This is the Friday Jewelry Website Review to help you learn more about your own website by looking at a review from another jeweler's real website.
To find the candidate for this week's website review I searched Google for the phrase "jewelry store santa monica" using the Chrome web browser in incognito mode. The top 3 organic results were Yelp and a KABC news story about a local robbery on April 15, 2013. I chose the first listing of the 7 local jewelry stores Google showed in their Places list.
Here's the website: http://www.readersjewelers.com/; you might want to open it up to follow along as you read this review.
Overall, I think this website has a lot of good qualities, and they are heading in the right direction. They really have tried to think ahead to include slide shows, testimonials, and videos on their website. They have a very content heavy website, which Google apparently loves since they were ranked #1 in the Places results.
Even thought they are ranked #1 in Places, they don't seem to have an organic listing on the first 4 pages, so let's dive in to what might be wrong...
Overall the font size throughout the entire website is too small for today's standards. It is too small and there is not enough spacing between each line, which makes all the pages look very dense and hard to read.
I can tell that the designer or content manager of the website put the website together using the Dreamweaver program, and I actually think the pages that end with the .html extension were actually hand-programmed. This is unusual today since everyone makes websites with some type of automated content management system. Anyway, the point I'm making is that this looks like a website I would have created back in the late 90's before I learned about design aesthetics... There's not enough negative space around the paragraphs, lines are too close together, and the pages have too much information. The result is that I don't know what to look at on every page.
Speaking of every page, the same set of 16 images appear at the top of every page in a slide show. I thought this was a good introduction for their home page, but completely unnecessary for every page of the site. It's also a waste of screen real estate and download time.
What I Didn't Like About the Site:
Something about this site made me want to look at its online archival history. Click here for a screen shot from October 27, 2009.
The history shows an identical looking website in a thinner design than what they have today. The copyright on their website today says 2012 which makes me think that the only change from 2009 to 2012 was to widen the site. Although I didn't go page by page through the site I did notice that they have the same testimonials from 2009 still on their new site they made in 2012.
I'm disappointed that when they chose to redesign their website in 2012 it was only to make it wider rather than choosing a more modern 2012 design theme.
I took a look at the source code of the site and was also quite surprised because they are still using a lot of old style HTML 'tables' and even 'font' commands. Web programmers still use the 'table' code, but 'font' hasn't been used in many years and it's a waste of programming time and slows your website down.
I don't want to spend a lot of time on it, but they have an ancient method of attempting e-commerce. No security, simple single order form... in a word, quite cheesy. I'd hate to think what their merchant account provider would think if the Reader's website was audited by them.
What I Liked About the Site:
Overall I do think they are heading in the right direction. The top menu that appears as image buttons is also repeated as text links in the footer. This is good for their SEO.
I also like the amount of content they have written for every page of their site. I couldn't find a blog, but they should set one up put their writing skills to use.
Incorrect SEO Issues:
I noticed that they are trying hard to change the page title for every page of the site. This is good for SEO, but their method is probably hurting them a little. I usually don't recommend including a store name within the page title of every page of your site; it's only needed on the home page. In their case they wrote unique page title, but they all start with "Readers Fine Jeweler, 5th Generation." If you're going to include your store name in the page title it should be at the end, not the beginning of the title.
The URL structure they are using is a little strange. I've noticed that very few websites with strange URLs are listing in the search results unless no other options are available. In this situation many of the URLs for their website include "readersjewelers.com/htpd"
I recognize that as a server mis-configuration. The website saved in the "htpd" folder on the web server and that folder name should be hidden. Many people are starting to understand how to read and recognize websites just by looking at the URL. So "readersjewelers.com/htpd/about.html" will not be as appealing as "readersjewelers.com/about.html."
Bottom Line Recommendation for Them
I'd like to see them upgrade their website again this year, but this time switch to a content management system and a modern design. I'd like to see them add a blog and a bigger product catalog that is kept up to date.
I came to realize that they are heavily pushing their "5th Generation" status in all their marketing and online. I also think they need to do a serious analytical review to find out if that's bringing them new business or if it's a roadblock to bringing new organic traffic to their website since the phrase "5th generation" is likely not a phrase people are searching for in conjunction with jewelry or jewelry stores.
That's it for this week's basic review.
FTC Notice: I randomly choose this website and won't be telling the retailer jeweler 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.