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which site do you like

mark schaaf
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Joined: 04 Oct 10
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which site do you like

I visit a few forums like the affilorama forum to get opinions from different groups of people. It was suggested to me that my site looked a little old and out dated and that was a little bit of my idea because many people don't like the checker board looking sites with little boxes of info with a picture for you to click on to find what you want.

However someone suggested I look at a site that he thought was really nice but I just don't see why he things it is better. With that in mine could you look at these two sites and tell me which one you like best and why. One is my site and the other one was the one suggested I look at.

Don't worry about hurting my feelings about my site because I have already had many things said about it that weren't suggestions on how to make it better and that is the whole ides here is to make it better. I know I have repeat viewers who have said they like my site and I want to keep them coming back but if I have to lose them in order to get 80 percent more viewers that I guess that is what needs to be done. the sites to look at you will have to type in because I don't what them to end up as links here they are http://www.myitaliantravels.com the other is http://www.women-on-the-road.com Thanks for the help.
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Last edited by jonathan_l on 07 Nov 12 9:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Added the *correct* link to mark's sites
 

Mark
 
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jimcoe
Posts: 398
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I think your existing site looks better. The other has 3 columns, which makes it look too crowded and busy.
However, they are taking advantage of social networking buttons - you should also do that.

To me, both sites look equally "old-fashioned". But is that really a bad thing? Google respects that your site has a history. Major changes might disrupt that (at lease if you need to do redirects from old pages to new).

I suspect that how visitors feel about "old-fashioned" sites may depend on their age. Certainly younger visitors expect videos and a more graphical and less rectilinear site.

If you think an update is in order, I suggest you check out some modern WordPress Themes [ http://www.studiopress.com/themes ]. and some creative traditional dreamweaver type layouts/templates [ http://www.csszengarden.com/ ] Click on "View all Designs", lower right.

Hope this helps....
_jim coe
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mark schaaf
Posts: 442
Joined: 04 Oct 10
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Thanks Jim, I shouldn't say anything until others look at both sites but I have had quite a few people over on warrior forum tell my that my site looks old fashioned and looks too much like an information only site. A few of them said I should use a san serif font and I told them that I am using Vandura which is a san sarif font but they were saying I may want to pick another because many people don't have that font on there computers and said they didn't.

I don't use word press I use a web editor called serif like the font and there you can choose some templates or do it yourself, I can easily change anything on my site without putting in a new page, for example I could take any one of my pages and change the color, or where the type is or anything. Also I can change the color of the entire site from the master page.

I think I could make major visual changes without google being bothered much as long as I keep the articles the same since that is the most important part. My biggest problem with my site is it is of course a travel site and I know that people may take many month to plan and finely book anything.

I just need them to come back to my site and go through all the great booking places I got through on my site and I am not sure how to convince them to do that. All these sites can easily be found on the web and are all great well known sites so I think not many of them may just be going through them after getting all the info from my site.
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Mark
 
mark schaaf
Posts: 442
Joined: 04 Oct 10
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This is why I sometimes don't put questions like this on this site 89 views and one comment, We all come here for opinions that can help us make our sites better and I could only get one person to help. Funny I come here and help people all the time and when I want a little help look what I get.
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Mark
 
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jimcoe
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How about it folks? Can't a few others try to help Mark out?

In my opinion it's a basic mistake (or at least a handicap) when you don't use de facto standard products. For blogs, that would be WordPress. By not using WordPress, you are probably cutting yourself off from thousands of themes, hundreds of plugins and a great deal of flexibility.

Usually online marketers choose less popular products to save money. That false economy can cost you plenty in the long run.

That's why I recommend these de facto standard products:
*WordPress
*Adobe Dreamweaver
*Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe Photoshop Elements or the free GIMP
*CSE HTML Validator
*TopStyle 4 CSS Validator
*SmartDraw (infographics and charts)
*Traffic Travis Pro (SEO) and SEOMOZ
*Camtasia (for video tutorials)
*Affilorama Premium membership
...And many other "best-of-breed" products.

Do your "due diligence" research before buying - then buy for VALUE and for STANDARDS, not just for LOW PRICE. It's your business, invest in it wisely.

Hope this helps....
_jim coe
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mark schaaf
Posts: 442
Joined: 04 Oct 10
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all the programs I use I have researched and compared them to what the top programs are and the programs I picked weren't cheap by any means. I use Serif as my web editor and costs about 3 / 4s of what Dream weaver is so it cost me a good penny, I have used Dream weaver and Serif has as many features and I think it is easier to use.

Same with Photo shop which I have used a lot in the past and Serif also has a photo editing program which I also believe is comparable and a little easier to use. So I don't believe I am at a loss when it comes to building or redoing a site and I feel I have more options then with other programs. I just want to make my site as user friendly and as effective as it can. I want people to get as much information as they can get from my site and also want visitors to come back to my site and do there booking through me after they have decided on there vacation plan.

I just don't want my site to look too busy like Jim Coe said the site I wanted compared to mine looks. I agree with him I think it is too busy and how would you know where to start when doing research. And I don't what it to look like many of the big vacation sites where the home page looks like a checker board with pictures and little info boxes saying great travel deal or great rates for hotels because those to me look even busier then the site I wanted compared to mine.

The problem is I can see me changing up my site but do I change colors which I took months of asking people here and other forums which looked best and came up with the colors I am using, Do I change the layout of my home page and make it more like the big sites and make it busy and flashy. I mean I have some people that like my site the way it is but lets say 20% of the people that come to my site like it do I anger those in order to get 40% of the people who come to my site to like it or even drastically change it to get 80% of the people to like it.

