Jeans, boots, alcohol and cars. Allegedly core areas of competency
for any American male (that’s me), and extra vital for those working in
the fast-paced world of new media. This month’s round-up has one great
example of what should happen when you build an online e-commerce
business - and four examples of what not to do.
First up is an effort from Lee Cooper. Or is it ’Lee cooper’? The
designers haven’t decided. These guys must be really proud of their
catalogue because they’ve whacked the whole thing up online. This
wouldn’t be so bad if the product shots hadn’t been taken from a
different postcode to the one that the models were standing, leaning,
skating, giggling, and falling over in. Call me old-fashioned, but I
prefer a good, close-up look at the gear before I scribble down the
product code number and click on the global stockist finder to locate an
outlet that I can rollerblade down to.
Interestingly, if you’re in North America you’ll need to call the
importers in Slough to find a stockist. How handy. This site is flat and
clunky, it hasn’t been within three miles of an information architect
and it will only be useful to people studying for an advanced degree in
the History of Denim.
Driven to drink by the lack of continuity in Denim Land, we move on to
Glenmorangie. In the middle of the browser there’s a clean, simple
design that displays encouraging restraint. But once you negotiate the
home page you’re encouraged to waste great amounts of time before
getting to the grail - the ordering/purchasing section. There’s the
history of whisky and, should that tempt you into a road trip, some
repurposed print material about accommodation at the Glenmorangie Lodge.
The site hierarchy is out of whack but being able to buy malt from the
comfort of your stool should be a lush treat. Or it would be if you
could order more than one product at a time. Doh!
Continuing the subject of drink, we’ve got Tetley’s ’Smoothlydoesit’
site. I was immediately terrified by the imploring ’ha ha’ graphics on
its joke page, and this fear turned to loathing as a migraine kicked in
because I’d looked at the site’s retina-assaulting, Soho-neon colour
scheme for more than 15 seconds.
Why does this site exist? Because other beer makers have sites? Because
the ad agency just started an interactive division and needed some
No? Oh, yeah, it’s an online brand-building thingy that’s supposed to,
um, ’extend and enhance the brand’s relationship with its
Trouble at the hopper then because this is a low-grade bunch of
appalling jokes, a chat room that looks like it’s populated by three
employees, skinny rugby news that you can get better elsewhere, a daily
teaser that was insulting in its ease, and more registration forms than
As any drinker will tell you, taste is important.
This is going well. Dr Martens - I had high hopes for this one. The
graphics are nice and the navigation bar stays with you all the way
through. Again we get history - this time about shoes. Super, but why am
I here? Sell me some shoes why don’t you? Where’s the call to action? In
its defence, the site does tell you the locations of retailers that
stock Dr Martens and the map is printable, which is a step in the right
direction. But do people really care about the five-stage manufacturing
process? Despite the amazing spinning boot graphic, I got bored.
Saving the best until last we come to Autohit. This is in a different
class to the others. It’s completely customer-focused - trying and
succeeding to be as helpful as possible to car buyers. The design is
clean, super-functional and user-friendly. Insurance and finance
information is all here along with masses of relevant information about
models and makes of cars. There’s also a really cool personal plate
search function but beware - you can spend vast amounts of time trying
to spell out all manner of madness on car plates. You can buy them too.
The tag line for Autohit is ’Everything about cars’ - pretty right and a
Fred Fields is director of corporate development at Organic