Website Evaluation Special Report: Kidorable

Website Evaluation Special Report: Kidorable

We do quite a few website critique reports here at Men with Pens. People with existing sites often want to know what changes they could make to improve sales or conversion rates, so they come to us for eagle-eye expertise, an objective opinion and a drive-by website critique that covers everything, head to toe.

Speaking of covering everything head to toe… today is a special report website critique for Kidorable, an acclaimed kids’ clothing and accessories company dressing little kids up right. Kidorable came to us asking what they could do to improve their site – and they want your feedback, so stick around to join in with your thoughts in the comment section!

The first impression on landing is fairly good – the site looks alright, the colors are easy on the eye, the design is fair and the mood is upbeat, kid-friendly and pleasant.

But your website could be working far harder for you, and we think it’s slacking off on the job.

Despite its initial appeal, the site appears dated and amateurish, which isn’t doing the business credibility any favours – and we’re pretty sure it’s also dragging down the reputation you *do* have, considering the quality of acclaims you have on your Press page.

Part of what makes the website look dated is that the site is small and narrow. Narrow sites are nearly a sure sign of outdated design, and that slim fit is going to look even worse on larger screens or higher resolution settings most commonly used today. There’s a ton of space on either side of the main site area, which is wasted screen real estate you could be putting to good use.

An updated, trendy-looking site would appeal more to your target market, which is most likely mid-to-high-income families opting for brand-label children’s clothing over cheaper retailers. Those women are most definitely viewing your site through better quality PCs and Macs, which means their display settings are probably just going to enhance the website’s current narrow, dated look.

We suggest you use every inch of available space that you have available. There’s far too much wasted screen real estate going on here. In fact, if you widen the site, you’ll gain inches of space to help show off your products and guide people easily to pages you want them to visit.

Speaking of guiding, there’s not much of it going on right now. The site relies on the top and left-hand navigation links to direct people, and that’s not enough, nor is it a reflection of your classy business. We suggest having large, clearly-titled buttons that help guide people – for example, buttons that read, “Check out our latest styles,” “Tell a friend and earn $20!” or “Find a store near you.” You could have three buttons down the side or five buttons along the bottom – pick the areas or items you want people to see most and make them stand out!

Let’s look at the left sidebar for a bit. We suggest you remove that from the site, actually. People typically place more importance to items on the left, which means that right now, your shipping and returns are getting more mental priority than your actual products. That’s not what you want.

Alternatively, put some of those left-sidebar links at the bottom of your site instead. Say, in the footer. People know to look for items like “our return policy” there, and you’ll keep more attention on your actual products and sales.

Your email opt-in area is looking outdated as well, and it’s just too quiet to be drawing any kind of attention or sign-ups right now. Your email list is one of the best for pitching people interested in your products, so it should be working much harder for you. As is, there’s nothing to draw the eye to it, there’s no design, and the message isn’t a very strong one. Clear, yes. Exciting? Not really.

We suggest you move the opt-in area to the right of the site where people are most used to seeing it these days. Have it designed to stand out and attract the eye and pair it with a more exciting message that incites sign ups.

Back to the left sidebar, the social media section looks small and pale, so we suggest larger buttons that stand out a bit more – you have a lot of followers, so make that area stand out and get more potential customers listening to what you have to offer!

The Kidorable Outlet Store button looks small and pale. And, “store” can mean a physical building, so it might be worth renaming this button so that it’s less confusing to potential visitors. “Kidorable on Sale”, maybe, or perhaps, “Our Discount Section”.

We clicked through to that discount page to read what was there, even though we normally only critique the home page. On that discount page, we suggest removing the text “these items have been retired from our regular catalogue” from the content completely – it implies that the items weren’t selling well, so you pulled them. Play up the “before they disappear forever” instead, with a message like, “You won’t find these special deals in our catalogue, and quantities are limited. Buy now and save before they disappear forever!”

Here’s a problem: if we leave the home page of the site, we have no easy way to get back. That’s frustrating for users, so add a Home to your main navigation for site visitors who like to click around.

Back to the home page sidebar again! There’s a Contact Us, but it’s so small and stuck with other links that it becomes invisible, and that’s a bad thing. If there’s one thing that helps boost sales by reassuring customers, it’s making sure it’s real easy for them to get in touch with you. Have that Contact Us at the top right of the site, and let people see it – make it bigger, make it clear, and put your phone number right there on the page. You won’t get swamped with calls, but you will make people feel more confident that you’re a real business.

There’s not much else to say about the sidebar area – like we said, we suggest removing it. The site has a font that looks plain and outdated, and you really notice that most in the left-hand sidebar. It’s a black font, though, and it’s on a light background, so good on you for that – this makes for easier reading. The dividers between sidebar sections are plain and pale though, and green really isn’t the best color to use to help break items up.

Speaking of color, why not punch up the site with brighter overall colors? The palette you have now isn’t painful to the eyes, but it’s pastel and babyish – brighter blues, yellows, reds and greens would breathe some active life into the place….

…aaaaand we find that active, bright life down in the footer.

