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Looking for feedback on my site: www.lylefabrics.com


El Salto 999

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Greetings all,

 

I set up a new website using osCommerce to replace an existing outdated ASP site for the fabric store. This software definitely blows our old package out of the water! Anyway, I am looking for any and all types of criticism on my site. Be gentle, this is my first whack at osC! :rolleyes:

 

Lyle's Fabrics, Crafts & Gifts

 

Thanks!

 

Andrew

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Not too shabby!

 

Your front page takes forever to load pictures and graphics. Anyway to optimize those files?

 

Just roaming randomly through your products - I notice that hardly any products have much in the way of product description and I have yet to find any that have sizes. Gift Ideas - Seasons - Frog: Has no description!

 

Love the about us page in the way of text. Perhaps add a few pictures of their store and of them just to be more personalable. *shrugs* Just continue that theme a little more.

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Barbara,

 

Thanks for the review! What sort of a connection are you using? It doesn't seem to slow on the computers I use, even when I delete my browser cache. It is a bit slower since I added the "Main Categories" contribution a few days ago. I am thinking it might help spread some PR through the rest of my site and please the Googlebot. Anything to please the Googlebot!

 

I have been wanting to add pics of the store and the owners and employees, maybe this week.

 

As for the product descriptions, they are mostly from the old site and I have not updated them yet. I am finding it a bit difficult to describe in detail each different fabric print, as the photo kinda tells the whole story. I know I do need a whole lot more text in the descriptions however...once again, to please the almighty Googlebot.

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Barbara,

 

Thanks for the review! What sort of a connection are you using? It doesn't seem to slow on the computers I use, even when I delete my browser cache.

 

 

Maybe it's fast for you because the site is in your browsers cache.. but I'm on a T1 and the navigation came up fast but the rest of your page didn't come up as fast as it should have (though still fast.. but again.. i'm on a T1). I'd hate to view your site from a dial-up connection.

My Contribution

Music Download Store Template

http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contributions,4275

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The graphics loaded ok on my computer and I am using wireless.

 

 

I noticed that you have a contact us infobox which makes the contact us page (which does not have your address) unneccessary. Just add an email link in the contact us infobox.

Backup before making changes. Backup before making changes! Backup before making changes!!

 

You did do a backup? eh?

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Good point. I think I will keep the contact us page since a few customers have gotten used to using that already. I will stick my e-mail address in the infobox though. Actually I think I'm going to put it on the Contact Us page also; I hate sites that make you use the form to send messages and don't provide a contact e-mail as an alternative. Thanks everyone, this feedback is great!

 

As for the images, I just flushed my browser's cache and the "Main Categories" content box's images do take too long to load. I have used "Automatic Thumbnail Creator" contrib (http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contributions,841) to dynamically resize all the large 500x500 images to 175x175. I am allowing the browser to resize the images in the "Main Categories" box on the home page (which I don't particularly like) to 62x62. I will have to look and see if I can modify the code to create the "mini thumbnails" needed for this content box. Ha, time to break out the PHP for Dummies book again! If anyone has an easier method of doing this, please do let me know.

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From my perspective it's an ok site, could have done with adding a fixed width contribution and some work on it to make it look less stock - but if you are happy and confident then that's what matters.

 

I notice the all products page scrolls down for a very long time and the products aren't exactly in alphabetical order either.

 

Ther use of the stylesheet is good but maybe the buttons 'add to cart' etc could be colour coded too?

 

Good Luck

Upon receiving fixes and advice, too many people don't bother to post updates informing the forum of how it went. Until of course they need help again on other issues and they come running back!

 

Why receive the information you require in good faith for free, only to then have the attitude to ignore the people who gave it to you?

 

There's no harm in saying, 'Thanks, it worked'. On the contrary, it creates a better atmosphere.

 

CHOOCH

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Chooch,

 

I was wondering if anyone was going to comment on the stock look of my site. I have been focusing on making sure the site functions as it should (You know, making Google happy) before I deal with looks. I have been looking at some of the template systems, but I have made so many modifications and added so many contributions, I am a little nervous about adding one of them. Does anyone have any recommendations as to which one to use that's least likely break my current setup?

