Practical Ecommerce

Usability Report Card: Lucky-devil.com

Lucky-devil.com’s tag line succinctly states its purpose: “Presents for Kiwis in the UK and NZ” (Kiwis being the nickname for New Zealanders, not the fruit). The site “soft launched” at the start of October before its official launch on Nov. 1, and the owners are committed to making as many improvements as possible in the first couple of months. Let’s see how the initial site fares and where improvements can be made.

Home Page Clarity

The first page of the site visitors’ encounter is not a traditional home page. Instead, it is a page used to determine which version of the website customers need to visit, This depends on whether they want to buy a gift for someone who is living in the UK or New Zealand. Lucky Devil does ship to other countries, but this defeats one of its unique selling propositions: The ordered products are only sent locally, which reduces carbon emissions, and shipping to other countries is discouraged.

The landing page for each version of the site indicates in the title banner which store the customer is in. For example, the New Zealand site has the title “You are in our NZ shop,” followed by two links: “Switch to UK” and “Which should I use?” The latter links to a page describing why the site is split into two sections. This description is especially helpful for people who do not enter the site on the home page.

A constantly cycling self-advertising introductory banner beneath the main title banner is distracting and features information that is already provided on the home page. However, for those who enter either of the sites directly, it does provide new information about what the site is about. Research suggests users generally tune out anything that resembles a banner advertisement so it may be advisable to change this introduction to static text.

Ease of Browsing

Browsing is aided by excellently implemented bread crumb navigation where the links are preceded by the statement “You are here.” Each link is clickable except the current page, and the links are separated by symbols (>>) to reinforce links further to the right are deeper pages within the site’s hierarchy.

Gifts are organized by categories in the left hand navigation. An additional three categories —“Lucky Devil hot picks,” “seasonal products,” which are updated monthly and seasonally, providing incentive for visitors to return and “Lucky Devil favourites” are only accessible through the landing page. It might be helpful to include those categories in the left hand navigation to improve exposure to the products, as well as for ease of navigation and locating the categories themselves.

Searching

Lucky Devil features a search box in the top right hand corner of each screen. Clicking in the box removes the word “Search” and places the cursor on the left hand side of the box. This is a good implementation of this feature, as some other sites annoyingly require users to highlight and delete the word “Search” before they can begin searching.

If a search term is not found on the site, users are taken to a page entitled “Advanced Search.” Unfortunately, there is neither a statement such as, “I’m sorry, your search terms produced no results,” nor instructions on how users could modify their search terms to produce a better result. Instead, there is no information at all.

Depending on the user, they may return to the “Search” box to try again. Unfortunately, their search term is removed from the search box, and there is no possibility to amend a potentially misspelled term or to choose a new synonym for the terms that produced no results. Furthermore, their search terms are not placed at the top of the results page, which is often another useful area to provide users’ feedback.

A search for the word “disc” (chosen as they have a couple of amazing sounding “flying discs” for sale) produced search results for the two types of flying discs on sale, but also for a winery tour. The winery tour page included the word “discovery” in its description of the tour. Configuring the search engine to return whole word matches only would solve this particular issue.

Category Pages

Lucky Devil’s category pages are simple and effective. Excellent large photos and sometimes-whimsical descriptions of the item, accompany each listing. Users can easily link through to product pages by either clicking on the title of the item or the photo. The items on the category pages are ordered alphabetically and also feature a simple “Sort by price” mechanism. Additionally, users can also alter the order of the items clicking the “Low to High” (pricing) or “High to Low” links.

Prices in New Zealand dollars or UK pounds also accompany each listing. There is a “Choose currency” dropdown menu below the “Search” box, which changes all the pricing information on the site to New Zealand or UK currency. A helpful link to currency information (that explains that pricing in New Zealand dollars is only indicative as credit cards will be charged in pounds sterling) is also provided.

Product Pages

Larger versions of the photos featured in the category pages also appear on each product page. These images can be made larger again by clicking either the image, the “Zoom” text or magnifying glass symbol beneath each image. These larger images open in a new smaller window in front of the current window. This is good, as it is important that new windows displaying image detail are smaller than the current window. This is so that users understand that the larger background window is the primary window.

Pleasingly, additional images of the product from different angles are featured as thumbnails below each item’s main picture, and clicking on any of these enlarges the picture.

