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I need Opinions / Critiques of my website please! :)


sojomy
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My mom has been making candles for almost 10 years, so I made her a website a while back. It's coming along slowly with, but since I'm a technical-type person, I think that a website should be user-friendly and functional before it looks jaw-droppingly beautiful. So I'm trying to add and tweak features and content before I focus on the design. Others think I should focus on the layout and make it look pretty to get more business. So I'm basically here just to get any feedback that I can from the actual people that the site is being developed for. So if anyone has a few seconds, please take a look at the site and let me know what you think about the site as a whole.

http://www.palmbeachcandles.com

Do you find it user-friendly and self-explanatory as far as what you might be looking for?

Are there any products that you don't see that you would expect to see on this site?

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Josh

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It is not a bad site. It does look like what it is a zen cart. Which is not a bad thing. It has nice soothing colors. Easy to navagate.

One thing that does bother me is there is no contact infomation I want a name, address, e-mail and phone number before I even think of buying online.

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Its pretty plain but really... easy to navigate, and some of the best supplier websites are incredibly plain but they do a ton of business, so I dont think for this purpose it really matters. Nice colors..

I agree with Vicky that if I am buying supplies from someone I want contact info beyond an email.... and there isnt even an email displayed that I could find, just a contact box.

There should be an address, a phone number, an email, so on and so forth.

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First, thank you both for the feedback, it is greatly appreciated.

The store is actually a stock osCommerce install with minor alterations. I really don't like Zen Cart due to its horrible optimization. When I first installed and tested it with no mods and very few products, I saw it using over 800 database calls for a single page load! Zen Cart has loads of contributions preloaded, but since I've never setup a store that would use more than half of them, so I don't want to sacrifice speed for the sake of an easy setup. Right now I think the only thing I've customized is the stylesheet, added a couple of custom pages, and I added a coupons module that hasn't had any use yet.

I'm glad you both mentioned that you liked the colors, because I thought they were very fitting with the Palm Beach theme and thought they went well with the top banner I photoshopped together. I do agree that it is a little too plain and hope to make better use of the space to make it look so empty, and I also want to get some more professional looking product and category images.

You both mentioned that you would like to see more contact information like address, phone number, etc. My mom is really apprehensive about putting her personal information on the website since she doesn't have a store front, which is why I removed the check/money order method of payment - because it requires that information. She said she wouldn't mind getting a PO Box and putting that on there, but would that set anyone's mind at ease? Also, I have put links to the Contact Us page on several other pages where applicable, in addition to the link on the permanent left-hand menu, so if I did put all of the real contact information on that page, would that make a comfortable buying setting?

And finally, the text on the main page...should I leave it there, or would it look better if I just had the category images on the main page and created an About Us page with the main-page text as well as other information about the company and stuff?

Again, thank you both (and anyone else who would like to share their opinion) for your help. I'm more of a logical person who sticks to web development and technical issues, so I don't usually handle the design and creative side of web stuff. :)

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QUOTE]My mom is really apprehensive about putting her personal information on the website since she doesn't have a store front, which is why I removed the check/money order method of payment - because it requires that information.

If your mom is requesting that people send her their credit card information and money, she is going to have to have some contact information.

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hmmm...how about a new name...lol :tiptoe:

Seriously tho it looks like a nice site, you are doing a great job for your mom. Considering we are only one letter off on our web addresses this could be interesting. :shocked2:

:yay: I have wondered for a while if you have ever seen her website. She showed me your website a month or two ago. Yours looks very nice as well.

I actually started a much more simple website for my mother a long time ago. Her state-registered business name is Palm Beach Candles and Supplies, and she does live in Texas, but her family lives in West Palm Beach and that's where she plans on retiring, so I thought the company and domain names were appropriate.

I originally registered the domain name PalmBeachCandles.com (with a S) back in 2004 and have owned it ever since, but I see that you first registered the PalmBeachCandle.com (without the S) back in December of 2008. So if you wanted to change your name, you're welcome to, but if not we won't hold that against you. :P

But as for this new site, it's kind of new. The "simple site" I made back in 2004 was not doing much, so in 2007 I setup an default osCommerce store and let her populate it with products as she could. But now that she has lots of products and is working on adding more, I'm ready to start to work on the site design as well as adding more functionality to it.

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:yay: I have wondered for a while if you have ever seen her website. She showed me your website a month or two ago. Yours looks very nice as well.

I actually started a much more simple website for my mother a long time ago. Her state-registered business name is Palm Beach Candles and Supplies, and she does live in Texas, but her family lives in West Palm Beach and that's where she plans on retiring, so I thought the company and domain names were appropriate.

