Website Makeover

Want to keep customers happy? Make it easy for them to order online.

You may have a small or home-based business, but if your Website is top-notch, your customers will be none the wiser. That reasoning inspired Marcia Wood to enter Shades of Color (www.shadescalendar.com) in BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s Website Makeover contest. Wood, the operations director for the seven-year-old company, which sells African American-themed calendars and art, wanted to improve the site’s appearance and functionality. “We wanted to look like a larger company and to give customers a sense of security when they’re on our site,” she says.

Before the makeover, the site lacked a shopping cart feature and didn’t allow customers the option of immediately seeing their orders and charges. This was a concern for the company, which processed credit card orders at the end of each business day. The company had to manually key in data for each purchase before sending an e-mail confirmation to customers; this meant that orders would be processed in roughly two days — not ideal for a company looking to grow online sales.

With the help of TechnikOne (www .technikone.com), a creative services firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Shades of Color has made several key changes. “They made a lot of good suggestions,” says Wood. “We’ve done a lot of reorganizing on the site and we’ve changed our logo. They’ve given us excellent advice that we’re going to take.”

One valuable piece of advice was to ditch the old way of order and payment processing in favor of Miva Merchant (www.miva.com), a user-friendly service that lets companies configure the buyer screen to look like their sites. This ensures a pain-free ordering process. The service also collects all orders, which gives Wood and company CEO Courtney Hines time to build customer relationships.

“Now we just get an e-mail and fill the order,” adds Wood. “Not having to key each order means we can process them quicker and customers instantly see how much their credit card will be charged.”

IF YOU REBUILD IT…
In retooling the Shades of Color Website, TechnikOne performed much more than a makeover. “We started from square one and created a whole new Web identity for the company,” says L. Kareem Geiger, managing partner and vice president of client relations. Geiger says that one of the biggest misconceptions about Website makeovers is the belief that a basic redesign will take the company to the

next level in terms of professional look and customer loyalty. “[But] it goes a lot deeper than that,” notes Geiger. “The reality is that most people are brand driven, so you have to say something that distinguishes you from your competition.”

Shades of Color initially wanted a site that was professional looking, yet incorporated Flash animation on the home page. “They have a great product,” Geiger says. “The product will sell itself. One big misconception is that adding bells and whistles like Flash animation makes your site successful, but people want stability and consistency. They want to feel comfortable placing an order online.”

Even though Shades of Color is a small company, Geiger believes that they can still utilize

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