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Website Critique

Lesson 17 from: Branding Strategies to Grow Your Business

Jasmine Star

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Lesson Info

17. Website Critique

Lesson Info

Website Critique

So, Promise is going to, when we look, this is how cool we are, and by cool I mean completely opposite of that. We look at cool websites and we're like, "Wow, look what they did, so cool.". Like, we geek out over this stuff. So when we're looking at your websites, we're qualifying according to how we would experience it, being a prospective customer. We're not looking at it as, you know what, it's about 3 centimeters off from the left. No, it's what's our experience and that's how we're gonna be using it to define our experience navigating the site. Exactly. Lets go. So, we're excited, so the first website that we're gonna do today is, "Just Bakecause", (excited sounds) Alright, and Amanda creates these beautiful, custom-designed desserts that look amazing, and I haven't had any but I'm sure that they are amazing. We want to eat them, that was good, we went to the website. So, okay cool, so scrolling down here, this is the home page. So we come to the logo, "Just Bakecause"...

cakes and sweets, and, Lets talk about, I think the pattern, was when we talked about what we liked, our initial experience, we go to what we like, and then we're gonna talk about things from, like, a graphic perspective. So, I'll just kind of lead this charge in one thing, and I really liked that the photography that was used, was continuous. I don't know if she used the same photographer for all of it, but it doesn't matter. As long as she, as the ultimate curator, so just like a magazine editor, she looked at the images and said it has to look and feel a certain way, so she can aggregate photos from a variety of creatives, to ensure that it was continuous. To that, when I look at it, it's visually appealing, you want your website to feel like multiple pages, in a magazine. So, that to me, immediately struck me as, this is resonating with me. Yeah, so the first thing, these products are amazing. Yes. This looks gorgeous, looks amazing and, the great photography like you mentioned. And I really like the logo, I think the logo is memorable, it has a gold flavor, which I can tell is your vibe, so I love that. And so it's memorable to me. And so, going back to a previous, do you have to use your name, Amanda could have used her name, I'm sure, no doubt, but "Just Bakecause", is memorable, it pops off. It was cute. It was cute, so in that regard, it was stronger to use a stronge URL, and she owns it, which I thought was great. Cool, okay so can we talk about some of the stuff that isn't working? Yes. So, "Just Bakecause" cakes and sweets, we go to the home page and it doesn't really tell us very much. We're missing something, we see beautiful photography and yummy desserts but, she could be a food stylist, she could be a dessert photographer, there's a lot of things that she could be. So, I would like to see, some, a business description of sorts, even just a sentence or two, about exactly what you do. And as Promise is talking about business descriptions, business description and, or a tag line. Because the thing is that you want to do is, you want to educate your viewers on how to describe you to future customers. So, if she were to say, "I design," and the thing is, what you put out, is ultimately what you get, so she would say, "I design micro sweets for sugar connoisseurs," then that ultimately comes back to how people, she designs micro sweets, for people who know sugar, or whatever the case may be. So, your tag line, your description can actually be the marketing vehicle to empower your evangelists. What I really liked about what she does is, she has a couple of packaged items that, if I'm having a party, I can go and I can order these macaroons for $21 for a dozen, and I like that she has a couple of different varieties of things that I can just order from her. The one thing that is not clear is, is I wanna know, so if I'm in a hurry, I don't, I'm looking through this and I don't really see anything that jumped out at me. When I click on menu, there's no real hierarchy here, so I'm lost here, I have a lot of stuff to read, and it's kind of like the example we showcased earlier, about no hierarchy, I'm just lost. And I'm gonna skip over maybe, one of the most favorite elements of her business, that could really be beneficial to me, so I wanna see these pop out as well. And lastly, we don't have a clear call to action so, when we're on here we don't really know what she wants us to do on the website. Does she want us to place an order, are we gonna get a custom quote? Can we order, is it like a shop where we can just order out products and it will shipped to us? Can we just choose colors or ingredients or whatever. A couple of other side notes, I would, I think the press I would like featured on the home page, we don't necessarily need a tab that says press, we gotta showcase that on the home page. And the gallery, I would just use these photos throughout the website. I don't think you necessarily need a gallery of photos, for example, the macaroons, that could be under the macaroon category, you can have beautiful photos showcasing that, so to me these are tabs that are just useless, that just kinda add to the clutter on the website. So, Promise doesn't mince words. (laughing) These are useless. So, I did a little "jooshing" this is a word Jasmine likes to use, I love it, jooshing, let's joosh everything. So, we do a little joosh on "Just Bakecause", this is what I think it could look like, (audience gasps) So this is, I can't click on it because it's just a jpeg, but see we are showcasing the items, she makes the custom cakes, the macaroons and then this is a great area for your description, Your tag line. Of what your business does, and then scroll on down, meet Amanda, then click here, to read more about Amanda. And then I want to see, on the menu, when I am limited on time, sorry this is a little got a large screen here but, when I am limited on time I wanna know, what are the things I order? Boom boom boom, these are my call to actions, order now, order now, get a quote, or whatever that is. And then we've got your press, so she is loaded, she's legit. So that's how I'd like to see the home page, I know what to do, I know what you do in a matter of a couple of seconds, and I know exactly what she wants me to do next, order. Amanda, how are you feeling? I want that. (laughing) Okay and this is done using our radar design from our shop, it's really easy, I swopped in some things, She can even raise her prices. I like this, I like this, we're rebranding, raising your prices, all before you leave, there you go. (laughing) Okay, let's dig into this one. Alright, the next one we have. Heres the thing that we want to make sure, as you get that set up is, we want to make sure that the tips that we're applying to Amanda's business are tips that you can actually see and employ to your business. So, if you have large blocks of text, Promise got relatively the same amount of text, and just broke it up differently, we saw that in her presentation and then we saw a real-life example of it happening, so you see large blocks of texts, now you can start following