Wednesday Website Weview – Scripts by Warren

scripts by warrenThis week we’re reviewing the website for Scripts by Warren.

Background

Scripts by Warren is “Christian Drama Site” that provides drama and play scripts for churches, schools, and community theaters.

Warren Sager requested the review and wrote, “I think a review from someone who knows web sites, studies them and builds them would be very helpful as I do most of the upkeep and changes to the site myself.”

A little more about the website:

  • Site created using Studio 11 Productions (web builder/host)
  • Target audience: Churches, Christian Schools, Drama groups, Christian
  • Theater groups, Home School groups, Youth groups.
  • Purpose of the website: Making a living and meeting our basic needs.
  • 2010 budget: $500-$600 a year
  • 2010 goals for the site: increase traffic and revenue.

Appearance and Layout

My first impression of the site was that it’s kind of dull and looks like cookie-cutter, template site. There are no images on the homepage and everything is black and brown except for some blue and purple text.

It looks like the designer went with a manuscript concept for the site, but I would suggest going in a different direction. The target audience for this site is artists, who tend to be very visual and creative. For that reason it’s even more important for this site than most to capture the curiosity and imagination of the visitor right away.

I would recommend a total redesign of the site with a more colorful, artistic template, and a header that includes high quality images of drama performances. Some subtle animation or an image slideshow in the header would help to get a visitors attention as well.

Navigation and Usability

For the most part I was able to find what I was looking for, but the biggest challenge for the site is organizing the large number of scripts in a way that will enable the visitor to find what he’s looking for. The use of slide-out sub-menus is good, but I think the menus are still somewhat cluttered.

I would seriously consider simplifying the main menu by eliminating all but one “scripts” menu item. Then have a separate second menu just for navigating scripts on the main scripts page and all the pages in that section.

I would then suggest taking the links to the “About the Author,” FAQs, and blog out of the “About this site” menu and putting them in the main menu. The “About the scripts” page could be the main scripts page mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Additionally, one of the most important goals of a website should be to keep people coming back to the site. An e-newsletter is a great way to do that, so it’s good to see this site has one. But it’s hidden way down at the bottom of the homepage and not clearly labeled. Ideally, the newsletter signup should be in a sidebar, like just below the navigation menu or if the site were to be redesigned in a sidebar on the right side of the page. And the reason to sign up should be within the sign-up box.

Purpose and Goals

A visitor needs to be able to identify the purpose of the site immediately. The “Pay by credit card…” and “Nothing is mailed…” sentences should not be the first thing a visitor sees.

The paragraphs below that do a good job of explaining what the site is all about. However, I think a sentence about why the scriptwriter has written these scripts would be good. A sentence that shows the scriptwriter understands the visitor’s underlying motivation could be helpful too. What I mean is the visitor is not just looking for a script, they are envisioning a drama that is going to touch the heart of the people in the audience. If you show you understand the heart of your visitors, that will go a long way to building relationships with them.

Content

Then content could really use some improvement.

For starters, the homepage is way too long. If the newsletter signup can be moved to a sidebar along with the site search, I suggest cutting everything else below the “Free scripts available” paragraph. Webings are very 1999, and as much as I appreciate God’s word, putting a scripture verse on the homepage just clutters it.

Throughout the site, I strongly recommending including at least one image within the content of every page.

I also strongly recommending picking one font and one font color and using it throughout the entire site.

Finding the Website

I Googled “drama scripts” and the site came up on the 3rd page of the results (#21). It was #5 for “Christian drama scripts,” #4 for “church drama scripts,” and #1 for “Christmas drama scripts.” That’s pretty good.

Of course, I’m just guessing as to which keywords are the best fit for the site. If keyword research has never been performed for the site, I would highly recommend it. Keyword research will tell you which keywords relevant to your site get the most searches each month, how competitive those keywords are, and which keywords you could target to gain the most visitors.

Analyzing the site’s traffic to see which search keywords are already bringing the most visitors to the site would be helpful as well.

Getting as many links on drama, script and scriptwriting sites would also help bring in more visitors directly from those sites as well has improve search rankings.

Interactivity and Social Media

A blog is a great way to interact with visitors and build one’s reputation. This site has a blog, but it’s buried in a sub-menu and there’s only been one post since May. I recommend committing to posting at least one time a week to the blog. If not, I would remove the link from the menu.

There’s a link on the “About the Author” page to his Facebook profile. Facebook is a great place to interact with site visitors. If you’re serious about connecting with potential customers on Facebook, though, I recommend putting a Facebook graphic and link in the sidebar of the site.

Additionally, you might want to create a Facebook page specifically for interacting with customers, who would probably be interested in different content than your family and friends.

I noticed on the Facebook profile mention of being on MySpace and Twitter, but there were no links to specific profiles there or on this site. If those social networking sites are being used, it would be good to link to them. There are also widgets you can add to your site that will show your latest tweets and FB updates that will encourage website visitors to connect with you via social media.

Summary

Overall, the site is functional, but my honest opinion is it could use a lot of work to look more professional and engage visitors.

My top suggestions are:

  1. Redesign the site with a more colorful, artistic template, and a header that includes high quality images of drama performances.  Unfortunately, unless you’re an experienced graphic artist and web designer this is going to cost more than $500-$600.
  2. Rework the homepage. Cut out some text, eliminate the web ring and scripture verse, and add some images.
  3. Improve the content of the entire site by adding images to pages sticking with one font and font color throughout.
  4. Decide what you’re going to do with social media. You don’t have to do everything, but what you are going to do you need to do consistently and link to it prominently.

