Please review my site www.kathartis.com

KathartisKathartis Posts: 1subscriber
edited May 2008 in Website Critique
First off, Hello SUN!
 
I`ve been developing my website for over 6 months and am finally to the point where I want to gets some feedback before I "share it with the world".
 
I am a jewelry designer, my background is in art and geology.  I`ve developed my business by doing some art/craft shows and word of mouth over the last 2 years. Now I want to develop the e-commerce portion of my business, namely my site Kathartis Design 
 
I would like a few points to be hit in the critique:
1. User friendly-ness, how is the navigation of the site?
2. Features, what features do you like, which are annoying or excessive and which am I missing and would benefit both the business and the customer?
3. What Meta-tags would you suggest for the site? Adwords?  I haven`t started to advertise yet and am looking for guidance.
4. Overall what do you like? What don`t you like? 
5. Any other advise would be greatly appreciated. 
 
I`ve found SUN to be a fantastic resource with super members. I`m glad to finally be part of this community!
Katharine
 
Kathartis3/26/2008 12:58 PM
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Comments

  • VideographyVideography Posts: 6subscriber
    Remember, you asked for it.
    Light blue on white is hard to read.  I would recommend darker colors.
    Your top banner/menu selections reminds me of a sign where the last few letters get progressively smaller because the writer didn`t think ahead.  News: and this interests the buyer, how?  Profile could be part of the "Contact" page.  Use the same size text on all buttons: Policies and FAQ could just be FAQ and Register & Logon could simply be Logon.  Why should a buyer register?  What`s in it for them?
    Never use anything but left-justified text in your message body  The centered and center-justify text breaks the text in some weird places.  For example: "If      You       Have       Any      Questions" looks silly.
    Your photos lack punch.  Were they taken under florescent lights?
  • KathartisKathartis Posts: 1subscriber

    I did indeed ask for it.
    I assume you mean the blue text on the left bar? I`ll look into making it darker. It looks great on my screen but I know that many monitors have the brightness way up so it could be a problem to read.
    I never thought of the banner that way but now that you said it I can`t stop thinking how "squished" it looks at the end.
    Are news sections really that uninteresting? Would it be better to make a section of "Events" to indicate where I show?
    You have an excellent point about the profile and contact pages combining, it`s redundant.
    It`s sad to say but I had many of my customers not know what FAQ means, which is why I changed the tab to "policies and FAQ". Should I assume these customers probably don`t online shop and cater to the online shoppers only?
    Registering gets the buyer added to the mailing list as well as access to wishlists, special offers, discounts, and sneak previews. I know I need to put this information somewhere but I`m at a loss as to where. Ideas?
    "If you have any questions" on my home pages is left justified. Is anyone else seeing it centered? If it is, it`s a bug not my lack of consistent justification. Can someone confirm it`s displaying wrong? I`ve looked at it on 5 computers and 3 OS`s. All of them display the same. I know the item pages have centering in the descriptions, it irks me and has been on the list of things to change, it`s a bug not intentional.
    The photos were taken in a diffuser box with halogens. What do you mean by punch? Lacking contrast/saturation? Non pleasing layouts? Would they look better on a non white background? What`s an example of the worst photo on the site? Are there any that are better/good?
    Thanks so much for your critique.
  • piteracreativeservicespiteracreativeservices Posts: 1subscriber
    Katharine,
    I`m viewing your site in FF on Mac OSX, and the part you mentioned appears left justified, but the type is really         spaced         out        like            this. But I`m only noticing it on the "if you have any questions" part.
    I`d probably rather see a nice big photo of one of your best pieces at the top of the page, instead of the news. I don`t think you need to eliminate the news, just perhaps relocate it.
    Also, in my browser, your join our mailing list box is having display issues. I really don`t find the blue difficult to read, though.
    I think what Videography meant about your photos is that the lighting is a little dark, so your jewelry doesn`t stand out much. I don`t think you`re capturing as much detail as you could. I don`t think the background is really the problem, though.
    Also, it doesn`t appear as if the photos are optimized well for the web. Your jewelry really needs great photography to sell it to the customers. That`s one disadvantage of selling online - customers don`t have the benefit of seeing your products in person like they do at a craft or art show. So the photo has to do most of the selling for you (along with some good copy).
    Hope this helps!
    -Erika
  • VideographyVideography Posts: 6subscriber
    Are news sections really that uninteresting? Would it be better to make a section of "Events" to indicate where I show? It`s sad to say but I had many of my customers not know what FAQ means, which is why I changed the tab to "policies and FAQ". Should I assume these customers probably don`t online shop and cater to the online shoppers only?Registering gets the buyer added to the mailing list as well as access to wishlists, special offers, discounts, and sneak previews. I know I need to put this information somewhere but I`m at a loss as to where. Ideas?The photos were taken in a diffuser box with halogens. What do you mean by punch? Lacking contrast/saturation? Non pleasing layouts? Would they look better on a non white background? What`s an example of the worst photo on the site? Are there any that are better/good?Thanks so much for your critique.
    Change "News" to "Events" - much better.  Self explanatory.
    Change "FAQ" to Questions?".  At the top of the page briefly explain FAQ, then at the bottom of the page make sure you have a prompt for "Any other questions?" and link to your contact page.
    Registration - Explain on the registration page what the viewer gets by registering.
    Photos:  Yes, they (mostly the thumbnails) appear washed out and lack an exciting pizzaz.  Like items should be lit similarly - your product page will just look better.  A white background works best with most jewelry.  Examples - good: Destiny and Largo earrings.  Bad: Comtessa and Harbringer earrings.  (Just the thumbnails).  When I click on the product, I would rather see the larger version of the same photo with the option of selecting other views.  Be very careful when you "pose" an item on another object.  Largo, for example is hanging on a vase or candle-holder that is almost the same color as part of your product, and your product is competing with the object it`s hanging on for the viewers attention.  You need contrast here.  Try draping a scarf on the support item and then the item gets all the attention.
    There`s some really good product photos on  PiteraCreativeServices web siteVideography3/26/2008 4:30 PM
  • KathartisKathartis Posts: 1subscriber
    Erika-
    Well it looks like there is some sort of FF/OSX bug as there is no HTML there to be causing the spacing issue!  Hopefully I can figure it out by playing with the text/code.
    Can you be any more specific about the mailing list box display issue?
    Having a nice big feature photo on my home page sounds like an excellent idea.  Now I just need to work on my photography.  Your photography is fantastic, the food photos of the scallops are making me drool! What do you do that makes the white so bright and the colors pop so well?  How do you optimize for the web? Are there resources out there on this subject?
    Videography-
    Many of my pieces are white, cream, or clear. How do I get these pieces to not look washed out when they are so light colored?  Will white backgrounds just not work for these pieces?  Photography for the pieces is a constant source of pain for me. I just don`t know what to do to make the items look as great as they do in person. 
    Hiring someone like Erika/Pitera Creative Services would be wonderful and well worth the money but is just not an option right now.
    I`m adding to my list of things to do: changing the button from news to events, faq to questions(or something short), combining contact & profile. I`m also going to explain what is received by registering on the log in page in addition to the maillist sign up. Still not sure where to put the store locations.
     
