Drive-By Shooting Special: Pick Nick’s Brains

“I am never doing this again,” James hissed, exaggerating his tip-toeing just in case a floorboard creaked and set off the noise again.

“You volunteered,” Harry said from the sofa where he’d been leafing through a magazine.

“SHHH!!!” The waving hand said it all. “You’ll wake her up! Goddamned little-…”

“James.” The disapproving look on Harry’s face said more than James’ signal for silence.

“Sorry.” He tried to look repentant. He really did. “You know that saying? ‘I’m an angel when I’m sleeping’?”

“Uh-huh.” Harry leafed through more pages.

“Well, I bet whoever made that t-shirt was this kid’s mother. And I feel sorry for her; I really do.” James flopped down on the sofa and let his head rest on the back of it. “I’m exhausted. Who’d think putting a kid to sleep was so hard?”

Today’s hit is for Pick Nick’s Brain, the site of Nicole Johnson. Here’s what the site looked like when we drove by:

“Pick Nick’s Brain?” Harry blinked at the magazine ad for a baby sleep site. “What’s that got to do with sleeping?”

That’s what we wondered when we landed on the site. We’d been expecting something else – inspiration coaching, a thousand answers to any question… but not a site on helping kids get a good night’s sleep.

Nor will your first time visitors. The saying “pick your brain” typically means teaching and learning, and it’s often associated with business brainstorming. So, landing on a site about better sleep for babies was a real moment of, “Are we in the right place?” And that’s what your visitors will think, too.

The name’s catchy, make no mistake, but if a site name doesn’t seem relevant and tell people what the place is all about before they even get there, the cost is that people may leave.

James peered at the ad. “Baby sleep, baby sleep, baby sleep,” he mumbled to himself. Then he grinned. “You think it’s got something to do with sleeping babies?”

“Oh for pete’s sake,” Harry rolled his eyes, holding back from swatting his partner in crime. “You should call them. You’re no lullaby lord, y’know.”

“Not my fault,” the answer shot back. “I would’ve called, but I didn’t even know they existed.”

That’s a problem with your site. The meta keywords you’ve selected are too vague and need some help. While they’re only a small part of how people find your site, every bit of help counts, with a ton of baby sites out there clamoring for attention and competing with yours.

Try to think of keywords people might type into Google to find your site. “Baby sleep habits,” for example, or “sleep through the night toddler.” If your site has those keywords in the site meta and content, your site has a better chance of showing up in the returns of links the search engine presents.

It’s a better idea to work with keyword phrases that are targeted, specific and relevant. “Sleep through night” is okay – but how many other sites are trying to capture that same traffic? Make it more specific. “Baby sleep through night”, for example.

Another problem with your site meta is the description. This is your first contact with potential visitors, so it’s important to make a good impression. More than that, you want them to be interested enough to click your link to come visit.

You have:

Baby Sleep Help | Toddler Sleep Help | Custom Sleep Help – Pick …
Offers baby sleep and toddler sleep help with free articles and guides and easy to read sleep books with custom baby / toddler sleep consulting services.

That’s a fair description, but you’re speaking to search engines – sleep, baby, sleep, toddler… You need to write for people here, not for Google.

There’s no compelling message. It doesn’t give people any reason to click. It doesn’t tell them why they need it. Sure, they need sleep help. They know that. So what?

Your meta description needs to make people think, “Yes! That’s exactly what I need!” It needs to touch on the benefits of how your site will change lives.

What you need is a description that grabs people right from the start. You’re passionate about what you do, right? Take some of that passion and wake people up. (No pun intended). Get them excited!

How about something like, “Get rid of frustrating, sleepless nights and heartbreaking tears with baby sleep guides and sleep consultations that let you get the rest you need.”

It’s too long, but do you see the difference in the emotional appeal? Punch up your meta description, and make it work for you.

The loud bang startled both men, and they leaped out of their seats, guns in hand and crouched ready to shoot. “What the hell…?” James was wild-eyed, Harry was skittish but the room was silent.

For two seconds. Then the wailing from the room began.

“Great, just great,” James hissed, sliding over to a wall and pressing his back to it while gesturing at Harry with the muzzle of his gun. “Go see what that was. I’ll go shut-… Uh, keep her quiet.”

Harry snuck over to the big living room window, hiding carefully and then showing the tip of his nose while he tried to see what had made the noise. And when he did see, he holstered the gun and sighed.

“It’s alright,” he called out over the crying from the bedroom. “It’s just something that fell.”

Something that fell was right. We didn’t have long to glance at the site before a big opt-in ad blocked our view. That’s irritating and ugly. Visitors don’t even know where they are yet or what the site offers and here’s this big ad falling in their face.

