Who has the Better UI/UX – FiveFour vs BombFell

FiveFour_BombFell
Who has the better UI/UX: FiveFour vs BombFell

A little late to the game, but my curiosity got the best of me and I have recently decided to try out two of the most popular online clothing services, FiveFour and BombFell. Although I do have my opinions on both of these services, (which I’ll share later in this article) I want to first compare their websites’ overall user experience.

FiveFour

  • Pros
    • Easy to navigate and find relevant information
    • Overall process is explained well through visuals and supplemental copy
    • Style profiles are clearly delineated with good visuals of what types of clothing you receive for each style type
    • Straight-forward sign up process (only 5 style questions)
    • Easy access to online chat in a logged out state
    • Easy to modify your profile at any time
    • Very easy to track orders and returns
    • Great mobile experience
  • Cons
    • I’m not a fan of the screen take-overs asking for my email address
    • Contact Us and FAQs are only found in the footer of the site
    • Should consider a more eye-catching color for main CTAs, as the current ones get washed away with the rest of the site:
      FiveFourGetStarted
    • Some CTAs have really poor button contrast making it hard to read the copy:FiveFourButton
    • Previous transactions are shown, but any promotional discounts are not displayed – so you must rely on your credit card statement to see what you were actually charged
    • Online chat is only available 9am – 5pm PST Monday thru Friday
    • Very hard to find online chat option once you are logged in (FYI – it only appears if chat is available and only displays on your Dashboard page)

BombFell

  • Pros
    • Easy to navigate and find relevant information
    • Overall process is explained well through visuals and supplemental copy
    • A very personal feel with stylist names & pictures displayed throughout the site
    • Specific box examples are shown with items and average per item cost
    • Several customer provided reviews and images that give a further personal touch
    • Crisp, clean imagery of Featured Threads
    • Easy to follow sign up process with the right amount of personalize questions (approximately 20) to give your future stylist an idea of who you are style wise
    • You can upload photos of yourself so that your stylist can get a visual understanding of your look and style
    • Easy to modify your profile at any time
    • Easy access to online chat
    • Very easy to track orders and returns
    • Great mobile experience
  • Cons
    • “Up Next” page can be a bit confusing when planning out your future shipments – i.e. not knowing if you are ordering additional items or picking your core items for your next shipment

Who has the better site?

Both sites offer a similar product/service, but it’s the fine details that really make the difference. From a pure UI/UX point of view, I think the obvious winner is BombFell.

In my opinion, BombFell really has no major UI/UX pitfalls or pain-points. Everything is very straight-forward and intuitive. The customer process is explained in a simple fashion. The sign up process is quick and easy, with the right number of personal questions. And incorporating many personal human touches throughout the site makes it feel very authentic and genuine.

OK, so what service is better?

FiveFour touts itself with a $60/mo membership fee which gets you “$120 worth of clothing”. Usually this monthly fee includes a pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt, or a pair of shorts, belt, and t-shirt combo. (I didn’t hang long enough to see what other combos would come). I liked the price point, but I did not like having control over what items I received. Plus, you can only return items if they don’t fit.If you don’t like the style, you are kinda stuck. In addition, the personal touch just isn’t there. Although I did receive a really nice, stylish pair of straight leg dark denim jeans in my first package – I no longer have an active FiveFour membership.

BombFell does not charge you a monthly membership fee. Plus, you have control over what type of items you want to receive for each shipment. The personal touch is amazing. With the emails from your stylist, you get to have a true dialogue with them as they learn your likes and dislikes. The clothing is name brand, and of very good quality. My only problem is that the average article of clothing is around $89. I had my first box arrive which included 4 items: 1 Sports Coat, 1 pair of black slacks, and 2 polos – totaling nearly $400. Maybe I’m cheap, but I just couldn’t justify spending that much money for only 4 articles of clothing. I returned all of the items although they fit very well and matched my style. The return was very easy and painless. I have another box set for delivery in a few weeks – but I may lean toward cancelling the membership altogether on the price-points alone.

From this experience, I have realized two things:

  1. Bombfell as the better website UI/UX and overall customer experience
  2. I need to have more patience shopping in brick and mortar locations in my area. I’ll save money and support some local businesses.

I certainly recommend trying both services and getting your take on both.

Good Luck,

BV
volpster.net

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Usability Testing with TryMyUI: UX Wars

trymyui

The folks over at TryMyUI not only have a fantastic UI testing solution, they also contribute to the UI/UX community with an awesome blog.

The TryMyUI Blog covers a variety of UI and UX topics, but I think that one of the coolest pieces they do is UX Wars. They take two competitors (i.e. Pizza Hut and Dominos), compare their respective websites by trying to perform the same task on each, then determine a UX winner based on who has the easier/better user experience.