    Keep the great feedback coming!
  • piteracreativeservicespiteracreativeservices Posts: 1subscriber
    Katharine,
    The section in question looks better now, whatever you did to it. With regards to the mailing list, the part that says "Join our Mailing List" is cut off by the input box and the word "List" is behind the "Join" button, if that makes any sense.
    My husband Tom is the photographer - I`ll be sure to tell him you liked the scallops!
    Tom and I have worked with a lampwork glass artist before, so learning to shoot glass while getting detail and making the colors pop was definitely a challenge. In short, Tom uses seamless white paper as a backdrop, a macro lens, studio strobes, a softbox and oftentimes reflectors. It really all boils down to the lighting - everything else will fall into place once you get the lighting just so.
    There isn`t any one specific way to optimize for the web, but I think what`s happening with your photos is that they`re not being compressed properly. I`m not sure how you process your photos, but generally you want to save photos for the web at 72dpi for smaller files and faster loading. I`m sure you probably saved them at 72, but some other factor is affecting the way the finished product looks. If you use Photoshop, Scott Kelby`s books are really helpful.
    If you have any additional questions, feel free to PM me. I`ll see if I can get Tom`s input on the matter. I`m just the loyal photography assistant.
    -Erika
  • VideographyVideography Posts: 6subscriber

    Videography-
    Many of my pieces are white, cream, or clear. How do I get these pieces to not look washed out when they are so light colored?  Will white backgrounds just not work for these pieces?  Photography for the pieces is a constant source of pain for me. I just don`t know what to do to make the items look as great as they do in person. 

    Have you tried black backgrounds?
  • KathartisKathartis Posts: 1subscriber
    Steve-
    I`ve tried black backgrounds but I need to work on my lighting, my photos come out with a dark gray background! Also a lot of jewelry websites seem to have that  "white background product shot" which I was going for. Not sure how the site will look with a lot of black squares in it.

