In the spirit of this past fall’s IndieCommerce Institute Advanced Seminars, where program participants offered constructive comments about each other’s websites, booksellers are invited to visit a special thread in the IndieCommerce Forum on BookWeb.org. Started by ABA staff, the thread serves as an online option for bookseller-to-bookseller critiques of store sites.
To participate, booksellers should provide their website URL and specify specific areas of the site that they would like critiqued, as well as agree to provide feedback for other booksellers who have requested input.
Booksellers should approach their colleagues’ sites as customers and note what is appealing and what is missing or hard to find.
In particular, participants are asked to provide some brief notes about:
- First impressions of the site.
- Strengths — Things the site does well, visually, organizationally, or otherwise.
- Weaknesses — Anything confusing or distracting.
- Opportunities — Suggestions to improve the site.
This exercise is envisioned as running along the lines of a creative writing workshop. Here are a few guidelines:
- Remember that examples of what works well can be every bit as useful as suggestions for improvement.
- In all cases, concrete examples should be provided, not just general impressions. If a site is too “plain,” indicate some of the visual elements that make it so. If a page or product is too hard to find, indicate where most people would expect it to be.
- The most useful feedback is the reaction of an informed, but impartial, observer.
- Review others’ feedback on each site. Look at whether some of the same problems are in evidence on your own site, or if some of the positives are missing.
- Issues that people identify in critiques are often indicators of broader problems. For example, if someone remarks that they can’t find staff picks, it might indicate that the site is too cluttered.