Wheelbase – A high quality experience

Wheelbase is one of the UK’s largest suppliers of alloy wheels and performance tires. They have been providing the public with top quality products for over 15 years.

Upon entering the site, it is evidently clear what the purpose of the site is – to sell wheels. The layout is clean and efficient, and exactly what I expect to see on a motor based site. Design looks like a shopping cart site, but again, expected. The color scheme is pleasing, and fits well with the subject. The left side of the page is well designed offering clean images with suggestions about where to begin perusing their site.

Search Options
Fig1. Search Options

My eye is immediately drawn to the “alloy wheel search” located in the center of the page, and this is where I began browsing. The three pull down menus offer several makes of automobiles, followed by their models and finally an option to view sizes of wheels and tires. This worked efficiently with no errors. I was inclined to want to click a search button, but instead was immediately directed to a page of choices suited for my chosen car. I did note that many automobiles are not listed within their makes, as the car I currently drive, a Mercury Mountaineer, was not listed.

Search Results
Fig2. Search Results

I chose a “Ford” + “F150” + “Show all sizes” for my search. The results are displayed in order by size from the smallest to the largest. The thumbnail images are spaced nicely and are of a high quality. The prices are clearly displayed below the products in GPB, which is the default method due to the company being based in the UK. They have made it simple to change the price display option with a simple click at the page top converting the standard display to either US or Euro.

I was not looking for a specific brand of wheel, but the site has taken that into consideration by offering a concise drill down including display by brand, model, color and style. This makes it very easy for users who are comparison based on knowing exactly what they are looking for. I also found it smart that the company displays a Top 5 Wheels suggestion just to the right of the search results. I feel this is a good selling tactic for someone who does not know exactly what they are looking for.

I chose the first wheel displayed in my result listing, the Decorsa 20″ Alloy. The now larger image was of a high quality and nicely spaced to the left of the text description. The enlarged image, when you hit Zoom, is very clear and offers a detailed picture of the product. From here  you can add the product to your cart, or browse their suggested pairings for tires that fit the wheel you have chosen. They also clearly promote the ability to speak to an expert which is very smart considering that the purchase wheels and tires is a large purchase that someone would want to do right. I added this item to my cart and went through the checkout process up to where the final purchase is made. There were no issues, very simple and left me with no questions about my intended purchase.

Navigation Bar
Fig3. Clearance, Competition and The Zone

With my ordering experience final, I began going through their navigation bar. They offer a Clearance section that displays products that are discounted. When clicking on one, the system they have in place remembers your previous make and model selection and notifies you if the wheel you have chosen will not fit your car. You can continue to browse through, however they do want to get you back to the selections that are matched for your car and clicking OK in the prompt takes you back to the search results page mentioned above.

Friendly competition and targeted content makes for a sticky site:

They offer a monthly competition to win a set of tires, with the winner being selected by random draw on the last day of the month after answering a single question. I find this a very good way to engage a user, and keep the site sticky. They have a gallery of cars sporting their wheels, which would give a user a decent idea of how a specific wheel would look on their car.

My husband particularly enjoyed the site’s Wheelbase Zone, which I found to be a very good way of keeping their target market, men, entertained. They offer photos and profiles beautiful ladies, several modeling with the sites product, screensavers and news from the company.

Finally in the navigation bar, I went to the Wheels Advice section which I found a valuable asset, as it offered tips and suggestions for the care and maintenance of your wheels and tires. This is also great for the site’s organic SEO as the phrases found in the page are questions that people would search for.

Conclusion:

In closing, the point of site is clearly sales, no advertisements in sight. While I am not the person that would use this site, I do rate my experience here very high. I was not misdirected within my purchase path – it was very clear and easy. I was not offered ways that led me away from the point of my visit, to browse and possibly purchase their products. I was not offended by their display or content even though the target market is clearly men. I found this site to be rememberable and a I had good enough experience that I would refer it to others who were looking for products of this type.


Sitecritic.net award

* This is not just a typical ecommerce site. A lot of effort has been put into it to make it stand out from the crowd. Wheelbase alloy wheels fully deserves an award.

Fine Diamond and Gemstone Jewelry

Introduction

povada.com is an ecommerce site that sells prestigious jewelries online. The site is professionally designed with strong appealing graphics. The website looks secure and I am sure that users will have no issues buying jewelries from them.