To showcase the site’s environmental credentials in practical terms, each product has a link in its description, which indicates the “total carbon emissions saved” (by shipping “locally”) followed by the amount in kilograms. A link, in the form of a question mark inside of a circle sits to the right of the statement. This links to a page describing what the saving means. Although this is a good feature, the symbol is small and a little difficult to make out. Using the other, more legible version of the symbol, throughout the entire site would help.

Items for sale sometimes come in both men’s and women’s versions. Accompanying the men’s t-shirt listing, for example, in the “Info” section is the message “made for: we have H for Home tees for both guys and gals — check them out in our other product pages.” This is useful as far as it goes, but it would be even more useful if there were an explicit link to the page where the women’s version of the t-shirt is available and/or links to the actual product pages where similar items are available.

Checkout Process

When users come to checkout at Lucky Devil the first step of the five-step process is to tick (after ostensibly reading) the “Privacy Statement.” Having a privacy statement is a worthwhile addition to ecommerce sites in particular, and may also legally be required. Lucky Devil also has a persistent link to their “Privacy Policy” in the footer navigation. Featuring the privacy statement up front reassures users their privacy is taken seriously, and if the conditions are unacceptable to the user, it is better for them to find this out upfront. The privacy page it links to should, however, have a dedicated link back to the checkout process, which Lucky Devil currently doesn’t have.

The forms in the checkout process feature many fields that are mandatory. In fact, on the first page, every field or box aside from the “Newsletter” field is required. When mandatory fields significantly outnumber optional fields the usual advice, to ensure all required fields are highlighted, is sometimes reversed. In this case, it might pay for Lucky Devil to only highlight the optional fields and add a title at the top of the form saying, “All fields are required except where indicated.”

If there is a delay completing the checkout, when users try and click through to the next step in the process they will receive the message “Your shopping basket is empty.” This should be fixed so users are warned the system has a time limit for shopping, and are warned again when the time is just about to run out. Also, the shopping items should be retained in the shopping basket if the system does time out.

Customer Service

Lucky Devil makes it easy to contact its site. A “Contact Us” and “FAQ”s link is featured in the title banner and “Feedback” and “Help” are available from the footer menu.

On the “Sign In” page, Lucky Devil offers a “Subscribe to our newsletter” function. The check box is unchecked, which is good because some users may resent it when check boxes for advertising, specials and newsletters are pre-checked. Users also have the choice of receiving “HTML” or “TEXT-Only” newsletters. Some users may not understand what HTML is or the difference between the two. Others may find this request strange or annoying, as they will have already set their HTML vs. text display preferences in their email client. Lucky Devil could consider offering sample newsletters in each version for users to view and/or include a page explaining the look and difference between the two versions.

Error Recognition

Any error messages that may appear during the checkout process (using Internet Explorer) opens in a new window. This window must be closed before errors can be corrected. This can be annoying for users who forget how many fields need amending, as they can not refer to the (now closed) error message window for assistance. The problem is exacerbated because the fields that need fixing are not highlighted.

Sometimes, however, the error messages are placed on the page itself rather than in a separate window, which is an improvement. For example, if the mandatory “Privacy Statement” box is not checked, the message, “Please confirm the privacy statement by ticking the box below,” appears just above the “Privacy Statement.” The message is in bold but, unfortunately, it is also in the same orange as the main branding color of the site. As a result, users may not immediately notice it. Error messages that appear on other pages, such as “Enter Card Details,” are simply in black text and not highlighted with color or white space.

Lucky Devil would do well to implement consistent, obvious looking error messages at points of error.

Conclusion

Lucky Devil has launched with a pretty polished website, with many features solidly implemented —especially its category and product pages. Ensuring consistency in the display of error messages, improving search and, in particular, improving the checkout process are a few key areas that could be focused on first. Good luck with the launch!

Usability Report Card

Lucky-devil.com

Home Page Clarity A

Ease of Browsing A

Searching B

Category Pages A

Product Pages A-

Checkout Process B
Customer Service A
Error Recognition C+

OVERALL GPA A-

Want your site graded? Email usability@practicalecommerce.com.

Richard Kerr

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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Legacy User November 20, 2007 Reply

    Looking at the report card and then the website gives me the impression they need help from a designer more than they need help from a usability specialist…

    Splendid article again, though, Richard!

    — *Reinier*

  2. Legacy User December 11, 2007 Reply

    There is also something to be said about being able to accept payments from all customer types, even if they don't have a credit card or bank accout: such as mobile commerce solutions that allow people to pay with a credit card.

    — *MyCashMobile.com*