At the same time it would take months to figure out if people even like the change better. I know the ultimate goal is to make more money but how much do I need to change to do that is the question. I would hate to do a 75% revamp to my site only to find out that I could have done a 20% revamp and gotten the same results.
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Mark
 
rimjhimmitra4
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I like your glamorous site. I think this is very good site. It looks very nice. So, east or west affilorama is the best.
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jonathan_l
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Hello mark

First thing: For your benefit, I have edited your post to allow those links to your sites :) Don't worry about getting pinged for that!

Unfortunately, design is hard. Many of us can tell when something has good design and when it doesn't. Some people have a knack at making well designed sites, and others wouldn't know where to begin.

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as whether you should use a 2-column or 3-column design, or change your font size. Many people get confused here - they think changing a color may improve their sales/clickthroughs/etc, but design runs much deeper than that. It's about usability - the best looking site in the world is no good if a user can't find the sales page. At the same time, it doesn't matter if the sales page is glaringly obvious if the user is turned off by the design.

I'd love to be able to impart 5 years of design and usability instantly, so that you'd know exactly what you could improve, but here's some questions about your sites, for thought:
- A customer visits your site. What is the first thing they see? Does it compel them to stay?
---- I note that "Women on the road" does this well, but with "My Italian Travels" I don't know where to start.
- What is the next step (or next steps) they should take? Have you given them too many 'next steps' of equal importance?
---- For example, the article on the ItalianTravels homepage suddenly provides a tonne of links to a lot of places. I get confused, and don't know where to go next
- I reach the end of an article. What do I do next? (Again, Woman on the road is better - the homepage, at least, gets you to sign up to a list). What compels me to stay connected to this site?
- What are you trying to get me to do? Is it likely I'm going to do it? (This relates to the too-many-next-steps issue).
- What problem are you solving? How does the customer know you can solve it? What are the *benefits* of using your site?

Here are also some tips:
- Don't try and change your site all at once. Change a bit at a time. Much more manageable, also far less likely to have a negative impact if you design wrong.
- Analyze! User analytics (e.g. Google Analytics) are one of your best friends
- Look at the best sites, and see if there's anything you can learn (and adapt) from them. They're not considered the best for no reason - but, at the same time, don't try and copy them exactly until you understand *why* people like them.
- A good usability designer is worth his weight in gold. Unfortunately he also costs about that much, but if you can afford one, get one.
- Customer feedback is useful but, at the same time, customers don't know what they really want. Don't worry if 80% of customers complain about a color, but do pay attention - inevitably it'll turn out it's there's not a usability problem with the color (unless you've put red text on a red background, or purple text on a green button) but with something far more fundamental related to it.
- Watch your user flow. Use your analytics to see what they're doing. I bet its not what you want it to be.
- Think like a customer. You come to a page... Logically, where are you going to go next?
- Your first opinion about what you should change in your design is always wrong. Instead, take that opinion, and ask all the same questions (e.g. user flow, etc) about it as you did for your existing designs. Inevitably you will come up with something better.
- Don't rush. Good design takes time.

Most importantly, in my opinion:
- Your content and your message is also a part of your design.

I know I haven't given you specifics, because I'd prefer you learned a bit more about usability theory, rather than just trying to fix specific problems without understanding why. Hopefully you get something useful :) If you'd like more specific pointers, I can try give one or two of those too.
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mark schaaf
Posts: 442
Joined: 04 Oct 10
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Jonathan, Thanks for your input, I always look at everyone ideas and think about what they are saying, more so when it is coming from people that have been around for a while. Maybe it is because I put my site together but I find the other site much more confusing as well as Jim the first commenter.

I do understand what you mean my having a lot of links and I understand that but they are all titled and are all going to information pages on my site. When I read the other site There is where I don't know what to do next. I think on my site because the links are titled it gives people a hint of where to go after they finish the article. I put my home page up like this after changing it a lot based on what many other people said they wanted from my site. I also did this because others said they didn't know what to do next based on my first home page.

They didn't like having to go up to the menu bar to see what else was on the site and whole I do agree there is a lot of stuff on my home page and links I thought it would give the visitors an idea of what was on the site. Maybe I could cut down on some of the internal articles I am pointing them to, to shorten up the home page but here is where I worry. My site was like on page 5 in google and yahoo for a very long time and within a week of changing to what it is now I went to page one on both.

I have had a few people say the site looks old fashioned and I said before I think it is from the colors I think some people look at most of the all white sites and think it looks clean and newish looking and I have made a 2nd home page in white and was working on changing the article shortening it a bit but haven't finished it because I have been looking for more input.

I have posted my question on a couple forums and as of now I have a split and it is almost half like my site and half think I should change it. I am very willing to change my site a lot if new things get sales because most people get a lot of info from my site but don't come back and book anything. I have had a few people say they didn't know they could book anything on my site which makes me wonder if they read anything anywhere before commenting on my site because all the pages where I promote things not only have text links in the article they also have ad banners from the people I am promoting and they are as big as life.

Again thanks for your help and I will look at the other site you looked at and compared with mine and see if I can see what you see. As you said this stuff is so difficult because many people can look at the same thing and see and see different good and bad things that the others don't and that is what I need to figure out why others see good things in sites that I don't and also see bad things about my site that I don't see. And maybe the last part is a problem of me making the site.
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Mark
 

This topic was started on Oct 18, 2012 and has been closed due to inactivity. If you want to discuss this topic further, please create a new forum topic.

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