Form

The first 5 mins navigating the site gave me an impression that the site is out to impress. Diamonds, pendants, bracelets… they seemed to shine throughout every pages. All the graphics seemed to be professionally re-touched before. Thumbs up to the web designer and the photographer! Navigation was easy and I had no problems finding my way around the site. The english was perfect (better than mine). I like to see more pictures on the about us page though.

“Ask anyone who has shopped with Povada.com and they will tell you: Its an amazing visual shopping experience backed up by instant customer service!”

This is a strong statement. Perhaps provide some testimonials?

The only problem I had was that many jpegs were very big. Unless the user is using very high screen resolution, the big flower in the homepage (934 x 638 pixels) would fill up the whole screen. I had to scroll most of the time on every page.

Image
fig 1. You see big gaps very often.

Every page is very spacious, sometimes too spacious for my liking… In fig 1, you see the big gap between the content and the footer. Perhaps this might work as a print but for the web, I have to scroll down to see the footer, ie a few more seconds to know more about the site. Most importantly, users have to be comfortable with the site. As a person who shops online all the time, I tend to go for speed and functionality.

Image
fig 2. Text seems abit cramped.

Surprisingly, I feel that the text need more breathing space and this can be achieved easily using CSS. They all seemed abit cluttered on my IE. Other than that, the layout, font sizes and spacing is very consistent across all the pages.

 

Image
fig 3. Bracelet information covers the other bracelet on the right.

In the product pages (such as gemstone rings or gemstone bracelets for example), mouseover one bracelet gives you additional information on the bracelet. This is all good… However, the popup information actually covers the other bracelet on the right entirely. Perhaps a smaller popup or bigger popup upon mouse click might be a better idea. I actually feel that the mouseover information is a bit overwhelming because I have yet shown interest on the bracelet. If the bracelet images are smaller, perhaps we can have more bracelets in a page and less clicking or scrolling for the potential customers.

Image
fig 4. Nice video of a ring.

I really like the videos of the jewelries. It shows that the company is willing to put in extra effort to give more information to the customers. To me, this is a major plus point because it is something that other jewelry website doesn’t have.

I also like to say that I will feel secure shopping on this site (and I am sure others will too). People will have more confidence when they see the live chat and contact number on every page. There are also verisign and mcafee secure logos on the footer!

Conclusion

Overall, povada.com is an above average secure ecommerce website that should make sales. The graphics are appealing and customers should have the words “elegance” and “prestige” in their mind when navigating the site. If this is the objective, then yes, the owner has achieved it 100% percent. Congratulations.

On the other hand, I feel that the graphics are a bit overwhelming and it affects the functionality of the site, ie I like faster browsing speed and see more items on one page. I also feel that there needs to be more “human” factor in the site to make it more friendly. This can easily be achieved by using human graphics and customer feedbacks.

A One-Way Ticket to Excellence

Barrys Tickets provides premium and hard-to-get tickets for all major worldwide, national and local events. It looks like a comprehensive site as there’s a lot to take in on the front page, with sports, concert and theatre tickets. Considering the amount of information on the site, it’s organised very well and the design implies reliability, stability and a company you’d feel comfortable doing business with.

Form

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fig 1. The shop looks as good as the rest of the site.

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fig 2. Even the ads are nice to look at!

I was impressed with the general web design of the site, which is well organised, has nice colours and an appealing look. Branding is good enough to be memorable (this site definitely looks more memorable than others), navigation is reliable and it looks like someone put a lot of work into making sure everything was proofread and checked. A professional effort. I’m also really glad that the designer had the good taste to keep carousel effects and so on as the occasional addition to the content.

The three column layout is standard but recognised by customers and helps to create familiarisation. Small touches, like neat logos, a nice phone wingding (top right) and the right blend of colours for text and links make the site easy on the eye – this helps a lot (as well as good organisation) when readers absorb a lot of content. All of the standard navigational links are in their correct places and all links appear to work.

Function

The purpose of the site is obviously to sell tickets. This much is obvious immediately, therefore the content clearly communicates its message before customers commit to search or buy. I’m sure the site statistician will be able to see exactly how many people accidently landed on the page and how much repeat traffic they receive from analysing timeframes and pages visited.

