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Website Review: Telling a Story and Simplifying

by Arianne Foulks

November 12, 2013

Website review: Heather Downes Jewelry

We attended School House Craft this fall as teachers and sponsors. As part of their raffle bags, we included three website reviews as prizes. We had a great time meeting so many crafters and artisans, and it was great to be able to continue our in-person conversation with Heather as a full design review of her website.

She kindly agreed to share her website review here, as an example for you to use when planning and adjusting your own website. I’m attaching screen shots of how Heather’s site looked at the time of my review, and she will be working on some adjustments to her site as time allows.

Heather Downes Jewelry Website Review

Hello Heather,

Thanks for allowing me to poke around your website and put together some thoughts for you! I think overall, your website is pretty well put together. The purchasing options are clear, checkout seems straightforward, and you’ve covered all of the bases that an ecommerce site needs to. I like your logo, your consistent color scheme and use of fonts.

The home page features a variety of products, and I am able to find everything I’m looking for. It looks like you’re keeping up with the blog and social media, and finding unique ways to show off what you do. Great work! It’s a lot for one person to do (and also make jewelry!)

Your story about your target customer is great (a spiritual entrepreneur who wants to support your business by purchasing jewelry that makes them feel confident and seen). However, I don’t see anything about this on your site! Adding some text on the home page about times when your jewelry could help with feeling confident, successful or sexy would not only help with search engine ranking, but could make your “right” customer realize she’s in the right place!

Telling a story is extremely powerful when selling, and taking some time to go through the home page, product descriptions, and other areas of the site to help people visualize how they’ll feel after purchasing your jewelry would be a good step.

Below, I’ll go over some areas of improvement on the site.

Heather Downes' home page for review (based on an ecommerce design template)
Heather Downes’ home page for review (based on an ecommerce design template)


Your header navigation seems fairly cluttered to me, with a lot of text, enough that eyes may glaze over and ignore it all. However, I see lots of ways to trim down and reorganize for clarity.

Your links will have more impact if they aren’t repeated. Currently, your social media links are in the header and footer, and the newsletter is in both, as well as in the slide show. It can be tempting to call something out multiple times if you feel it’s important, but more effective to instead decrease the amount of choices available to your customers, allowing them to focus and notice the important bits naturally.

I would recommend paring your social media links down just to the outlets that you use regularly and that show you in a good light. It looks like you are fairly active on Facebook and Twitter, but Google+ is just showing recent blog posts without much conversation. Keep posting to Google+ to improve your searchability, but no need to send people there from your website.

Rather than hiding the shopping in a pulldown menu, I would recommend pulling your categories out into the header navigation. With the breadcrumb navigation (“Home > Necklaces > Grace Necklace”) on each page (and logo linked), you could remove the “home” link to declutter your header navigation.

Use our information on navigation hierarchy to pare down the main menu and move some things to the footer.

It is hard to tell what’s a link and what isn’t, especially in the header. Choose one color (black) for text, and one color (red) for links, and people won’t have to wonder what they can click. Underlining text can also make it clear that it’s a link.

“SHOP HEATHER DOWNES JEWELRY” next to the phone number made me think I could call you to place my order. Is that the case? If not, I’d remove the text. If so, I’d remove the link from the text and add a colon between it and the phone number: “Shop Heather Downes: 206-962-1304”

Your site isn’t complicated enough to need a site map for humans to use, and even Google won’t need it. It’s possible to create an XML Sitemap specifically for Google, but they suggest that smaller sites won’t need to take this extra step. I’d remove the page you have now.


Heather Downes' item page for review
Heather Downes’ item page for review

That is so cool that you create videos for your jewelry! I didn’t realize this from your website itself (just after clicking over to YouTube). It would be great to feature these videos on the home page, and definitely on the item page. I see now that these are hidden behind a tab, but these tabs are so grey and dull that once I’ve seen them on one page, I tune them out on all the rest. If you have a video for a product, highlight it! Make it very noticeable on the item page for visitors who may not be in full “research and explore” mode.

Remove “popular brands” from your sidebar, since you don’t have any alternate brands.