Now there’s appealing design! That footer section has some really nice design going on, and we would’ve loved to see this imagery right up top in the banner running across the site. The colors are brighter, the mood is suddenly more fun and quaint, and this section is the best part of your site… though down at the bottom where almost no one will see it, sadly.

So let’s assume that you do pull up all that beautiful design to the top of the site, widen the site to take advantage of all the space you have and add some buttons to guide people to your items and key areas… you’d be well on your way to some major improvements to get your site standing out as THE place for kid’s styles.

More improvements you could make? Increase the size of your main navigation bar so that the font is nice and big, and so that it’s very easy to see and read. It’s a touch small right now and doesn’t really stand out in any way.

The rotating pictures are fun ones, but we wish they’d stop moving – that’s distracting to the eye and actually prevents people from focusing attention on reading text and seeing what you have to sell – which is what you want them to do, right? Use static images instead, or make the color changes between pictures a bit less dramatic. They’re moving from bright pink to bright blue rather abruptly, and a more subtle change would be less distracting.

We also suggest you remove the picture of Suri Cruise… man, does she ever look mad! You can keep the logos on that picture frame and add some more if you’d like, but the face on her is one that really says, “Back off.” Not the kind of impression you want to make!

It would be really good for the site to highlight new releases, featured products, items on sale… It’s a better idea to showcase your best products or ones that you want to move more of versus trying to get people to click a link that says “shop all styles now”. Offer too much choice to people and they choose nothing. Instead, put a select choice and what you want them to buy right in front of their eyes.

We’re not particularly keen about all the options in the drop-down menus of the navigation, by the way. Style and Product Line have a lot of choices, which makes the list long and hard to choose from. There’s also not really anything visual to help a person make that choice.

If you had those five buttons we suggested earlier along the bottom of the site to help guide people, and if you organized your selections by larger categories – ie, animals, heroes, bugs, etc – it might help people get to what they want and boost your sales. There are certainly other ways to categorize selections that would work as well, so think about that.

The text message in the rotating photo section isn’t very strong, by the way. If you reworked your site and design, we’d suggest chopping the text down to headlines and impact statements. “Where fun and functional come together,” or, “Clothes that reflect the spirit of childhood – fun!” Those aren’t the best suggestions, but can you see how much more impactful they might be in place of the chunk of text that’s there now?

Since we’re mentioning text, we did get curious and clicked the Kidorable Story, thinking we’d find something that charms our heart… but we didn’t. There isn’t a story, really. What’s there is factual – you started the store, it did well, and now it does awesome. Great! But isn’t that what every business is supposed to be doing?

We suggest you revamp this page and tell a story that really gets parents on your side. Talk about the frustration that led you to think of Kidorables. Why does it exist? Talk about struggles along the way or some really awesome success stories. Talk about values. And who are the people behind the store? Names! Faces! Wrap people around your finger so that they not only like your products but that they like YOU as a business as well.

We took a glance at your products page as well, but we have to say that it’s unclear that you can buy items directly from the site unless a visitor happens to click on the photo by chance. Right now, there’s just a little title and price – add a “buy now” or “add to cart” button that helps make it clear people can order online. “Add to cart” is probably the better choice of the two, as it’s a gentler invitation to load up.

In other news, we clicked the Press page as well – which turned into an In the News page, and that just creates user confusion. It’s better to be consistent about titles so that people know they’re in the right place after they click. Little details like these count.

The logos on the Press page look good and are well set up. Kudos for that! But we didn’t like the new navigation bar that suddenly appeared below the “In the News” title – why is there extra navigation there?

What would be a better idea is to funnel visitors to what they want in a more streamlined way. They can click Press to get a page that offers them five options. They can choose an option from there and get to the information they’re looking for, instead of having that tiny (tiny!) text below the title. It would just look more professional that way.

Some little extra details for you:

You have SEO on your pages, so good! The keywords could be a little more targeted, and if you had a true content management system that helped you with your SEO, you could get real niche with your search terms. Still, you have the basics up, so well done.

The birthday club is a great idea… but we’re sketchy on what happens here. The message is a little vague and unclear, and there also isn’t enough of a benefit to make us rush to drop in our emails – really, really happy kids isn’t enough to sway parents.

The site could use a search feature, considering that you have several products. That would let parents search for those pink rose boots that their friend was telling them about. Right now, they have to click around to look for them, and they’ll probably have a hard time finding them as well.

We also want to note that you do have some cool stuff in the sidebar – $20 for referring a friend, gift finders, an affiliate program, a survey (clickety click!)… but there’s almost too much of it for that sidebar.

Put the gift finder right on the home page in its own little section so that people can see it and use it right away. We’ve already made a suggestion that the $20 referral get its own button on the home page, so that’s taken care of, and for the affiliate program, you could have this as a footer link or in the main navigation. Up to you!

The survey can be set to pop up a minute after people land on the site, which will get you better returns than just having it as a link. Also, tell people more about this survey. Why are you doing it? What’s it for? How long will it take? Give them some clues to get them to actually respond.

