The Importance of the First Glance: A Website Design Review
The same is true for websites as for meeting new people – the first impression is a lasting impression. Whether or not brands want to face it, potential customers are more likely to visit their website before their brick-and-mortar locations. We’ve all been in this situation -- someone mentions the name of a business that is new to you and the first thing you do is Google it. After all, you need to judge whether it is worth making the trip in person, and besides these days how would you know the business’s address unless you looked it up on its website. Do brands realize this? You would think the obvious answer is yes. Yet, after spending a few minutes shopping online it is clear that many websites have room for improvement. To be fair though, most small to medium-sized businesses have little digital marketing experience and rely solely on the recommendations of website design professionals. Keeping that in mind, I am going to analyze the website of RK Bridal, the award-winning bridal store located in New York City.
At first glance, RK Bridal’s website has several positive features that are worth highlighting. First of all, the overall look and design of the RK Bridal website is light and feminine. This is in line with what you would expect from a wedding apparel store. One curious thing is that the look of the site does not portray high-end. This is what my first impression was of the website. In my mind, this is a positive aspect because it gives the impression that you can get a good deal on what you decide to buy at RK Bridal. This would attract the bargain hunting bride and bridal party members. Secondly, the content on the site is well-organized into intuitive categories such as Bridal, Bridesmaids, Mother-Of, Special Occasions, Juniors & Flower Girls and Shoes & Accessories. These options are conveniently placed front and center on the site for easy navigation and access. With one click all the designer brands for the specific category are available for selection. Another good feature that RK Bridal included in the easy-to-spot top right corner is a two-line menu including access to a shopping cart, its social media pages and handy basic information about the store.
The RK Bridal website attempts to employ responsive web design allowing for an ideal viewing experience on a laptop and a tablet. Surprisingly, the iPad version of the website is more pleasing than the laptop version. Viewed in portrait orientation on the iPad the site’s spacing and dimensions seem to have been designed for a tablet. That is, when I view the site on the laptop there seems to be too much white space across the top that pushes the main content on the homepage down too far and causes it to fall below the fold. On the laptop it is not a graphically pleasing user experience because half of the bottom images are cut off. That aspect is a bit frustrating, because the brand is diminished by the mere fact that the images on the website’s homepage are not centered properly for viewing on a laptop. Because of this detail the website looks amateurish when it could have easily been very elegant.
RK Bridal as a brand could benefit from incorporating a few of the following recommendations to give its website a polished, more sophisticated look. In the end, a more positive user experience for potential customers will inevitably affect the bottom line in the form of more online and in store sales.
- Eliminate the white space and bring all of the home page graphics above the fold
- Replace the attractive, yet varying quality images on the homepage with only high resolution images
- Rather than burying RK Bridal’s “The Knot Best of Weddings” industry awards for 2013 and 2012 at the very bottom of the ‘Contact Us’ page, this information including the award logo should be on the top right quadrant of the homepage.
- The font of the content in the right hand column on the homepage needs to tie the look of the site together better. Overall, most of the typeface on the site resembles generic internet ads or spam. Lastly, in the internal pages all of the dresses that do not include a photo should be removed. For some reason the dozen or so image-less entries for certain designers all appear first, above the entries that include beautiful, colorful images of the dresses.
The best way to get ideas for improving your website is to look for other websites that fascinate you. I am interested to hear from some readers about some of the best websites online. What are your favorites?