Jason Ronca critiques India Gift Services Web Site
Cluttered & Cramped may confuse shoppers...
Personality: While the site's look and feel do match the subject matter, the homepage is cluttered with too much information and often my eyes didnt no which direction to go in. It has more the look and feel of a flea market as opposed to an online retailer.
I'm guessing the intention of the site is for someone based in the US to send gifts to a friend or loved one currently residing in India, given that the base currency for all prices listed is USD, and the holidays listed are generally those of Christianity (ie Christmas).
There is also the text over the pictures on the homepage which reads "Send Gifts to India...." I do like that the secure payment info is listed on the bottom of the homepage, and there is a hyperlink which provides information on all cities in India that the site services/provides delivery to. (More on this under the Reader Usability section)
Design and Layout: The homepage feels too cluttered and cramped, with far too many options amongst the top hyperlink menus. I counted 45 hyperlinks of various topics just within the top 1/8th of the homepage. Perhaps just the hyperlinks involving the occasion (ie Christmas, Wedding, New Year's, etc...) would suffice and the topics could expand as you dig deeper within the site.
The 16 options of various gifts offered on the lower 2/3rds of the page offer no rhyme or reason as to why you selected those goods to display. They are neither this week's specials, most popular items, or sorted by any sort of holiday or other subject matter of relevance.
Green and yellow are good options for the background of the top hyperlinks, giving that both are popular and revered colors by Indian people. Black is considered an evil color in India, but in this case when just used for text color, it can suffice, given that the majority of the intended audience of the site is for those not residing within India.
Reader Usability: The site is understandable and easy to navigate. The difficulty lies within finding the link for the product(s) desired amongst all the clutter. The blinking lights of the Christmas wreath combined with the pink banner draw your attention immediately to that area of the homepage. I don't know if that was an intended effect, but am guessing it was considering the time of the year. (Note: as of January 25 the image has been changed to Valentine's.) There is no spam or blinking ads which interfere with the site.
I was surprised to learn that the site also offers delivery to United Arab Emrites and Singapore in addition to India. Nowhere else is that mentioned on the site except when one is ready to purchase an item and proceeds to checkout. This could cost you some business in each of those other countries as well, as a user would just assume delivery options are limited to India.
Also, there is very limited information provided for all products. This will hurt sales with alot of products. A dozen red roses is a dozen red roses, but when buying a Canon BF8000 Camera, a customer will want further information regarding product features. Your site offers none. Even the candy and many of the other products need blow-up photos, and perhaps even detail photos. If the site is merely "brokering" those products, you need to get those photos from the manufacturer.
Functionality: Navigation within the site is logical and simple. The 'gift now' hyperlink proceeds users directly to checkout. Users may be dissappointed to learn of the lack of information on products which they might assume would be provided under the 'gift now' hyperlink.
Meeting User Expectations: While the site offers an array of topics to offer gifts for, each topic only has a limited amount of options which may frustrate users. Perhaps the gift they are looking for can be found within another topic, however users dont want to waste time searching for the intended item and expect it to be where they assume it to be. The lack of information on each product is alarming and will often leave the user curious, and will ultimately force them to search another site for the required information. This lack of information almost begs the question of whether one is purchasing a new or used product, and what type of condition will the product arrive in at its final destination.
Fred Comments: Yes, Jason nailed it -- but one subtle observation eluded him. All those words at the top are probably intended to 'pad' the search engines with keywords. This designer seems more interested in getting higher SE rankings than selling product. If you peek at the code, you'll see they've not only padded the "description" and "Keywords" meta tags, they've invented a new one called "classification". Yet while seeming to be playing for the SE traffic, they blow it in the rest of the page code... no style sheets, baggy, repetitive style tags, and too much structure in the code. They haven't picked up on the fact that adding a title to each link goes much further toward popularity than padded text at the top of the page. This designer needs to shed the page of coding and build some optimized style sheets to cut down on size, loading time AND the insults to the search engines.
Here's a big round of applause to Jason for taking his time to critique this web page. We appreciate it, our readers appreciate it, and the web site owners appreciate it. BRAVO JASON!
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