notebooksgalore.com.au is a website that sells bargain priced new and used notebooks in Melbourne, Australia. Upon landing on the home page, the first two thing that got my attention was the smiling face of the owner (Peter McGuigan) and a “Cant find IP” error on top of the left menu. Why show the IP?
Form and Function
The home page is welcoming and functional. The user can order the laptop almost right away by clicking on the “order” button. Navigation is dead simple from the top and left. The author emphasises the word “trust” and “honesty” alot of times in the website and this certainly gives the buyer a peace of mind when purchasing notebooks from the site. The content is great and I really like the “about us” section where the author is very open about himself. The testimonial is well placed below each item but it seems to be from the same person “Mark Harrell”. Consider having some rotation? There is also a testimonial page but it is kind of hidden in the footer on certain pages only. Perhaps it should be more obvious?
I believe the author has spend alot of time polishing up the language and content and I want to give him credit for that. Despite all that, the website lacks the look and feel of a modern day website. Not a biggy but younger generation may not feel comfortable with it.
Talking about click rate, I feel that the navigation structure and layout plays a big part. I strongly suggest looking at the notebook/laptop section in www.ebuyer.com and www.bestbuy.com or even dell.com to a certain degree. If I want to buy a notebook, I would want to be able to search by popularity, brand, price, reviews, color, memory, new/used and so on. Giving users these options enable them to find the notebook they want quickly and therefore increases the sales. With notebooksgalore.com.au, users don’t have much choice.
There is a different shopping cart section within the site. Clicking on any laptop detail page actually brings you to http://petermcguigan.sitesuitestores.com after which the user cannot seem to get back to notebooksgalore.com.au. For example, there is no way to get back to the index page of notebooksgalore. The left menu in http://petermcguigan.sitesuitestores.com is also different (see fig 2). To get more consistency, I think the author might want to relook at the site navigation structure. There are also some broken links such as http://petermcguigan.yahoostore.com.au. Broken links are bad for many reasons.
I really don’t like the footer in the home page. The layout is crazy and all the links there does not seem to serve any purpose. They look more like spam links (see fig 3). Search engine has evolved alot and I think this technique is obsolete. In fact, it only brings down the credibility of the site.
notebooksgalore.com.au is a decent and functional ecommerce site with emphasis on trading integrity. I feel that the lack of a proper search function and notebook categorisation is a hinderance to usability, ie the users will have trouble searching for the notebook they want. Look at sitecritic.net for example, we have a search function and don’t cramp all our reviews in one section. Having an overview page like the index page is good but users need to be able to get to what they want quickly. If not, they will not stay for long. Fixing this will not be an easy task though.
I strongly suggest the author to revamp the whole site. A quick way to do that is to get a good off-the-shelf ecommerce software (and there are many out there). Many ecommerce software comes with cool templates and layout. This will also make maintaining the site much easier.
fig 1. Item detail page looks clean.
fig 2. Left menu looks different from home page.
fig 3. Spam links from the footer?