[thelist] web site check please

M. Seyon evolt07 at delime.com
Thu Nov 16 01:14:21 CST 2006

Message from Sales @ Lycosa (11/14/2006 01:36 PM)

>Could you all take a look at my latest site design please? I am particularly
>interested in your thoughts on my interactive mug design application.

Hi Phil,

Chiming in a bit late here, but hopeful the feedback is still of use to 
you. I have ordered photo gifts online in the past, including mugs so my 
thoughts are at least partly from the POV of a real potential customer.

First up, some web dev UI comments:

1. There's no title on the website, on any pages. The <title> tags are 
there, but are left blank. Why? When I'm browsing I normally have 10-12 
tabs open in Opera, not being able to see which is which makes it harder 
for me to navigate between them.

2. In Opera (and also in Firefox 1.5) there's a significant horizontal 
scroll on all pages.

3. The footer says "esales software © 2004 Lycosa Web Services Ltd". You're 
doing your clients a major disservice.

All I'm really reading is "copyright 2004", and thinking "What? This site 
hasn't been updated since 2004? I wonder if they're even going to process 
my order."

I would either change that to 2004-200x, or drop the date from the 
copyright statement.

Ok, now I arrive at the frontpage of your site.

1. One of the first things I want to do before I start designing anything 
is find out how much it's going to cost me. Even if it's a "Prices starting 
at £20". But I would never invest time in going through a design process 
only to be greeted by a whopping pricetag at the end. Waste of time and 
resources all round.

2. Let's create a mug, click on Design Shop. Five paragraphs of text?

"You can create your own design by uploading pictures and text to our brand 
new interactive, online English bone china design shop."


Yes it's brand new, we understand that you want to publicise that, but how 
many times does it bear repeating? And yes, I gathered that it was 
interactive. And believe me, I definitely knew it was online. And believe 
it or not, I even knew I was already going to design something on English 
bone china.

How about "Create your own designs. Upload custom pictures and text." ... 
next paragraph.

And all that was my own verbose way of telling you that I think the page is 
*way* too verbose. I want to design. Don't bog me down reading entire 
paragraphs. Give me numbered steps and one sentence instructions. "Click ye 
here now!".

I think you can edit your copy down by at least 50% without losing any 
major detail, and your customers (well, your client's customers) will thank 
you for it.

3. I think you're wasting a click here. Even though mugs are the only 
available option, you're asking people to click on design shop and then 
click again to get to mug design. Why not simplify that paragraph on the 
front page into a couple sentences and a numbered list?

"Design your own mug, blah blah blah. Something about the really hot firing 

1. Design a mug [link]
2. Design a plate [ coming soon]
3. Design a box[ coming soon]"

4. The design template options are a bit cluttered up, especially with all 
those dotted lines running all over the place. Consider perhaps numbering 
each option, and maybe even using radio buttons.

5. I don't like the idea of showing a photo of a dog in the template and 
then having the mug blank. I think you should superimpose the dog image on 
the mug on the very first page. This is where the radio buttons can come in 
handy, show the selected template option and how it looks on the mug. 
Change the design on the fly as different templates are selected.

6. On most photo gifts sites I have seen, the user is first presented with 
the upload image option. This gives you a chance to analyse the image and 
tell them if it's suitable or not before getting into templates. You could 
also use this to show them the template options with their own photo, if 
you want to get that complex.

You really should do at least *some* analysis - see if the filesize is 
adequate for a good quality print, see if the dimensions are fairly 
standard or if significant cropping will have to be done.

I'd rather hear about these potential problems before completing my order 
than after. Especially if I get a product I'm not happy with and I still 
have to pay for it.

7. Really avid photo gift buyers are going to have lots of questions about 
the product including:
- What is the maximum printable area on the mug?
- What size should my photos be for optimum printing? This may mean 
physical dimensions or pixels per inch.
- What orientation should my photos be, landscape or portrait?
- Can my photo fill only part of the printable area?
- Can I get three photos and one text box? Photos in boxes A, B, C and text 
in D, for example
- Can I have two different fonts/colours in the different text boxes?
- Can I have my text centered/italics/bold?

Having a handily available faq section will help reduce customer support 

8. I would never have realised that the mug image was flattened if someone 
hadn't mentioned it before. I just thought he was selling really uniquely 
shaped mugs. I would have been disappointed when I received my mug and it 
was round and normal. Imagestation.com shows the template as a rectangle, fwiw.

9. Most companies that print stuff on mugs offer a left-handed/right-handed 
option - does the photo face you when you hold the mug in your left/right hand?

10. "Please use only JPG/JPEG file types." The average grandma who wants a 
mug with a photo of her drooling grandson isn't going to have a clue what 
that means. And chances are her computer will be defaulted to hide file 
extensions, so no help there either. If at all possible, you should do a 
filecheck on this and let users know if the file they attempt to load is 
not the right format.

11. "Submit" on the form sounds quite final. Consider something more 
indicative of what happens next, maybe "Preview"

12. Not a major issue, but potentially mildly annoying - if I return to the 
first page of the design shop, even if I reload the page it continues to 
show my previously uploaded image. I can see it now, "But I don't want to 
use that photo any more. How do I get rid of it?!?!"

13. Is the image of the dog one that you have rights to? Someone is going 
to say "What a cute doggy, can I get a mug with his photo?"

14. You can add the mug to the basket without uploading an image. Whether 
that's a good thing or not is entirely up to you.

15. The basket page should have a "Design another mug" button on there. 
Hmm. Attempting to add a second mug to the basket seems to erase the 
previous one. Not good.

16. I'm not really a huge fan of small sites that force me to signup in 
order to place an order. Especially those with no posted privacy policy.

17. I actually live in Trinidad. Do you ship to Trinidad? Come to think of 
it, how much do you charge for shipping? Oh, I see. I need to REGISTER 
first before I can even find out... sneaky, sneaky.

And that's my walkthrough review.

Looking through a couple other pages, as a photographer I was quite 
unimpressed with the photos on the Shapes page. Inconsistently lit, ugly 
background, lots of overexposed whites.

And only 50 characters for an email address RFC2821 allows for the username 
alone to be 64 characters long. I've got one that's over 40 chars that I 
use occasionally.

You've got a typo on the links page - "Aniversary Ideas.com" should have 
two n's. Also why does it link to .co.uk when it says .com?


Now available: Trinidad and Tobago 2007 wall calendars

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