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fig 3. Whether or not you find what you are looking for..you can contact the company easily.

Coding is a mix of html, css, javascript etc., as is usual for CMS these days. The loading time is a little slow (as with a lot of CMS) but considering the volume of content, I believe the web designer took time to make sure all elements had minimal loading times without compromising quality.

Conclusion

Barrys Tickets is a pleasant website to visit and shop from and the company is not shy about posting contact details, which is the main concern to customers when dealing over the internet. Based on the design and functionality of the website (which communicates well with its audience), Barrys Tickets gives the impression of reliability, accountability and trust – qualities the company is no doubt trying to achieve. If I wanted tickets, I would buy from this website. Well done to the person (or team) who have created and edited this site!


Sitecritic.net award

* We like to congratulate barrytickets for creating a functional site that exceeds all expectations. www.barrystickets.com definitely sets a benchmark for all e-commerce sites out there.

Butterflies everywhere

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!

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.

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?

Lucky Bones

Introduction

Luckydogbones.com is a website selling different types of dog bones online. The look and feel of the website reminds me of internet 10 years ago when everyone is still using cgi and clip art.

The website was developed in early 2006 and I would expect it have a fresher look. In my opinion, salve the design, prescription layout and colors could be improved alot. I spend about 20 mins browsing the site and must admit that though my impression of the website was quite negative, the website itself was quite functional. If someone is looking to buy dog bones online, they should not be lost in luckydogbones.com.

Form

The navigation menus are on the left and right of all the web pages with each menu item represented by a clip art. I usually find grouping all the menu items in one place more effective. The repeated dog in the background is distracting and I would strongly advise the author to take it out completely. I would also suggest the author to use more professional graphics. The current quality of the gifs looks abit doggy in my firefox browser.

I am not comfortable with using strong red and blue in designing web pages. Strong red especially, is a big “No No” unless you are highlighting certain important text. Using strong blue text with big font size looks unprofessional as well. Furthermore, the dark blue text does not provide enough contrast with the light blue text link. The author might want to consider using lighter or some mixture of warm colors.

Function

In general, I think the content is well covered. Some pages are pretty long, so breaking them up into sections using images is a good idea. For example in image 1, the author might insert an image between the paragraphs to break the monotony of the text. Using quality pictures of dogs eating bones might be a good idea. Consistent in font sizes and alignment in web page design is important. Some fonts are really too small (See image 2).

The images in the shopping cart are all in different sizes. The author should really be more consistent in the item display to avoid confusion. I feel that the author can also display abit more information for each item, for example adding the pricing and a short informational description. Unlike the design of the website, I actually think that the shopping cart is quite good and functional.

Conclusion

The website as a whole is quite functional with good content. However, alot of extra work is needed in its design and usability. By making the website look more professional, the author can give his customers greater confidence when they purchase dog bones from him online.

www.luckydogbones.com.1

www.luckydogbones.com.2

www.luckydogbones.com.3

Online Floristry

Introduction

Don Belvedere Florist serves the Montreal area and are committed to offering only the finest floral arrangements and gifts, thumb backed by friendly and prompt service.

Form

When I first saw the home page of the Don Belvedere Florist website, I was attracted to the large picture of the Orange roses with River Rocks, which is quite a unique looking piece. The bouquets on the right side and flower rectangles in the top banner also emphasise the floristry impression. Colours used are warm brown and golden tones and look really nice, but the logo with the purple flower doesn’t blend into this colour scheme. More purple would need to be worked into the home page to make this colour scheme better. Also, having the logo in a separate square makes the top banner look fragmented. Maybe the Don Belvedere etc text could be placed in white on the brown banner background? And the purple flower could be made into a white outline beside it.

I liked the simple sans serif font used and most times it was used appropriately, but the left menu needs to have less spacing (use shift + enter instead of just enter to pack lines closely together). The words “weekly arrangements” on the left menu didn’t appear indented like the rest of the menu. In the brown banner above the main image, the black text is hard to read maybe a white, orange, yellow or light brown would work better?

The use of multiple columns on different pages has worked well within this website, with, for example, a gallery style on the “View Cart” page and a two-column layout on the “Search” page. The design on these pages looks balanced enough and makes good use of white space to add simplicity to the website. Nicely uncluttered.

