website white bear lake

The Best Web Design in White Bear Lake

If you’re familiar with our blog, then you’ve probably seen our calls-to-action for a Free Website Review. When potential customers come to our site and fill out the form, I’m on the other end eagerly waiting to pick apart (I mean…analyze) your website section by section.

And one thing that i’ve learned in the process is that many business owners don’t see the same “flaws” on their website as designers do. So while doing some research on the businesses around us, I decided to compile a list of some of the best web design in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, what’s working for them, and how it can be improved.

Primp

primp white bear

Who They Are: Primp is a local clothing boutique with seven locations around the Twin Cities, including one in downtown White Bear Lake. According to their website, since their start in September 2010, Owners Michele Henry and Wesley Uthus’s mission has been to “change the mindset that boutique shopping is only for those with bookoo bucks.” For under $100, shoppers can find some of the cutest and most-stylish fashion trends.

What’s Working: Their fun and fashion-forward brand comes to life on the website by not only having beautiful imagery, but also by incorporating their large social media following. On the homepage, users will find brand stylists and fans showing off their “Primp” style are featured with the hashtag #PRIMPYOURSELF. Not only is this a great incentive for customers to interact with the brand on social media, but it also gives users the chance to see what the product looks like on other people – how they’ve styled it, what it looks like on different body types, etc.

Overall, the website is very minimalist and the user experience is good. The homepage has clear calls-to-action guiding the user, without overwhelming them with too many choices. One great feature that the website offers is the ability to “Book A Stylist” to come into the store and shop with.

What Could Improve: The biggest area of improvement would be to add an online shop. As it stands, new arrivals are listed on the “New Arrivals” page, and users are then asked to call the store to either put their items on hold or have it shipped to their house. According to the website, their biggest reason for this method is to provide users with that same boutique-feel that you get from the store – limited on items and sizes. The reasoning makes sense; but, isn’t this 2016?

People no longer want to pick up the phone to talk to someone. And having an online shop – even with the boutique-feel – would be very simple. In the long run, I’m willing to bet that it would skyrocket their sales, allowing more and more people to feel confident when ordering from out of state. Furthermore, having an online shop would mean more imagery. The images currently on their website are beautiful. They even take the time to style and create outfits with their products.

But, that doesn’t deny the problem of consumers needing and deserving to see their potential purchase in closer detail. How would these outfits look on a real person? How am I supposed to buy a dress or a jacket if I’m only seeing it from one, flat angle? What does the inside of the purse look like, and are there enough pockets for my belongings? The amount of potential headaches and questions users may have are enough to make them want to look elsewhere.

Bonus Tip: If you have products available for purchase on your website, it’s VERY important to include your return policy somewhere that makes sense on your site – such as the FAQ section. Remember, too many people assume that a customer will just call and ask if they have questions; but they won’t. Be transparent and build their trust by providing all the information they need to make an informed-buying decision.

Eat

eat white bear

Who They Are: Eat! @ Banning and 5th is a staple in White Bear Lake. Although they do have delicious soup and sandwiches, guests can also treat themselves to one of their breakfast dishes such as a Quiche or Hashed Browns Casserole. But don’t forget to check out their awesome homemade desserts too! (Clearly I shouldn’t be writing this while I’m so hungry.) In addition, they have a kitchen store that is connected to the restaurant.

What’s Working: If you’ve been inside their restaurant, then you may have noticed that the vibe is a little rough around the edges. In my opinion, it sort of feels like an old-school diner but with a serious culinary skills. And this vibe continues throughout their website, in a good way. The website is straight forward, no unnecessary frills, just the information the users ultimately want – hours, menu, location, and about.

What Could Improve: The biggest area for improvement on the website would be with the user experience. When the user arrives on the homepage, there is nothing guiding them to the next page. The goal of good user experience is to not make the user think. When you don’t provide the customer with a clear action to take next, they are left to figure out how to find the information they need on their own. For a website such as Eat’s, which doesn’t have a ton of content, you could argue that the choices are pretty simple: The customer most likely is looking for the menu or for location and hours, which are both easily accessible from the menu bar. However, you can’t just assume this. The hero image lacks in design and has oddly-placed text. Simply moving the text to the left or centered and adding a call-to-action to the menu or new specials would eliminate the hesitation and confusion.