 

Also, I did try to install one of the fixed width contribs a while ago, but it didn't work out like I wanted it to. The main reason was that my image thumbnails are quite large (175x175) and on an 800x600 monitor, it takes up about the whole screen anyway. I think I'll try it again when I get back to the office though, the centered sites I have seen do look a lot nicer.

 

The all products page has just been a mystery to me. I tried editing the SQL in the file, uploading a different version, lots of things, but it seems that I can't get it to order the categories by any other means than by the dates they were entered. I figure it's there for search engines mainly, so it stays all jumbled for now anyway.

 

Thanks for the feedback, it's all very helpful! Especially for a newbie like myself. :P

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fyi - am on dial-up. but that doesn't mean a site can't load fairly quickly - been to many that load up just fine, despite having loads of images on the pages. Just depends on how the image files are optimized.

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I did away with the category images on the home page until I find a way to optimize them on the fly. I know nothing about that GD library stuff, so text will have to do for now. It makes the home page a bit shorter too. I'm thinking of losing a few of the infoboxes as well, since they make the pages very long. I'd love to have my site set up so the user would never have to scroll down, but I'm not sure if that could even be a reality on this site...just look at all those categories! I think there are way too many, but I really don't see what the alternative is without making the user click 3 or 4 times before they get to a products page.

 

Also, maybe somebody can point me in the right direction here... I really don't like the "Product Spotlight" table there. I'd like it to appear like an Infobox. I looked at the code, and it looks a little trickier than I had hoped it would be. Anyone?

 

I implemented the Fixed Site with CSS contribution this morning and I think it looks a lot better. (Thanks, Chooch!) Well, it's not actually a fixed width, it's set as a percentage of the screen size. But I think it encloses the site nicely so it doesn't look like its taking over your screen anymore! :o

 

Well, back to work! Thanks again everyone who has taken the time to inspect my site! Have fun everyone.

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Alright, I spent some quality time with this site and I think I have resolved my image problems. I used some stone age technology (AOL dial-up :'( ) to see what kind of load times I was looking at. I decided, text will be just fine for the home page, I found the category images had not been working properly, and I decided to remove the top-right-corner images on all the index.php pages. Those were probably my biggest problem. They were not optimized, so the images were just resized by the browser. Some of them were as large as 70K!!! That's a little ridiculous for a 50x50 jpg. They looked tacky anyway I always thought.

 

And I have been playing with the fixed width contrib...I changed my mind (AGAIN >_< ) and I think I like what I've got. I have a fixed width of 900px and it looks pretty slick on all resolutions. Well...except for 800x600....the right column infoboxes stick out over the side of the main border. How is this even possible? Seems weird to me, but I think it will be ok this way. Anyone had this happen before?

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Hi - nice start, good looking site. I would echo a few of the comments above. Firstly, your product descriptions are what will sell your stock, get them right and the rest of the site could be completely stock osc, you'd still make sales. It really pays to invest some quality time to describing your products, what they do, how they can be used, what benefits they have, dimensions etc. etc. I would also be tempted to add in infopages contribution, or use the article contribution you already have to really exploit your unique selling points and add in extra explanations (i.e, http://www.lylefabrics.com/3634-wide-vinyl-mesh-p-80.html you state "great for making our mesh tote bags" - tell me more about these bags, or link to the product, or do something, dont leave me hanging...) [edit]well what do you know - you actually do have an article about mesh tote bags already - link the product and the article - both ways - make the best of your opportunities! [/edit]

 

Next, your buttons are nice, but the mini buttons look out of place (the add to cart in categories and on new products boxes) Dont know why, they just look wrong.

 

Shipping and returns - you gotta cover yourself some more here mate, no time limit stated. About Us - might be a nice touch to have a family pic - reinforce the family company message. Might also be nice to pad a bit more about what you have acheived in those 12 years, how many customers you have, loyalty of customers, etc. etc. Links needs buttons to match the rest of your site. The Come and See Us infobox - might be an idea to provide a link to a mapping solution here so people can find you...

 

As for the overall look of the site, I would be tempted to put curved corners (top and bottom) onto your infoboxes, to match your company logo and soften the site a little - still looks very formal, and it doesn't sound like you are, more a friendly happy go lucky type company - make your site reflect this.

 

nice site, good luck.

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Tony,

 

Thanks a ton for the great feedback and compliments! I promised myself I'd go buck-nutty on those product descriptions this week. I'm just not looking forward to rewriting 1600+ descriptions! :( But this week, I swear.

