Josh Pigford was confident enough to put his site, Fugitivetoys.com up for the inaugural “Usability Report Card.” While a lot of attention is paid to search engine optimization and online advertising, usability is sometimes given the cold shoulder by small ecommerce businesses. However, without a usable site, your online business will not convert all the traffic you generate into sales.
Fugitive Toys sells vinyl toys, a niche market if there ever was one. The nature of the products means the site’s design doesn’t need to appeal to a mass market, but it makes appealing to their core-customer base all the more important. With a colorful header and cartoon-style fonts, Fugitive Toys is able to immediately connect with its customers. Let’s see if the rest of the site maintains the user experience.
Home page clarity
Fugitive Toys has a discussion section and store section, so the home page must serve both functions. Unfortunately, this means a news section takes away valuable selling space, demoting the featured product to below the fold. However, a promotion is front and center enticing customers to “Get Free Stuff,” and the product categories are prominently displayed on the upper left.
Ease of browsing
There are no subcategories, only categories and product pages. This becomes a problem in the “Designer Figures” page where the user must scroll through 45 products. Dividing the section into subcategories or making the default view split the products between pages would help the browsing of products.
Searching for products is somewhat hit or miss. While the search function returns all results that match a term, it also returns extraneous results. Just because Tony the Tiger is mentioned in the product description of Toucan Sam does not mean Sam should be included in the search results. However, this is much better than excluding results.
As mentioned above, the “Designer Figures” category requires excessive scrolling by the user. However, the category pages are elegantly designed with large pictures of the products that are clearly organized.
The product pages are designed simply and present the customer with the information needed to complete a purchase and nothing more. However, some small changes could greatly improve conversion rates. All of the products should include multiple product views, especially with such an explicitly 3-Dimensional product. While tell-a-friend is a great feature to include, it should not be larger than the add-to-cart button. In fact, the add-to-cart button should not only be larger, it should be less plain. In addition, there are many other blue elements that overpower what is the most important element of an ecommerce site.
Fugitive Toys has wisely included a progress bar across the top of all the checkout pages. Smaller sites are obviously not going to match the efficiency of Amazon’s trademarked process, but still must keep their customers informed. First-time customers must complete registration before entering the checkout process, but this is accomplished quickly and without disrupting the process. One suggestion is the addition of a CVV check for credit cards. Online shoppers are accustomed to checking the back of their cards for that threedigit number and feel more secure when it is required.
It’s encouraging that a contact link is prominently displayed in the header and the phone number, email address and AIM name are at the bottom of each page.While having a number displayed above the fold on the home page increases customer confidence, I feel its impact on the design would have been detrimental, especially considering the site’s audience.
The error recognition of the site is unfortunately not up to par. Submitting an otherwise correct address without the zip code results in a message that Fugitive Toys isn’t currently shipping to my country. If not the USA, where do they ship? Worse, the delivery address does not require a street address. At least, however, it catches fake credit-card numbers.
Fugitive Toys comes up with a very respectable overall score of a B. Its GPA was hurt by the error recognition in the checkout page. There is no worse sin in ecommerce than telling a customer you won’t let them complete an order, but with some changes to the shopping cart, Fugitive Toys will have the complete
Usability Report Card
Home Page Clarity B+
Ease of Browsing B-
Category Pages A
Product Pages C+
Checkout Process A-
Customer Service A
Error Recognition F
OVERALL GPA B
Request a site grade by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.