This is my site http://idealchooser.com
I'm interested in any ideas that can improve the user experience and traffic.
If you are using another comparison shopping site when you shop online, which I think everyone who likes to save money should, what makes you like them better?
If you see any design or usability issues that can be improved, I'd love to hear about it.
Same goes for any SEO issues that can be improved.
I apologize in advance for being picky, but it's all about the pixels! From the top, using Chrome:
- Your favicon contains text, but it is very difficult to read. Drop the text altogether and settle with a simple, easy to see logo or inital. Look at the Sitepoint favicon, for example.
- The drop (lift?) shadow just seems strange and not all too appealing to me
- The page could do with a bit lighter background
- The drop show on the top tab seems overlays the content area a bit. For shadows and other alignments, I suggest using pixels and supposed to ems. Ems are great for text, but they aren't meant to use to design the whole page.
- Choose different fonts! Currently you just have one: Verdana. While standard sans-serif fonts do have their place, you should try to mix in some more interesting ones. [Google Webfonts has a good select of (free) ones, but while [URL="https://typekit.com/"]Typekit](http://www.google.com/webfonts/) offers higher quality ones overall, they come at a price.
- The heading text is not very scannable - when I visit a page, my eyes should read whever heading text is there whether I like it or not! Removing the bold, adding "line-height:1.5em," increasing the size, and possibly using a more interesting (but still legible!) font would help, I think.
- In Chome, your "search" button extends farther down the "I'm shopping for" input field, which breaks up the flow.
- Use (but do not abuse) a :hover event in your links. This would make the site much more interesting.
- The "country" could use some margin on the right an some capitalization as well!
- "Latest User Finds" isn't all to interesting. Fonts, fonts, fonts! Tutsplus featured a 101 article on typography a while back.
- The product boxes don't have a lot of flow. Creating maybe 3px rounded corners and a very slight drop shadow would work better.
- Your "Popular Searches" area is dark compared to the rest of the page and is lacking in contrast. Lighten it up, and use some of that green you've got along with white text to give some contrast on the headings.
- "Online Shopping, Only Better" This should be on an about page, not here. Although, you may want to condense and reuse some of that content for header text or slogans.
- Finally, for the footer. I don't like my footers to be huge, honkin' things. I suggest making them a light grey, adding a white text shadow, and removing the underline. See below.
- When going off the homepage, a "back" button appears. Don't both with this - it adds unnecessary clutter, and anyone who's used a computer in the last ten years can use the browsers back button.
Lighter background, no drop shadow:
I would have had more, but, well, see below.
Under the Hood
YSlow gives your site a decent grade (I've seen worse!) but it could use improvement:
The almighty Validator does't like your site very much, though. I found all the errors that I've personally got from that, I can fix in under a half hour - and it makes the site work better for some less intelligent browsers ahemIE6*ahem*.
- Inline styles are a no-no. Remove them and you'll save a ton of bandwidth, make your site more maintainable, and have faster loading times. It was because of all the inline attributes that I did not give you more images - it would have taken a lot of time to change every single one!
- Each product item is a separate table. No. Use CSS styling, and you can create the "Latest User Finds" without one single table.
Overall, though, I like the design. I'm a fan of the simplistic, really "solid" feeling designs, and yours falls into that category. I want to emphasize that, if nothing else, heed my advice when it comes to fonts. Typography can make or break a site. In fact, most if not the majority of minimalistic sites are nice simply because of their typography. With a little more work, you could really have a great site!
The colors don't mesh well together. (Peach and purple -- seriously?) And there's way too much stuff on the front page.
I feel too boxed in. I can't focus on anything. I can barely see the search box which is the whole point of the site. I should be able to visit the home page and instantly understand that this is a shopping comparison site.
Keep it simple.
The search box should be the focus of homepage, not just another box on a crowded page.
Your navigation bar (home, shopping tips, etc.) should be at the bottom of the page since your site is primarily a search engine, not a content site.
Also, I don't need so much explanatory/promotional text. Imagine if Google.com had lots of text explaining how great their search engine is, while the actual search box is jammed in the middle of all that stuff.
Just show me a search box and a have a few, small lines of text here and there telling me whatever it is I need to know.
Keep the latest "user finds" section. That's a good idea.
But your popular searches box is ugly and unnecessary. If you want to keep it, use a light shade of grey or a white background.
Thanks a lot for the reviews.
Conor this is probably the best, most detailed design review I've ever got! I really appreciate it. I already did many of the things you suggested. I didn't really get what you meant about inline classes. I guess my lack of design expertise is showing here. Would be happy if you clarify. The rest of the comments are incredibly useful.
Booruguru thanks for the great review. I also originally went for the Google style search box and little else. You know what happened? Google themselves practically ignored me for almost all queries, because there was "no content". In concept, I agree with you, in practice, a page like that will simply be ignored in favor of pages with more content. I'm glad you liked the "User Finds" section, it's really new and I didn't get much feedback about it yet. I also took yours and Conor's advice and made the "Popular Searches" section lighter and less flashy. Thanks a lot.
I would love some more feedback, also from functionality perspective, is it easy to find what you are looking for? Is the selection, search results etc. good\bad\ugly? Of course any feedback and thoughts are greatly appreciate.
I put in Canon 5d into the search and the page refreshed and no results - nothing about no results found just the same page. Changed to Uk and some results were found - might be a good idea to make the US/UK option more promenant.
Yor results in this case were good - all relavant.
Then like all other similar sites ( basicaly when it comes down to it I avoid your sort of site as there are loads of them and most things can be found via Google anyway but thats another story ) I put in 151tl ( a smoke alarm I am looking for ) and I get two relavant results and a result for perfume. I assume as only two results were found it just plonks in any old thing to make the numbers up.
