A couple of weeks ago, we announced our new website critique service to help businesses get better results from their websites. And today, we’re excited to present you with a critique of Erica Cosminsky’s newly launched site, The Invisible Office!
Erica just launched her site a couple of weeks ago (congrats!) and wanted our feedback on how to improve the site and create an engaged community around her new book, The Invisible Office.
But, she doesn’t want to just hear from us – she’d love your feedback too, so be sure to take a look and then share your thoughts in the comments.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and dive in, shall we?
The overall look of the site is good – it’s clean and professional. It’s easy to navigate and find information. It has a nice blog and offers ways for readers to engage with you through social media channels – all very good things!
Although you’ve got a lot going for you with the site, I think it can do a better job of conveying your style and communicating your overall message. You have a positive and generous personality, so you need a site that matches that!
The first thing I notice about the site is that it’s very “heavy”. The blockiness of the design and dark colors make it feel very closed in. When I hear the words “Invisible Office”, I would expect to see something a bit lighter and more airy.
I think the red is a bit harsh for the blue that you’re using. I would use the red a bit less or perhaps ditch the red bars for every widget and section header. It really weighs the site down.
I would consider re-working the header a bit. The current font makes the site look a bit amateurish. Also, italic fonts are also a bit hard on the eyes, so I don’t think that’s the best option for pulling your readers in. Why not mirror the font on the front of your book?
The tagline is a little misleading to me. In reading it, I don’t really have a clear picture of what the site is about until I dug deeper into the copy.
Instead of “The Art of Leveraging Unique People in Business”, maybe you could try something like “How I built a successful business in three short months using virtual contractors” or “Your guide to building a successful virtual business.” I think those options are a little stronger and give a better glimpse into what the site is about. Or, at the very least, you should mirror the tagline you have on your book.
Speaking of the book, where do I buy it? I see the sidebar has a place for you to get a free chapter of the book, which is a great thing. But, what if I wanted to buy it right now? I don’t see a place to do that.
Make it easy for people to buy your book and give that prominent placement on the site. I would consider having a “Buy Book” menu in the main navigation and perhaps a button that you could use elsewhere also.
If the book is not yet available, then you need to say that. Include a banner or something in the header that says “Book coming in August 2011!”.
I think your Author Bio on the homepage is great! In fact, I would consider making that first paragraph more prominent. That paragraph of the Author bio really tells your story and what the site is all about. I would lead with that and then go a little deeper into how you did it. People connect with stories and I think that one is a winner.
That said, I wouldn’t call the copy on the home page the “Author Bio”. Simply use that copy to introduce the book. Maybe call it “About the Book” instead. At the end of that paragraph, I would add a line such as “The Invisible Office gives business owners a close-up look at my journey from employee to entrepreneur and how I used virtual contractors to make it happen.”
Your home page copy does not need to be very long. It just needs to tease readers with a snapshot and then encourage them to read more about you and the book on another page. I think the copy at the top of the page could be eliminated or pushed to the About page.
It appears you want to make the blog a prominent part of the site, so why not make the blog content show up on the home page? I think more of a blog format on the homepage could be beneficial to you. Or, at the very least, have a couple of articles featured on the home page. I know you have this in the sidebar, but it’s buried at the bottom and people will likely miss it.
Back to the sidebar – I would suggest adding a line or two about signing up to get the free chapter. People are skeptical of giving out their email address, even to get something for free. So, tell people what you’re going to do with their email and what they can expect after they download the free chapter. Otherwise, they will likely take their free chapter and then unsubscribe. Give them a reason to stay on the list.
I suggest removing the “Home” bar on the home page. Because that’s the first place you land when visiting the site, people know that it’s the home page without needing to spell it out. You should be able to make that change pretty easily in WordPress.
The site is pretty basic and easy to navigate in general, but I think making some small tweaks will clean it up a bit and make it even better.
I would consider making the “About” tab be the next item after the home link in the top navigation. That’s where people tend to go first when they visit a site, so make it easier for them to find it by putting that first.
The white thin font against the light blue in the top navigation bar is a little difficult to see. I would consider making the font a little bolder or using a different color background there.
I don’t think you need the Navigation menu in the right sidebar. I think that space could be better utilized with something else, or perhaps even nothing at all. Sometimes, white space is your friend.
I did notice, however, there are items in that right navigation sidebar that are NOT in the top menu. In fact, I almost missed these pages altogether because of this. You have a nice resources page, so I would promote that to the top navigation menu.
I think the Disclosure link could go in the footer. I’m not sure what the Account Details and Login links are for. Those pages don’t offer up much information, so I would encourage you to better explain those and the link names so people know what they are for.
The post calendar doesn’t serve much purpose to me. I think if people want to look at older posts, they would rather look by topic category or at a monthly archive.
I see you have a Topics box in the footer – I would rather see this in the sidebar instead. The same goes for the blog comments and twitter stream (but why is it called Tweet Blender?). Both of those are more useful than the calendar and second layer of navigation.
A few other things to note:
- The Skype button doesn’t appear to work in Chrome. I get a strange error message.
- The facebook link takes you to the Twitter page.
- I don’t think comments are needed on the homepage. I would consider taking that off and leaving it for the blog.
I love the photo on your About page – it’s a nice, professional photo that make people want to get to know you. Good work!
I think you can sharpen up the copy on this page a bit by pulling in some of the info from the home page.
I would suggest making the header here say “About the Author”. Otherwise, the reader might not know if this is supposed to be about the site, the book, the author or all of the above. If you want the page to serve as your bio, then make sure readers know that when they arrive at the site.
First, let me say you are doing a fantastic job of getting out there and posting on a regular basis – kudos on that!
I think it’s nice that you have two full posts on the blog page and have additional post excerpts on the bottom of the page. That looks great.
The blog titles on the blog page appear to have pink text in a red box; but when you click on an individual blog post, the text changes to white. I would recommend using the white text on the blog landing page as well – that would be easier to see and read. Even better would be to eliminate the red block altogether. I don’t think that adds to the design of the site at all.
The Bottom Line
You’re off to a good start with the website, Erica. Making some adjustments to the site to freshen it up a bit and make it match your style and personality will go a long way to helping you develop a thriving website that really shines.
Now, It’s Your Turn
Alright folks, now it’s your turn to weigh in. What did we miss? What else do you think Erica should do to amp up her site? Show us your marketing chops and share your thoughts in the comments. We welcome your feedback (and so will Erica)!