[thelist] Usability Critique - http://documents.pape.com/

Jared M. Spool jspool at uie.com
Sun Jan 6 10:12:16 CST 2002

Hi Jeff,

I took a moment to look at the site. I thought the site was very nice 
and, since I'm not in the target audience, I can't give you direct 
usability feedback -- I'd have to watch real users interact with it 
to do that.

However, we've just completed a 4-month project where we've watched 
users shop for products they really want. Based on the initial 
findings from that research, I have some things that I would be 
looking for if I were to test your site.

1) How do you get here?

You mentioned that this is for media professionals looking to get 
stock photography. Right now, you have 42 images on the site. I'm 
assuming you'll have hundreds, maybe thousands at some point. 

If that's the case, how will shoppers find the images specific to 
their needs? This is a place where a lot of sites fall short.

Here's a little benchmark test you can use: Have a real user of the 
site find the images they need for a project they are currently 
working on.

In our research, we found that if a site wants users to buy 50% of 
the items on their shopping list, those users have to find 80% items 
on the list. If, in your benchmark test, users can't find 80% of the 
images they need, you've got a serious problem and I'd focus on that 
part of the site.

    [If you want to get some of our recent research results on this
    topic, check out our free white papers
    (http://world.std.com/~uieweb/whitepaper.htm) and the report,
    Getting Them To What They Want ($24.99 --

2) Are you giving them enough?

Once shoppers find an image, are you giving them enough information 
to make their purchase decision? We've found that it's not always 
obvious to the design teams how shoppers decide on purchases.  

For example, when we watched shoppers looking at hiking boots on both 
REI and L.L. Bean, we found that REI sold more boots to experienced 
hikers. While the descriptions of the boots were the same and the 
prices were equivalent, it was the pictures that made the difference. 
On REI, they showed the bottoms of the boots (the tread), where they 
only showed the tops on L.L. Bean.

When we asked the REI design team why they chose to do that, they 
told us one of the designers used to work in footwear and "knew" that 
hikers always looked at the bottoms.

My concern with your design (and, again, I'm not a user and don't 
*really* know if this is going to be a problem or not) is that you 
may not be giving shoppers enough information about the image. 

Are the sizes (h & w) the same? Are you giving them the right
information? Will they need to see a larger image (maybe with a
watermark to prevent usage without purchase) to make their decision?
What's the price of the image? 

Again, in our research, it turns out that to get shoppers to buy 50% 
of the items on their list, they have to decide to cart 80% of the 
items they find. If you're not providing enough information in the 
product description, customers won't buy. So, I'd be looking to make 
sure they have enough information.

3) Can they cart & buy?

You have two choices now (Low & High res). Your email suggested 
you'll have more. Do your shoppers know exactly which one they want? 
If there are price differences, do they understand why there are 

People want to know exactly what they are going to pay for. It looks 
like you'll avoid the problem lots of companies have with shipping 
costs. (Have you ever aborted a purchase because the shipping was 
unreasonable or hidden?)

But, do you have other charges, such as licenses, taxes, or other 
fees, that are going to affect the shopper's decision? If so, you may
want to make them visible as early as possible. (On the product 
description page is the best place, it seems.)

If not, you may want to have a total purchase cost display in your 
cart, to let people know exactly what they'll be paying.

Again, I don't know if these are really problems on your site. They 
are just what I'd look for as I watched real shoppers shopping.

    [I don't want to sound pushy, but we've done so much work in
    this area, we created a 2-day course on the topic: Designing for
    Dollars: Discover How People Buy Online.

I hope this helps.


- o - o - o -
Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
242 Neck Road
Bradford, MA 01835 USA
(978) 374-8300  fax: (978) 374-9175
jspool at uie.com   http://www.uie.com

New Report: Getting Them to What They Want
Best Practices for Navigation -- http://www.uie.com

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