Ecommerce & Content Marketing – Friday Website Review

In today's edition of the Friday Website Review we once again take a close look at a Thrive reader's website and find as many things to learn from it as possible.

The main focus in this example lies in two areas: how you can use content to generate more of the right kind of traffic and how you can optimize an ecommerce buying experience.​

More...

Links & Resources

The site from this week's review is Chikankaari here are the important links for everything mentioned in the video:

Recommended 'Safe' Fonts

​One of the issues on this week's site was that the main text font just isn't very readable. Unfortunately, selecting a good font is quite a difficult task, so here's a list of some simple font recommendations. I call these fonts "safe" because while they won't win you any prizes for originality, these fonts are all optimized for readability and look great at any size:

  • ​Arial
  • Helvetica
  • Georgia
  • Open Sans
  • Lato
  • Roboto
  • Source Sans Pro

I also recommend looking for font combinations recommended by designers (such as one of these). Note that if you're using Thrive Themes or the Content Builder, you have access to our font manager feature which makes it very easy to choose and customize exactly the fonts you want to use.

I hope you enjoyed this week's website review! If you did, I'd appreciate a share. And as always: any questions and comments are welcome!

Shane

Author: Shane Melaugh

Shane Melaugh is a co-founder and the CEO of Thrive Themes. When he isn't plotting new ways to create awesome WordPress themes & plugins, he likes to geek out about camera equipment and medieval swords. He also writes about startups and marketing here.

  • Rich says:

    Hi Shane
    Really useful review. Its great to get confirmation of some of the things that I consider to be bad.

    What did you use to measure the page load times?

    Thanks
    Rich

  • Malcolm says:

    Thanks again Shane for a very informative website review. One thing in particular that stuck in my mind was visual hierarchy, so very important. Also, colour combinations. So hard to get right when you’re not a natural born designer, thanks for the tip.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks for your comment, Malcolm! Yes, visual hierarchy is a very important principle to keep in mind. I’m glad this was useful for you!

  • David C. says:

    Hi Shane,
    Good video of a good site review for optimization. It’s so important for SEO to have good page speed, low bounce rates, and higher conversions. Those metrics show the big ‘G’ you’ve got a good site that may be appropriate to serve up to searchers.

    By the way, what tools are you using for screen-capture, inserting slides in the video, microphone (sounds really clear), and page load speed?

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      I’m using GTmetrix to measure page performance. For the video, the tools I use are Camtasia and PowerPoint. If you want to know more about this in detail, I’ve put together a video and resources page with everything I use for my videos.

      • BRIAN L says:

        Hi Shane,

        Will you be able to guide us through why GTmetrix gave a poor rating (i.e. C Rating) on the Thrive Theme homepage?

        Do we need to care about this rating?

        If yes, will you make us a video in your next post how we can improve the rating.

        Thank you.

        Regards,
        Brian

      • Shane Melaugh says:

        Hi Brian,

        2 points about this: first, our scores aren’t perfect but the time to load is quick. Here you can see that we measure just under 3 seconds. Keep in mind that the actual loading time is a lot more important than the score. The scores aren’t 100%, which means there’s more potential for improvement, that we haven’t yet made use of. We also have an issue with one of the plugins we use, which is slowing down the site and which we haven’t been able to solve yet. But the bottom line is that the final loading time is acceptable and that’s what we ultimately optimize for. I’d rather have a site that loads in 1 second and gets an F rating than a site that loads in 10 seconds with an A rating.

        Second, I’m currently running an A/B test on the homepage and I’ve noticed that this affects the loading time as well. Sometimes, it takes noticeably longer for the redirect to a different version of the page to happen. The benefit of running an experiment outweigh the drawbacks of how it slows down the site.

  • Mark W says:

    I believe the Sumo me admin slide in only exists for the “free” version. Probably why it shows up on so many sites!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Ah, I see. That seems a bit silly, but maybe I’m the only one who’s irritated by it.

  • Scott R says:

    These reviews and impressions are GREAT – thanks for doing these. Is there a particular Thrive theme you would choose for an eCommerce site? And is there a method to collect data from a Thrive form (or should I use something like Gravity Forms) – I need to collect variables (5 or 6 personalizations from client) for laser engraving on surfaces of my personalized wine (gift) boxes. And what thoughts do you have for a shopping cart page?

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Hi Scott,

      Right now, I can’t recommend any of our themes for ecommerce. However, we’re working on woocommerce compatibility and I think we’ll be able to release that (for all themes) within the next few weeks.

