June 28, 2000
Interested in information about a Jewelers of America certification class, or looking for JA's position on conflict diamonds? Look no further; all of that and more can be found on JA's recently revised Web site.
The strength of jewelers.org is definitely in its public relations functions. The site contains all of JA's printed material in a surprisingly similar format. Everything from the colors of the section headings to the appearance of each page match the print equivalents almost precisely. The conformity helps members locate and easily recognize the information, and it's navigation is simple enough for prospective members to find what they seek.
The site is divided into three sections: JA Members, Industry Professionals and Jewelry Lovers. The JA members section is comprised mostly of JA's print material, but if you already have JA's information kit, this section may still be valuable to you. First, there is a series of password-protected links to professional publications, JA staff and affiliate information and the J-report. Also, you can order JA material online as well as access any updates to the material you already have.
For industry professionals, JA offers links to industry associations and publications, membership benefits, information about JA trade shows, JA publications and a searchable database of regional affiliates. Oddly enough, the JA press releases are nowhere to be found in this section. Instead, its link is hidden among the password-protected links at the top of the members section. In addition, the JA publications link is found only in the industry professionals area when members would benefit from it too.
Despite the few oddly placed links, the JA site offers members and industry professionals exactly what it should: JA and industry information. The site isn't bogged down with irrelevant documents or unnecessary graphics. For the most part, it is clear and right to the point.
Jewelers.org's biggest weakness, however, is the jewelry lovers section. This section does provide consumers with some valuable information, but it also has a few problems. The extensive education guide is thorough and would help anyone understand jewelry, and users are also able to search for JA member jewelers by state, area code or zip code. Everything is great until a user clicks on a specific jeweler for more information. It appears JA allowed members to create small, informative sites a few years back. Unfortunately, most of these retailer sites are unattractive, barely informative and many have links that are still under construction. Consumers benefit from the location information, but they will only be frustrated by the poorly designed individual sites.
- by Julia M. Duncan