Sometimes I get in my own way
First a pre-post post. I owe someone a thank you, and don’t know who. When I got home today, there was a bag at the door, with a couple of notes. Inside was a group of hair tie band things, some bracelet things, an interesting charm bracelet, a pendent, and a very pretty note that said “Dear Pearlsky, Happy Valentine’s Day!!” There was also a bag of wonderful peppermint candies with a note “Dear SingleDad, Happy Valentine’s Day from a Secret Admirer who has learned a lot from you!” I have no idea who left this, but if you read this blog, THANK YOU from Pearlsky and me.
Because of comments on the last post, I decided to see if there was a company / website in the US that sold clothes appropriate for a woman in a wheelchair. I searched for a while, mainly finding stuff for nursing homes and the elderly, and getting frustrated. Then I found it. Maybe. A website where the owner is a fashion designer whose aunt died of ALS in 2007, a website with clothes made for people like Pearlsky, and many others, a website that will do some custom tailoring inexpensively. I thought I found what I needed! Then I got in my own way.
I strongly feel that when one is putting up a professional front, one must look professional. Anything short of that and you just fail.
For instance, two years ago I was in a well-known popular restaurant. The placemat had their history on it, with a timeline, etc. It was fairly cool. And written by an illiterate person. I asked for another one and a red pen. When I was done, I found 14 errors in grammar, typography, even the timeline. I very politely just folded it up, put it in an envelope with my business card, and sent it to the company headquarters. You can bet I used that $50 gift certificate, the food is great!
My ex was looking to get a manuscript published. It was several hundred pages and about thirty percent in a language I do not know. When she was ready to submit it, I copy edited it, something I have done many times. It was accepted by a couple of major publishers but the best comments came from one acceptance and one rejection. Both said “This is the best looking manuscript I have ever seen.” Sounds funny, but there was a reason for that.
Business wise, you must look professional. I started my geek company when Pearlsky was less than a year old. Even though it was just me in the basement with a soldering iron, major semiconductor companies thought I was an established, somewhat larger, organization. Why? I had professional brochures, all the literature looked professional, etc. And yes, the product was good. But the “front” that they saw was as clean as their own.
This blog is my outlet, the one time I am not “on my toes” to the same degree. Blogs are not meant (generally) to be so precise and polished.
If you don’t know what a ligature or an em dash is, you have no business writing business literature. If you don’t know the difference between a breaking and a non-breaking space, you should not be designing a web site. It’s ok (and “okay”) if English is not your first language, or even if it is and you are not the best with it, IF you get someone to copy edit, or proof read. If you don’t know what “MLA” or “Chicago” style means, put the keyboard away when you need a business or academic paper. If you think comic sans font is cool, well, never mind.
In today’s world, your web site is EVERYTHING in business. But, hey, if I am looking for comfortable and appropriate pants for Pearlsky to wear in her wheelchair, why should I care that your web site is sub-par? The problem is I do. I am getting in my own way. I found a web site to potentially buy good clothes, and the fact that it is a mess bugs me, and illogically as well as potentially stupidly at Pearlsky’s expense, I don’t want to buy there. If it is this poorly done, will my credit card be safe? If she is such a good designer, does she not know her limits and designed the web site as well? Or was it her kid brother?
Let me explain. I looked at the size chart for clothes …
I find it fascinating that the “BUST” measurement is a single number. Well, it should be, right? Read how to calculate it. “Measure around the fullest part of the bust, under your arms.” Ok, I get that. That gives me a number. Then it says, “Measure from shoulder blade to he [sic] other and from the top center of your back straight down to your waist.” Huh? Let’s say I understand that, and get another number. Now I have two numbers. WTF? As for “Waist” … no clue where “the high hips” are. And there are “the high hips” yet “your back” and “your arms.” At least be messed up consistently.