      For extra fields, I think this would have to be something you integrate directly with the shopping cart system you use. To my mind, this should be part of the ordering process, so that the visitor chooses the product, adds the text they want to engrave and then completes the order.

      • Cloud says:

        greetings shane,

        when you say that you cannot recommend any thrive theme for ecommerce,
        does that mean i am not able to integrate a shopping cart ?

        btw; i came here as a result of a research of a new shopping cart software i am considering purchasing, interestingly named … ThriveCart

      • Shane Melaugh says:

        What I mean is that none of our themes are explicitly made for an ecommerce website. We do integrate with WooCommerce, but WooCommerce does a pretty poor job on the “conversion optimization” job and we can’t really fix that without making fundamental changes to it.

        However, in general our themes work with ecommerce plugins.

        ThriveCart is a product that A) has nothing to do with us and B) isn’t an ecommerce or shopping cart product. It generates checkout pages and not much more, from what I gather.

  • Mark W says:

    Another really useful review – thanks Shane. Very interesting point you make about Social sharing buttons – after you raised it – they were all I saw on that page!!

    Out of interest, do you think people are getting “blind” to share buttons like they did with many Google Ads? If the content is exceptional I might share but generally I tend to ignore (unless specifically asked like you do in the videos)

    I’ll be very interested in other peoples views on this

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      I believe that there’s a lot of social-button-blindness, yes. The buttons are everywhere (generally, not just on the site in this review) and adding more buttons doesn’t lead to more shares.

      The way I see it, there are two things that social sharing buttons can do:
      1) They should be available, to make sharing as convenient as possible for the visitor. If visitors have to take too many extra steps to share something, they’ll generally share less.

      2) They can be displayed in a way that provides a subtle nudge or reminder to share. See mashable for a good example of what I mean.

      Beyond that, adding more buttons all over the place won’t do much good. Plus, there’s the problem of visual hierarchy and focus. You could argue that adding more buttons doesn’t do any harm, even if no one clicks them, but if the social buttons are more prominent than your checkout button and distract your visitor’s focus, then they are doing harm.

      This is why one of my 3 questions is: could you use the space is element occupies for something more useful?

      • Mark W says:

        Totally agree you must make it easy for people to share but as you highlight in your review it is imperative you decide what your number one objective is for anything you put on your site. If it’s a blog post you want to be shared, whether you want an opt-in or a sale or a comment. And you must then lead your visitor to take that one action. Too many choices and they’ll do the wrong thing!

        And I love your 3 questions in particular “could this space be used more effectively” Excellent and a great way at looking at everything put on a page

      • Shane Melaugh says:

        Thank you, Mark!

  • Paul says:

    Great tutorial, really learned some interesting facts about ecommerce sites.
    Thanks.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks, Paul! Glad you liked it.

  • Peter Mann says:

    Another great video, Shane! Keep them coming.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Peter!

  • David H says:

    Hi Shane,
    Another good website review.
    The Social Sharing App you referred to is SumoMe from the AppSumo guys. And I agree about the blue admin thingy and also the image share button – its just off putting!
    – David

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks for your comment, David! Good to know I’m not the only one annoyed by that SumoMe thing. And the image sharing thing is the worst on mobile devices. What were they thinking?!

  • Gary W says:

    Another great review! Hopefully you will find the time to continue doing them as I find it very helpful.

    Have a great weekend!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Gary!

  • Hans Storrie says:

    Great video Shane. I cracked up when you mentioned getting rid of the ‘Coupon Code’ box. I’ve got to agree, I’ve personally done that on many occasions where I’ve left a website to seek out a coupon from a third party. More often than not I never find one, then wonder what site it was I needed it for in the first place. Definitely a way to discourage sales! Thanks again for your thoughtful insights. Most appreciated!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, Hans!

      The coupon field thing is a mistake I’ve seen a lot. It’s a tricky thing, because if you do use coupons, you don’t want to make it too difficult for people to use them. But you also don’t want to rub it in anyone’s face that they don’t have a coupon and could be paying less if they did…

  • Dustin H says:

    Another great video. Shane, you’re like the website whisperer. All of your points are excellent and I like that you don’t hold back on your opinion. You keep busting me on mistakes I’m making. One of these days I’ll pass your review haha. I’ll definitely be sharing this video with my clients. Thank you.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you very much, Dustin!

