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kookietees said:
please let us know what you think.
Well, since you asked...

I think your site contains illegal (copyrighted) material. I think you don't have a cohesive idea of what you are selling; some of your stock appears to be heat transfers, and others screen printed. Some is retro kitsch, some is touristy, and some is in the 'offensive' genre.

I think your page is extremely poorly designed. Elements overlap, images are inconsistent sizes, full sized images are being used instead of thumbnails and they are insanely huge (I noticed one was 750k! that's got to just about be a record for the size of a one inch thumbnail...).

I think your photos are a higher resolution than they need to be, and a stupidly large filesize, and in spite of that they are still frequently out of focus and/or have poor colour reproduction.

I think your designs often lack the detail they require - probably because they're copied rather than designed (e.g. Bill Gates mugshot looks particularly terrible, Lard is even worse).

I think your colour scheme clashes. A lot.

I think your logo graphics contain ugly artefacts, and your "Coming Soon!!!!" picture has an ugly font, is poorly rendered (the edges are rough) and has way too many exclamation marks.

I think several of your shirt slogans have grammatical errors (and I'm not just referring to the intentional ebonics), and there's at least one spelling error... and I only checked a few of them.

I think you shouldn't tell people what they like to wear ("The styles and fit we select are just how you like 'em"). It makes you look like a donkey when you're wrong.

I think your designs should be more organised; if you insist on selling such a random hodgepodge together, you could at least cluster like with like.

I think the fact that I'm seeing an horizontal scroll bar on your faq page when I'm in 1024x768 resolution shows that you've done something very wrong with that page. I think your size chart table is broken.

I think your faq is hard to read due to the funky graphical errors already mentioned.

I think your design (such as it is) is inconsistent; the navigational bar is centered on some pages, and left aligned on others.

I think your attitude towards potential customers is at times unprofessional ("WARNING- our response to your remarks may make you feel bad-Thank you").

I think the similarity between your name "Kookie" and the established fashion company "Kookai" puts you at some risk of getting sued since you're both in the same industry. However, you may have nothing to worry about on that front.

I think your contact form is broken; the input area is unusably small.

I think using found-on-the-internet pictures for your 'About Us' page is tacky, juvenile, and unprofessional.

I think you have no corporate identity. There is no way for people to identify with your store, to remember it in a positive way, to think "this is my kind of place", to feel comfortable shopping in a professional environment (or alternatively to feel they are supporting a cool indie store), or to know what kind of message you are trying to get across. I think your site creates cognitive dissonance in the viewer.

I think your designs are really badly rendered & ugly (they're bad enough that it's worth repeating).

I think your website is horrible.

Since you asked.

...but most of all I think you shouldn't post ads in more than one section of these forums. Rodney would like y'all to cut down on the blatant self promotion, and he's been real nice about it.
 

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Oooh, I'm not the only one that can give a long, harsh website review after all! I don't have much to add, you pretty much covered it... it needs a lot of work.

The mouse-over image switches are kind of annoying IMO as well, I suppose.

Keep in mind that you need to view your webpage in multiple browsers; look at it in Firefox too (preferablly also Opera, Safari...) - not just IE.
 

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Harsh.. but Solmu is completely right about everything he stated. I'm printing that post out and hanging it on my wall to remind me of what not to do.

C.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you so much for all of your valuable input on our website. Just wanted to point out that the website has only been up for a few weeks - definitely in its beginning stages. In spite of (or because of?) your remarks, we received over 200 hits within 7 hours today (our highest yet) and several orders.

While I appreciate your input and obvious expertise (I DID ask for it, I guess), I did feel you were more than a little harsh AND simply not correct on several points. For example, your comments regarding our attitude towards customers...have you SEEN other t-shirt websites? Are we allowed to have a personality? How about having a sense of humor? I guess not...
Another example...our name. We have an established business license and of course took the correct steps to make sure our name was unique. You're right - we have nothing to worry about on that front. Besides, I searched for "Kookai" on Google - it's in the U.K. Give me a break. If you were picky enough to make a fickle comment such as you did, I'm hesitant to take your remaining comments to heart.

Yes - you made some good points (consistency, navigation bar, design, etc); HOWEVER, those are minor errors common to a new web designer and are also easy to change. That is simply all I asked for - NOT to have some arrogant, unprofessional know-it-all take a free for all at my website. You were simply rude. I welcome critisicm, but your approach to my simple "what do you think" question seemed to be a channel for you to 'show off' to the rest of the Forum.