But. And this is a big but… They work. Those pop-ups and drop downs that explode onto the screen really do convert well, so we can’t complain too much about something that’s effective. It’s an ugly ad, though, so if a little sprucing up is possible, it might help… Ah, well. Moving right along.

Harry pushed open the bedroom door and looked in. There was James, softly singing to the now-quietly whimpering child in the bed. “If you wanna get down… down on the ground…coca-…”

“James!”

James looked up, wide-eyed, a hand instinctively reaching to protect the child. “What?”

“What kind of lullaby is that?”

“Oh… sorry. Uh… Hm.” He squinted an eye and thought a bit. “It’s a good song you know.” But not appropriate. Right. More thought followed and his brain found a (thankfully kid-friendly) song as Harry looked around the room, walking quietly.

The room was pretty, very soft and pink. Well, pink is what Harry saw. James had told him the room was white.

And that’s a potential – but not a big – problem for the site. Pale colors aren’t always easily picked up by all monitors, especially common-grade or low-quality ones. People using higher-end monitors would see the shading of the soft pink, but unfortunately, those on affordable options see just white.

Have no fear – the place looks just as nice in white as it does in pink.

Harry admired the colors of the curtains and wall accessories, noting the tasteful browns, color accents and pretty pictures on the wall. He paused at the one of a sleeping child – it must’ve been the girl they were babysitting when she’d been younger. Nice, but…

In our opinion, the most appealing is the main image in the banner of the sleeping child. The other two on the right seem to be a bit… well, extra fluff, and the girl to the far right is clearly photoshopped in. She needs a bit of work around the hair area.

Two children might have been fine, and moving them closer together would help. If you chose the baby on the left and the girl on the right, you’d have a better mental association from birth to childhood.

We like the font choice for the title. Very, very nice. The title itself could be a touch larger – the tagline looks a touch spindly as it is.

The title tags in the navigation could be larger as well. They’re small right now and easy to overlook. With a visitor’s eyes draw to the imagery of the banner and then following the banner path over to the right and down that right side… well, the navigation gets passed over. Making the font size larger will help.

The navigation is clear and easy to use. We know what each title means, and we know ahead of time what we’ll get if we click.

One issue is that it’s not exactly apparent there’s a drop-down menu. Harry hovered over it and discovered it that way. This is easily solved. Change the titles to imply that there’s more if people click, thus encouraging them to come find the dropdowns.

James slowly rose from the bed, inch by inch, careful not to disturb the sleeping child. It seemed to take forever, but finally he’d extracted himself and could walk to the door. That was, if his side of the room hadn’t been so cluttered.

Clutter is a bit of a problem around the sidebar. That top right corner of the page has a lot packed into it, and that’s where the eye keeps going, dragging attention away from the navigation.

But in that right-hand area, there’s so much small text and clutter that it’s hard to focus, so attention gets the hell out of there – fast. And nothing gets read.

And back the eyes come, drawn by the images… and away they glance when there’s too much clutter… and so on, and so forth. It’s very distracting, visually. The Security and Privacy buttons don’t need to be there. Put them in the footer or on the Contact Page .Get them out of your sidebar and reduce the clutter.

The break in the navigation is… well, it bothers us a bit. It’s well done and doesn’t look bad, but at the same time, it’s not really conventional or expected and looks… broken. Our brain keeps saying, “There’s something not right here” and then we tell it, “No, it’s fine.”

You have a really nice RSS button, but it’s detached from the text that tells people what to do with it, and that’s important. The call-to action text and the RSS need to be together. Moving the broken navigation up puts the text nicely beside the RSS and makes it stand out, encouraging sign up.

With the Security buttons gone, your free guide opt-in moves up, which is better. But, then you’d have Free Article Updates and Free Guide one on top of the other. Too much free, too much repetition.

“Get article updates via email!” and “Enter your email and get 5 stress-buster ways to help your child sleep through the night – starting today!” For example. More compelling, different texts, more exciting.

For your privacy policy… You won’t sell our information. But will you give it away? It was the first thought that came to mind the minute we read that, and we won’t be the only people who make that logical leap and conclusion. Change your text 🙂

Put your reader chicklet up next to your RSS button to get social proof working for you and encouraging people to sign up. ‘Net-savvy people will know that the chicklet isn’t your RSS readers, though – it’s the number of downloads. However, that’s okay. They’ll assume that if 2,000 people read your newsletter, then you must have LOTS more reading your blog!

Alltop is okay – we’d move it down though because it doesn’t really add much to the site. That would give your ad below it – which is very nice – a spot higher up. The best place to be.