I originally registered the domain name PalmBeachCandles.com (with a S) back in 2004 and have owned it ever since, but I see that you first registered the PalmBeachCandle.com (without the S) back in December of 2008. So if you wanted to change your name, you're welcome to, but if not we won't hold that against you. :P

Actually I'm not that concerned about it...(ok, I was a little pissy about it at first :lipsrseal)...when I first saw your mom's site I was all excited because I thought I would be able to get supplies locally, but then found out you were in TX so I was a bit perplexed as to why you would choose that name. :confused:

My state registered name is The Palm Beach Candle Company of which I also own the domain name but its to darn long so I shortend it. Anyway, I may be a bit jealouse that your mom has such great help on her website...lol...good luck with the biz and Palm Beach County is a great place to retire and live. :smiley2:

@QuietGirl...thanks :)

Edited by lsbennis
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I agree with some of the comments others made. It definitely needs a "contact us" page if you are gonna be a supplier.

And are you an actual candle shop or candle supplies supplier. If the latter you need to have wax supplies. There is some confusion because you have candles for sale and candle supplies but no wax?

I think the font for Categories could be a size larger. Also, when I was browsing pages I could not get back to home page. I would add a shipping and return policy page with info on payments excepted. Are you taking credit cards, then maybe add a security/confidentiality section or page. At least a security certificate that customers can check to know your site is safe to use credit cards. Will you be collecting emails for newsletters or sale lists; another reason to post your confidentiality policy.

I agree with Isbennis-- the name is too similar to her company. It may confuse your customers, and hers. Just a thought. If it were me I would change it or at least make it unique enough so there is no confusion. I just read a new post about the dates the names were registered so I don't know what to tell you. Here of course we are familiar with Isbennis site so I assumed she had the name first.

You have a great start thou. Site is well organized. Just needs some finishing touches.

Edited by Candybee
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I like the website in general.

I think Natures garden's old website's looks better than their new one. THeir new one is too busy and bright.

Hence, I like the website you created because it is not busy looking and it is easy on the eyes. nice job!

I think a PO box would be good. If you made a "FAQ" you could discuss where she is located etc. I agree with the others about not knowing where the shop is located. Anymore, I want to know where I am ordering from because I certainly don't want to buy from China and I also want to know because of shipping costs.

I like when sites have a place to review the scents which you have:)

I myself prefer a site like yours that you can click quickly through.

Great Job!!

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I agree with Isbennis-- the name is too similar to her company. It may confuse your customers, and hers. Just a thought. If it were me I would change it or at least make it unique enough so there is no confusion. I just read a new post about the dates the names were registered so I don't know what to tell you. Here of course we are familiar with Isbennis site so I assumed she had the name first.

Well I at least agree about the web address being changed since they are so close, and since Sojomy had it first I will just switch back to my original web address which is the name of my company, even tho it makes a long web addy. Next time I will make sure to check for S's when doing a domain search.:rolleyes2

But my company is totally based on the FL lifestyle and in particular Palm Beach which I have an entire catagory of candle names based on that. So with that in mind the name will remain, but I'm sure it will not be an issue as there is plenty of room for all of us. :smiley2:

@Candybee....when I searched for my name ...The Palm Beach Candle Company...there was no one else with that name,I did not think to search anything similiar otherwise I would not have used it and it has already been registered and is an LLC. But a good lesson learned here at least for me is when searching for your name also look for names that may be similar!

Edited by lsbennis
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There should be at least a PO box... but really, I don’t think its appropriate to withhold all information. I spend a lot of money on supplies, we all do. And I personally would never order from a company who does not disclose where the supplies are coming from, a phone number I can reach them, and an email I can reach them (not just a contact box) . It just seems silly to be a supplier if you don’t want anyone to know who you are and where you are located. Oils, wax, fragrance oils… I want to know where and how they were stored. I want to know if I am buying from a warehouse, or some ones dirty basement, you know? When I am spending thousands of dollars… I feel like I am owed that, as a customer. That’s just my opinion… take it or leave it.

the name is confusing. I would think I was buying from a Chinese drop ship company if I ordered from "palm beach..." and got a box from Texas.

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The site itself is very nice. I like it and would consider ordering from there EXCEPT I too will not order from a company that does not list its address, contact information with a telephone number etc.

Perhaps your mother should think about getting a cell phone with prepaid minutes that she can use just for her web site. Mine is listed and I have received four calls from customers in the last 4 years and all of them were about orders and made me money.

I do have a brick and mortar shop so the address is not a problem for me but I do suggest you use at least a PO Box for the address. People want to know where their orders are shipping from.

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I only sell on the internet, and I can tell you, you definitely need a phone number. I get calls all the time to place orders via the phone. There are alot of people out there still that will not put their personal and cc info online, and are much more comfortable placing their order with a person. I have several regulars that call every couple of months to place substantial orders. I would hate to have missed those!:tiptoe:

Edited by Bernadette
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Instead of a PO box, rent a mailbox at one of the 'mail stores'. You get an actual street address and usually a suite # with it. Much more professional than a PO box IMO.

Get a cell phone just for the business.

The above eliminates her "personal" information being online.

I too would never consider doing business with a business I couldn't contact.

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