Function

Navigation takes place by links on the top banner (always helpful to shoppers), left menu category links, text links at the bottom of the page containing “Privacy Policy” etc and links within the pages. It’s a good idea to keep the bottom-of-the-page links the same font size as the top banner links, so the overall navigational appearance is consistent. Also the [Visit Our Friends] link at the bottom of the page was very hard to read changing the colour would help. I particularly liked the popup window for the “Privacy Policy” it’s a good way for shoppers not to lose sight of their potential purchases! Navigational links appeared functional.

Coding is Active Server Pages containing HTML, CSS and javascript. Maybe more work could be done with the cascading style sheets for menu formatting or banner & bottom-of-page navigational menus to ensure indents, colours and sizes remain consistent throughout the site. Loading time was reasonably fast and the large image loaded up quite well. This beats a lot of other online shopping sites out there!

Conclusion

The Don Belvedere Florist website is a nice looking and easy-to-surf website that just needs a little bit more work with some design elements. The flower displays look quite attractive and I’m sure lots of shoppers will like the faster loading time. The website appears in English (probably due to my browser’s preferences) but also has a French translation option in the top right corner. A pleasant experience.

www.donbelvedereflowersandgifts.com.1
fig 1. Logo needs to blend into the banner more

www.donbelvedereflowersandgifts.com.2
fig 2. Left navigation menu needs work

www.donbelvedereflowersandgifts.com.3
fig 3. Good looking “View Cart” page

www.donbelvedereflowersandgifts.com.4
fig 4. Easy-to-follow “Search” page

Chic Logo, Barbie Functional E-Store

Introduction

The Barbie Girl Studio website is a Vintage Charm Bracelet Store that sells handmade bracelet and uniquely jewelry, medicine necklaces and earrings. With a great logo and some thought put into the website design, rx only some small changes are needed to make this a memorable e-store experience.

Form

The home page of The Barbie Girl Studio uses a standard three column e-store layout with the shopping basket placed in the left column. A Search box and Login details are in the top right, and which is a good place to put them. The logo is very cute, with a suitable mix of chic imagery and a girly font that give the right impression for the store. The colours used are complementary to the logo, in pinks, blacks and greys and the overall design is acceptable but the only outstanding part is the logo.

Ways to improve the design to make it more unique would include:

*** Making the blue text and blue links another, more complementary colour to the logo and colour scheme, such as garnet or deep purple.

*** Putting the products on a white background when photographing, so that the bracelet colours stand out more and also making sure all the product image background colours consistent.

*** Adding to the theme of the logo with similar looking graphics and advertisements.Adding subtle textured wallpapers or more colouring to the page (eg, a complementary but subtle colour like light pink, grey or pale blue in the left and right columns and/or at the top).

*** Keeping the fonts and colours consistent with the rest of the site in the detailed Product Information pages.

The bottom of the page has a nice gradiated pink colour bar matching the top with “About Us”, “Privacy Policy” and the useful “Contact Us” links. The colour bars look really nice the way they are, but by adding a bit of lace or some extra depth (ie a silhouetted image) to the bars, this would assist the uniqueness of the website.

I didn’t see ANY advertising on the site apart from the “Featured Product” which was a huge plus, but I felt an excitingly designed ad in the theme of the logo would only assist the website design if the owners wanted to promote a particular product apart from the featured one.

Function

With clear, easy to follow links that work, it’s impossible to get lost in this e-store and the product summaries (images and descriptions) are refreshingly packed close together to take advantage of “web estate” on the page. Customers are able to see a lot more products but they can still refer to the “Featured Product” and “Popular Products” listed in the right column if needed. This layout really appealed to me and I found it better to surf than if featured products took up a lot of extra space on the page. I had some reservations about the spelling and punctuation in the main links – “Earings” should be “Earrings” and “Tarot card” should be “Tarot Card”. Loading times are average, due to the multitude of graphics and code than inevitably goes into an e-store. Coding is php for the e-commerce and html for page design which works well together. The shopping cart appears functional and easy to use.

The Product Information pages are especially helpful as they have large pics of the products so the fine beads and charms can be seen – well done to the web designer who thought people might like to have a closer look at the items to buy. The “Information” box on the left menu was also helpful, displaying how many products, how many categories and the currency used for each section. However, this box didn’t update as I expect it should, so some tinkering may be needed to get it working properly.