The site is rife with errors, typological and grammatical. The logo is not terribly professional. The explanation on how to pronounce the name of the company (a bad idea to have an unpronounceable or confusing company name) does not make sense nor does it tell me how to pronounce the name of the company! (Do you know why George Eastman decided on the name “Kodak”? Because every modern language had a phoneme for “k,” “o,” and “dah” thus making it a word pronounceable world-wide. No dummy that George). There are dead links, the site does not come up on Google with search words that should work, and sadly, the picture of the designer, an obviously young and very attractive woman, is, well, an awful and unprofessional picture. Bummer.
I WANT TO BUY YOUR STUFF, but I am being obstinate and hesitating because you come across so unprofessional. I am getting in my own way. If I am going to pay $75 for a special pair of pants for Pearlsky, well, spend the profit on your site!
- Get a graphic artist who is very reasonably priced, does a fantastic job working with you, will help with a logo and look and branding, and even happens to know your primary audience. Need a referral? Write me, he’s fantastic.
- Proof read your site. Then again. Then get someone else to do it. Then find some idiot like me to do it. Have your mother or your non-techie friend try to buy something to see if anyone can.
- Learn what it takes to get a search engine friendly site.
- If you have a blog (like she does), integrate it into the site itself. And have the blog have a link to your store in case that is what someone finds first.
- Did I say proof read your site?
- Have a professional take your picture. Don’t use one that makes me think you are naked, you are a clothes designer for goodness sake!
- You can do better than Zen Cart. Oh, and your meta keywords and descriptions don’t even mention your concept of “adaptive clothing,” not that it would help, but the attempt is a poor one.
- Did I mention proof reading? Link testing?
Ok, I’m done. Yeah, I can be a pain, I know. I should shut up and buy something. I just get in my own way sometimes. Something tells me she is not the one that left that bag at my front door.
Hey, for some free pants, I’d critique her site …
Uh oh. Now I need to let you know that the email I just sent you isn’t how I normally type. I’m very, very tired. 🙂 I think you will like the links, but not the grammar/flow/typos.
Did you try this site? Someone else mentioned it earlier.
Uh oh for me too. Is my blog written in comic sans? I’m gonna go check 🙂
Those clothes better be incredibly fantastic to warrant this post. I’m with you, though. I’m all about substance AND the superficial — and a sucker for packaging!
I agree with you on all these things.
There is something called a high hip measurement, but you probably wouldn’t know about it unless you sew. The regular hip measurement is about level with the hip sockets and includes the fullest part of the backside. The high hip measurement is a few inches below the navel, at about the point where the body begins to narrow in towards the waist.
Okay…from a devil’s advocate, “I can’t compute my way out of a wet paper bag” type of person…True, there is absolutely no excuse for spelling errors. However…likely this woman is doing the best she can with zilch of a budget and possibly no geeky friends to help her out. She may have a disabled kid (or two) of her own and does this between shitty diapers. She may be just starting out and needs cash flow to get a better site set up She would probably love to get a phone call rather than deal with the fucking computer because, the love of her life is her sewing machine. I am much too close to this sort of situation to be quick in throwing stones.
Too bad the ‘recently closed tabs’ feature doesn’t restore stuff you actually wrote. I’m such a moron. Oh well. All that witty banter, gone forever. You win for now…but I’ll be back, and next time, with my brain.
I do however agree with you AND Claire. I hate bad websites and also have sympathy for people who probably just don’t have a clue or the money.
I need to take classes in Dreamweaver.
I’m trepidatious about buying from sites that are unprofessional. Its like shopping at a brick and mortar that’s dirty, poorly layed out and understaffed. I’d provide general critique (very, very gently) and offer to work out a trade. You fix her website, she gives you clothes for Pearlsky. If she says no, you’re no worse off than you are now.
I can’t stand bad copy in supposedly professional materials with one exception: I insist upon typos and spelling errors in Chinese menus. Every really good Chinese restaurant I’ve ever been to has scuzzy 1980’s Miami motel decor and menu items like Hous sauce salmon Backl Sclop the Top (salmon topped with baked scallops in the house’s specialty sauce).
Have you tried sitterpants.com? Not sure if it is what you’re looking for, but I do know they are reasonably priced and are willing to work with you are sizing issues. Good luck.
