Golden Books Group is a UK company that buys and sells antique or rare leather bound books. goldentbooksgroup.co.uk is their online platform to showcase their company and sell their books to the world.
Form and Function
As compared to other modern day e-commerce websites, goldenbooksgroup.co.uk appeared to be a bit boring although this could be due to the nature of the business. The standard 3 column layout was pretty consistent throughout all the pages. I noticed the left and right menu had fixed width with the centre column stretchable. This might look OK if users are on 800 x 600 resolution but nowadays, people with high resolution screen might not find the layout appealing, ie there would be too much white space in the centre column.
From the usability point of view, it took me a few clicks to browse to the products I want. Unless people know what they want, trying to navigate via the categories can be confusing. I suggest less words but more visuals. Having the categories as graphics in the centre content area in the home page might help navigation – or perhaps showcase some books directly on the home page so that user can have a one click checkout.
I found the category header image in the products page a bit confusing. Say I wanted to order the angela brazil collection (see fig 1), why give me the option to enlarge the header image? How is that image related to the brazil collection? It took me a few seconds to see the “add to shopping cart” button mainly because the button and the quantity box was in a different location.
Clicking on the Angela Brazil collection of 30 Decorative Girls Book Library led me to another detail page (fig 2) which was making more sense. I was now able to view a larger image of the product I want, change the quantity and add the library to the shopping cart or wish list.
I was not sure why the author chose to include logos of various memberships in the page header. Perhaps they were there to give users some confidence when purchasing from the site? Putting them under about us should be enough?
In conclusion, goldenbooksgroup.co.uk has great content but lacks the “black hole effect”. As such, people who know what they are looking for may stay but passerbys may not stay for long. I believed another reason why the whole site looked a bit plain was because there wasn’t much activity going on. I would suggest running some marketing campaigns, promotions, discount vouchers, mailing lists..etc. Although the graphics had been optimised, most of them looked a bit low quality and dark to me. Perhaps someone could take pictures of all the books again with better lighting.
I am sure there are many ways to make the site more interesting and usable and I looked forward to see some great change. One good example of a site that runs a similar business is http://www.baumanrarebooks.com