Friday, May 09, 2008

This week I found a flyer for Fashicon in a cafe local to my workplace. Fashicon is a site that sells branded menswear. Its identity is extremely masculine, defined images in quite muted colours with silver buttons that convey the menu visually. Rather than simply relying on the buttons the descriptions (T-shirts/Polo etc.) still sit next to them, making it clear that the buttons are links. That menu structure sits to the right of the page even when you're browsing items. The front page is simple and easy to read, a portal to draw the audience in and make the purpose of the website clear, it doesn't try to sell too much to the customer which is a relief when you're used to flash sites that are poor, time wasting and difficult to navigate. I am never going to buy clothes from Fashicon because I don't buy clothes for men but the experience of the site and discovering the items that it supplies was fulfilling.

The closest women's site that I can think of, off the top of my head, belongs to the high street retailer Oasis. When comparing the two sites it struck me that while Fashicon's homepage was built to allow your vision to be drawn to the menu on the right hand side immediately, the menu was obscured by the fashion illustration on the Oasis site. The last thing that I see is the menu structure and I want to shop using that system. Clearly it is a good site and built along the same, consumer-orientated lines as Fashicon. It's also better than many other fashion sites, one example being the Topshop site which pushes all kinds of nonsense on to you and then mixes up the categories on the left hand side so that even the myriad types of clothing and accessories aren't grouped together.

When I browse clothing online I am not browsing a concept, I want to see what a shop has and where I can go to try it on. Even though I am not an online purchaser I am a scout for clothes that I could potentially buy if they are available. If a site takes too long to navigate and leaves me bored and tapping my fingers while page after page loads I lose respect for the company. Only real concept brands, labels that sell to the very rich, should have flash sites even if they don't sell through their websites. You need to allow people to see the clothes that they could own. Generally fashion as an industry is starting to get the hang of this but even the best sites don't get it quite right, the Oasis website carries your eye from the illustration to the right when you should see the menu structure as an immediate second object. The narrative is wrong but I can't see why.

1 comment:

Stylistic Web Design said...

Hi Nina,

Having just found this post, i felt compelled to reply. I am the owner of the web design company that along with the owner of Fashicon helped bring the site to life. Your positive and constructive comments are very helpful and have boosted my teams morale.

We are always trying to improve the end user experience and i hope that we have proved that flash and standard compliant web design backed up by carefully thought out application programming can work well together and result in a site that is ascetically pleasing and functional.

Thanks again,

Phil Scott