The bottom line is that you have a really nice business with an established reputation, actual stores, good press, and fun products – showcase that! Give your business a site that helps highlight its uniqueness and trendy appeal, and give it a site that appeals to its target market – they probably shop at name-brand stores, and those places aren’t sparing expenses for their websites.

You had a good site for job it needed to do, we’re sure, but now it’s time to bring it to the next level where it belongs.

Your turn: Did we miss anything in our website critique? What do you like about the Kidorable site? What would you change? Your feedback is more than welcome, and the Kidorable team is listening!

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.

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  1. James, what a great example of your work. Now that you have raised my level of awareness, I’ll be looking differently at every website I see, and dang–I used to like my website.

    ps. Did you sign up for the affiliate program? I’ve got to get one of those frog umbrellas for my granddaughter.

    • It’s very true that when you know what to look for with a critical eye, you suddenly start seeing the problems with so many sites out there. Just a few tweaks can often bring in some serious results!

  2. Kudos to you James for a complete and accurate review which included both design and functionality (marketing and sales) aspects.
    One of the first things I do when I’m not familiar with a company and visiting a site for the first time is check out the “about” page. I’m looking for history, stories about people, what sets the company apart from the competition, and reasons why I should buy from the site. Maybe even include a few testimonials (good customer experiences) as examples. All of this info would be on the “about” page (broken into subsections) accessible from a prominent link on the home page. That’s my preference … navigation in a simple and easy design layout with minimal mouse clicks.

    • Good comments, Mark. A lot of people want to know who they’re buying from and dealing with these days… but they don’t want to hear the same-old they find everywhere else. People tend to look for information that answers the question:

      Why should I buy… FROM YOU?

  3. James,

    I like the way you broke down that site in pieces, and you gave great suggestion on how the improve the site even though the colors and lay out was great.

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  4. James, I always learn from these critiques. I just launched a new site and I’m currently tweaking the design with my web guy.

    Seems to me that it’s a mixture of art and science.

    • Ha, there you go, that’s the way to do it! It’s why I enjoy posting critiques – just another way of helping readers make improvements to their own site. Go, John, go!

  5. 1. I’d expect to see a tagline in the header graphic. Tell me in one sentence what this site’s main purpose is. “From Normal to Adorable – Fashionable, Fun Kid Accessories” or something to that extent.

    2. Get rid of all outdated “table” html coding on your site. Use divs exclusively.

    All the best to your efforts,

  6. Great post. I am always interested in finding out about what works on a website and what doesn’t. I agree about the need for success stories. Having case studies about happy customers is a sure way to get potential clients interested in your business. I am not very good at website design and that is being charitable, so I am curious about whether my business writing website would hold up to scrutiny. If you have time, I would love to hear your opinion about my site.

    Keep up the good work!

  7. Wow you don’t pull any punches James! Totally honest and all valid suggestions as ever – love it.

    I’d be interested to see a news/blog section too – where interesting kids’ fashion articles are posted, or tips relevant to parents (eg. on organising a kid’s birthday party or packing a healthy lunch box).

    This may already happen on the Kidorable Facebook or Twitter pages – if so, add a feed to the home page showing updates to entice people to ‘like’ or ‘follow’.

    Thanks again for your great posts – Lucy

  8. How about some testimonials from your customers?

  9. p.s. I couldn’t find a search button. Frequently I have to hit Ctrl + F to search for the phrase search on a website. That’s annoying.

    I always expect to find the search box in the upper left- or right-hand corner of a site.

    At Kidorable I thought the box under “Sign up for e-mail updates”on the upper left was the search box. So then I hit Ctrl-F to search for the word search and nothing matched.

  10. I would make the homepage really obvious as to the USP of the site… what is the biggest promise that you can make to your customer? What are you going to do for your customer? Why should they do business with you versus any and all other available options? What is the biggest problem that you are solving for your customers?

    Right now when you first land on the homepage it’s really hard to tell what you are actually selling. Take the best part of the “about us” story and make it a header on every page, as your USP, so that no matter where the customer lands, they will know EXACTLY why they should do business with you.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  11. Hi James, I really like what you’ve done here with the critique.

    I agree with Joshua, it’s not overly clear what they do – I think thre needs to be some hook as to why you should look further eg organic clothing, trendy clothing. A bit like your ‘on target web design’.

    Interesting your comments on left hand sidebars, is this more of a store thing? I don’t see many blogs wih left handed ones, but retail sites eg Amazon use them a lot.

  12. Wow, now I have something to go on. Blogging is new to me but I have fun with it. Fascinating stuff, James!

  13. James,

    I appreciate all your insight and the thoughtful comments of your readers.

    We’ve been talking about some of these ideas for months, and your clarifying critique was what we needed to get off our butts and do it. Just this week we’ve already made drafts on a site redesign.

    I’ve been a loyal Men with Pens reader for about a year now. Once again, you’ve given me a great gift.

    Thank you.
    Jonathan Domsky

    • You’re very welcome, Jonathan – we have a lot of fun doing these, and our hope is always that you improve your business results. Glad to hear it’s been helpful to you, and keep me posted on those design changes. Would love to see them!



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