Moreover, below the hero image there are three boxes highlighting a few of Eat’s features such as takeout options and dinner on Thursdays. One thing to note is that although it’s great to have this information at the forefront, the overall design and usability of the boxes is frustrating for the user. Each box contains a photo, title and text. They appear as if they are blog post-type boxes, seeming to invite the user to click on the title, but you can’t. Instead, there are links to the appropriate place inside of the body text. To ensure better usability, simply add a call-to-action button below the text in a contrasting color, or at least the option to click the title – such as the menu buttons in the space below.

Finally, we all know that a large majority of people are using the internet on their mobile device, including smart phones and tablets. So the stakes of having a website that looks good and works on any device are getting higher and higher. When visiting a website, have you ever rolled your mouse over to one of the sides or corners to resize the browser window? If so, or if you’re doing it now, what do you notice? Does the website resize nicely, with everything staying in their proper alignment?

When you have a website, it’s important to remember that even if someone is viewing on desktop, the size of their browser window can vary drastically. In the case of Eat’s website, as I resize the window to the size of a tablet or smaller until you reach the “mobile” viewport, the website breaks. Text and images that was once placed in boxes has now shifted, and in some cases, is completely overlapping with other content. In this case, a simple “refresh” of the page seems to fix the majority of issues, but that’s not always going to be the case.

Explore White Bear

explore white bear

Who They Are: Explore White Bear is a tourism website for the city, which highlights community events, news and more.

What’s Working: Typically tourism sites appear overcrowded due to the vast amount of information the goes into the site. With Explore White Bear, the overall design of the website mimics what you would expect from a city tourism site, but it’s done well with nice shades of blue and orange combined with good use of typography and white space. Furthermore, as a user it’s easy to find what you’re looking for because they have made sure everything is labeled clearly, and the most important information to the user is easily available.

What Could Improve: The main slider on the homepage has eight different calls-to-action that it rotates between (2 slides, 4 on each). Because there is so much information to convey on the site, having multiple options here can make the user overwhelmed, especially when they can select the same options, only worded differently, right above in the menu.

Another thing to improve, would be to make sure that the website is responsive. Different from Eat’s website, when you resize the browser the website doesn’t break; however, it doesn’t resize at all. Although they do have a seperate mobile site, it’s still very important to make your website responsive also.

Chuck & Don’s

chuck don white bear

Who They Are: Chuck and Don’s is a pet supply store located in Minnesota, Colorado and Wisconsin, and has a location in White Bear Lake.

What’s Working: According to their website, Chuck and Don’s mission is “to provide the best products, service and education for our customers enabling them to enrich the lives of their pets.” This model definitely shows on their website, as their personality comes through on every page…of course, this is pretty easy to do when you get to include pictures of cute, furry animals. Furthermore, the website is very simple to navigate and they even have a Q&A section for customers to write in with their questions.

What Could Improve: At first glance, the slider on their homepage feels very outdated and is poorly designed. Simply changing it to a full-page width slider, where the images would be bigger, would greatly improve the appearance. Also, there are at least 7 different colors being used on the website in all. I really recommend sticking to 3 or four maximum; mostly because, like in the case of this website, it starts to feel very inconsistent and just doesn’t pair together very well. Finally, and most importantly, I want to point out that it’s vital to make sure the images you use on your website are relevant to your brand. In this case, when I glance through Chuck & Don’s homepage, on the section near the bottom labeled “Find Your Store” there is a photo of a map of a Seattle neighborhood. However, that’s my hometown; and as far as I know Chuck & Don’s doesn’t even have a store in that state.

Thanks for reading! If you have any further questions, or are looking for ways to improve your website, click the “Free Website Review” link below.


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Posted by Ariel Valley

Web designer, writer, social media lover and inbound marketer at Catch22 Marketing. Also known as a professional coffee taster, shoe enthusiast and film buff. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @ariel_valley.

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