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Need help... Our first website!

himandherhimandher subscriber Posts: 1
edited March 2007 in Website Critique
Hi everyone!  We are a husband and wife team (thus the "himandher" member name) who just joined StartupNation and are posting for the first time. 
My wife came up with an idea for a website a year ago and we finally decided to follow-up and make it a reality.  It`s our first attempt to do something like this, so we are way out of our comfort zone.  With that being said, we would really like some honest feedback from all of you.  I`ll try to follow Dean`s guidance.
Our site is http://www.dearmissditty.com</A>.  The purpose of the site is to provide a place where people can post a letter and publicly recognize individuals who made a difference in their life.
Our initial goal is to get the site up and running and put something out that has a positive impact.  We have some ideas on how to create revenue, but we would be interested in any suggestions.
We could also really use your feedback in regards to the concept of the site, as well as its appearance and function.  Looking forward to hearing your comments.  Thanks!
Russ and Michelle


  • himandherhimandher subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks for the feedback.  What browser are you using so that I can check on that and try to get it fixed?
  • himandherhimandher subscriber Posts: 1

    What a wonderful idea!  When I visited your site, it immediately made me feel like writing a letter, and, to tell others.
    Good luck!

    Thank you Janie!  We appreciate your feedback!  Is there anything you would suggest we change?  We do want to spruce it up with some gratitude pictures.
    Russ (and Michelle)
  • vwebworldvwebworld subscriber Posts: 40
    I agree, a great concept! Also, (agree) a change in the design would be good.. getting the letters or even just the letter titles on the home page.
    It seems to me a blog format would work very well for the site. You have categories of letters, letters/titles could be shown on the home page, and a graphic theme could be applied.
    A simpler change maybe just to make the two sample letters more visable...higher on the page or in a third column on the right?
    It seemed strange that the read a letter button at the top goes to:  http://www.dearmissditty.com/content/blogsection/4/33/</A>
    Whilte the "All letters" link on the left goes to: http://www.dearmissditty.com/gratitude/</A>
    A personal note: While I understand the idea and purpose, I`m not a big fan of ads on a website. I think they can detract from the website, especially when, like on the read leters page, they are on the right side. Monitizing websites is a common practice and ultimate goal for many and ad revenue can help support a site.  If that is important, you might also (or instead) have a "donation" button/link for people to make a contribution to help support the site.
    As Steve hinted, there are some revenue generating ideas that would be appropriate.
  • vwebworldvwebworld subscriber Posts: 40
    The reason I asked because I wondered if we could identify the disconnect between the desire to write a letter and actually doing so. And it seems your answer is that it is such a personal act, that you wanted more time to think about it. You know, I thought about writing one too since I spent a decent amount of time tonight thinking and discussing here the site. But I didn`t. Why? Because I wasn`t sure yet what I would say to who? And I wasn`t neccesarily in a sentimental frame of mind. I want to write a letter but I also want a little more time. Hmmm... This makes me think. How might one be inspired to write a letter more promptly? I think the letters themselves on the homepage would help but what else? It`s better to get people to write while they are on the site than click away and maybe come back, maybe.
    Writing is not easy for some people... "I want to do it, but I don`t know what to say." "I can`t think of the words to express my thoughts."
    One way to help, show sample sentiments. Another approach, gets away from the personal connection, is to provide letter writing service or even some copy and paste text (like you find at some greeting card sites).
    ~Rolandvwebworld2007-3-19 2:48:5
  • vwebworldvwebworld subscriber Posts: 40
    Another approach, ... is to provide ... Why would anybody want to read unoriginal thoughts? IMO that would be counterproductive. 
    Agree - that`s why I said it gets away from the personal connection. But, it was just an idea to help potential letter writers to get over the hurdle of not knowing what to say or how to say it.
  • himandherhimandher subscriber Posts: 1
    Hi All.  It`s her (Michelle)....and I wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your feedback.  I was apprehensive about going into this as the site is very personal to me but really wanted feedback and ideas from others and it looks like SUN is coming through!  We hope to hear more!
    Steve...I share many of your thoughts and ideas.  I also do not like the cartoon characters and hope to improve that part.  I would also like to add a simple thank you section to the site where people can choose from postcard type e- designs and send their simple thanks to a friend, babysitter,etc.  These would not be posted, just a service offered. I would also like to see stationary type choices too.  We will be adding a feature where you can add a photo to your letter also.
    To keep people interested in the site we will have a blog and a newsletter.  They will have the same information.....examples of touching letters and stories, site updates, and gratitude quotes and discussions eventually.  I agree with Janie it takes you awhile to think about these inspiring individuals and decide what you want to say.  I hope the blog and newsletter will keep us connected with our customers.
    We have some gift ideas and another feature idea that may bring in revenue.  We will discuss those more in the future.
    Thanks again and keep the suggestions coming!
  • pepperlegalpepperlegal subscriber Posts: 2 Member
    Michelle,You may want to take a peek at a message I posted a while back on Digital Millennium Copyright compliance (http://www.startupnation.com/pages/comm ... m_posts.as p?TID=4312).  Because you are allowing user to post text, it`s probably a good idea to get familiar with these requirements.Dan
  • smurph05smurph05 subscriber Posts: 2
    I love the concept of your website, it is very uplifting to read something positive out there on the web. I agree with the statement about getting rid of the drawings or changing them. Although I think that they are cute, they give me the impression that the site if for kids. I do think that as you get more submissions you will have to break the letters down into subcatagories to keep the navigation simple. Overall, I enjoyed my visit, found it easy to navigate, and it compelled me to want to return again. Good Luck with your site!
  • himandherhimandher subscriber Posts: 1
    ...Here`s what I think you should do. Your homepage should be the letters. Get people right into seeing what others write. That`s the beauty of your site, that not only is someone writing a letter of gratitude, but that they are doing it publicly. Make it more public and take away the "option" of reading letters. Then you won`t need the sample letters at all. The samples are the real deal. Kind of like you have now, keep the "Write a Letter" button big and bold. The core experience then is seeing other`s letters and the screaming option to write your own....Since your homepage will be the Letters page, you still want to tell people what they are looking at. Currently you have several paragraphs on the center of the page telling about the site. Great! I think it`s too wordy and repetitive though. You can pare it down to the essence of giving gratitude. Anyway, you`ll want to keep this info on the homepage but instead put it in the sidebar since the letters will be in the middle...
    Steve - Thanks for the great insight!  We were struggling with how to get across the message of what the site was about (the often quoted 8 seconds before someone clicks away).  I think that`s a great idea to get the letters at the top of the front page while still having a few words about the purpose of the site alongside. 
    Is it clear that, if the writer chooses, the recipient of the letter will receive an e-mail notification that someone wrote a letter about them?  This is one of the areas that we tested that people said wasn`t obvious at first.
    Thanks again!
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