I learned two valuable things today: 1) That I need to take a closer look at our website and revamp several items, but more imporantly, 2) To never, EVER treat someone who asks for my advice the way that you did. In fact, I'm hanging your comments next to my computer as a reminder of how NOT to act - like a childish snob.

"I think your designs are really badly rendered & ugly."
"I think your website is horrible."

You're a lovely person.
Thanks again!
 

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Alright folks, let's not forget one of the first rules of T-Shirt Forums: Be Courteous

While there was some very good feedback in Solmu's post above, some of it could have been worded a bit more politely.

While I think it's great that solmu took the time to go through the site and give honest feedback, I think that there is a line between honest and rude. Let's try to stay on the honest side :)

When you ask for opinions and feedback, that's what you'll get. To use an American Idol analogy, not everyone will give Paula Abdul or Randy Jackson type feedback, some will give Simon Cowell type feedback.

It's good that you can take in the criticism and brush off anything that offends.

Now let's all play nice :)
 

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kookietees,
I think your website needs an overhaul. Design a template, that you want all of your pages to look like. Then just put the content for each page into the site. The pictures of your shirts are fuzzy looking. Take some cleaner pictures. The background image of the site doesnt fit in. It just looks buisy.

Also, alot of the shirts on your site are copyrighted. Unless you bought officially licensed t-shirts, you are breaking the law.
 

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jdr8271 said:
Also, alot of the shirts on your site are copyrighted. Unless you bought officially licensed t-shirts, you are breaking the law.
This is a good point. Are you officially licensed to sell Rolling Stones t-shirts and James Brown and Ron Jeremy?

We can't allow unlicensed or copyright infringed work on the forums.
 

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kookietees said:
For example, your comments regarding our attitude towards customers...have you SEEN other t-shirt websites? Are we allowed to have a personality? How about having a sense of humor? I guess not...
While I agree that it's common to give sites an 'edgy' feel, I personally don't feel it's a good idea. If you take it far enough (like t-shirt hell) it can work, but it's hard to find the balance.

Of course you're "allowed" to be mock-insulting if that's the image you want... I just think it doesn't come across well in my opinion.

kookietees said:
Another example...our name. We have an established business license and of course took the correct steps to make sure our name was unique. You're right - we have nothing to worry about on that front. Besides, I searched for "Kookai" on Google - it's in the U.K.
To be sure I'm not a trademark lawyer, and that was the part I was least confident about.

However I will point out two things. Kookai are huge, which means they're potentially going to see infringement where a smaller company wouldn't - they're nowhere near as small as you are implying. Second, they're not a UK company. If you'd looked past the first result you'd've seen websites in France and Australia; Kookai are a large international company. If you do a trademark search (Rodney provides a link in the left navagational bar on this site) you'll see that they have their trademark registered in the US.

On the other hand, you've gone through all the appropriate legal precautions, so it's all moot.

kookietees said:
HOWEVER, those are minor errors common to a new web designer and are also easy to change.
They're not minor errors. One is a minor error, but by the time you have that many of them it's a massive problem. Each individual problem is easy to change, but again by the time you have that many of them it takes effort to fix. If they are so easy why were they there in the first place? Because it's not that easy. You more or less need to start your website again from scratch.

kookietees said:
That is simply all I asked for - NOT to have some arrogant, unprofessional know-it-all take a free for all at my website. You were simply rude.
I resent being called unprofessional.

As for the rest of the personal comments in the post, I personally disagree but you're welcome to your opinion.
 

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Rodney said:
Alright folks, let's not forget one of the first rules of T-Shirt Forums: Be Courteous

While there was some very good feedback in Solmu's post above, some of it could have been worded a bit more politely.
Could have, but not necessarily should have.

I was also very clear that everything I stated was my opinion, and I was completely honest. I didn't exaggerate or hold back - it was the simple truth (as I saw it). To me, that is the epitome of courtesy. If people lie to protect my feelings, that is most uncourteous.

If people are posting actual feedback requests (and not ads disguised as them) they should find honesty useful. Most of the time we're all too busy playing nicey-nicey to actually give any useful critiques.

