The bad – Clocktower cameras
I chose Clocktower cameras website to evaluate as thought it would be nice to look at something local and something related in a small way at least to some of my interests. It also handily exhibits a variety of stylistic and functional elements that can be improved.
Visually the site is quite plain with the site crammed into the middle of the page surrounded by plain white. The fonts are boring and it’s all presented in monochrome black and white. Quite spectacularly for a photography/camera website there are also no images besides the greyed out background, nothing to draw you in or provide impact. There are no images of the products the shop sells and nothing to draw the audience towards the services it provides. If we have a look at the navigation the main pages are organised logically and can be accessed easily but several elements of the shop such as “New arrivals” or “special offers/clearence items” are hidden under a secondary tab accessed through “Inventory” and could be highlighted on the main page itself.
A closer look at the navigation reveals a few more problems, when selecting “Inventory” the navigation bar expands to provide an array of options all clumped up under the main navigation bar. All the options can be accessed easily but are presented in a particularly attractive manner. The items for sale themselves are just listed as text with no accompanying images or descriptions in a table. The styling of the tables and borders is extremely dull making the whole page look a bit like an excel spreadsheet and there’s a lot of black wasted space. It’s all very utilitarian and bland, perhaps it might appeal to a clientele that already knows what they are after but doesn’t encourage browsing and doesn’t do anything to make the products themselves seem enticing. Additionally there’s no way to actually but any of the listed items from the website itself and the site could benefit massively from a shopping cart/checkout system.
Looking at some of the other pages the services page again features no imagery and is just a brief list of the services offered and the directions page strangely features no map other than the one used at low opacity for the background. Overall the site presents quite a practical but unfriendly and unattractive image.
The good – MPB photographic.
To contrast with clocktower’s site I had a look at another local photographic service MPB photographic.
Looking at the hope page of MPB its immediately apparent that there is more effort being spent on making the experience of the site more attractive and colourful. The colour palette is a lot more subtle and interesting, there are several interesting fonts used across the site and the products are prominently displayed in full colour photography. There’s also a large hero image with accompanying text describing the company and its stock.There’s also more texture given to the site through the used of some subtle opacity and gradients.
In terms of navigation firstly its worth noting that a selection of products from the site are presented on the home page giving instant graphical links to the “Inventory”. This information is reproduced in a separate side bar further increasing the options for navigating the site. Also included is a sidebar highlighting changes to the available stock and special offers. The main navigation is placed in a similar position to that in the clocktower site but show which page is currently displayed through highlights. The MPB site also features a search function absent from the clocktower site to aid in navigation.
Another inclusion in the MPB site is a large footer that provides access to the help and contact information it also reproduces the logo displayed at the top of the site. Overall then the MPB site manages to improve both function and appearance compared to the clocktower example. It presents a clean and colourful UI that’s easily navigated with several options for finding content. It also provides a professional and attractive image of the retailer and encourages browsing of their available products.