by Robert Rickover
Thank you to Veronique Druesne for allowing us to assess your website. We hope what we write will be helpful to you and to other Alexander Technique teachers. (Any comments from Imogen are included in green italics.)
The phrase “Cork City” shows up in small type at the top of each page. I would use larger type and add “Ireland” to make the location stand out more clearly. “Cork” also shows up on her source page (more about that later) but again no mention of Ireland. (Does “Cork City” mean something different from “Cork?”)
2. Contact Information
Veronique’s email (in a non-clickable version) is at the top of each page and she has a contact page that uses a contact form. I would suggest making her emails all clickable – not doing so creates a bit of a barrier for people wanting to contact her. She lists 2 phone numbers which I assume are correct and provides a helpful map on her Contact page showing where she is located.
I think Veronique could improve her written content – to me it seems confusing at times as in “We can employ gentle traction, hours a day every day.” on her “Neck Pain, back pain” page. She veers into technical details as in “The spine can curve as an integrated unit, but it isn’t beneficial for us to hinge from one point (L5-S1 for instance.)” on that same page. I don’t think that’s going to make a lot of sense to the average visitor.
There is also a disjointed quality to some of the text – for example on her page “Would you like to improve posture?” she shifts from general comments, to personal experiences, and then to an analysis of what the problem with most people’s approach to posture is. I think this will confuse a lot of visitors.
I would suggest she run the text of her site past a few people who know nothing about the Alexander Technique and collect their comments. I would rank this as by far the most important thing Veronique can do to improve her site.
Imogen: I agree. Robert has some excellent suggestions here. Tightening up and improving the text should be a priority. It would be helpful for Veronique to keep in mind who she is “speaking to” as well as the content.
Many of the photos on her site seem to be generic pictures of the kind one expects on certain kinds of commercial sites. I don’t think they work well here. The picture of Veronique sitting on a ball on the “About Veronique” page seems an odd choice – the first thing the visitor notices is the ball – which is very prominent – and perhaps makes a judgment based on that.
The choice of a photo of her studio as the header for the site also seems odd – yes we have the iconic Alexander table and chair – and the ball again! – which means something to Alexander teachers but I think the average visitor would wonder what it’s about and why is it so prominently featured.
Imogen: Having a picture of your studio is not a bad idea – after all I think people like to see what sort of place they are going to be in. A better place, with a caption that makes it clear it is her studio, might be the Contact page. I’m not too concerned about the other photos in general, but they could be improved by getting your own at some point.
5. Overall Simplicity
I think the Homepage is a little cluttered and could be a better organized with perhaps some explanation of the BMJ video and putting the mailing list form a below it, instead of above. Her Blog is nicely featured on the homepage.
Imogen: I believe Veronique’s home page would be greatly improved by including a statement or short paragraph on what the site is, where, for whom, etc.
The pages are not excessively lengthy.
7. Ease of Navigation
This is generally pretty good – there is a standard link bar across the top that is consistent from page to page. The only confusion comes from the 4 “sub-sections” that form most of the content on the Homepage.
Imogen: I would also suggest that Veronique make a minor change to the order of the pages in the menu bar. It’s standard practice for the Contact page to be at the far right. As it’s so important for people to be able to find that easily I would definitely move that link to last in the row.
8. Key Words and Phrases
The phrase “Alexander Technique” appears fairly frequently, but there is not much use of bullet points except on the page “How can I help you” – much of which was taken from the homepage of my site alexandertechnique.com!
Imogen: Veronique does a decent job using headings with short amounts of text. Highlighting key words (not just “Alexander Technique” but other words which people may be searching for, e.g. back pain, RSI, etc.) within the text would be useful.
9. Use of Links
Veronique has a number of outbound Alexander Technique links (although the text size varies dramatically from link to link) and she might do well to cultivate some link exchanges with local organizations.
Imogen: Yes – I think a consistent way to deal with links would be extremely helpful, not to mention it would look more professional. Veronique could make better use of links organically within the text of her pages, as well as the listing on the links page. These could be associated with key words use – e.g. if you mention back pain, have those words link directly to the BMJ back pain study. Linked key words are very helpful in helping your search engine ranking. This can also apply to linking to your own pages.
10. Something Free
Veronique does not appear to offer anything free. I’d suggest at least a free phone consultation.
The BMJ video appears twice (though in both cases without any explanation of what it is). I think a short video and/or audio interview about her teaching would be very useful.
12. Technical Issues
I’m adding this category because there are several issues with the site that aren’t well covered elsewhere. Both the “description” and “keywords” on her source page (the one Google actually sees) are seriously flawed. The description is a tediously long sentence and since that’s what Google is going to use (at least parts of it) below the title of the site on it’s search results, it should be shortened and modified to be more concise. Also, there are way too many keywords – Google doesn’t like more than 4-5 these days.
Veronique is using a Weebly address for her site which I think is a big mistake. Nothing wrong with Weebly, but I’m sure it’s possible to use your own domain name with a Weebly site. At the very least, I think Veronique should get a permanent domain name and point it to the current site. (Imogen: this means your domain – your web address – would not include weebly in it – e.g. alexandertechniquestudio.com rather than alexandertechniquestudio.weebly.com. Pointing it means you just buy the domain name (about $10-15/year) and forward it to the current site. I believe Weebly may provide the hosting free (though I’m not clear on the details) but if not it is at most about $75 per year.) That way, she’ll have more credibility and will always be able to switch to another web platform if she wants and keep the same domain name.
Remember Google rewards longevity and any time you change your domain name, you risk loosing rank in the relevant search results. In some cases that might not matter so much, but Cork appears to have quite a number of AT teachers with websites. Veronique’s site doesn’t show up on the first 2 pages when I looked – but it could be different for someone in Cork doing a search.
The site does have a mobile version which is something that is rapidly growing in importance as website search moves away from desktop computers to smart phones, tablets and the like.
In summary, I believe Veronique should take a hard look at her choice of photos and, even more, the language she uses on her site. The key is to see the site from the point of view of someone who knows nothing of the Alexander Technique. Changes in those two areas alone could make her site far, far more effective.
Imogen: I believe too that updating the language on her site is very important. I also think getting her own domain name should be a priority – as this is a key factor in her credibility and perceived professionalism.
“Thank you so much for your very thorough assessment. I have lots of work to do!! I only started on the website a few weeks ago and do it all myself, so I appreciate the help.”