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 …