(besides, I thought the first rule of T-shirt forums was "1. Do Not Talk about T-shirt Forums.")

Rodney said:
Quote: Originally Posted by jdr8271 Also, alot of the shirts on your site are copyrighted. Unless you bought officially licensed t-shirts, you are breaking the law. End quote.

This is a good point. Are you officially licensed to sell Rolling Stones t-shirts and James Brown and Ron Jeremy?

We can't allow unlicensed or copyright infringed work on the forums.
That was the very first thing I said. So when I say it it's rude, but when someone else says it it's a good point? ;)
 

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I think it was a pretty fair assement overall (Note: severeal of those things are definitely not _minor_ errors). Not exactly the same tone I would've taken, but I'm usually pretty blunt as well, and most people seem to appreciate it. I appreciate the honesty when people review my own projects as well.

One has to keep in mind that it is an opinion... for example, I did get one person that said they thought the font colors were far too bright on my webpage, but did not hear that from anyone else (and the attempts at changing it made it look worse IMO) so I left it how it was. All advice should be considered against your own (and others') judgement, but it should always be considered.
 

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Solmu said:
If people are posting actual feedback requests (and not ads disguised as them) they should find honesty useful. Most of the time we're all too busy playing nicey-nicey to actually give any useful critiques.
Trust me, I agree with you. At the same time, it is possible to give an honest critique without being as harsh. It's not as easy, but it's possible.

I tend to critique the same way you did (which is why I don't critique as often, as many times the original poster is looking for validation they have done everything right, rather than an honest look at what they could improve).

(besides, I thought the first rule of T-shirt forums was "1. Do Not Talk about T-shirt Forums.")
See now you've gone and broke that rule too. ;)

That was the very first thing I said. So when I say it it's rude, but when someone else says it it's a good point? ;)
I never said what you said was rude :)
 

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Bottom line is we are all in this forum to help each other out. I am very new here, but it looks like many people agree with the advice, but might not agree with the way it was delivered. (I like Rodney's American Idol analogy).

If Solmu's response helped drive traffic and even sales to the site, then maybe we should all be so lucky to receive such passionate reviews.
 

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TrueNorthGear said:
If Solmu's response helped drive traffic and even sales to the site, then maybe we should all be so lucky to receive such passionate reviews.
I have a friend that produced a small show "off-off" broadway back in the 90s. She got slammed in the Village Voice. While she was a little hurt at the review she was elated to get the press.

There is a ton of copyright, celebrity likeness and intellectual property infringing on kookietees.com. If their hits keep going up it is only a matter of time before the registered letters start showing up at their door.
 

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I love Solmu. When our new site goes up, it'll certainly be put forward to the Solmu Test. But probably by private email, just in case.....

I have to say I agree with 99% of the feedback. The key to large sales (or at least, sales of a level to support one or two people comfortably) is giving the buyer confidence in your product. A website design uses essentially the same skills as screen printing: a keen eye for design. People judge your design abilities based partly on your website presenting them.

If people going to your website think they've just discovered into a HTML timecapsule dug up from the mid-nineties, whose entombed contents seem to have rotted in the mean time, they are not filled with confidence. Slapdash website suggest slapdash product. Even if your actual prints are excellent, your site certainly doesn't say that to me. It says "these people don't really care about quality control".

I also agree that you need a cohesive brand image. I can see the makings of what you're aiming at, but I don't think at this stage you pull it off. The story of coming up with the idea down the pub with beer in hand is fine (hey, the Pez myth eBay still spouts in faux rags-to-riches glory works for them), but lauding it when still in the "rags" part of that equation is a risky move. Fine that you came up with the idea down the pub, but not if the website looks like you were still drunk when making it.

Given the HTML problems, I'd advise buying a template, and modifiying it. Or offering a local computer science uni student $300 to make one for you. This is the front end of your business.....you need it to be polished. If you walked into a high street shop and there was sawdust and rabbit droppings on the floor, with the cashier screaming "I WAS DRUNK WHEN I DECIDED TO OPEN A SHOP!", and the mauve ceiling, orange walls, and green flock wallpaper on the floor raping your eyes, I imagine you'd turn around.

Did I mention I love Solmu?

PS. And yes, Kookai are enormous.

PPS. But good luck! Hire a uni student to polish the site!!
 
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