    Does anyone have any other suggestions for the site?  Was anything good in it?
  • VideographyVideography Posts: 6subscriber

    Steve-I`ve tried black backgrounds but I need to work on my lighting, my photos come out with a dark gray background!
     

    It`s probably not your lighting, you are likely using a camera with automatic exposure and color balance.  That doesn`t really work with solid-color backgrounds.  In the case of black, the camera will make the black background dark gray, and a white background a light gray.  If you have one available, you should be shooting RAW.  I don`t mean naked, but that would be OK too.  You need a camera with the option of shooting in Camera RAW mode, then you can adjust the color balance and exposure in Photoshop (or Photoshop Express - it`s cheaper but does similar functions.  Check first before buying express to make sure it can work with your camera`s raw files.)
    What is Camera RAW, you may ask?  Here`s an analogy that might help.  When you shoot with a auto-everything point and shoot camera, it delivers a finished JPG image file.  This would be like the Polaroid you had as a teenager.  When you shoot in Camera RAW, the output file is like a photo negative and Photoshop is your darkroom.
    RAW delivers everything the camera sees, and usually in higher resolution, but the image must be further processed to get the final output.
    Hope this helps....
    (Erika, did I give away too many secrets?)Videography4/1/2008 3:25 PM
  • KathartisKathartis Posts: 1subscriber

    It`s probably not your lighting, you are likely using a camera with automatic exposure and color balance.  That doesn`t really work with solid-color backgrounds.  In the case of black, the camera will make the black background dark gray, and a white background a light gray.  If you have one available, you should be shooting RAW.  I don`t mean naked, but that would be OK too.  You need a camera with the option of shooting in Camera RAW mode, then you can adjust the color balance and exposure in Photoshop (or Photoshop Express - it`s cheaper but does similar functions.  Check first before buying express to make sure it can work with your camera`s raw files.)

     
    Well, in short my camera is not RAW capable.  The best I can do right now is keep my jpeg compression to the minimum and keep the ISO as low as possible to keep the artifacts to a minimum.  Has anyone had a really great experience with a Cheap RAW capable camera (less than 150?)?  I don`t really have the budget to go out and buy one right away but I`d like some recommendations.
     
    I`m PS/CS3 capable but it doesn`t help me if I can`t take a decent picture to begin with (whether from my lack of photography skill or equipment being less than optimum)
     
    Does anyone have experience doing good product photography on a shoestring?
  • SiteFlipAcademySiteFlipAcademy Posts: 0subscriber
    Hello Katherine!
    I`ve been to your site, overall site site is looking good. I would suggest putting background on it and padding on your contents to have a nicer look.SiteFlipAcademy4/8/2008 4:53 PM
  • KathartisKathartis Posts: 1subscriber
    SiteFlipAcademy-
     
    What do you mean putting background on it? On the photos or the layout of the site itself?
    Padding on my content?
    Thanks for the compliment.
     
    Katharine
  • VideographyVideography Posts: 6subscriber
    On cameras - check the Canon Powershoot models.  I think they will do RAW.  I would go to Best Buy and bring your own CompactFlash cards (make sure you check with security when you come in) and take a few snaps in the store with various cameras.  Tell the clerk that you are interested in the lowest price camera that will shoot RAW.  Then go home to see which formats that CS3 will open.  I know that CS2 had problems with Nikon RAW, but I haven`t installed CS3 yet.
    Then go to e-bay and look for that model in used but good condition.  I know that this is not fair to Best Buy, but they don`t sell used cameras.  If the ebay seller is a business, check them out on resellerratings.com bfore doing business with them. 
    Steve
  • SiteFlipAcademySiteFlipAcademy Posts: 0subscriber
    Hello Katharine,
    White background looks fine to me, maybe adding more colorful background or something like a design that would not affect your pictures or enclose your pictures with frame designs.SiteFlipAcademy4/9/2008 2:49 PM
  • KathartisKathartis Posts: 1subscriber
    Videography-
    Thats`s a great idea to test cameras! I don`t have a Best Buy around here. I tried your trick at Circuit City but it didn`t work out so well, only 1 out of 15 cameras had any battery power!  None of the sales people knew which cameras were RAW capable.  It was anything but apparent, most of the boxes don`t say much about it so I`m doing some research on CNET.com, finding a few cameras I like, and then finding places to test them before I buy on ebay.  Slow going but a great idea!
     
    I have a couple year old digital Elph. I love it, but it just doesn`t do what I need for product photography.
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