Love all the comments, THANKS. Rebecca: You suggest sitterpants.com and I went there. THE ENTIRE SITE is in Comic Sans font!!!! Damn, now I have go gouge my eyes out …
When choosing a daycare center for Lynn I excluded 1 of the 3 options nearby because of their horrible shitty website.
But if there wouldn’t have been other options, or if I’d heard from other parents that they’re actually a really great daycare centre, I would not have.
In your case, how many options do you have for nice, comfortable pants for Pearlsky? I’m with Claire on this, the woman is probably doing the best she can at the moment with the means she has.
Wow. You really do get in your own way, it seems. Too bad. What I’m hearing in your post is that you couldn’t get past a certain font used on a website that offered beautiful clothing. Again, wow. The designer you are referring to brings a passion to her designs from a deep commitment to serving a real need that, up to now, has been overlooked. Universal fashion. Fashion for the woman with special needs; fashion for all of us. A few grammatical errors, or a logo that doesn’t strike your fancy, causes you to think twice about purchasing a beautiful outfit for your daughter? Wow. When you could have applauded the designer for her talent and for single-handedly pioneering the new wave of adapted design, you chose to lecture her on meta keywords? Hmm. Get out of your own way.
Would it help to send the designer a list of suggestions?
Liz: Thanks for the comment. It shows true maturity and grace in that I am saying, in essence “I am acting stupid and doing something for bad reasons” and you respond with “Yes, you’re an idiot.” Definitely helpful. As for the designer I refer to, it is her web site to which I refer, not her, and I do not link to it because I am saying not so nice things, that would be rude of me. Some have asked me off-line for the site since I clearly say I like the clothes and I have shared the link. I do not mention her font (which is nice, actually), nor the aesthetics of the site (subjective), purely things like the bust measurement, which does not make sense (objective). Additionally, I did tell her about the post in the hopes that she takes some of the suggestions to improve her site, at which point I will gladly sing the praises of her work in a totally positive way. So, let’s review,
And you choose to castigate and attempt to ridicule me on my own site, well, again, welcome. And I notice that YOU do not link to her site from yours where you link to many of her competitors.
By the way, yes, I looked at your site. No comment.
Welcome to the land of angry comments. I’ve never seen this on your blog, Single Dad but know it all too well.
Hang in there.
@Liz A certain degree of persoal financial protection has to be considered when shopping online. Subjective judgements have to be made on the professionalism of a retailer, and the correlated security of their records and financial data. To me an unprofessional site says that the owner of the site might also be unprofessional. Well designed sites are what weed the serious from the untraceable data miners and spoofers.
There is FAR too much information out there on the do’s and don’ts of web design for ignorance to be an excuse (as though ignorance were ever a valid excuse in business), so it just looks like laziness. You can’t throw a pair of pants without hitting an out of work web designer, copy editor, English major, marketing exec or half a dozen other people who are more than qualified to polish up content on a web page. The internet makes it possible to reach thousands of people who might be interested in web design in exchange for clothes. Not tapping that resource, again, looks like laziness.
Using fonts like Comic Sans is the web equivalent of wearing pajamas to a Board Meeting. Sure your product might be stellar, but how is anyone supposed to take you seriously if you do not present yourself with care and attention to detail?
SD, the site is actually really easy to google if you know how to search for it, using the clues in your weblog.
And I do like her font indeed! And take a look at the Harlow Avery Jean, very nice.
SD, I apologize if you interpreted what I wrote to say, “Yes, you’re an idiot.” That’s not what I intended, and I did not say those words anywhere in my post. I was simply agreeing with your statement that “I am getting in my own way,” and shared my thoughts on what you may have missed. Your post struck a nerve with me, and I may have gotten a tad defensive. The designer in question has been such an inspiration to me, I felt I needed to point out that the few flaws you found in her site had nothing to do with the product she sells.
My site does not link to any sites that compete with the designer – perhaps you didn’t get the chance or take the time to look closely.
Best of luck to you.
