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MissHissyMissHissy subscriber Posts: 1
edited June 2007 in Website Critique
Hi all,
I have had my website up and running for about a year. I want to try to increase the amount of time visitors spend on my site and reduce the number of visitors who exit quickly. I`m also always trying to optimize the site for search engines so I can increase the total visitors to the site. Doing that can be very confusing because I read conflicting suggestions everywhere. But I`ve tried.
I would be very appreciative of any comments regarding SEO issues and also any other comments on site design, etc. I`m thinking of moving the navigation from the left over to the right hand side. Any thoughts on this?
I originally used a purchased frontpage template but have modified it somewhat myself.
Thanks so much in advance for any suggestions anyone can make.
Deborah Miller


  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    Your product is interesting and unusual... but I must confess that I fail to see the difference between this product and Excel, or QuickBooks. I do understand that your product has art-specific features. I downloaded the product and was quite impressed with the look/feel ... but I ran into bugs several times in the first few minutes. [ Index out of bounds... array problems. ] These occurred when I tried to access the Reports: Component Reports: Component Detail options on the main menu. [ Full disclosure: I work in software. ]There are several things you can do improve your copywriting. Right now the landing page is very "product" focused instead of "offer focused". This is pretty common with inexperienced copywriters. What`s the real benefit to an artist? Can they use the software to build their career? Or is it for managing money? Pick a benefit or two and build your landing page around these benefits. However, this is an interesting niche --- but in a niche a product needs to be very well differentiated. This differentiation must be meaningful... so you could have great copywriting and wonderful marketing which would induce people to stick around and download but you also have to deliver on the promise made by the marketing. This is a very tough category, served by many companies who sell inexpensive software but have the scale required to make money from low prices. If you need to achieve scale in order to make money, then you must have a strategy to get the product into the market and purchased. There are ways to do this meaningfully and ways to do this with copywriting. But you need a mix of meaningful.Marketing-wise, why would I license this product over its competition? You must have competition, right? So think about that for a minute while you sort out a benefit-oriented marketing/copywriting approach. I don`t know anything specific about your category; could you provide information about the competition?
  • MissHissyMissHissy subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks for your comments CookieMoster.
    I suppose you could say that there is no difference between any business database application and excel since you could always stick all you data into spreadsheet rows. Most artist would not be able to reproduce the functionality, automatic calculations, parent/child database relationships, reports, charts, event (sales, shows, fairs, classes) tracking, and scheduling in Excel.
    Actually, I`m working on an interface with Quickbooks right now to include in a future release. However, Art Affair Artist Edition does much more then calculate your income and expenses.
    I haven`t had the error you experienced reported before nor have I been able to reproduce it in the short time since your post. But, I`ll continue to try, and fix it as soon as I can locate it .  I fix any bugs my customers or trial users find and release the corrected version right away. In fact, I even offer a 10% discount (on a new purchase or major upgrade) if a customer or trial user reports a previously unreported bug. Can you tell me what version of windows your using? Also did you download the Artist Edition or Art Organizer (freeby).
    Over the past year, 14% of the people who visit the site download the trial version. Of the people who download the trial version, 7% purchase it. From info given by other software sellers in other forums, these percentages sound reasonable. Of couse, I`d like to increase them. But, I would also like to increase the number of people visiting the site.
    I`m not sure what category you mean when you say it`s served by many companies who sell inexpensive software?
    Sales have done pretty well during this first year. I also have my husbands income but if  I were alone, my sales would have been enough to support myself. But it has not yet replaced the salary I was making as a senior system analyst with the state of Alaska. But, I think if I can make enough to support myself during the first year having spent a total of about $500 on advertising, the market is there. Actually, the market (artists/crafters) seems to be a little underserved.
    I have been able to find about 5-6 competitors. All but 2 have very poor user interfaces and limited features. Also their database designs are poor and therefore improvements in their functionality without total rewrites will be hard for them. The two who I consider valid competitors are both higher priced. One at $269 and the other at over $800. But pricing is a whole other subject. . One of these is mainly marketed at jewelry designers (a.k.a. beaders in this case).
    What I really wanted to concentrate on here is the web site SEO and design and how it could be improved to get and then keep visitors. I think the biggest benefit of Art Affair is the time savings from keeping yourself and your business organized. I tried to convey this is the opening words on the home page, but I guess not very well.
  • MissHissyMissHissy subscriber Posts: 1
    Also, as I evolve the software I`d like my market to become artists who are actually making a living with their art. By this I mean artists for whom doing artwork is a full time endeavor and not just a hobby...serious artists. There are a lot of these. Many also teach art courses and speak at various events to add to their income. To better appeal to this market, we are currently working on adding web interface feature to allow uploading of information about artworks to web sites and adding many enhanced features to track classes, student registration, payments.
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    Okay, thanks for the information. With respect to competition, valid or not, I mean the category of "software for small business and personal finance" which is terribly crowded with a few very strong brands such as Quicken, Microsoft, and a number of web-based brands such as Freshbooks. That`s why I was asking... competition by substitute is often one of the most overlooked aspects of competitive strategy. Doing nothing is a substitute, using something that isn`t tailor-made for artists is a substitute, etc. Here`s why I asked.So far you have asked about some specific tactics... perhaps use SEO and improved copywriting. But competitive strategy is important because it will tell you what words to use for SEO and how to write effective copy. It`s very tough to give sound advice in response to your initial questions unless there is some context or objective. p.s. Don`t publish your objectives here; keep those facts and figures to yourself. I can give you some general advice on copywriting or point you to a few web sites... but I don`t have any idea what the market`s perception of your product is so I really can`t give you any specific advice. Do you actually face a lot of competition? I haven`t a clue. But the copywriting or marketing advice I would give you would change depending on the competition and depending on your strategy for getting sales/share and keeping it."I think the biggest benefit of Art Affair is the time savings from keeping yourself and your business organized." Okay ... so this is what you think. Good enough start. Now what do your customers think? You should find out what your software "really offers" to your customers. This would give you a good idea of how to rework your copywriting so it`s offer-focused. Here`s an article I wrote on copywriting and communication strategy.Congratulations on your conversion and sales numbers thus far. They sound good to me.
  • MissHissyMissHissy subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks nhgnikole. I like that site also. It`s very clear, clean and uncluttered. I`ve always heard that you should include screen shots on the home page above the fold. This site doesn`t and I don`t think it matters.
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    Great advice from Craig!
  • MissHissyMissHissy subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks for all the comments everyone. I`m working right now on rewording to try to communicate the advantages of using Art Affair better.
    Craig, I have over 3000 components myself and I`m not the worst I`ve heard of. I do beading, painting and fiber art and many times mix them all. It`s very nice to sit down at the computer and see at a glance what I have and how much of it I have instead of digging through boxes and bins. Art Affair also helps with pricing and all sales related functions like invoicing, handling commission works, consignment sales, art fair sales, etc. Believe it or not, this is not fast and easy to do in Excel. Most of my customers, judging by my interactions with them to date, can barely use excel. I have done several conversions for customers from their excel spreadsheets and they were pretty bad.
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