Design & Dev Tools

The Shopping Experience: Icon Dock Excels at Downloadable Graphics

Icon Dock is a beautifully designed, easy-to-use online retailer specializing in downloadable, vector graphic icons. Each month, Practical eCommerce sends me shopping. I make a purchase from a real online merchant—like Icon Dock—and report back to you about the overall checkout process, customer service experience, and website aesthetics.

This review should provide a consumer’s perspective about the featured merchant in particular, and about online retailing practices in general. To avoid receiving preferential treatment, I do not notify the merchant about the impending review. Think of it as a secret shopper program for the Internet.

This month, I went shopping for website icons and found Icon Dock an ecommerce outlet for Toronto-based designer Nick La. La’s illustrations have appeared on several magazine covers, he has a set of icons included with Adobe’s Illustrator CS4, and he has collaborated with Wired magazine, PBS, and Canada National Post on various web projects. So, finding a sampling of his work available for purchase and download was pretty exciting. But perhaps even more exciting was how great Icon Dock looked.


Icon Dock Has Great Site Aesthetics

If you want to make a great first impression with users, have a great looking site. This is an axiom that Icon Dock clearly understands and acts on. The site is just nice to look at. The large static header graphic is colorful and yet it clearly communicates the store purpose and product offerings.

On the home page, there is a nice jQuery based slider with featured products and a handsome and seamless background. (See our previous how-to piece on implementing jQuery.) The product detail pages are clear, with a direct and effective layout. And I especially like how Icon Dock illustrated that its wares were scalable.

Of Plus Signs and AJAX

Icon Dock uses an interesting checkout widget that allows customers to drag individual icons or icon sets and drop them in the vertical cart at the left hand side of the page. The cart keeps a running total of a customer’s order. While this is by no means earth shattering technology, it is one of those cool bits of interactivity that reminds us all just how awesome the web really is.

Unfortunately, I did have some trouble dropping products into the cart (you can see an example on the video). So, there may be some fine-tuning needed either in the script or in the form of dropping tips for the mouse challenged.

Icon Dock also used a simple “+” at the upper right hand corner of some of its product images as an additional add to cart button. Once I realized what that “+” was for, it made a lot of sense, but my initial thought had been that it would enlarge the image.

Checking Out With PayPal

The actual checkout process was very simple. I added minimal information and then made a round trip to the PayPal site. Once back at Icon Dock, I found my icons ready and waiting for me to download.

While I have to confess this was a relatively easy checkout experience, I dislike being whisked off to PayPal (or any third-party site) to compete my transactions. I would really like an option to stay right on the Icon Dock website.

Summing Up

At Icon Dock, I had a simple, quick and effective shopping experience, and in this sense it served as a great example of good design and a clear focus. At present, the site does not have a large number of products, and I hope that as it grows it can maintain this clarity.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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