Welcome to the first post in a new series that I’m pretty excited about. I’m calling it Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, and it’s your chance to eavesdrop as I critique the retail websites we all know and love.
Here’s the deal. Once a week or so, I’ll choose an online boutique at random and grade their site from a user experience and marketing perspective. I’ll point out some things they’re doing wrong and some things they’re doing wonderfully, and if all goes according to plan, the end result will be lots of food for thought for you. I hope to give you ideas for small but powerful changes that you can implement in your online boutique to make shopping with you a happier experience for your customers - and to boost your sales.
Scary-fun idea: if you’d like me to critique YOUR site, leave a comment below, and I just might feature you on a future Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down post. Excellent!
So, who’s our first victim? I’ve chosen 80spurple.com, an edgy-trendy fashion site that’s based out of California. Specifically, we’re going to look at their homepage. Let’s get to it, shall we?
The 80s Purple Homepage:
(Click screenshot for full-sized version).
THUMBS UP (what’s good):
- 80s Purple has done a good job of putting all their “functional” links all in one place, above the search bar at the top right of the homepage. This is a typical location where shoppers look for these “quick links”, and it’s better than placing them in the page footer, because you don’t have to scroll down to access them.
- They’ve used a mix of photos that represent various trends (e.g. over the knee boots) and images that represent specific brands (e.g. Toms shoes). Combining both these methods means they’re targeting both “ego shoppers” and aesthetic shoppers. Ego shoppers is what I call people who love their brand names. Aesthetic shoppers are more interested in achieving a specific “look” with the clothes/accessories they buy. And 80s Purple is giving both of these types access to exactly what they want, directly from the homepage.
- You can choose the category you want to go to within either the men’s or women’s section without even needing to leave the homepage. Just mouse over “mens” or “womens” links, and your options instantly appear on the right of your screen:
- 80s Purple has included a “new items” link in their menu (see below). Yay! I’m a huge proponent of this, because this kind of link acts as a bullseye for your repeat visitors. A “new items” section lets your diehard fans quickly and easily locate your new stock, without having to weed through the stuff they’ve already seen. This translates to more sales for you!
- They link to their Facebook and Twitter pages in the footer of their homepage, giving visitors additional ways to connect with them.
- Ok, so you can’t see this on the homepage, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. 80s Purple offers different “boutiques” for different shopper types. Their staff will need to manually classify each new item to place it into the correct boutique, but the payoff will be huge as regular customers start to identify with a specific boutique, and come back to it again and again. A great way to give shoppers control of their shopping experience.
THUMBS DOWN (what’s bad):
- 80s Purple ships internationally, but they don’t announce this anywhere on their homepage. If you click through to the women’s “brands” page, they have a nice icon that announces their ability to ship internationally (shown below). They should put this on the homepage so that non-US visitors are instantly comforted upon arrival, and feel like they can proceed with shopping. (Take it from a Canadian girl who is often stabbed through the heart when attempting to shop on US sites that turn out not to accept international orders. This matters).
- 80s Purple is definitely an edgy brand, and their website (rightfully) reflects that. But some of the text on their graphics is written in such a “cool” way that it’s impossible to even understand what they’re trying to tell you! For example, this banner about their markdowns took me a good ten seconds to process. Why not spell out the percentage discounts you’re offering in a more straightforward way? You’ll alienate fewer customers that way.
- Finally, the markdowns banner doesn’t link to the 80s purple “sale” page. This (combined with the confusing text on the banner) made me think that they were only pretending to have a sale to put me in a buying frame of mind. If they linked the banner to their sale page, they wouldn’t give customers the impression that they were being duped.
Image credits: Tanner Glass on Etsy and 80spurple.com.