Website Critique: Please can I get advice?

Discussion in 'Website Reviews & Testing' started by NX01, Aug 13, 2020.

  1. NX01

    NX01 UKBF Contributor Full Member

    35 2
    Hello

    Would it be possible to get a website critique please?

    Website | www.onboardpoferries.com

    Little Background:

    I run the website as a hobby and have done for best part of 20 years now as I work full time and had no intentions then of changing or doing anything else it was just something being a computer geek I enjoyed doing and it combined various hobbies – programming, photography & ship travel. It is what drove my photography to then join clubs and develop my skills further. My early designs for a site were also erm well totally rubbish really having never done it before, the original site I inherited so not something I started myself.

    HMRC refused to let me register as a business as they considered it to be a hobby even though it has affiliate links – they simply said I was not allowed to advertise the site and as long as I did not seek an income they were happy with me using it to pay for my hobby which it has never done. Weird I know and yes, I kept the paperwork.

    Going Forward:

    Earlier this year before COVID I decided that I wanted to open a small business alongside work to run photography workshops, sell some prints, speak at clubs etc.

    Therefore, over the lockdown I have sat down and worked out a plan of multiple sources of income etc as currently I have a job I love in education and have no plans on stopping full time there yet.

    So, looking at adding the above site into the business mix and advertising it to get more traffic and seeing where it takes me, because I am hoping much of the work has already been done. (depending on how this critique goes……)

    Before embarking on creating a website for my photography and potentially a more booking related site for ferries in general I thought the best thing to do would be go back to basics and learn from all my mistakes and issues I have with the current site.

    The Site:

    The site is CSS & HTML, for some reason I just cannot get my head round Wordpress despite but will keep trying it.

    Obviously, it is a very niche website so apologies if the content is not overly interesting.

    I do have Google Analytics installed and they are saying the bounce rate is ~90% with the session duration being in mere seconds rather than minutes etc. So clearly there is something majorly wrong somewhere.

    Many thanks in advance for everyone’s time and look forward to people’s thoughts, it is appreciated.

    Paul
     
    Posted: Aug 13, 2020 By: NX01 Member since: Jun 27, 2018
    #1
  2. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,339 430
    The way you're going wrong is by having a site that serves no real purpose. People looking to book on P&O want to do this via the official site and are likely landing on yours by mistake.

    I don't want to discourage you as you have a done a fair job and the site looks OK but, assuming you want to make money via affiliate links, you need to be far more direct and offer something that isn't so easily found by going direct.

    Placing banner ads next to what you think is informative content isn't going to make any significant money.
     
    Posted: Aug 13, 2020 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
    #2
  3. NX01

    NX01 UKBF Contributor Full Member

    35 2
    Thanks, appreciate the feedback.

    The original concept behind the site originally was a 'ferry enthusiast' site way back when I inherited it and to be honest I have probably not done much in the way of altering that concept since probably because it was a hobby site rather than a business site.

    I will have a good think about what 'extra' I can bring to the site to add in that extra. If you have any thoughts I would be grateful, one of my problems is possibly being a little too close to the subject matter and not looking at this from a travellers point of view (non enthusiast point of view).

    Many thanks again.
     
    Posted: Aug 13, 2020 By: NX01 Member since: Jun 27, 2018
    #3
  4. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Legend Full Member

    10,346 4,324
    It's a very nice, clean site, loads quickly, works for mobile and benefits (IMO) from NOT being a WP site. It has good content and is informative.

    Sometimes incomes and later profits come from unexpected directions - my obvious question being, why just P&O ferries? Other ferry operators are available! History of ferries? Famous ex-ferry-boats such as the beautiful, old MV Frederika (Radio Caroline) and the quirky chain-ferries on rivers and estuaries.
     
    Posted: Aug 13, 2020 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
    #4
  5. NX01

    NX01 UKBF Contributor Full Member

    35 2
    Thanks, appreciate the feedback.

    The site was originally the P&O Ferries Enthusiasts website, back then there were ones operated by enthusiasts for several of the companies operating out of the UK hence why I did not expand it. Many such sites have now fallen by the wayside, so yes this is something that I will look into.
     
