I'm going to try something new today, something I've wanted to do for quite a while but just never started... a random review of a jeweler's website.
The goal of this review is to point out things that will improve usability, identify things that will negatively impact search engine optimization, and point out things that I felt were done well.
FTC Notice: I'm randomly choosing a website and I won't be telling the independent retailer that I'm doing a review. Unless someone else tells them, they will only find out about this review if they examine their Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. I'm not doing this to solicit business from them, but rather as an educational exercise for everyone. This review is completely impartial and all my comments are listed in the order that I discovered them.
The website I've chosen for today is Franzetti Jewelers located in... well I'm not exactly sure where they are located since their home page doesn't list an address. That's the first demerit for this website. They have a phone number listed at the top with a 512 area code, but it took me to visit their Contact Us page to find out they were in Austin, Texas.
Here's the website: http://www.franzettijewelers.com, you might want to open it up and follow along as you read this review.
What I Liked About the Site:
* From a desktop computer the navigation is easy using the top menu. The way they broke down the menus makes the website seem simple to use.
* A good amount of time was spent creating top banners for many of the landing pages. This makes the website more attractive.
* The website has a blog built into the site instead of an off-site blog. This is good for SEO.
* The page title, URL, and H1 of every page of the site match. This is good for SEO.
Clearly Identifiable Usability Issues:
* The website seems very slow.
* When viewed on a smartphone the navigation works, but it's way too small. A mobile version of the website is needed.
* Although the top banners are good aesthetically, they quickly got in the way when browsing through several pages of the product catalog because you are continually forced to scroll down past it. This quickly became annoying after the 3rd time.
* Product categories of Happy Beads and Estate Jewelry were listed in their catalog, but no products were available. All empty categories should be hidden; otherwise users are wasting their time waiting for a slow website, only to find nothing.
* Designer categories of Soulmates Bridal Collection, Tension Collection, and Couture Collection do not have any products listed. Again, all empty designer pages should be hidden; otherwise users are wasting their time clicking, waiting, and then facing disappointment.
* There's a whole subsection under Customer Service called "Using the Website." Typically these types of areas of a website are not needed. In this case the pages should be hidden from the menu because they are blank.
* Product images are completely inconsistent. You can clearly tell which jewelry images came from the designers, and which were taken in the store. For example, the Elma Gil photos are large, clean white backgrounds, and have a lot of detail. But then the diamond anniversary rings were clearly shot in-house and PhotoShopped to clean them up. The attempt is admirable, but anything that bad looking needs to be shot again with a better camera and light box setup.
Incorrect WordPress Setup Issue:
* All of the hyperlinks of the website included the ALT and TITLE attributes. This makes the site very user friendly because many times a popup bubble appears with more information in it. However, many times this popup bubble includes the words "Permalink to..." which is unneeded, and probably confusing to most people. The popups in the product catalog say "View all posts filed under..." Again, that's badly configured.
* The product catalog pages give the option to enter a quantity, but for no reason. The website does not have e-commerce activated, and every product says to call to order. The "Qty." field should be hidden.
Incorrect SEO Issues:
* There's a section of the website called "Latest News" which appears to have a normal blog layout and setup, but the URL is set up as "/category/latest-news" instead of "/blog." This should be changed because search engines will specifically look for the blog URL when trying to determine how often the website should be revisited.
* The blog (Latest News) has a "Gemstone Tag Cloud" which should be turned off. A few years ago everyone thought these keyword clouds were great ways to show off how many times a blog was written about a particular keyword. Meanwhile the search engines were laughing silently at the obvious creation of keyword spam stuffing. Never use a keyword cloud on your website.
* In order to qualify for local search results, the footer of the website should contain the address of the store.
* The Latest News should be updated at least once per month.
As I said above, this was an unsolicited review of a random website. It's only meant as a learning exercise for jWAG readers, and offered as a potential benefit to the website owner. Assuming this review is well received I'll continue with another random review next Friday.