Conclusion
The Barbie Girl Studio logo is what makes the website look interesting and eye-catching and this theme needs to continue more throughout the website to hold the customer’s attention (as well as the actual products of course). While functional and user-friendly, a few changes and some more creativity could make this e-store much more glamourous and would attract more repeat customers.

www.barbiegirlsstudio.com.1
fig 1. The Chic & Glamourous Logo

www.barbiegirlsstudio.com.2
fig 2. Interesting Products List

www.barbiegirlsstudio.com.3
fig 3. Featured Product Box

www.barbiegirlsstudio.com.4
fig 4. Products need consistent backgrounds

UK Mobile Phones E-Store

Introduction

Mobiles.co.uk was the UK’s first retail mobile phone website in 1995 and is now the largest web-only mobile phones store in the UK, processing thousands of orders every month.

Form

This website instantly comes across as professional and looks the way an e-store should. The logo is simple, yet unique and the logo colours (purple and black) are carried throughout the website (with some orange, pink, red, cyan and violet used for brands and grey used for title bars). With lots of text, images and attention to small detail (such as the graphic bullet points) the design looks very busy yet very capable. I thought customers might get confused or lost, however, upon closer inspection the headings like “Latest Mobile Phones” and “Our Best Network Deals” have helped to make the featured items in the main section much easier to negotiate. The design looks “loud” and “in your face” but the site is actually well organised and the busyness seems to appeal to lots of mobile phone users, who enjoy new gadgets and exciting communication. With stiff competition, this site needs to be “loud” and the design has served this purpose well.

Using a traditional three column layout, Mobiles.co.uk has the usual elements in the correct places, for example, a left navigational menu, left menu search button and basket on the right etc. The items in the left and right columns look familiar but not boring – an effort has been made to improve on these standard elements, by using graphics, headings, brands and lists to good effect. I especially liked the layout of the testimonials in the top right.

Function

There is a complex maze of navigation on Mobiles.co.uk, however the efficient menus and organised groups of information make it far easier for the customer to navigate. Links appear to work well. The main left navigational menu has handy bolded main categories, plain text subcategories and arrows indicating lists of links. The arrows are subtle (in grey) and helpful which is good as sometimes the arrows stand out too much and impair navigational scanning. However, when clicking on pages from the left menu, there is no indication in the left menu of where the customer currently is, and in such a large sea of data, the customer probably would like to know where they are in order to know where they could look next. Underneath the main bar at the top is an arrowed destination in plain purple text but it is a bit subtle and I didn’t notice it until after I had surfed for awhile.

Coding is aspx (Active Server Pages) using html, javascript and extensive CSS. Loading time is average but varied during the pages on my visit there…e-store loading times are usually an average (not fast, not slow) speed.

The Nokia N95 looked particularly nice due to layout and being able to incorporate the full specs in a subtle, tasteful and efficient manner. The advertising on this page was very helpful as it had items related to the carrier with special offers, instructions, features and deals. Since the customer would be looking at different carriers, the advertising is the most useful I have seen on a website and sets an excellent standard in successful placement of advertisments on websites. I highly recommend other businesses take a look at this style of ad placement.

Another interesting page is the Mobile Phone Deals. With the branding colours for each carrier and the specially designed bullets and headings, this page looks very exciting. The flashing black banner adds to this and overall the impression is of excitement and “can’t wait to buy”. The gradient in the heading text is a neat idea, adding a bit of shine and swish and while the page is busy, I’m sure the customer will love looking at it. “Choose from any of our amazing free gifts” is at the bottom of the page, which was a bit of an odd spot for it. However, having just bought my carrier contract, I sure would like to check out those free gifts!

Conclusion

Mobiles.co.uk is a fantastic e-store which has built on the traditional template to make it exciting, colourful, efficient and relevant to its web audience. I am convinced that it will attract and hold a lot of customers easily (and the deals are good too). Well done on an e-store others will envy!

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fig 1. Detailed bullets & gradiated headings

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fig 2. Making the standard elements stand out

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fig 3. Free gifts at bottom of page & advertising

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fig 4. Testimonial in top right

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fig 5. Colour co-ordinated carriers

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fig 6. Professional logo