    Posted: Aug 13, 2020 By: NX01 Member since: Jun 27, 2018
    #5
  6. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,339 430
    There are sites that are informative and speak to a certain visitor and there are commercial sites that are targeting people who are ready to buy and need a final push over the line. The concepts are not mutually compatible and it's rare you'll find a site that breaks this rule.

    I would take thebyre's suggestion about broadening the reach across all ferry operators, maybe cruises too. Use your existing content as a base but in future ask your self what information someone who's already decided to book a ferry crossing is going to be looking for?

    The obvious answer, and one that's been flogged to death, is discounts and offers - and I'd avoid trying to compete in that space. So what does that leave? Maybe some incentive to actually spend more money than planned such as upgrades, added extras that actually have some value, best times to sail, book and so on.

    In general, you are looking at adding some value which will give people a reason to seek you out rather than what is currently happening.

    For future reference, some people do well picking up expired domains in this space and bringing dead sites back to life. Not a beginner's route but something to think about at a later date?
     
    Posted: Aug 13, 2020 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
    #6
  7. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    33,458 9,914
    First things first: you aren't going to earn a living from the site. You don't say how many visitors you get but unless it's thousands per day any income will be tiny.

    On pages like this:
    https://www.onboardpoferries.com/fleet/9524231_spiritofbritain/photographs_2019.html
    Don't use thumbnails, show the full size images and add captions - tell me what you photographed and why.

    Let people comment and upload their own pictures and stories. Add a review function.

    Don't have a sidebar. Most people on the site will be using their phone and a sidebar pushes the content down.
     
    Posted: Aug 13, 2020 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
    #7
  8. NX01

    NX01 UKBF Contributor Full Member

    35 2
    Thanks for the feedback, as with all the rest it is appreciated.

    I had noticed that problem with the sidebar on mobile and am looking at seeing if I can do a quick code change that will swap sides initially whilst I work on the rest.

    Spent a few hours this weekend drawing up a mindmap of sorts for what I can do to transform the content into something with a more broader scope.
     
    Posted: Aug 17, 2020 By: NX01 Member since: Jun 27, 2018
    #8
  9. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    33,458 9,914
    Don't have a sidebar - remove it from the site in its entirety. Sidebars only work when the majority of your visitors use a desktop. The majority of your visitors will be using a phone or tablet.

    First decide how you plan to monetize the site. You can then structure the content to attract visitors looming for whatever it is you offer.

    Look at this for inspiration: https://www.seat61.com/
     
    Posted: Aug 17, 2020 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
    #9
  10. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,339 430
    Posted: Aug 17, 2020 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
    #10
  11. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    33,458 9,914
    Not if you view it on your phone....

    Despite looking like it was built in the last century, it’s still incredibly popular. Which proves good content can often make up for a lousy layout.
     
    Posted: Aug 17, 2020 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
    #11
  12. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,339 430
    I actually had this site in mind as a good example.
     
    Posted: Aug 17, 2020 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
    #12
  13. NX01

    NX01 UKBF Contributor Full Member

    35 2
    Thanks again both for the feedback it is really appreciated and has certainly helped see the site in a new light, whilst it will not be a 5 minute job to fix I believe I have a plan on what and where to go now.

    As part of doing that plan at the weekend I did spend some time on the internet, Seat61 was one such site, making notes and specifically on the ferry side of things spotting where there are gaps in content that are easy to find.

    Whilst I have a fair bit of work on this one to bring it up to scratch, I am pleased that the website look and feel (sidebar excluded) seems to be on the right track.
     
    Posted: Aug 17, 2020 By: NX01 Member since: Jun 27, 2018
    #13
  14. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    33,458 9,914
    I'm not sure the site is achieving very much. It's a bit geeky and doesn't offer much in the way of reviews. You need to allow people to add their own comments and images, maybe a rating system for punctuality, cleanliness, food, staff, loading etc. Maybe look at suggestion for the best sailing times - include details of weather and how it affects the journey and so on.

    How many visitors you get daily .Of those how many are repeats? What's your bounce rate? Have you broken down the visitors by device and location? How many used a search engine? All of these stats will begin to indicate the parts of the site that need changing.
     
    Posted: Aug 17, 2020 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
    #14