 

I'm toying with the idea of creating a set of forest green & sage buttons to match the site as well. Those grey ones look nice, but they just don't quite fit anymore.

 

Shipping & Returns is something that never crossed my mind as a selling point. But undoubtedly it can be! I'm all over it. And the About Us page is going to get an overhaul this week as well. Well hopefully, if I can get everyone in one place for a quick photo...

 

Now I had the stocker osc rounded corners on the infoboxes before, but I ripped them out of there because they never looked right in my browser. It looked fine on WinXP machines, but I use Fedora to do...well, pretty much everything now. The problem was, they has a weird looking little line sticking out of the top of them when I viewed the site in Firefox. I have seen a few other sites where they just left them like that and I never could stand the way it looked. I'll have to see if there is a better way to round them off.

 

Thanks again! Have a good one!

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Hello everyone, sorry, I didn't mean to bump! I wanted to let everyone know I have implemented a lot of what people who posted here have recommended. The fixed width contrib is a big hit, everyone likes it a lot better, including me. I am about halfway through rewriting my product descriptions and using unordered lists to enhance the products pages. My image problems are resolved as far as I can tell now. The text on the shipping, returns & about us pages will get updated as soon as I get a chance to sit down with the boss-man. And we're having a shop hop this weekend which will be a great opportunity to get some nice photos. Idaho's so pretty in the summer (no nasty clouds or rain...well not much anyway...) And the buttons will be reworked probably Saturday. I just want to thank everyone who took the time to give me feedback on my site. And if anyone else has any input, I'd love to hear from you! Thanks again!

 

Andrew

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It's a nice looking site but in my opinion the fron page is way to big, it seems to take forever to scroll down to the end of the page, it also can take some time to load. I am of the opinion that many people don't hang around for long and tyhe longer a page takes to laod, the more likely they are to move to another site. Also, many people don't realise that pages can be scrolled!

 

Could you make the front page smaller so that it loads more quickly and doesn't need to scroll? Once you have someone on the front page, it doesn't seem to matter is subsequent pages take longer to load (or that they need to scroll down to reach the end).

 

Tim

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Frank,

 

I thought the same thing. I have lots of categories and that "Main Categories" box really does make it go down forever. I will think about losing a few of the infoboxes on the main page perhaps and I'll probably get rid of the main categories box. I have always thought it was too long, but I feel the need to make everything accessible from the home page. Anyone have any recommendations on what to part with on the home page to shorten it up a bit?

 

Thanks!

 

Andrew

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Agree with most. Even tho the layout is stock, the skin you added really bring your site to life and has a theme that ties it all up. Thumbs up :thumbsup:

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Thank you for the kind words merriam and bugleman! I did a lot of playing around with the stylesheet and corel to get everything looking the way I wanted. I really kinda like the stock look actually, although I am curious about modifying it a bit more. I finally got to creating my own custom buttons and I think they fit the theme a lot better. Still working on the group photo though...there's never enough time to do everything we want it seems...

 

I just want to send out a HUGE thank you to the osCommerce community for all the help and direction I have received. I came here knowing absolutely nothing about osC or php, but through using the forums and all the other resources, our little site has become something we can all be proud of! (And don't forget about the sales either... :D Those are nice too!)

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John,

 

Thanks for providing me with that link. That's good stuff to know! I promptly resized my site to a fixed width of 750px yesterday. (And of course resized all of my text and graphics accordingly.) I actually think my site looks better at this width! The background image shows a bit more on my screen (1024x768) which I like. I recommend using the developers tools for firefox to get an idea of what your site looks like on various screen resolutions. Also taking a quick look on a windows system (I use linux for web design) will reveal some minor differences. (and some not so minor!) I don't have access to a Mac, has anyone using Safari had any difficulties with this site? I'd be curious to see the difference.

 

Andrew

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I'm using Safari, and have no problems with the site.

 

I also recommend the webdev toolbar for firefox, I use it so many times in any one day, it's an incredibly useful little thing.

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John,

 

Thanks, that's good to know. I just installed the Image Magic contrib (http://www.oscommerce.com/community/contributions,3770) and it is far more advanced than the previous contrib I was using. It allows me to have a different sized image for my product_info.php page along with a lot of other features. Super contribution in my opinion.

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