Oops… Here’s another newsletter. Now we’re confused, because the free guide is typically an opt-in to a newsletter, and yet you have a second newsletter. That’s confusing and makes us think it might be the same thing – or might not. Which to choose? Oy, too much decision… and visitors will choose nothing.

That’s not what you want. So how about this? Make an ebook cover banner ad for your Free Tips and put that in the sidebar. People click and download. Move your Newsletter up. Yay. Win. Or, add the five free tips to the newsletter as an extra-value bonus and eliminate one of the opt-ins.

“Sign up for our monthly newsletter and immediately get five ways you can start helping your child sleep through the night.” For example.

“Jeez, does anyone do the cleaning around here?” James had picked up a bunch of stuff off the bedroom floor, and he brought them into the living room, dumping them down in a pile.

“When’s the last time you looked at your own place,” Harry raised an eyebrow.

“What’s wrong with my place?”

“You have kids, right?”

“Yeah.”

“I rest my case,” Harry smirked, thinking of the toys on the floor, the books that weren’t put away and too many dishes in the sink. “Hey, pass me those M&Ms, will you?”

James picked up the dish on the coffee table and handed it over, only to watch Harry pop some in his mouth and spit them back out. “Whassa matter?”

“These aren’t M&Ms.”

No, they’re not. They’re social media buttons and they’re way too tiny. We suggest making them larger and having two rows of two. You could even stylize the buttons to mimic the style of the RSS, making the site more consistent in look and feel.

The Featured Articles section (nice choice of name – stick with that and don’t change it to “blog posts”) could use some of those M&Ms – uh, we mean, bullet points next to each title. Right now, they all mesh and look like a paragraph of text, so our eyes try to read them as such. Oh, and the same goes for the Recent Articles section.

And what’s the little blue and white icon at the bottom for? We mouse over it and the image is labeled, “Breast Feeding”, but it… doesn’t do anything or go anywhere and isn’t clear. Give that icon a job or a reason to be there – clear enough that all readers know what it means – or get rid of it. Add descriptive text, a link… something.

More security buttons at the bottom – no. Too many. Remove them.

One suggestion – if you want to promote your services or sellers, why not have ads and text widgets in the sidebar that show people what you have? Write something enticing, get people to click through.

Also, add a Categories widget to the sidebar – that will help users. Remove it from your drop-down navigation bar.

The TV show was boring, he had no M&Ms, and Harry had ended up leafing the magazine through again. An article that mentioned tips to help kids get to sleep caught his eye, but it ended up being someone’s life story and nothing helpful.

That was something we noticed about the home page. It appeared to be a blog post, but then we saw the welcome and figured it was welcome text and then we realized that no, it really was a post…

Well, we ended up not being sure what it was, so we had a read. We found it was a story about you and your life – but visitors don’t want to hear that. We suggest moving this story text to “About Me” – it’s a good story and tells people why you made this site, but it doesn’t clearly and quickly tell people what this site is about, who it’s for, what they’ll find here and how it will change their life.

In short, your home page content has to be all about “YOU”, the reader.

Also, use shorter text in your content areas, and break it up more with paragraph breaks and clear headers for each section to help guide people.

It’s a bit tough to read the content, too. For one, it’s small. We’re squinting to read, and the chunky text doesn’t help. Two, the font choice appears a bit cramped. Breaking it up with headers will help. Lastly, it’s brown – we don’t suggest black, which may clash with your design, but we do suggest a darker shade of brown for readability.

The clock was ticking, the house was silent and soon the mom would be coming home. To what?

“I can’t do it.” James sighed and lowered his gun. He’d taken aim at the television screen while Harry had gotten ready to bash out a window.

“Good, because I can’t either.” In fact, Harry looked relieved. “Moms don’t deserve bad stuff happening, you know?”

“Okay, yeah, I know, but man, Harry, we’re getting soft, here.” James paced the floor, raking a hand through his hair. “I mean, I don’t want to wake up the kid but come on!”

“Here, here, I have an idea.” He snatched a few things out of a bin nearby and passed them to James. “Found these when I was picking up before. Hurry!”

After the mother had come home, she’d paid the men for their sitting services and waved as they drove off into the dark of night. It had been a long night, and they were such good men – she was glad they’d offered to give her a break.

She walked to the room that held her sleeping daughter – and she froze.

The child clutched a small, toy gun in her hand. And above, taped to the headboard, a blue crayon note delivered the fatal message.

One break is all you get, lady. Bang.

Get your exclusive Men with Pens Drive-by Site Consult and get to know what first-time visitors – and two pairs of expert eyes – see in your site. You’ll learn what’s working – and what isn’t – so that you can make changes to bring more readers, more customers and more of what you want.

Book your drive-by site consult today. Come on. You know you wanna.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.