Good Example Of Website Critical Analysis Critical Thinking
Websites are an integral part of every company today for their marketing, promotion, sales and customer service across various consumer goods and services industries. With the emerging technologies and easier access through phones and tablets the use of internet among consumers is growing at a significant rate. Leveraging the trend most of the consumer industry companies have launched online selling through ecommerce and mcommerce platform to increase their sales and engage with their customers.
In any industry the success of an ecommerce store depends upon how much consideration is put into the design, easy navigation, effective content management, loading speed and the customer services. Recently, more emphasis has been put on providing a memorable experience to the shopper by personalizing their experience and offering them the most relevant products/offers.
Online sales of apparel and accessories marks a huge market share within the retail ecommerce sales in US. Online apparel sales in 2014 in the first quarter was $1.15 trillion that was about a 2.4% increase from the same quarter in the previous year. The industry experts believe that the current trend of buying apparels online will grow each year with a forecast of reaching $86 billion by the year 2018.
Among all the apparel and fashion clothing industry, the sports apparel and accessories seem to have a good market share. As the active and healthy lifestyle trends are increasing so are the sales figure in the sports and active wear industry. According to stats by Euromonitor the cumulative growth in the apparel industry in the period of 2009-2013 was 13% while that in the sports apparels was 22% showing a significant rise in online and offline shopping trends of sportswear.
The following paper will compare and analyze four ecommerce websites for sports apparel and goods to evaluate their content, design, structure and concept. The discussion will primarily focus on the factors related to providing better sales, marketing and customer services. The paper will also evaluate the overall customer experience offered by the websites. The four websites in discussion will be as follows:
Sun& Sand Sports UAE: https://sunandsandsports.com/
Badger Sports: https://www.badgersport.com/Home/Default.aspx
Each of these websites represent various sports brands and offer information required to make a good purchase.
Critical Analysis Factors
The above websites will be critically analyzed on their ability to provide accurate content effectively and their role in achieving the sales, marketing and customer services for the company. The determinant factors will be based on 7cs model of Rayport and Jaworski that includes comparison and analysis of Sites layout and design, content, user-to-user communication. Customization, Connection with other relevant sites and capability to enable future advances in technology. In addition to these factors the paper will also see how each sites attracts the user attention and how does it enhance the overall customer experience. For every successful website special emphasis is required for effective and efficient customer interaction that includes the general look and feel of the website portraying the images and content according to the user needs, the community building aspects to allow users to interact with others like them and the efficient transition from selecting a product to actually buying (in case of ecommerce) the product. Users like and buy from websites that give consistent, accurate and simplified information with easy process.
The most important aspects of any good website design is its aesthesis, content and the way information is structured. A study of effects of website design on the consumer’s buying trends revealed that clean layout, aesthetically chosen and placement of graphics, ease of navigation, filtering and searching, product categorization of products, detailed and summarized product information and quick access to customer services are the main factors.
Among our subject sites, Eastbay.com corresponds to the most effective design. The look and feel for a sports website has to be different than a general apparel website. The site publishes the large and clean images of the brands it represents with a white background enhancing the colors of the images while not creating an overwhelming effect. The image below shows a perfectly balanced design with subtle yet vivid design appropriate for a sports fan.
On the contrast, the site onsports.com.au aims to show as much content on the homepage as possible. The black background and the ample content results in smaller images for the main attraction of the website the products. The above images show the stark difference right away. While the eastbay.com aims to highlight the context of the website, onsports.com.au looks to fill in all the required information. Though the design and structure strategy is different while both websites have aesthetically balanced look and feel with appropriate choice of images.
The above website screenshots show an example of bad design decisions. The website badgersports overwhelm the user with the colors, the design of sand & sun is an example of imbalance. The color scheme and visual layout is considered to be the most important factors in a design as they make the first impression. This is also proven by a research study that was conducted to study the website design effectiveness, and 80% respondents of the survey said that the colors and visuals along with the images make the most decisive impression on the user.
A website context and content has to be relatable and congruent to the target audience. For a website to be user friendly, it is assumed that the content is logically available and is relevant to the user’s needs. The users of a website expect their relevant content to be easily accessible and should portray a personality compatible to the brand, industry and the user.
The content strategy of eastbay is very straight forward and aims least number of clicks for the user. Focusing on the personality of the brand and the sports’ fan the website offers searching, navigation and filtering products on various parameters such as price, brand, gender and arrivals or best sellers. The website provides side navigation menu to choose among products as well as provides images to filter the products as shown in the picture below:
Figure 1eastbay.com product categorization
The website onsports.com.au provides the top preferred vendor’s products as images on the homepage while allow navigation into the product catalogue through a dropdown menu as shown in the image below:
Figure 2 onsports content navigation
While drop downs are faster to download as compared to images, however searching through images is aesthetically pleasing and the user can select product much faster.
Both sites effectively show the new deals, promotions and sales/discounts on the homepage.
While these sites portray two different yet effective content strategies, the site bagdersports show a much generalized approach to content. The homepage only shows the categories and does not show any promotional or best sellers to assist in user’s navigation. Similarly, the homepage of sand&sun only shows the major brands but does not categorizes or filters the products according to varying needs of the users.
After content and design the most important factor for any brand is the communication with the customer. The most successful online brands utilize the power of internet to connect with their customers. In the recent years much emphasis has been put on the importance of the customer experience in online retail. Customer experience includes various aspects such as the availability of multiple communication channel and the effectiveness of each, the ability to fulfill emotional needs and personalized responses to the customer.
The website eastbay.com offers phone, live chat, email and social media pages to connect with their target audience at different levels. Live chat is very important in making buying decisions and gives a confidence to the user that they can talk to an actual person. The site onsports.com.au provides the email and contact phone number on the last line of the homepage, requiring the user to search for this information. While the badgersports.com does not provide any support channel on the homepage, the Sand&Sun offers social media and email support channels at the end of the page.
All sites except sans&sun offer user registration to offer more directly relevant products and offers to the customer. They allow users to create their wish lists too to be notified of the favorite products.
All sites except badgersports.com offer various communication channels and the sense of community is served through the socialmedia pages. The sites maintain their social pages to collaborate and communicate with the likeminded users.
As the online stores are gaining popularity more efforts are expected to design an effective website. For any successful webstore it should be able to make a customer happy, to achieve this happiness it is important that the website has the right mix of marketing and designing. A design that does not corresponds to the marketing or sales strategy of the brand will have no impact on the buying decisions of a customer. While there have been various reasons argued to make a customer happy such as functionality and quality of product the recent studies show that the emotions are the most important factor. A happy customer is more potential to be a loyal buyer of the product too.
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