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Topic: Website Critique
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This question has been answered, and points have been awarded.
How Do Make Our Site Look Less Cluttered???
11/27/2012 at 7:07 PM ET
Our site is designed for SEO but is starting to get cluttered and look busy. I am not a designer and was looking for any feedback from people with more of a sense of design on how to retain all of the SEO keywords and pages but make our site, particularly our homepage look less busy.
Appreciate very much!
11/27/2012 at 8:27 PM
OK. A few thoughts.
The menu list below your main logo?
The following items: Oil Change Service, Brakes and Brake Services, and Tires & Tire Services can all go under the heading "Services".
Then, the items: Car Care Tips, FAQs (no apostrophe needed), Get Directions, and Specials can all go under "About Us"
Next: all those grey banners with Tires, Mercedes, and so on, they can all be simple text links.
Then: the blue menu on the right, under the heading "Services" all those things could disappear under the same "Services" drop down menu top left.
THEN ... the "Contact Us" box needs to move UP, into the space just vacated by the "Services" menu. And here, include your phone number: not everyone wants to fill in a form. Certain people want to call and talk to someone.
The text "Serving the communities of Dale City, Lake Ridge, Montclair, Dumfries, Quantico and Woodbridge" needs to be higher up the page, ideally near the "Contact Us" box. At the moment I have to scroll for it. Make me scroll for information and I'll walk. Not good.
Your November Promotion pipes? Nuke the pipes and you'll make the text easier to read.
The AutoNet TV icon? Nuke that as well.
If you're going to use video, use video and make it a YouTube video. Again, make the video easy to find (with one click, not two or three), and make it easy to recognize.
The Salvation Army banner slap bang in the middle of the page? Great visibility for them, not so good for you.
It's taking up too much valuable retail space. Move it down (or remove it), and move your "Here at Steve's Auto Repair we have been serving the community since 1979 ..." text UP the page and include with it (or above it) your "Why choose us?" text points.
The "We have tires to fit every budget" element?
Toast. Likewise the image of your shuttle van, and the additional address and telephone number blurb. You could wrap these elements into your scrolling images at the top of the page.
While you're about it, all those logos (BG, BBB, We recycle and so on), nice eye candy buy doing you no real favors I'm afraid. So, either nuke them too or significantly reduce their size because, as none of these things appear to be links, their presence on your home page is doing you fewer favors than you may realize.
And copyright 2011 at the bottom of the page? Needs updating.
Will that do for starters?
11/27/2012 at 8:31 PM
To unclutter the site that you have, without creating a new site or new design concept, you'll need to simplify some of the busy design elements. Don't get fancy just because you can. Aim for a little more elegance since you're trying to attract owners of expensive cars. Try this:
1. Put each of the eight menu buttons from "Tires" to "Brakes" on a plain button background. Gray is fine, but kill the checkered flag and the speed trail.
2. The Salvation Army occupies PRIME real estate and has nothing to do with auto repair. And it does nothing constructive for the Salvation Army, either. Eliminate it here; instead, give the SA a whole page elsewhere to explain properly their values and connection to Steve's Auto Repair.
3. In its place, create a horizontal rectangle with three simple sections --
Check out our November promotions.
Click Here for our November newsletter.
Visit our AutoNet TV education center.
By grouping these three things together, you reduce clutter, and focus the reader's attention on three equivalent choices. This also unclutters the text section beneath "Welcome to Steve's Auto Repair."
4. The headlines "Shop Information" and "Why Choose Us?" are grouped together but they're really separate ideas and thus confusing in the same bar. Consider calling this section "Important Information" -- period. Then, space the items on the left and right sides of the picture so they occupy identical vertical length. The main phone number on the left should be bolder; and you might add an after-hours emergency phone number or towing service on the left, if you need more content on that side. Eliminate the "Contact Us" button as the identical function sits immediately to the right on this page. Then, remove the colored box around this area (probably a blockquote or similar) and instead move it to the next section.
5. Group all the logo badges together in a colored box or blockquote. This tidies up all the elements and makes the nine symbols "read" to the eye as one unit. Even better, place them immediately above the footer, so they can span the entire width of the page, just as the footer does. If you can, stagger the badges for better visual spacing, five on the upper line and four below, in a pattern something like this:
X - - - X - - - X - - - X - - - X
- - X - - - X - - - X - - - X - -
6. In the footer, add more space between each line so the many words there have some room to breathe. Also, color each of the vertical separators a very light blue -- this will keep the words distinct, but minimize clutter.
These suggestions leave your SEO in place. Hope this is helpful.
11/27/2012 at 9:53 PM
I agree with some of what everyone has said.
The way I'd summarize it is - don't split the navigation. It makes the site busier looking and is more confusing for your visitors.
Take everything in the blue Services area at the right and put those items as "fly-out" menu items on the main menu on the left just under the logo.
Make the buttons sleek and less busy. And, I'd move the Salvation Army image, too. It could go in the right column under the contact form.
Think about what you want the visitor to do when they reach your home page. I might put the "Shop Information" at the top, and make the Contact Us more prominent and give it a better call to action, maybe like "Click Here to Get Great Service at a Fair Price".
On your contact page make it: "Feel free to call us at 703-670-8005 with any questions." Yes, your number is all over the site, but don't make the visitor hunt for it, just put it right where the call to action is.
The most important thing in my mind is that your site isn't set up for SEO. All the things that make the home page busy don't do much for SEO. I don't see any main keyword phrase that you are going after in the Home page's meta tags or in the home page content.
Research keyword phrases, choose the ones that will do you the most good, then optimize the site for those phrases. That will help the SEO a lot more than ALT tags on the button images.
Hope this helps.
11/28/2012 at 5:49 PM
You have some great input above. Not much I can add to that.
I walked into a very similar situation as the one you describe a few years ago -- even in a closely-related business category -- so I understand what you're asking.
Based on my experience with that very cluttered site, though, let me ask another question: Is your current site working? Is it delivering against its objective? Is the objective great natural search ranking? Or is it clicks? Or is it conversions?
I ask all of this because it took me a while to realize, in my client's situation, that clutter wasn't the problem. He had first-page natural search ranking for virtually all his keywords. He had lots of clicks. But he had no idea whether he was converting any of those clicks.
It turned out that the real problem was a positioning and integrated marketing one. When we fixed those problems, everything started improving ... less clutter, same great natural search position, more clicks, greater conversion rate. Then we could "turn up the volume" and get a much better ROI on everything.
I'd be happy to discuss this one-on-one, if you like. Just contact me via email, using the info in my profile. We'll find a time to talk by phone. (We're in the same time zone.) Maybe some of the solutions we uncovered will work for you.
11/29/2012 at 11:36 AM
Thank you SO much for all of the input and thought that went into these answers. They have been incredibly helpful and I will definitely be implementing a lot of this feedback. Very grateful! Margo
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