If you really want to take your site to the next level:

  1. Get videos of the dramas being performed and put them on your site and in YouTube. Pay customers for them if you have to.
  2. Do some keyword research or pay a company that does search engines optimization to do it for you.
  3. Switch to a shopping cart.  There are open-source (free) shopping cart systems like osCommerce and ZenCart that are very professional and integrate with Authorize.net

What do you think of the Scripts by Warren site? Remember this is a community effort. Post your opinions and suggestions in a comment.

Find out how you can get a free professional review of your website.

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

8 Responses to “Wednesday Website Weview – Scripts by Warren”

  1. Yeah, I agree with your assessment. It definitely needs to me more colorful and engaging. At the moment it is just a lot of words formatted on the page – nothing there that will keep me interested. Obviously there is good content, but people will first be influenced by the look and feel before they are influenced by the content.

    Yes, if there are active Social Media sites related to the site they need to be just as good as the intended result (once redesign is done) and linked. They will be beacons directing traffic to the new site – and they will also be influential on viewer opinion.

  2. Great review. It is an organized, nice looking site, but I don't think that's what you're looking for. I definitely agree that you need pictures and more graphics as well as the home page being too wordy. I thought it was odd that the how to pay was at the very top. I also agree with using only one font and color. There is a classy look to the background, but then the font style and colors don't fit that look at all.
    There is a lot offered and the scripts seem well organized by topic, length, etc. If our church is looking for scripts in the future I definitely will suggest checking out your site.

  3. Thank you for your review. I just saw this today. Those are really good comments that I will seriously take into consideration. Some of them I can do myself and get that done soon. My biggest problem is that I have to do most of it myself. My site was redone for me four years ago by a friend who charged me 1/10th of his cost. It was a great improvement. I know that coming up with a new design would cost me a lot. I don't have a budget for that. He gives me a great deal for hosting and as you can see by my small budget… I am limited. Not just financially, but also with skills. That $500 amount includes fees and upkeep, etc.

    I am confused by one comment. You suggested I get a shopping cart and I have one. It is a nice cart, but unfortunately, it confuses the customers in thinking that their script will be shipped to them. I can't take out the shipping info, or put any other wording in the shopping cart other than what is already there. (He uses the same cart for all his clients) So, what will happen from time to time, is people will not notice the download link when they reach the order confirmation page. The site automatically sends the order confirmation as an email with the download link there as well. Still, customers will wait for something to arrive in the mail and not figure out about the download. (This is probably one in every 50 customers) That is why I have credit card and download info at the top of my homepage. I want people to know right away that they can download their scripts. Once they get to the shopping cart, they are misled to believe it will be shipped to them because of the shipping address info. I have all of that explained in the FAQ's, but I don't think most people read those. The only place I have to share that info is on my homepage. That is also the reason I have changed the font size and color, to draw attention to those things. When people call, that seems to be the most confusing area, the fact that nothing is being mailed to them.

    I have wanted to add video for some time and I just recently learned that my photo gallery needs a payment for me to upgrade and continue using it. The upgrade includes video, so I am excited to try that. The cost is minimal, but we are waiting to make sure we can budget that amount in. Being a novice at these things, I am hoping I can figure it out on my own. I actually think I have a pretty amazing site considering what little I have spent to get it and keep it. I think the reason I do as well as I do in the search engines is because of my use of Web Position (a software program I use for submissions) and it has a lot of info that I don't understand or I could probably utilize it more. I would love to use the blog more, but no one ever seems to read it or comment, so it feels like I'm doing it for nothing.

    Since I cannot afford to make a lot of big changes, I have to make subtle ones. I could probably change the menu to that good suggestion of more sub-menus, but I don't have access to putting more things in side-bars. Plus, the menu appears on every page, exactly the same. That is the reason for adding things at the bottom on the homepage. Removing some of that is a good suggestion that I will follow. Thanks again for all your help.

    • Hey Warren, thanks for your comments…

      >>I know that coming up with a new design would cost me a lot. I don't have a budget for that.

      I can understand that. But I would just challenge you to think of a redesign of your site as an investment. What if you could spend $3k on your site and it would double your income this year. Would that be worth the investment?

      >>I am confused by one comment. You suggested I get a shopping cart and I have one.

      My mistake. When i reviewed the site it looked like PayPal buttons embedded in an HTML site.

      >>It is a nice cart, but unfortunately, it confuses the customers in thinking that their script will be shipped to them.

      I can understand your dilemma. I just looked at your homepage and I like the change you made – removing the multi-colored text and addressing the download issue in the opening paragraph. I suggest you keep a log of confused customers, after 30 days evaluate that and see if any modifications are needed.

  4. Funny how things work out… I began making changes already and in the process of removing things from my homepage, I accidentally deleted something important and it threw my whole page out of whack! I was forced to call my webmaster to fix the problem. He was interested in what the review said and was pointing out that he built my site four years ago and it is old and needs an upgrade, some revamping. I can still possibly make some of the changes myself, but he offered me a very good deal to do some major upgrades and a real much needed face lift. I'm sure his offer is very generous, but we still have to look at what we can truly afford. I don't believe in putting myself in debt and I like to pay for things when I get them. So, my wife and I will be praying about that. Thanks again.

    • That's cool. When you're done making your revisions and your webmaster does those upgrades (if you choose to go forward with them) let me know. I'd be interested in possibly doing another blog article about your site then. Or maybe you could do a guest post about the changes you made and the impact it's had on traffic and orders.

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