This post suggests some ways to improve your sites usability based off of user feedback. These methods and programs will help you gather and act on user feedback.
Outdoor Advantage Online (OutdoorAdvantageOnline.com) is a straightforward online shop for buying fishing lures, providing what you tend to expect when purchasing items over the net. By fixing some minor flaws, Outdoor Advantage could build a much more trustworthy user experience.
Our Initial Impressions
My first impression is a good one. I understand clearly what this business does. I am also encouraged that they not only make these lures but also use the products they make themselves. This gives me a sense of security.
The first thing I see when I load OutdoorAdvantageOnline.com is the Outdoor Advantage logo (with a big fish in it), followed immediately by “Takin’ Names & Kickin’ Bass”. I’m on a site that has to do with fish, yet I have no idea what the purpose of the site is on first glance… I would never have guessed it’s an online store without further investigation.
The first thing I notice about this site is the nice big tagline “Takin names & Kickin Bass”, which I instantly love and adore. It’s very cute and memorable.
The first thing I notice is that the font on the page is the same as the default font for the browser (Times New Roman). Is this site only designed half-way? Looking at the header, I see a ‘new’ badge, but can’t quite make out what it’s applied to. Overall, the site looks like a blog, but I get the feeling that there’s something more going on here.
What confuses us
The shop is easy enough to navigate. Entries are formatted in a way that is self explanatory. I keep scrolling down the page looking for a lure with good reviews. I get to the bottom of the page to click the Next Page link… Um… there is a next page, right? Apparently not, as there is no page navigation. When I see results listed in entry like format, I assume there must be a navigation at the bottom (and often times the top) of that page.
In an age where websites are more dynamic than ever, I am disappointed. Amazon.com and BananaRepublic.com have trained me, as a user, to expect to see dynamic pictures of items I am interested in.
The shop is extremely straightforward. I think that all of the interaction points, at first glance, are obvious. I go about finding a product of interest. I then try to change the color of the product. Nothing happens. In an age where websites are more dynamic than ever, I am disappointed. Amazon.com and BananaRepublic.com have trained me, as a user, to expect to see dynamic pictures of items I am interested in. After changing the color a couple of times I get frustrated that the item doesn’t update to my preference. By the way: how am I supposed to know what color “Spicy Shad” is, anyway?”
The special order/custom pour request form is a great feature, though with it all being grey it makes me think that I can’t enter information there. Obviously, when I click on it I see that I can, but I’m used to seeing unavailable fields in grey.
When I move over to the Pictures page I wonder why product pictures would be located in a new location instead of the store. Maybe a better name for this section would be Gallery. I think it is a great option to allow users to submit their own photos.
[Regarding] the Classifieds section of outdooradvantageonline.com: The process of creating an account isn’t as straightforward as it could be. I think that maybe some introductory text that is short and simple should be available help orient me to the purpose of this section, and even guide me to create my first listing. Because I’ve used wordpress in the past I more or less understand how I can use an account to submit content to the site, but I don’t think the average user is going to guess that outright.
The last page I am going to is Service. I wonder, is service where I get maintenance done on my lures? Surprise! It’s a contact page. Why not call it that? Hold on… an invoice ID is required to contact you? What if a customer just wants to ask a question? I know, I saw the webmaster email at the bottom. Not always is the webmaster someone who can answer questions about products though. This process is misleading and unusable as a whole.
What We Like
The forum seems easy enough to use, has some active discussion by the looks of it, and looks pretty standard. I like forums that don’t try to break the typical styles and conventions. I’m used to this forum layout, and know what to do with very little thought.
Clicking special order [and] … submitting a blank form yields a litany of red on the page (I think I may have killed somebody.) But fortunately, this cascade of messages makes the page very easy to use. I’m excited because at the top of the page is a concise list of everything that is required to get me on my way. This is a great example, Mr. Designer guy: by presenting your form’s errors in an ordered list you’re making it super easy for your users to complete the form and get on with their lives.
While navigating to the Fishing Tips page I thought to myself I hope the URLs are neatly formatted to allow users to understand where they are. To my surprise this is accomplished nicely by a WordPress setting they seem to be using.
What We Suggest
I’d suggest taking a few ideas from Amazon, one of the most popular online shops, and apply some of the things they do to this online shop. In product listings, I think users would be more satisfied if the thumbnail auto-updated with the selected color. Also, the rating seems to make more sense up top where it is traditionally placed on product pages.
Make sure there is an EASY way for users to get in touch. If there isn’t, and a customer gets frustrated in the process of trying to contact the company it is likely they will leave.
Allow customers to write reviews about products, not just rate them. Add line breaks between tips to increase readability. Make the “Camping Tents and Sleeping Bags” link and “Bass Resource” link more designed and defined.
Lastly, consider providing inline-error checking on your forms, so that users don’t have to “get to submit” before they are presented with what they did incorrectly. Catching errors before a user hits submit keeps his momentum through the site at a high level.
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