Wow! Controversy! Awesome. I have to laugh at the Comic Sans hatred out there. I use it all the time. As a Montessori teacher, it is one of the few (only?) fonts where the “a” is done as one would print for a child…a circle with a line beside it on the right. We use it all the time when we make sentence cards, etc. So…likely, Comic Sans users are indeed in their pyjamas, on the floor, playing with their kids! Or, in my case, sitting at the computer with Sophie as she types out a little poem. In any case, clearly, we computer illiterates have been forewarned!
Liz: I guess it was all the “wow’s” in your post that threw me off. Again, she does have great stuff, and again, she is offering a great service. And, again, people like me (and others as seen in many comments above) are turned off by an unprofessional looking site. It is a reflection on the business as a whole, and stops one from really seeing the value of the product.
Remember, I wrote in my post, in all caps, “I WANT TO BUY YOUR STUFF.”
As for the link on your site, you do link to a company that has “Adaptive Apparel” in its title, and that is what your friend(?) uses as a tag line for her logo and site. I may be mistaken that the two sites both sell “adaptive apparel,” sorry.
As for the designer, if in fact you know her, feel free to pass on the following offer: At absolutely no cost, I will give her specifics and a friendly and honest critique of her site that will enable her web person to fix things in, oh, about ten minutes. And, if she likes, I will even post nice things AND INCLUDE A LINK (I have a heck of a lot more readers than even I believe) on this blog at her request.
Better yet, she is welcome to write a guest post here on adaptive apparel and how she got into it as yet another ad for her stuff. Honestly.
You see, I really am not such a bad guy. I just write that way.
I thought you were evil personified?
@Claire when it comes to use of fonts for professional purposes Comic Sans is an absolute no-go. One of the main arguments in the movement against comic sans is is that a typeface should match the tone of its text, and that the irreverence of Comic Sans is often at odds with a serious message, such as a “do not enter” sign. Here’s a nice piece on the font: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11582548
But in your case, using it at school to make text better usable for the children, that’s a great way to use that font. It is an easy to read font with a friendly outlook.
If you ever want a change of font though, Century Gothic has the right “a” as well. So do Monotype Corsiva, Segoe Print and Segoe Script, but those are italic and/or “handwriting” fonts, which may make them less usable in school environments.
(yes, I have too much time at the computer on my hands nowadays. I’m 39 weeks pregnant and wobble around like a penguin. So I basically just sit at my PC all day, being bored…)
Ken: Yeah, you’d think I wrote that someone’s site looked retarded or something (watch the load of carp I get for saying that). 😉
Claire: Check out this and this and what the BBC says about Comic Sans.
Rebecca mentions sitterpants.com It is all in Comic Sans. Look at the front page, personally I find it very hard on the eyes.
Okay folks, I’m tired and have work to do. With energy, I’ll post later about our unexpected trip to the hospital yesterday (all is kind of fine).
There are no good or bad fonts, really. The question is when / how / why they are applied.
I can assure everyone that I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in learning anything about fonts or what anyone thinks about them. I am going back to the hole from whence I came.
I have no problem with comic sans but I have a huge problem with websites that have light type on a dark background. Sitterpants.com makes my eyes bleed. The first rule of readability is black on white, not white on black. You would think that a website for disabled people would not be hard on the eyes. It really calls into question their judgment.
I say we need full fontal nudity.
I love Ken Lilly.
@Ken You really need to be more specific. Talk about potentially hard on the eyes…
Try using the “text to speech” option on your computer then, “DON’T LOOK ETHEL!” Pearlsky will be a fashion diva before we know it. Finding clothes for our kids is tough. If you manage to find items that don’t look like street walker trash-wear, they are ill fitting due to diapers and W/C positioning. I have to sew a lot of special stuff for my 12 year old disabled daughter. Although she is pretty much unable to do anything independently, she does posses the unique ability to dig into her pants and make quite the crappy mess, as well as to pick her diapers into a tiny, million, pee impregnated gel and cotton bits. To deter her from her backside, I have sewn undershirts onto the inside of all of her stretch legging pants, creating a one-piece item. I have also done some other very imaginative sewing when it comes to keeping her out of her favorite bad habit. 🙂 Good luck.