful web designer told me once, the ideal number of main items to have on a menu is around 6-8, and the rest of the items can be included in drop-down menus.

“Testimonials” and “Journey Into Jewellery” should be corrected for spelling. Some people might think I’m a bit nit-picky about spelling, but I utterly believe that it’s important that you present your best self. Please check the spelling on all items on your site – people may forgive a typo in a blog post, but are much less happy to do so on main pages, menu items, and sidebar items.

Newsletters are a great way of keeping in touch with your potential customer base about new things you’ve made or done, and these can generate some good sales for you.

If Tasha would like to build up her mailing list (does she use it for a newsletter? Or just for delivering blogposts?), she could include her free blog planner as an incentive for signup.

If you would like to set up your own mailing list, there are several platforms you can use (like Mailchimp or AWeber). It’s important that you have a proper opt-in setup for collecting email addresses – don’t just put them on yourself (like someone I saw recently!) – it’s just plain old rude, and besides that you may be in serious breach of privacy and antispam regulations.

When I’m searching around a site, I like the search bar to be obvious, so I think this should be moved to near the top of the sidebar. I DO like that she has the “Pin It” rollover button on her images – something I need to get onto myself!

On Tasha’s “About” page, I think she should start with explaining what a “conservative hippy” is because it’s her tagline and therefore important (and intriguing!). It’s fun going through what it does and does not mean to her; and she can follow on with all the other important stuff about who and what she is.

 

Deborah Thomas of  Doe Leather

Doe Leather

Doe Leather

Overall, this is a well put together website; it looks good and is easy to navigate. Doe Leather‘s history is such a great story! Briefly, Doe Leather was started by Deborah’s great-great-grandfather, and grew to be one of the most important leather manufacturers in England. Sadly, it was undone by cheap imports in the 1990s and closed in 2002. Now, Deborah is setting about transforming and building a new business out of that heritage.

I love all the old photos of the original factory in its heyday. However, I think it’s important that Deborah includes her own bio in the “About” section, not just as a small link at the bottom of the history page – the site is about the NEW business more so than just its history (which is fascinating). I would also enjoy knowing a bit more about the current setup, for instance, when did Deborah start the new business; is it just a solo operation or does she work with a team, etc.

I would also enjoy knowing more about the process, especially about the process of printing textures onto leather – is that still done, or are only pieces from the archive used? Understanding more about the process of hand crafting leather adds to the story behind each piece and therefore adds value to the product.

 

Ruthie Gray of The Silver Forge

The Silver Forge

The Silver Forge

Ruthie Gray from The Silver Forge is a jeweller specialising in custom orders with unusual gemstones, such as beautiful drusy agates and jaspers.

The space on your landing page is precious! It’s the first glimpse of you that your customers get, so use it wisely.

For this reason, don’t double or triple up on the information in your headers. On Ruthie’s site, I would drop the written header at the very top, and perhaps include the information “Sterling silver jewellery hand crafted by Ruthie Gray” in the banner image.

I would also recommend moving the social media icons to the top of the sidebar, it lets folk know you’re easy to connect with. I would then probably rearrange those icons, by grouping all the popular social media together – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram; then group all the shop icons together, etc. Try to be logical in the order of them, it feels neater. And PLEASE make sure all your links are up to date! I couldn’t find Ruthie’s Tumblr at all.

Next down the sidebar I would have “About me”, with a smaller photo. Importantly, it needs to be linked to your own “About me” page on your website – don’t send your potential customers offsite to a third party.

Utilise the full width of your sidebar especially in regard to images; either make your sidebar width smaller, or your images larger. Keep your image sizes at a consistent width.

Ruthie’s photos are generally good – clear, with consistent light, backgrounds and minimal props.  I LOVE the responsiveness of Ruthie’s site and images – the resize and rearrange is excellent. These days, if you have your own site, it is imperative that you choose a platform that is responsive, that is, able to be viewed easily on many different sized devices from mobile to tablet to desktop. To ignore this aspect is to cut your audience substantially; most people don’t have the patience to scroll from side to side on a small screen.

An integral part of her business is bespoke orders using gemstones from her large collection, and I think she needs to make more of this on her front page. One way this could be achieved is to include a slide show of say 3-5 images under the main banner; these could include text with more information and more examples of work.

Lastly, I only discovered that Ruthie has a monthly giveaway for subscribers when I was reading through her blog! Having a giveaway each month is an excellent incentive to get people to subscribe to your mailing list, but you have to let them know. It’s very, very easy to do this by saying exactly that in the signup form on your sidebar.

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Now it’s over to you again!

How did YOU go with all of that?

Can you think how the suggestions I’ve made today could be applied to your biz? What would you change? What would you keep the same? Have I still not solved your problem for your biz? If you’ve got a specific question let me know in the comments below.

AND, if you would like a Mini Monday Makeover on your biz, you can join in too – all you have to do is subscribe here, and follow the instructions.

See you then!
Julie X

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