I had to do an assignment for a class I am taking that is part of the grant I won last year. We had to look at site design and decide what was good, what was bad, and so forth. I decided to look at some bike companies and see if I could compare two of them. I will post my response so you can check it out. While looking around for more or less a bike site to trash, I came across many that are really well designed and some look pretty similar. I guess that is a good thing in todays game of the web selling bikes. I decided I was def going to use a brand that we sell as a good example, and use any brand that came up as a bad example weather we sold it or not.
My assignment is what follows:
I feel that to really compare sites, you have to keep them in the same general genre. I picked two sites that I am somewhat familiar with. They are both in the same vein of Bicycle Manufacturer.
My criteria that I selected, as these are both bike manufacturers are as follows:
1. Pleasing design. - The site is not assaulting when it pops on to your browser.
2. Load time. I do not want to wait to see these sites, or click too many times to get to the info I need to see.
3. Ease of use - I can go to the site and find exactly what I need from the homepage.
4. Presentation of information. - The site gives me the info that I need when I need it. I do not want to have to go too far to look for it.
To do this assignment, I decided to try to decide what road bike to buy. As I already have a very extensive background on the topic.
I used two sites. http://www.raleighusa.com/ and http://www.colnago.com/
At raleighusa.com As soon as I logged onto the site, I was presented with a horizontal list of bicycle types. When I clicked on the link for the type of bike I wanted, I was brought directly to a site of all of their road bike options. The site gave me a quick blurb about road bikes, and below was a thumbnail image of the bikes available. When I put my mouse near the thumbnail, it gave me a blurb about that particular bike. As many bike brands have all sorts of names for their bikes, this helps to give the user information so they do not look at a bike that is above or below their intended use. When I clicked on the bike I would like, it brought me to a site with all of the information I could need for the bike. It also gave me a slightly larger picture of the bike. When I put my mouse over that part of the site, it showed me a really amazing close-up of the bike that I could move all around and totally check out. I was able to compare bikes, send a link to a friend (or my wife), find a dealer, look at previous year’s bikes, etc. Everything was really laid out well, and all of the links worked quickly.
According to my scale.
1. Pleasing design. - The site looks good. Good choice of color, nice images, a bunch of useful links.
2. Load time. There is a bunch of images and animation going on, but it loads quickly.
3. Ease of use - Everything I need is at my fingertips and easy to find.
4. Presentation of information. - I was able to find exactly what I wanted, the size, the color, and approximate price, and a dealer in my area is no time.
When I went to www.colnago.com I was hit with a crazy close-up of part of a bicycle frame. I had to click to get into the English version of the site. When I did get to that part of the site, I was given a loading image frame. I waited for the image to load as it took up a good percentage of the page. Across the top I was not able to find the type of bike I wanted. I figured that the bike type would be under catalogue 2007. I clicked on that link and it brought me to a large picture of a bike with some links across the top. I had to scroll down (on a pretty large screen) to see what bike I was looking at. Here the print was a light gray type on a white background. Not the best way to look at type. There were links called characteristic and technical info. Under the characteristic link, there was a chart that as someone who has been around the bike industry for a long time had a hard time reading. The other link called technical info gave me some specs for the bike.
According to my scale
1. Pleasing design. - Not so much. I saw a big picture with some really poor looking graphics and a link to pick my language of choice.
2. Load time. I had to click around and scroll a bunch to get to what I wanted to see. When I clicked to change the color of the bikes, it did take a long time. Maybe because they are huge picture files.
3. Ease of use - The homepage is a bit more complicated, and it is hard to get directly to what I want.
4. Presentation of information. - The info that I needed to determine what size I would need was very hard to decipher. When I tried to find a dealer, I was sent to a site with Italian on it. When I did find what I needed to click, it only gave me one place to find their bikes state side (which is far from true), and the link for that company did not work.
Bad design will make someone leave your site, and often times leaves a really bad taste in their mouth as it relates to the brand or whatever you are trying to get across. Broken links, clicking around too much, deciphering information does not make for a very good customer experience. The site that I picked for the bad design also had no real innovation as far as design.
I learned to really look at a site with a keen eye for developing how you want your information to come across, and think of the end users interaction with your site. When you get into developing a site, the links and everything become like your local neighborhood, you are able to get around with no issues since you have been here for a while. It is hard to divorce yourself from the designer/programmer side to the end user side of the screen.
In this comparison, two bike manufacturers, one that is regarded as some of the finest bicycles on the planet, and another that is a "bargain brand" bike, the bargain brand site really came off well as the fine Italian cycles really fell face first.