Thursday, October 20, 2011

SMB Books - What's Old is New Again

Web design is a strange thing. On more than one occasion I've done research to test the effectiveness of the web sites we run.From time to time I get the backhanded comment that my sites are simple and no-frills, which means crappy and without the "cool" look of sites that use all the latest visual effects.

My goal is to create sites that WORK. For me, work is simple to define: Each site has a specific job to perform. It might be to deliver content (e.g., this blog) or to sell books (e.g., SMB Books). My blog might be visually boring, but it is very popular and it delivers content well.

A couple of years ago we changed the SMB Books site - so it had a cooler look and feel, and was database driven. Almost immediately, the traffic went up . . . and so did abandoned shopping carts. We gave it quite a bit of time to turn around, but it never did.

I had to do quite a bit of research to tease out the difference between the effects of web design and the economy. After a good deal of effort, we think the new web site design was part of the problem.

So, with very little fanfare, we have put the SMB Books site back to the design we used before. Well, mostly. We changed the categories around a bit. Added a few things. Took some away.
. . . And we have more planned. Please stay tuned to find more author information, more special sections, and more special offers.

Check out the special sale going on right now to reduce inventory. Sale Sale Sale!

Thank you for your support!


1 comment:

  1. Karl, I'm at the moment designing a similar website, but for e-books. One thing that will help you get more sales is to list all the books on the main page. Check out my sketch:

    Based on what I've noticed, the main page has to be analogous to a table with books at a trade show. The first thing the customer sees is the books, not the About Us description. This is because a huge number of visitors never go beyond the front page.

    In regards to how the website looks, function is certainly essential, but so is design. If a website looks like it was designed in the early 1990's (no allusion intended :) ), it gives the visitor the impression that it hasn't been updated in a long time, or that the company operating it went out of business. On the other hand, if the website is flashy, you lose credibility, and if it has white text on black background, no one reads it. The best website is simple, subtle, and modern looking. Above all, avoid using a lot of gray. Gray is a dead color that has no blood and absorbs your soul. :)

    Btw, do you publish your books in Sacramento? I have a mentor who published his books in Hong Kong. HK seems to be the best place in the world to have a book published. The order minimum is low, the cost is low, quality is high, and you get trade credit from the supplier. Even though he sells his books online, he also sells a lot offline. He has been an independent professor at community and unaccredited colleges since the early 80's, making a modest $150 to $200/hr. He wrote a book about how he does all this, in case you are interested.

    Emanuel Bancu
    Creative Director
    OmniSolutions Enterprises


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