Usability Review:

Win Your Copy
Win Your Copy

Our three copies of Information Architecture just arrived. Enter to win your copy.

Outdoor Advantage Online ( 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
Matt says:

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.

David says:

The first thing I see when I load 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.

Redd says:

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.

Andrew says:

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

David says:

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.

Andrew says:

In an age where websites are more dynamic than ever, I am disappointed. and 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. and 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?”

Redd says:

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.

Matt says:

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.

Andrew says:

[Regarding] the Classifieds section of 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.

Matt says:

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

David says:

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.

A superb formatting of error messages from outdooradvantageonline.comA superb formatting of error messages from
Andrew says:

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.

Matt says:

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

David says:
Some quick adjustments, and making the image update when a new color is selected would improve the UX here quite a bit, while reducing noise at the same time

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.

Matt says:

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.

Redd says:

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.

Andrew says:

I would use javascript to highlight the shopping cart when you add an item to it. That is, if you are going to continue to use the sidebar-shopping-cart only. I think you might want to consider using a shopping-cart page. I would consider allowing users to change the quantity of items they are ordering on the fly. An all-or-nothing approach feels limited. I would provide a dictionary of color names to actual colors.

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.

About the Author

UX Booth

UX Booth's editors are constantly pushing the digital envelope. UX Booth shares stories by and for those practicing user-centered design.


  • fangirl Reply

    Love the individual star ratings. Its like waiting for the judges to hold up their score cards. Great addition to lead into the full reviews!

  • Scorpiono Reply

    Star voting a bit buggy in IE7, it’s because of the float I believe, anyways, good idea of a webturn. Shouts to Matthew my old main man.

  • Sam Schenkman-Moore Reply

    Firefox plugin Yslow reveals some issues, basically too many separate files are being sent uncompressed without details about how long they they are valid (so the browser has to keep checking to see if they’ve changed).

    Which is relevant to accessibility since the homepage weighs in at over 500KB … in an area with only dial up (say, a rural area where fishing is locally popular) this page could take 2.5 minutes to fully load.

  • Andrew Maier Reply

    @Scorpiono: Are you saying the star voting is buggy on, or uxbooth?

    @Sam Schenkman-Moore: Great point. I think that because the team uses cable or faster connections, we didn’t notice — but it’s certainly an issue.

  • David Leggett Reply

    @Scorpiono: Thanks for pointint that out mate. We’ll fix that up ;)

    @Sam Schenkman-Moore: Excellent feedback for them Sam. I do appreciate you sharing that, as well as the Fx extension. Going to have to grab that now :)

  • Sam Reply

    I love the rating system. Very thorough, easy to read the review, and the website owners must love this criticism. I can’t wait to read more reviews.

Leave a Comment on This Article