the pattern. Which is what we hope to do in these next few websites. Cool, alright our next one is "&celebrate", Yay! with Patsy, and okay so, she is an event designer and an event stylist, and one of the things that's working really well here, is that she has a tag line. She has something for me to read to understand exactly what it is. Now, let me read something, "An experience designer and event stylist who believes the key to running an online business, is to take things offline, meet people face to face and foster the type of connections that last a lifetime." Can anyone raise their hand and answer what Patsy does? Anybody take a guess, there's not gonna be a right or wrong answer, until we ask Patsy what the right or wrong answer is. Can anybody venture to guess what it is? There's no right or wrong, anybody? Okay, we'll go one and then two. To me it sounds like she's running events, maybe helping people to get actual face to face events, basically. Okay. I was thinking like educational events, due to that top photo, it seems like people in a circle, like a leadership type. Great, great, 'cos now we know that Promise and I are not alone, 'cos immediately appreciated the tagline and the description, but I was like, you know, I'm not, I'm a sharp cookie, I still don't know what she does. What I think you do, but it took me, we were in your website, it took me a while to think that you host networking events? So, this is great, I'm so happy we're having this conversation, because everybody who has asked me today, it's still, it's still, I'm still massaging this language. So, I actually help people like you bring together your online community, in a live event capacity. So, that could be through an event, it could be through a workshop, it could be through a retreat, it could be like a conference-type setting. Good lord woman, I had no idea, like I need you in my life! (laughter drowns out speaker) So here's the thing, Promise and I a couple of months ago, went to a brand writing workshop in Tennessee, and we learned a whole bunch, and the thing that I walked away with the most is, we must talk to people online, as if they're distracted by squirrels. (laughing) And I myself am, and everybody who comes to our site is. So when you talk about offline, online, I think she's talking about networking events, we're not too sure. So number one thing, dumb it down and then, dumb it down in half. Tell me what you do. Okay Promise, let's get into this. No it's great, but overall, 'cos you went straight to the critique, you didn't credit it. We're still on the positive, we're still on the positive. So the positive is, this is like, almost there. Like, the design, you have great photography, you have examples of your work in progress, which I thought was awesome, and you look very friendly, like this whole thing was like, ooh I wanna meet her, and that's great. Okay, so that was really working. And the continuity of photographs, sorry I'm gonna be a photo snob, the fact that she has continuity across multiple events, was great, beautiful. Okay and the other thing that I really liked, was that she had clearly defined ways of working with her. I do have a couple of things I'll say about that, but I liked that I know that we can work with her in three ways, and we have buttons to learn more. So, now, so that's our site here, so it's looking good, like the colors, we're on the right direction. The things that aren't working so well, is that we just have too much content to read here. And I know that might sound crazy, 'cos it's not that much content but, when I looked at it, I skimmed it, I looked at these things, you know, and there's just too much here. But I was looking at it thinking, I think these sections are needed, all these blocks of text are needed. But just half of it, or even less. The other thing that I'd like to see is, more visual hierarchy. I can tell that you have different fonts that you're using, but when it comes down to this area, they're not differentiated enough, that I can just easily scan. I'm still having to understand, take action, you know, we just want to make it more obvious. Okay. Like choosing the right terminology, like, take action, when people are just barely at your site, they're not sure that they wanna take action. You might see, how to connect, or let's connect, let's chat, and then you give them the multiple ways of how, so nuances within the copy is important. The other thing I wanted to make a note of, is this is a very long testimonial for a homepage. The homepage quote should be like, a sentence or two, and if you want to have another area where they read the long version of the testimonial. Maybe it's a click here, like a read more kind of a thing. But we want that one or two sentences that's really gonna grab people, and showcase your credibility and your trust. Okay. So let go, show, that's it, it's all on that one. Awesome good perfect, okay so this is the new version, the jooshed version. So it's similar, 'cos I really liked the vibe that she had. (mumbles) And this is using our notorious design, and I subbed in the same tagline that we used earlier, and just included some more visuals, which was one of the other things, it was lacking visuals so, breaking up the website with visuals, to keep us engaged an interested, so, adding that, a shorter quote, and then a little more defined packages at the bottom here. Oh I love that, really great. Now if you scroll up a minute Promise, one thing that really attracts me to Promises' style of design and we'll pause there, scroll down a little bit, right there. So, you'll see how visually she put, like the flowers, the photos, a piece of scotch tape, a gray background. I don't know the technical term but to me it's like, layers and depth to a site. So, Patsy's previous site is beautiful, but to me it felt flat, and nothing really changed, except the visual components of creating artificial depth, and I think that really allows things to pop off a page. And Patsy now, is no longer against the three panels, she's just herself, strong visual, on top of three layers, which I felt worked visually. Yeah, so this leads you right down the page and ends down here. Perfect. Sweet, so these are just the two we decided to do in class, examples of, please please pick up the mic. To have a conversation. Is the home button dead promise? The home button? I notice you got rid of it on the first, On this one? I'm just curious like, your opinion, like moving forward, do people know now that we don't need the home button 'cos it just gets in the way. Yes, I agree, people don't necessarily need the home button, so I take that off. Yeah, don't need it, simple question. Simple answer to that one, which I can elaborate on that. So now we're gonna get into examples of people who submitted their websites online, we won't be doing a complete transformation since the time was limited to us to pick over the break. We're gonna be walking through. Okay, online example, "Olive and Light Images" scrolling on down we have some navigation tabs here, So we just scrolled from top to bottom, what you just saw was the full gamut of what someone would see at the beginning. So, starting positively, we could see that this photographer is solid, she does like a, Really good work. Great job, she's compelling, she chose really captivating images in the