Fashion Stage

Introduction

Fashionstage.com is the online shop for a stand alone store in London and offers fashionable footwear and tasteful accessories for the modern woman. It is an umbrella company for a number of well known brands such as L.A.M.B, viagra Harajuku Lovers and JLO.

Form

Although the home page took a little while to open, I was interested in the presented design and layout. Not only does the design display the products prominently on offer in an appealing way, but gave the audience something new and elegant to look at.

The logo for Fashionstage is appealing and shows what the company is about. Colours are well done and some nice illustration is used to good effect, as well as placing brand logos equally sized and spaced in a good location (subtle, but noticeable). You can tell this is the work of a graphic designer and hiring one has definitely helped.

I particularly like the minimal but necessary presentation of information – too often the viewer is bombarded with unnecessary information.

A few suggestions for the home page to increase the appeal of the design:

1.The main navigational links are placed on top of the image and look a bit amateurish – why not put the links in a separate subtle bar (say, white text on grey) at the top above the image? A nice gradient could help too, as long as the bar was quite thin and matched to the design of the page.

2.The main two text banners on the image also look amateurish and detract from the nice design. Maybe look at finding more stylish fonts to use and incorporating the text into the photo instead of putting them on background boxes?

3.The navigational bar on the inside shop pages has a marbled background and boxy appearance. While this certainly screams fashion, it does not match the rest of the design and needs to be toned down a bit. Maybe by using a grey gradient bar as per above?

Function

The loading time for this website is of concern, and the large images on the front page are partly to blame. Unfortunately, there’s not many solutions to this, apart from introducing a preloader (a loading bar) or double checking the image file size. I’d suggest watching the website traffic to see if visitors navigate away too soon or if they are happy to wait for the page to open. The inside pages are also a little slow, probably due to shop coding and images – this isn’t as much of a problem as viewers know shops can take a little longer to load.

Conclusion

I’m pleased to say that Fashionstage, while a bit slow to load and with a few small design issues, should still attract suitable viewers due to understanding their audience and designing with aesthetic appeal in mind. Not only does the website present itself as trustworthy (you’d have to be if you want lots of money!) but it looks elegant and stylish with the design already. Good design is not that common on the web and an aspiration of websites like these should be a fushion of good design with functionality to make it a top website to visit.

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fig 1. These navigational links need to be more subtle.

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fig 2. These banners detract from the overall design.

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fig 3. Even the payment information looks interesting.

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Rattlecake

Introduction

Rattlecake Diaper Cakes is a new website selling novelty “cakes” made out of rolled up nappies. It’s a cute gift idea and certainly a whole lot less fattening than a cake which is ideal for new mums – hence the tagline “The ‘Sweet’ Treat You Don’t Eat”.

Form

The main design of the shopfront looks appropriately clean and cute and prominently shows the items for sale. The colours certainly conjure up images of babies and cleanliness, but the design itself is not really unique or particularly eyecatching. As a mother myself, the last thing I want to do is think about how clean baby’s nappies might be (there can’t be many mums out there not using nappies, after all). What I would rather think about is how special I’m going to be made to feel if I or one of my friends purchase this fantastic novelty gift. An idea for the design for this concept might be to design the site like an elegant cake shop with “speciality” cakes offered, using solid and trendy colours and some extra colours for inspiration. There’s enough kiddie fonts, baby colours and dotted backgrounds out there and to be honest, it seems a bit condescending to the parents. Then again, please remember I am a designer myself and may be a bit on the fussy side!

The three column layout of the shopfront, while quite effective is overdone on the web. However, people have come to expect stores to look a certain way and a three column layout means the customer feels comfortable with navigation. There’s a lot of content on the front page and it can be a bit daunting looking at it – it looks like there’s too much information, even though it’s only standard and expected information being presented. I suggest the dotty background isn’t helping (it makes the site look too busy) and the pink and blue colours blend into each other too much – for example, the blue background in the middle column blends into the left menu and it needs to be separated with a different colour – maybe chicken yellow?

Some additional organisation would help remove confusion too. I’m not sure why people would need a search box up the top if they’ve just landed on the site? I’d imagine they’d prefer to browse and look at the product before delving in too far. The credit card images could also be moved down a bit – maybe into the bottom of the “My Account” box?

I do think that the images of the “cakes” are well done with some cutting out and gradients added – they look quite appealing. Some adjustment of levels in Photoshop might help to make the nappies look a bit whiter rather than greyer and this would help improve an impression of cleanliness.

Function

The content of the site is adequate for the purpose and it’s good to see that there’s a proper description for each product, what is in it and measurements. There’s adequate content about the company etc.

Coding is a mix of javascript, CSS, html and added components (such as Ajax). I suspect this is a Joomla site though it’s hard to tell without telltale copyrights in the source code. The navigational links are functional and I think the webmasters tried their best to make sure the site worked well functionally, though they are a bit daggy with design.

Conclusion

Rattlecake Diaper Cakes is a good idea and will certainly appeal as a great gift idea to mums-to-be. They’ve already had some success in business and it looks like a shop on the internet is a logical step to take to improve sales. The website has adequate content and the right idea. Some slight work to the layout and some more work in design will help to push it a bit further and make it stand out more. Best of luck!

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fig 1. Some of the “cakes” look a bit grey

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fig 2. The blue colours runs across two columns

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fig 3. Can we make these elements less obvious?