Your “shop by” price points seem too specific, and could cause people to miss out on things that are close to their price range. I think three or four ranges would be plenty (with the lowest being “under $35” and highest being “$75 and up,” since there are only two items in each of your highest categories).

Bring your gift certificates into the shop navigation. This is one area where you don’t want people to be searching, or to not realize you offer gift certificates. If they’re having a hard time choosing a gift and they see your “gift certificates” link, they may be happy to grab one.

Consider trimming down the social media links on item page (“LinkedIn” and “print” seem like odd choices for jewelry).

When I click your alternate thumbnail images on each item, a pop up opens with photos that are smaller than the ones on the page. I’d either disable the pop up or make sure the pop-up photos there are larger than what you can see on the page.

You don’t need the “similar products” tab, when related products are displayed so nicely below. Similarly, “customers also viewed” isn’t particularly valuable unless you have a huge catalog of items. Your “related items” do the job just fine.

Is there a way to get the reviews to show directly on the page? I don’t think many people will bother to click to read more. It would be nice to at least show the number of stars on the item page.

Most of your item pages load a little bit oddly, with the text overlapping the image until the image loads in. This can be corrected by specifying the dimensions of the image in the code of the item page template, and will “save space” for that image, preventing things from shifting as it loads.

Some customers may want the jewelry exactly as they see it, without customizing. For these folks, it could be helpful to include some text below each photo, describing what is seen (e.g. “Shown: Caribbean Blue Opal Crystal with Pacific Opal Crystal and Gold-Filled French Hooks”).

It’s a bit confusing when the thumbnail photo on the category page doesn’t match the large default photo on the next page. It makes me think for a second that I clicked the wrong thing.

When I add an item to the cart, I get this message: “OK, 1 ITEM WAS ADDED TO YOUR CART. WHAT NEXT?” That reads a bit rude to me!

The period after “Choose your crystal color.” makes the list in the cart page look a bit clunky (so many dots!)


I’d be interested to see photos of your perfect client doing just what you picture in your text – that could be amazing! Maybe time for a photo shoot with some friends? I’d love to see a photo in your slideshow of the type of woman you’re picturing, wearing your jewelry. I see quite a few photos of you in your jewelry, and this could give the impression that you’re the only one wearing it.

I like it when you show photos of the jewelry on a person – sometimes it’s hard to tell from a photo of the jewelry itself how low it will hang, how chunky it is, etc.

Some of your photos are very large, and being squeezed into small spots. If you’re able to resize these to the correct size before adding them to the website, that will make your pages load more quickly and the images will look better. For instance, your “about me” photo is 2,360 pixels wide, being squeezed into a 300 pixel wide spot. Sizing this to 300 pixels wide using Photoshop, or an online photo editor, such as picmonkey.com would be good.

Your photos look a bit grey/washed out, and could stand to be sharper, with more contrast.

Here is some jewelry photography inspiration:



Heather Downes' blog page for review
Heather Downes’ blog page for review

It’s very hard to find all the articles on your blog. The only navigation I see is the list of posts at the bottom, and after I click one, I have no way to move on to another article. Can you get archives, categories, or even a list of posts to display in the sidebar?

The photo-collage graphics on your blog look appealing, but are a bit small. Can you make blog photos the full width of your blog posts?

It looks like you’ve been keeping up with regular blog posting, with interesting, relevant articles. If you’re able to feature recent blog posts on the home page, that could keep people interested in coming back to the site, and will make it look fresh.


Good work! Running a small business by yourself means you have to be the jewelry designer, the web tech, the photographer, the copywriter, the accountant, the publicist, and so much else! Your website is fairly well thought out and is obviously being used and cared for. Implementing even some of my tips above over time would be a great use of any spare time you’re able to carve out.

Best wishes,

Arianne Foulks

Website reviews/evaluations

We offer website evaluations as a stand-alone service, and the cost for these is $250-$500, depending on the type of website, and how in-depth you’d like us to go (a review like the above, for an ecommerce site, and considering all pages of the site is $500). If you’d like to have us look over your website in detail, and offer suggestions that you could do yourself or take to a developer or designer to work on for you, please get in touch.

Please visit the Heather Downes Jewelry website here, to see more of her beautiful jewelry.

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