beginning, and. No this is great, she's got great images, the one, if we're heading into the critique aspect now, is there's just so much going on here. I'm not exactly clear in what to click on. Okay first of all, I should state, this isn't showing this, but this has automatic music playing, right, let me land on the site and so I put that in my notes to take that off, 'cos that's a real distraction for people now. A couple of years ago, even five or ten years ago, it was cool to have your vibe with the music and all that. But that is not the case. It's dated. It's a distraction, so taking that off, and I also noticed that her site wasn't responsive, so it's not showing up on a mobile device, it shows up on a desktop, a desktop look on your mobile device, so we'd want to make that responsive. And when we spoke to a couple of people on break, is that in order to determine, so myself, I used to be confused, I used to say that I had a responsive site, and it wasn't that case. I was told I was getting a responsive site when I was on a wordpress, and then I had to transfer to something that I knew was truly responsive, so she's gonna be posting a link in the Facebook group, where you can simply post your URL, and it's gonna tell you whether or not Google is indexing it as a mobile site. So easy peasy, should take you 20 seconds. That's great, but the first thing we're missing here, I would like to see some kind of business description, or a tagline or something that she does. Like, what's the vision, what exactly are we photographing. So we don't have to guess, you don't want to leave your viewer guessing what you do. Now your tagline and description should hone back to the person you're trying to attract. It's not enough to say, "family photographer in California" well boo welcome to tens of thousands who are doing this on the weekend, right you're not unique, you're not a special snowflake. I'm not gonna be like my mom. The fact of the matter is, the more you niche down who you're targeting for, I have seen taglines that are really cool, it's just like, baby photographer for rock and roll moms, who wear sweatpants most of the day. You've just cut out the vast majority of people who would hire you and guess what? For those people who just thought good, I can just show up I don't have to put on pretenses, or be in my pink hair and my sweatpants and my baby's gonna look cute. Great, niche out that, use that as a description, a tagline to niche your audience. Perfect, the other thing we have going on here is, I don't need to click on all these tabs to notice how many there are. Too much stuff going on here so, What do you recommend? If somebody's looking at that and that is their website, how do they change that ASAP? Well we have a lot of different services going on. Right. As one of the, so there's a lot of things going on here. So there's a lot of decisions that would have to be made with this website. And this goes back to clarify, this goes back to what we talked about, when they come to this website, they're probably looking through a portal. Are they looking for a wedding photography, family photography, baby photography. And once you go there, you don't need fourteen different options, you need six options on each of those. All of them with a clear plan of action, like what do what does she want us to do on this website? We don't know. By the looks of it she wants us to see more of here work, but what we know as business owners is, she wants us to hire her, and that's not coming across. No. Alright, let's jump to the next one. Alright, "Give Gifted", now this is a really cool custom gift service, where these gals put custom gifts together for you, which is awesome and so needed. So as we're scrolling here, the couple of things that we noticed, that we really like, I love the name. "Give Gifted", I think that's perfect, and she has the dot com, which is perfect awesome, I love that, and she has a business description here, that I appreciate, so we don't have to wonder exactly, what it is that she does. And she has a memorable logo, I really like this vibe. It looks like it was professionally done for her, and it looks really nice. Now, the things that aren't working, if I can just jump straight into that. Yeah go ahead, I think this one has to be our last one. Okay great So we're gonna dig into this one. Okay sweet, so this being our last one, I love the logo but the branding elements are not communicated or used consistently on the site. So I don't see anything else that showcases this vibe, or this brand. So I would say there's a lack of branding, in their consistency on the website, So I'd like to see more of those visual brand elements, I'd also like to see more obvious hierarchy, as I'm moving across the process. She has this page listed (mumbles) But I would like to see that categorized out with buttons, one two three, with little icons showing exactly what the process is. When I land on a site, I wanna click on this process and, "Oh, it's so easy, I do this and I do this and I do this.", easy hired. If you look at your website, and what you see is a lot of negative space, a lot of white, a lot of black, a lot of pink and just text, you know immediately, that has to change when you go home. You can download her free graphics, to ensure that that's actually happening, but breaking up with visuals, layers, is gonna be easy. Yes, so we have about, process, gallery and we don't really have a call to action, we don't really know what she wants us to do. It would be, we can contact her, there's a phone number and all that. But is there like gift packages we could purchase, or could we get a quote, what does she need to know from us in order to do an order? As a viewer, I would like to know exactly. I don't have time to figure out, what she wants me to do. I want her to tell me what she wants me to do. Absolutely, and breaking down what they can expect. Answer unanswered questions in the shortest amount of time, in the shortest way possible, and you can create visual hierarchy through that. And as easy as those, I think those olive branches along the sides, I mean we're talking about basic, if she was just I have to make a change today, add a few olive branches around like, the about photo. Something to create a continuous and create a continuous and break up the all white background. That's it. - Cool. So we hope that this gives you guys insight into what it means and looks like, to make the changes that you need on your website. And show that it's like actionable, this stuff, we're not saying redesign, we're saying, fix what you have and then take the time and invest to move in the direction that you want. Or if you guys are ready to have a clear direction. Promise, thank you. You are amazing, let me give this to you babe. Thank you, thank you. (applause) So I mean she's like Promise just goes to that website, she has such a visual eye, I just find it like so interesting and I think, the crazy thing is like, I don't think any, myself included, would sit here and say, "Well, we're really web savvy, we're graphic savvy," But yet we can all look at websites and feel a certain way about it, so I'm hoping that once you can look objectively at somebody else's website, then you can look objectively at your website. So thank you guys for that.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

