In honor of the fall season and the bright colored leaves in the region, I'm taking us to Manchester, Vermont in search for good jewelry store. My hope is that I'll find a website that we can learn from.
Using the Chrome browser in incognito mode I searched for "jeweler manchester vt."
I was presented with 2 organic results followed by the typical layout of Google+ Local listings. I chose the first one on the list: Nina Jewelry
Here's the website: http://www.ninajewelry.com/; you might want to open it up to follow along as you read this review.
* On the home page I was first drawn to the blue box stating "Shop & Compare - Highest Prices Paid," which, even though I immediately knew it was referring to buying gold, the ad doesn't specifically say so. It probably was a reprint from a local newspaper or circular. Something as simple as this tells me right away that they didn't double check their advertisements to coincide with each other across mediums.
* The home page has scrolling images of jewelry along the bottom. I immediately tried to click them for more information but was foiled again! There's no sense having attractive jewelry photos anywhere on your website unless you link them to a product detail page. Jewelry customers primarily navigate visually through websites, clicking first on the jewelry they find.
* The online store pages look a little clumsy. You can see it here: http://www.ninajewelry.com/store/
They are using Polygon's eCatalog software within their website but the way it appears it looks like a different site pulled in through an iframe. The layout of the items as you browse the catalog was not thought out very well.
What I Didn't Like About the Site:
* Here's one of my pet peeves about any website... The home page says "Welcome to our brand new website and check back often because we're adding to it everyday!" Sadly the date stamp of the home page is November 14, 2008. That's far from "every day" updating.
* I was a little surprised by how badly they mutilated their product photos in the online catalog all for the sake of uniformity. All the products have the same gradient gray to black background, but that's not how they were shot. Take a look at this product:
and click on item's image. You should see a huge image of that broach which was badly edited in PhotoShop. The photo shows a black pixilated outline and 2 of the areas of the broach were clearly (accidently) erased.
* That broach had one of the bigger "enlarged" images I found in the catalog. Most of the "enlarged" images were only a little bigger than the one on the product detail page.
* I suppose this next topic falls into my "You've got to be kidding" category. Looking at this page:
you will find two 22 second downloadable videos with simple tours through the store. The Videos are in Windows Media Video format and labeled as "56k Connection" or "DSL Connection" downloads. I'm going to resist the urge to laugh at this because I don't know if high speed internet was available in their area of Vermont in 2008 when they built this website. They need to learn how to use YouTube and upload these videos there.
What I Liked About the Site:
* I was shocked and honestly elated to find the Store Hours, Directions, and Contact pages all grouped together on the top right of their website. This top corner is one of the places people immediately look when landing on a site which makes it prime screen real estate. For local businesses that want to attract people to the store, this top right corner is the perfect place for a link for store hours and directions. Businesses that offer online selling might find this top corner is a good location for their latest, most important announcement.
* I have to say that I was surprised that the Polygon eCatalog software was allowing Google to fully spider and index their product catalog. This is not something I see very often from jewelry industry web providers. The item titles and descriptions are being indexed by Google, but they could do a lot better if they wrote meta descriptions for several of their products.
* While reviewing the programming code of the website, I found some hidden comments that said the website was created by Dreamweaver MX on December 27, 2004. It was then copied on November 5, 2008 and uploaded to this current location. Perhaps that's when they signed up with Polygon. Those 56k and DSL videos I mentioned above make a lot more sense when you think of them in the 2004 era.
* I have to point out that a competing jewelry store, Northeastern Fine Jewelry, http://www.nefj.com/, was listed second in the Google+ Local list. Their website is much better looking and seems to be updated more often. Yet the Nina Jewelry website beat them out for my search phrase. I didn't take the time to dig deeply, but on the surface it seems like Nina's product catalog carries more relevance and helped their ranking get a boost.
* Reorganizing the product catalog, adding better product meta descriptions, and a little updating of the content on the website is all this site needs to start making a difference for Nina. Regretfully my findings show that their site is practically abandoned.
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.