I’ve been asked if I’d like to redesign my local comic shop’s website, as I do that internet marketing thing for my day job and have been kvetching about the damned thing for ages. As it stands, it uses a Flash landing page and a color scheme that is, at the very least, difficult on the eyes, as it employs orange text on a white background, something I believed the UN declared to be torture in the mid-90s. I have some pretty clear ideas about what I want to do with it: blog integration, easily updated content, improved navigation, and making sure some very basic information (location, phone number, and hours) are available on each and every page, but I also wanted to make sure that I knew what to avoid, so I started browsing.
Names, addresses, phone numbers, etc have been erased to protect the guilty.
This popular comics shop’s site uses gray-on-gray text in its navigation and header (where the address is located) and while I appreciate clean design and white space, but I don’t know if a particularly buxom Mary Jane Watson giving readers a come-hither look is an image I’d use to promote my shop versus, say, a picture of my shop or text that describes the shop or this week’s releases or my shop’s blog, which could include the three previous items. I mean, I like large-breasted redheads as much as the next guy, but if I’m looking to find out what came in this week, that chick’s just in my way, man.
One thing of note: this retailer’s site does feature a well-written, informative blog that manages to sell and point people in the right direction without slapping NOT BUY on things and feeling smug about their superiority. Unfortunately, it’s hosted on Blogspot and displayed in a frame, meaning that the content isn’t associated with the shop in the eyes of search engines. In other words, people who get to the shop through searches looking for reviews and release lists would get the Blogspot version of the blog, not the one that’s on their site. You can also use that blog’s links to go back to the shop’s website in a window on its own website in a recursive loop.
This shop has a domain that I would pay real money for, if I were going to launch an online comics shop.
This is a local shop that’s very well-regarded for being an indie icon, where minicomics and small press books rule while the staff sneers down at you from on high. It’s interesting, then, that a shop that displays the new Kramer’s Ergot it its window has set up its virtual presence in the place where people debate whether Angel would be a top or bottom when having his way with Worf.
That said, at least they’ve got their contact information front and center.
Don’t do this. Just don’t.
These guys have created an ugly, ugly site (seriously, the below-the-fold on-page copy reads like it was created by a keyword-spouting bot) that ranks well for the term “comic shop.” Seriously, here’s a sample:
Comics for sale include collectible comics like Archie, Action, King, Paul Terry, Phantom, Seaboard, Superman, Batman, Detective, Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, Iron Man, X-Men, Spawn, Little Lulu, Hot Stuff, Richie Rich, GI Joe, Transformers, Warren Magazines, Wonder Woman, Vampirella. Used comics with genres like Anime, Big Little Books, Crime, Funny Animals, Religious, Romance, Mystery, Horror, Graphic Novels, Manga, TV Comics, Movie, Newspaper Strips, Sci-fi, War, Western and alternate and independent publishers Antarctic, Kitchen Sink, Bongo, Caliber, Valiant, Vertigo, Dark Horse, Whitman and Quality in reading grades as well as collector grade comics for sale.
Big blocks of keyword-heavy text may get you rankings (at least until Google changes its algorithm), but they don’t increase conversions one bit. Especially if the shop’s address is nowhere to be found. Nor did I catch the name of the shop until I noticed the smallish logo in the top left corner.
Finally, here’s a site that I can point out and link to because the shitty, shitty comics shop it was related to finally closed after clinging to the underbelly of the Las Vegas comic book scene for far too long. I went to Kool Kollectables once and hated it enough to write about it. It’s not just one or two things that made this website fail: every single page is an abomination and representative of exactly how most comic shops present themselves both online and in person. Spend some time and click around. Savor the Lady Death background images and suddenly-changing header graphics while you marvel at the the copiously-deployed BLINK tags and poor grammar.
Sometime next week, I’ll point out shops that I think do things very well and why. This time around, i won’t have to obscure any names. I hope.