30 Day Plan of Action Workbook

Ratings and Reviews

Lisa Jurkonis

I have followed Jasmine since she first started and I am not a photographer. But I loved how smart she was in helping her fellow photographers grow their business back then and her enthusiasm and professionalism! I have am a honeymoon designer and have used her vision to help with my own website. This boot camp was great! Yes, I am one of the people who watched it for free online. I would love to be able to purchase her materials/workbook, but unfortunately at this time, husband has been unemployed for the past 18 months and my business has been put on the back burner in order for me to go out and try to find a job. But I decided to go ahead and sign up for the class and watch it even though there were so many distractions. I watched the entire class and SO GLAD I DID! I'm ripping off the band-aid and starting my entire website over again thanks to Jasmine and Promise. I'm going to implement the tips that she gave us today and hopefully that will be enough to propel my business back into the limelight! So glad that I stumbled upon your website/blog 10 years ago. Thank you so much and continued blessings to you!


Wow, where to start. When you come to a class you're hoping you can learn just one thing, and it will be worth it - and I can tell you, in just the first 30 MINUTES of the class I had furiously scribbled down so many takeaways that everything else was gravy. And there was a LOT LEFT (that was all amazing). But let's be specific: the biggest thing I learned from Jasmine is how detailed and purposeful her ideal client is. Absolutely everything was chosen for a reason, and watching someone at this level talk about that was incredible. Also, I know what you're thinking: "Ideal client" is not a novel idea - HOWEVER! she makes it accessible. Her honesty and hard work shine through, and I can safely say I'm walking away from this class as a changed entrepreneur. I have a direction. I have a goal. I finally have a way to be purposeful about growing my business. THANK YOU Jasmine!!!!!!!!!11!one!!


Do yourself a favor! This was an amazing class! Jasmine knows how to bring out the best in her students. The concepts she embodies apply to so many other businesses. And her friend Promise is so caring and honest about the advice she gives on how to build a better website, in a world where our storefronts are turning more and more into an digital one. I am so charged up and ready to take my business to the next level. Jasmine is a tremendous business woman and has helped so many people over the years. And she has had that helping heart since day one of her business. Thanks Jasmine!

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