Again I change the country to US and put in 151tl and get 4 results without 151tl mentioned anywhere in the description - surge protector, vitamins, lights and a car radio.
Starting to see why I avoid this type of site?
Next I tried lightroom and get 7 pages of results most are relavant along with printers and I assume missing images saying Submit Query.
The pages load quickly once the initial search has been completed and the sort works OK. Personaly as you have the room I would change "Price high" to something like "Price high to low" but thats just me.
You have 0 errors and 15 warnings (which can be automatically corrected by HTML Tidy)
Rubble thanks for the detailed testing. We currently have much better selection for the US compared to the UK, we are working on it. This specific smoke alarm seems to be a UK one, I couldn't find it in Google for the US either. I got to say that I think you are missing out by not checking out comparison shopping engines because Google doesn't give you a good list of all sellers for a specific item, so it's very hard to find the cheapest seller in Google. Another thing you are correct about, the harder it is for the algorithm to find products, the more generalizations it'll make to find something, the logic behind it is that maybe you made a spelling mistake, or maybe we can find something "close enough" to what you are looking for that will still interest you. Thanks again for the testing, you gave me some useful insights.
Navyfalcon thanks, I'll check it out.
Perhaps you could have an enviroventialy aware search option for the greenies. It would feature companies that are sourcing localy or put something back into the enviroment; there must be companies offsetting their carbon footprint.
I suppose they will be more expensive but some people are willing to pay a bit more if they think they are saving the planet.
The site looks OK to me. I guess one hurdle you have to get over with something like this is to convince the visitor that he/she it in the right place. How do I know what I'm really getting here? Is this a safe site to you? Why should I use this one instead of another? Does this site really cater for my part of the world? The "Why iDeal Chooser" section didn't really settle my doubts on these points.
"Why iDeal Chooser"
This is one of my problems as well - do we need another price comparison site? Sometimes when I search for a product now on Google the first page is full of price comparison sites; why pick yours instead of another?
That is one reason why I suggested the enviromentaly aware option and possibly remove the unwanted results - I can understand the statement about spelling mistakes.
Thanks for the reply guys.
Rubble that's a very interesting idea I'll think how this can be integrated. I'll add it to our potential improvements list. Thanks.
Ralph VERY good point, I'll concentrate on the US, because at this point this is where we are strongest. First let me try to answer the questions of what iDeal Chooser does better than the other comparison shopping sites. I realize this will sound very much like self advertisment, but I stand behind what I'm saying and will gladly prove any point that will be challanged.
No payment for placement. When you look at the small print or merchant information of almost every single one of the major comparison shopping sites, you will see that merchants get to pay to get higher on the search results. However there is no indication that what you see are the highest paying merchants and not the best query results or price. iDeal Chooser find results purely based on the query and once a product is selected, based on price.
Our selection of sellers is one of the best out there. We integrate product results from the internet into our site and once you find a product, you can do a web search to find it almost anywhere. By not being limited to a specific group of merchants you get bigger selection than almost anywhere else.
Price Alerts that require no registration and let you set an alert for the exact product you want, for exact price by the exact merchants you are interested in. Other comparison sites out there either have much inferior alerts feature or are just about price alerts and have far inferior selection of products and merchants.
Unfortunately, typical users don't read long text, nor tend to believe something just because someone wrote it. So if you Ralph, or anyone else, have any idea how to use this information to improve the site, I'd be happy to hear it.
Sorry for being this long, if I had a short, good way of explaining this, it would've been right there on my homepage
For me, the key is to give a one or two sentence summary in big text on the home page, with a link to more info for those who require it. You definitely don't want to hit people with a big load of text straight up. Just let them know it's there if they want it.
Thanks Ralph I'll think of ways to improve it.
Jyotsna, your reply sounded like you didn't even look at the site, so I thought it might be copied from somewhere, quick Google search and sure enough, I saw the exact same reply on 2 other forums for different sites, down to the same spelling mistakes.
Nice spot corwinm, the post has been dealt with
On first view the page gives a clean airy feel but I wonder if you can use a bit of info overload to add impact to show the large range of products that clearly you can offer.
The spaces made me sense otherwise
Here is a site albeit in French but look at the volume of images presented http://www.darty.com/
You feel their range is huge
Or here http://www.fnac.com/ It is teaming with links
Despite the spare space either side of the home page, in the image for the knives there is not enough space to show description in full.
I actually feel your two step process is a special feature you offer and it should be at the top
Why use us, why we are different. I had to scroll down or click to another page to see why actually you have a good thing here
Had you thought of columns to get more data visible?
Look at this
I am tempted to say widen the aspect ratio and imagine it is being seen on a wider screen
I agree with the comment on the favicon being too small - choose part of the logo you feel is key
In my view it is iDEAL the bow reduces image size
Great review Audiotx, thank you. It's funny how different people view things differently, just few comments before Booruguru said the homepage is too cluttered and I should just keep the search box and little else I'll think about it more and try to come up with the best solution for our site.
- you can buy a much better skin or template to enhance your site's look more. Right now it doesn't look bad but not outstanding either
- You should place more items, by their category, on your front page so visitors know that you have more than a few items to advertise.
Might want to use bullets (dots) for information like first and second. Makes it easier to read.
You give lowest (or best) price, do you have any way to check shipping costs ??
Just a thought. On Ebay, that can be a large factor, sometimes I have bought local because of shipping costs.
hope this helps
Deohaivan thanks for the tips, we're developing our UI in house, we have no plans to buy skins. I'll think about adding more items to show the range of our selection better.
Navy we were thinking about integrating shipping costs, it's not a huge factor as it is for Ebay because these are major stores and not small private sellers so shipping costs range isn't too big normally, but I agree it will be useful for our users. Thanks.