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Butterflies everywhere

Fri, Oct 9, 2009

Internet, Shopping | Author:

www.nature-gifts.com

Introduction

nature-gifts.com is an online store that offers a huge selection of nature-themed gifts for various occassions. Their product ranges from live animal kits, animal gifts to home and garden gifts. The website looks user friendly and easy to navigate.

Form & Function

The logo is consistently placed on the top left hand corner and the light blue background gives people a soothing feeling. Navigation is 3-tier, ie the index page, categories followed by sub-categories. The menu is on the left and they are all text links with no fancy effects. This can be good or bad: Good in the sense that it is dead easy to navigate but bad because it can be too boring.

The whole website is well organised with great content (and sometimes too much). I believe a lot more work can be done on the aligment and graphics (see fig. 2 – Wildlife nature art section). Adequate spacing needs to be given to separate sections within the page. For example, some padding for the left menu can be more pleasing to the eye. The lack of css means that maintaining consistency in the font size and layout across all the pages becomes difficult.

It looks like the website was built from scratch many years ago and is becoming hard to maintain. Tags like “<font face="Arial" color="#0066cc" size="3">” is almost non-existent in a modern day website. The lack of an inbuilt shopping cart is also a killing factor. Well, it is not a big deal but it affects the browsing experience. People feel like they are leaving the website and need another click or two to come back. The site should be bringing in sales for years (well worth the effort) and the author might want to consider taking the next step, ie upgrading to a modern day shopping cart system. One good example I came across recently is fastflowers.com.au.

I am not sure if I agree with emphasizing the “butterfly award” and link exchange. I feel that the website should be focusing on selling gifts and improving the user experience instead of venturing into other areas like buying new domain names and duplicating the site for example.

Lastly, I have to say that I am very impressed with the contact us page. Having pictures of everyone in the company increases the credibility of the website and gives people confidence to make online payment. If I am to purchase anything from the site, it must be because of the lady in fig 3. I do hope the pics can be clearer and there are more smiles. Keep up the good work!

Conclusion

I believe the website is effective in conveying its message. However, I am not yet convinced on the design. I feel that the website has reached a stage where it needs to be overhauled in order to make major enhancements. It is going to be a big decision for the site owner because professional help is definitely going to be involved and of course $$$$$. The other option I can see is not to do any upgrades for now but try to increase sales… then set aside a budget for upgrades in the future. Either way, I believe that a total redesign is neccessary to remain competitive in today’s world – this of course is open for discussion.

nature2

fig 1. category section

nature3

fig 2. alignment, borders around pic and spacing issues.

nature4

fig 3. We need more smiles like this!

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