Usability Report Card:

Joseph Malewicki, the owner of Ceriello Fine Foods, has been an avid reader of Practical eCommerce since its inception. He sells specialty Italian foods at and, when requesting a site-grade, said, “I think I’ve nailed down the info in past issues about usability and navigation problems.” Let’s see if he’s right.

Home Page Clarity

Successful websites are clear about immediately identifying to the visitor what the site is and what the site is for. Ceriello does a pretty good job of doing this. For example, the URL is descriptive, as is the window title in the browser. The home page has both a category list and a bestselling items list, which includes fine Italian foods. However, the tagline “Fine Italian Food Products” in the site logo is difficult to read. Consider placing the tagline below “Ceriello.” The site also doesn’t have a welcoming statement. This is another opportunity to be explicit about what the site offers and why one should consider shopping there.

Ease of Browsing

Product categories run down the left hand side of the page, and are in alphabetical order, following the top category of “Website Sale Items,” which is highlighted for emphasis. Beneath the categories is a “Shop by” area with two drop down menus that visitors can browse by either “Manufacturer” or “Price.” Choosing a manufacturer from the list immediately links the visitor through to all the products stocked by that manufacturer. From there, products can be further sorted by price.


Search is available in the conventional position — the top right hand corner of the page. The word “search” is placed to the left of the search box, and appears at the end of the links “view basket | login | search.” Unfortunately, this grouping of links gives the impression that the word “search” is also a link to a dedicated search page, which it isn’t. “Search” should be moved away from the links, closer to the actual search box. 

Category Pages

Customers can view the results in category pages by clicking links to limit what is displayed. These links include “Bestsellers,” “Name A-Z” and “Price Low-High.” This is a nice way to limit results. However, it is not clear which limiting link is currently active. This could be indicated by (a) highlighting the active link, (b) removing the underline, (c) bolding, or (d) coloring the link.

Product Pages

Product pages feature a large photo of the product that can be easily enlarged, which is helpful. Each photo is accompanied by a detailed description of the product. Useful information such as restrictions on shipping times for perishable items is included.

There is a discrepancy between product pages and the category pages in terms of purchasing. On product pages customers can only purchase products by clicking the “add to basket” button. However, on category pages customers can also click a “buy now” link. The “add to basket” link also looks different on product pages. Having been primed by the category page link, finding the “add to basket” button on the product page is an annoyance.

Checkout Process

Ceriello wisely offers customers three ways to checkout: As a new user, by being a member, or without signing in. After completing the shipping information the next screen presents a special offer for a product on sale. To decide on this purchase customers have to click either the “add to basket” button or the “no thank you” button.

Breaking the flow of a customers purchase by offering a special can either pay dividends by increasing the size of the customer’s ultimate purchase order, or it can cause the customer to leave the site, or get confused about what to do next. This issue can be resolved through split testing, which would involve presenting some customers with the special and then measuring abandonment rates.

Customer Service

It is commendable there is a dedicated link to “Customer Service,” which includes information beyond the usual “contact us” information. For example this page has information about guarantees, shipping, pricing, store locations, help/F.A.Q., a privacy policy and the ability to track customer orders.

Ceriello also offers a monthly newsletter signup at the bottom left-hand navigation bar on most pages. 

Error Recognition

If customers misspell search terms, help is provided by a hyperlinked “Browse our products by category instead?” ”View our full product list?” and a site map. Additional tips suggesting how to refine searches, or spelling suggestions could also be included.

To prevent errors in the checkout form Ceriello has a key indicating which fields are required and which are not.


Using The Wayback Machine at to view older versions of, it is obvious that some excellent changes to its look, feel, usability and navigation have been implemented.

Usability Report Card

Home Page Clarity A
Ease of Browsing A-
Searching B+
Category Pages A
Product Pages A-
Checkout Process B+
Customer Service A
Error Recognition A


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Richard Kerr
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