  • Dustin H says:

    Since last week’s review also included use of gtmetrix, I’m wondering about some discrepancies. It seems every site I test has a low rating. When I test the same sites as you, my test results are different. Is there an optimal way to perform the test? You highlighted page speed being around 3 seconds I think, which was helpful. Perhaps you could elaborate on what information obtained from gtmetrix is most useful and if it’s really beneficial to aim for an A rating.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      You shouldn’t worry too much about discrepancies between tests. In my experience, there will be a variance of +/- 0.5 seconds. It also depends on where (geographically) you load the page from (there are geo settings in GTmetrix and other speed testing tools).

      In practical terms, you have to make sure that your loading times are quick in all regions that are important to your business. For example, if you have an ecommerce store that only sells to US customers, you don’t have to worry one bit about how fast your site loads in Europe or Asia. All you need is to make sure it loads fast in the US.

      If you sell globally, you should probably use a global CDN and make sure it loads fast in the countries where your best customers come from.

      3 seconds is a reasonable goal for any page, I think. So the goal in a GTmetrix test would be to get between 2.5 and 3.5 seconds on every test you run.

  • David C says:

    Shane,

    Just wanted to quickly say that I enjoy these reviews and find them very helpful! I think you always hit the nail on the head with your comments!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you very much, David!

  • Dave Keys says:

    I have to say, I’ve never been a fan of those share buttons splattered all over a blog or website. The plugins that produce these are pretty indiscriminate and let’s face it, most people put those on websites because some SEO guru told them it helps them rank. Most of these kind of ideas are nothing more than monkey see-monkey do. No forethought. No benefit to the real web. And then there’s all the indiscriminate use of javascript. It seems like every plugin developer behaves like their code is the only thing that is going to be used on a website and this kind of animation is just as torturous in its code as it is in its result.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks for your comment, Dave!

      The javascript thing seems to be the scourge of WordPress: anyone can create a plugin and when they do, they usually load some JS. The end result is that many sites have 20+ plugins and each one loads its own scripts, resulting in a real mess…

  • Again thank you for a great review. From this week I took note of the coupon. I offer everyone a discount if they sign up to my list, but I haven’t told them until they have completed the sign up process. I need to rectify this. Thanks..

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks for your comment, John! I’m glad you got some good ideas from the video!

  • Tim W says:

    That’s Bazar Shop – Multi-Purpose e-Commerce Theme. I purchased it (along with a dozen other themes) and planned on using it until I found the best themes on the market —Thrive Themes!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks for the endorsement, Tim. Our themes are not currently compatible with any specific ecommerce plugin, but it’s one of the next updates we’ll release. :)

  • Klaus S says:

    again, an excellent review. Like those real life practice sessions :-)
    I’ve tested my site with GTmetrix, getting bad 6,5 sec of which the first 3 sec have been wait times for the hosting provider (1&1). They sad, everything would be fine and loading within 1-2 sec, measured by firefox and Lori (a firefox plugin).
    How would you deal with that?
    Also i was surprised that after the first 1,5 sec my domain was requested again with the www. prefix, which made additional 1,5 sec. Is that strange or normal?

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      This indicates that you have a non-www to www redirect. That in itself is fine, but it should definitely not take as much time as that…

  • Tom says:

    I really love these reviews, tonnes of actionable advice. Hope you carry on with it. It must be difficult not to say “your website would be so much better if you used Thrive Themes”, even though it’s true!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks, Tom! These videos aren’t meant to be endorsements for our themes. But of course, we do try to build our themes in such a way that as many of these issues as possible are already solved from the outset. If you just install a Thrive Theme and use it as it is, you won’t have any of the issues with font size, readability, too many social buttons, etc.

  • Keith W says:

    I love these reviews! Now if I can just remember the points made as I create my pages!!
    The constraint you exhibited in this review was stellar! It must have been hard, but you did it and created a good review from which the rest of us could learn.
    Thank You, and keep ’em comin’!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Keith! I’m a pretty stoic fellow, so it doesn’t take me much restraint. We can all learn from site examples – good and bad alike. :)

  • Jt says:

    I’m doing my research and so far want to go for the Thrive platform, however, I cannot find where I can add ecommerce (a place to actually sell product form my WordPress site http://studiosmilesandiego.com ) Is this available? Thanks! :)

    • Hanne says:

      Hi,
      No. To sell products online you’ll need to add an extension such as WooCommerce.

  • >

    Join Thrive University (it's FREE!)