Freshen Your Web Site
Jewelers who put their Web sites together a few years ago should consider updating them
Here are some tips for freshening your Web site, some suggestions of new things to add to your site and some cost estimates.
Remember the keep it simple rule still applies because many Web surfers continue to use relatively low-speed Internet connections. Once youve mastered simple, then you can add some extravagance but only if youre sure you can do it without sacrificing usability.
1. Fix any technical problems first. Even if you think your site doesnt have any, look at it on a PC and a Mac and with Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator and AOL Web browsers just to be sure.
2. Make sure your sites look is consistent. The pages should have a similarity that lets shoppers know they are still at your site, and the navigation buttons should stay in the same location throughout the site.
3. Beef up your customer service information. Make sure all your policies (returns, money back, shipping) are online. You might consider adding a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page or improving your existing one. For e-commerce sites, look at setting up a live online customer service chat.
4. Tackle site navigation next. Consider offering multiple ways for shoppers to browse your site. This will make it easier for them to find what they want quickly. Most jewelry sites allow shoppers to browse items by category (bracelets, rings), but the best sites also allow them to browse by designer, material, gemstone or gender and age of the recipient.
5. Make sure your product information is in top form. Provide detailed descriptions, large product images and closeup images. Remember that if you want shoppers to buy online, you have to answer all their possible questions about your products. If you dont sell online, you need to put product availability information on your site.
6. If you want to add something new to your site, set up gift guides for all occasions and price ranges. Or set up a monthly e-mail newsletter to alert customers to new products, trends and sales.
How Much Will Changes Cost?
The cost of maintaining your Web site or redesigning it covers the spectrum and, in most cases, you get what you pay for.
If you want to make only small changes, you can get away with a low-cost solution ($10-$20 per hour). Try posting the job on a freelance job board such as guru.com or elance.com or hire a part-time intern from a local college. If you want to make many changes, you can hire a good Web designer to fix everything for $40-$60 per hour.
If you want to undertake a massive overhaul or need higher-level programming for e-commerce or databases, a large Web development company will usually do a high-quality professional job in the shortest amount of time. They do charge a lot $120 or more per hour is common so research the company first so you dont throw away your money.
The author owns Julia Duncan Designs, Portland, OR, which offers Web site maintenance, site design and content development for small to medium businesses. Duncan is former Web editor for Professional Jeweler and was responsible for the May 2001 redesign of professionaljeweler.com. Reach her at (503) 319-3000, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.designsbyjulia.com.