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Watch This Website!

Sat, Sep 1, 2007

Business | Author:

citychain.com

Introduction

City Chain is one of the key players in the watch retail industry. With over 200 retail shops throughout SE Asia and the Far East, City chain is marketed as a sleek, professional brand with a website to match.

Form

Upon entering the City hain website, you are greeted with a trendy looking Flash intro that loads quickly and uses colour and patterns efficiently to attract your interest. With the option to skip the movie, it’s a very modern design that is correctly laid out in a good sequence. The home page which follows is just as nice-looking, but is left aligned while the intro is centre aligned. This detracts a bit from having a consistent design.

The main home page also has a Flash intro of a basketball star in sporty poses on a background of a lightning field and a large watch imposed in suitable places. City Chain has managed to convey this difficult-to-design message quite well and it’s very professional looking without being too corporate.

At the top of the page are red buttons containing navigational elements and the logo is in the top left. A few details made me think that this website is really well designed – the navigation was all in one place and simple to view, the elements of the page were simple but effective with colour and the focus was on the product (which is after all, why people are visiting this website).

I liked the Asian characters next to the logo and also for translation on the pages. It was essential this site was in another language as their shops are in Asia – but by being able to see the site in English I believe City Chain will reach a wider audience. The translation elements need to be consistent however – it would be good to choose to view the site in either language before entering it or making sure that only English is displayed when clicking the top right English button, as the translation buttons are in different places on different pages and some are interactive while some are not. This could confuse viewers who like to know where to find the right button!

On the Catalogue page, it would have been good to read a short paragraph about each of the brands so that I had an idea what they were about. The layout varies from page to page but this was done quite well from a one column layout to a two column one and kept my interest. It could help though if the red tabs on the left of the Catalogue page matched the red tabs on the left of the Contact Us page etc.

It was also refreshing to see a lack of advertising or Google Ads on the pages and I’m glad City Chain think their brand is more worthwhile content than someone else’s ads.

Function

Navigation was very easy to follow, with a main menu at the top with bright red buttons. The rollovers on the buttons are quite slow however and I have often found this to be the case when image rollovers are used. It could be worth making the image rollovers into textual ones by changing the CSS hover style. I know it wouldn’t be the same font as the logo, but believe me, customers will hardly notice with the red boxes and the fact that they are reading and clicking on the text instead of just looking at it.

There is a confusion between languages especially in the customer service page. If the default language is english, then all the pages should be in english without prompting the user to choose the language. Though the flash is attractive, I found it very lacking in terms of content. The “about us” page needs to work harder. If they consider themselves as a key player in the watch industry, we would want to know more about them! I would also like to read more about the different models they have, faqs… more, more and more.

The site is very dead in terms of content and there is no buzz at all. The company needs to re-think if they want any web presence at all. Perhaps if they allocate abit of budget in online advertising, things might get better?

Conclusion

Competitors watch out – if City Chain put as much content and presentation into their products as they do into their website, customers will be queuing up to buy! There are a few layout and design issues and a competition or special offer might be needed to attract new customers but this is a cool website that is attractive to modern watch hunters. Excellent concept and (mostly) well executed!

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fig 1. A frame from the Flash intro

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fig 2. Interactive navigation is interesting

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fig 3. Product catalogue

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fig 4. Simple store location map is quite effective

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fig 5. Essential Asiatic language for the natives

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