How to Fix Your Retail Website
Butch & Harold's peel-and-stick wall art, dry-erase boards, and sticker picture frames were a hit with wholesalers and retailers. But online sales were virtually nil. Michele Gold, who founded the company in 2007, wasn't surprised: Butch & Harold's website didn't make it particularly easy for would-be shoppers to make a purchase. She gave Blue Fountain Media, a Web design and marketing agency in New York City, a limited budget, just $15,000, and asked what it could do. The revamped site debuted in April 2011.
The company is named after a pair of pretend pooches Gold and her sister played with as kids. She briefly considered a canine-oriented logo, but she was concerned that Butch & Harold would be mistaken for a pet care company. "In the end," says Gold, "we liked this logo's simple, clean lines and color combination." Gold also came up with the tag line peel...stick...love...repeat and placed it below the logo.
2. The Copy
Flash back to 2007, when the site was launched. Twitter was just a year old, Facebook was just three years old, and search-engine marketing was a mystery to many. That accounts for this description of the company, which Gold admits is not geared toward turning up on Google searches. "We were smart enough to know we needed a website," she says. "But back then, we were clueless about online marketing."
A cousin of Gold's husband's built the original site for free. Gold's main goal was that the site reflect the brand's style. So the designer used patterns from Butch & Harold's first line of wall decorations to create a striped background. Gold found the homepage attractive but admits that she forgot to add crucial elements: pictures of the products. "We were more concerned about aesthetic and whether the colors worked together," she says. "We were totally off on what the point of an e-commerce site is."
1. Tag Line
Gold wanted the new homepage to be more direct about what Butch & Harold sells—and both she and Blue Fountain's team agreed that amplifying the tag line would help. "That line describes what our product is. Butch & Harold doesn't," Gold says. So Blue Fountain's team changed the line's font, size, and color to make it as prominent as the logo and as lively as the rest of the page.
Posting photos of the stickers was a start, but Gold wanted to show customers how to use the product as well. The 58-second video tutorial, shot by the company that designs Butch & Harold's packaging, clearly demonstrates how to put photos in the frames.
3. Search-Engine Optimization
The new description of the company is loaded with key terms such as vinyl wall art and wall stickers to boost Butch & Harold's search rankings. Blue Fountain created a blog for the site, which improves the chances that other sites will link back to Butch & Harold.
4. Product Shots
Many of Butch & Harold's products are now displayed on the homepage. Gold also tried to make the homepage more playful by adding photos and brighter colors. The price of the sticker frame was added to appeal to twentysomethings decorating their spaces on a budget.
What's for sale? When I look at a website, I should know what it's selling in about five seconds. I don't find that here. Instead of Peel 'n Stick, the site should say Wall Stickers. Then Butch & Harold needs a defined call to action. The little Post-it that says original stickr looks like a call to action, but I try to click on it and can't. Since it's not adding any value, I'd take it out and make the Shop Now button stand out more.
—Pete Juratovic, president, Clikzy Creative, Washington, D.C.
Pay more attention to SEO I think Butch & Harold dropped the ball on its SEO work. The whole section that says Peel 'n Stick is currently an unreadable image, but it could have been done with CSS or Webfonts, which would have enabled it be read by Google. That way, it would have had an SEO and visual impact—and lost that ugly font in the middle of the page.
—Andi Graham, principal, Big Sea Design, St. Petersburg, Florida
Better, but still needs work This is an improvement. On the original site, the content was meaningless; on the new one, you get a good sense of what the business is about. But Gold and Blue Fountain didn't make any changes to the main navigation bar at the top of the page. Meanwhile, the product categories are buried under Shop. Products are what people are looking for, so that's what should be at the top.
—Dan Brown, co-founder, EightShapes, Washington, D.C.
Be bolder The new design pushes the product to the forefront, but without much clarity. Gold and Blue Fountain squeeze a lot of information into a small space, so it's confusing. Launching with just one dominant element—like the Peel 'n Stick image—would have made a more confident splash. Not showing any product on the original was a big mistake, but at least it felt upscale, crafted, and a little more intriguing.
—Simon Endres, creative director, Red Antler, Brooklyn, New York
Jeffrey Zeldman, on the right way to retool
Zeldman is founder of the online Web design magazine A List Apart and the New York City-based design firm Happy Cog.
Q: What's the biggest mistake people make during redesigns?
A: They're seduced by lots of features. A restaurant might be tempted to add a virtual tour. But these days, people look for restaurants on mobile devices; if you have a Flash site that doesn't work on 15 percent of smartphones, that's bad.
Q: How do you hire a good designer?
A: Beware of people who seem in a rush to say yes or sell you features; often what you're getting there is a template that they use for all their customers. You'd do better with someone who takes the time to learn about your business and figure out what you really need.
Q: Should you trust your designer, even if you disagree with his ideas?
A: Business owners should think of designers as architects, not decorators. You wouldn't tell an architect to build something that's not structurally sound. A good designer has technical knowledge—don't treat her like someone who's there to decide whether something should be pink or orange.
The Bottom Line
In 2011, the site received 82,000 page views, four times more than it received the year before, and it is now the No. 1 search result for several keywords, including vinyl stick on picture frames. Online sales, negligible prior to the redesign, topped $9,000 by year's end.
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