Here are some direct links to the most recent UX Wars articles. These are great for motivation, and idea generation to apply to your own website:

Happy Reading,

BV
volpster.net

Designing a Website Layout with Intent

layout-anatomy
Designing a Website Layout with Intent

When creating a new page on your website, an important piece to focus on is the actual layout and structure of that page. Whether it’s the homepage of your website or a supplement page that sees a lot of traffic – the layout is more important than the actual content itself. Here is a real life example that illustrate this concept:

bluenile
BlueNile.com – Home Page

BlueNile.com – Is a perfect example of how their home page layout has been designed with obvious intent. First, notice the order of items within the Global Navigation:

  1. Diamonds
  2. Engagement Rings
  3. Wedding
  4. Jewelry & Gifts
  5. Designers
  6. Education

They have architected the global navigation to put the strongest emphasis and importance on Diamonds, with the second level of importance on Engagement Rings, and so forth. Remember, by reading left to right; organically users will see that initial navigation element first; and others will follow in that order. This seemingly small detail can actually drive a lot of incremental traffic to the proper places you want your customers to go.

Now, look at the structure and emphasis of their content in the main section of the home page:

  1. Large Hero Section – 100% Width – Primary Emphasis
  2. Diamond Jewelry – 33% Width – Secondary Emphasis, 1st Priority
  3. Jewelry & Gifts – 33% Width – Secondary Emphasis, 2nd Priority
  4. Wedding – 33% Width – Secondary Emphasis, 3rd Priority

Everything is built and structured for a reason. There is a reason why the emphasis on selling loose diamonds is first in the navigation and layout hierarchy. Certainly, the folks at Blue Nile had tested into this strategy and layout to see what works best for their business goals. It certainly doesn’t happen overnight. However, once you have a goal or main focus for your users, make sure you architect your website to match up with that vision. Then look at your data and see if it’s working. If it is great, find more ways to optimize your traffic. If it isn’t, no problem. Try testing something else until you find a better way to present your content to customers so they can find what they are looking for faster and more efficiently. Done correctly, and this will mean more sales and higher conversion rates for your website.

Happy Testing,

BV
volpster.net

Begin Your SEO Journey with Moz

roger_and_logo_moz
Moz.com – SEO Software, Tools, & Resources for Better Marketing

As everyone knows, SEO is extremely important when it comes to your website. But why is it one of those initiatives that commonly gets pushed off and put on the back burner? I think there are several common reasons/misconceptions for that:

Reasons why SEO gets ignored

  • It’s a long term play, and many are seeking quick wins
  • Lack of understanding on the topic

Common SEO misconceptions

  • SEO is not important. Wrong
  • I can spend more on my Paid Search campaigns to make up for lack of SEO. Not quite
  • I already have Title Tags and Meta Descriptions, I’m all set. Sorry, no
  • I tried SEO in the past, and it didn’t work. Try again

If you need more rationale on why you should focus on SEO, here are some great articles out there that spell out even more reasons why:

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO” by Moz – MUST READ
10 SEO Myths that Friggin’ Tick Me Off” by Cyrus Shepard
Do You Make Any of These 10 Simple SEO Mistakes?” from KissMetrics

So you read some of these articles and you understand the importance of a solid SEO foundation for your site. You’re ready to begin. Great. So…where do you start? The million dollar question. Honestly, it depends on several factors. Do you have a brand new website and your building SEO from scratch, or have you had a website for a while and you want to optimize or add SEO strategies to it? For either scenario, the first real step is having a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish. Are there certain keywords or queries that you want to rank higher for? Is your competition kicking your butt when it comes to organic search results leaving you in the dust?

I recommend starting/rekindling your SEO journey with Moz.

Moz offers several FREE SEO resources including user guides, loads of Q&A, blog articles, and some serious SEO Tools to better your understanding of everything SEO and optimize your website to reach it’s fullest potential. Additionally, there are paid versions of some of their tools that provide even more SEO goodness.

To top it off, the entire Moz staff is extremely knowledgeable and more than willing to help you on your SEO journey. So whether you are brand new to SEO, or trying to get your website back on track from an SEO standpoint, Moz is an excellent place to start. Enjoy all the free resources they have to offer; and try a Free 30 Day Trial of their Pro tools.

May the SEO Gods shine down on you,

BV
volpster.net

 

 

 

 

 

Responsive Design = More Revenue for your Website

Business concept of flat design smartphone with hand
Responsive Web Design leads to higher conversions and online sales.

As you may or may not know, Responsive web design (RWD) in short is a style of web development that allows you to build a single website that provides an optimal viewing experience regardless of screen size or device type. In other words, the website will ‘respond’ to the device you are using. Although RWD is not a new concept by any means, you would be surprised how many large eCommerce sites still support and maintain a “mobile version” and a “desktop version” of their website. Some big ones include: Amazon.com and eBay.com.

When it comes to eCommerce, creating a responsive experience for a new online store is a pretty straightforward task when building from the ground up. You simply focus on the mobile experience and then scale that solution up to larger screen sizes. However, if you already have a eCommerce platform that was built with only desktop in mind, going responsive is a much more difficult task. You ultimately have to make the decision to either attempt to preserve elements of your existing eCommerce platform, or scrap everything you know and head back to the drawing board. It’s a harsh reality, but I would recommend an approach that is somewhere in between.

If you are currently maintaining a desktop and mobile version of your website, take a look at the metrics that mean the most for your business. This could include things like, time on page, items per order, average order total, etc. Once you nail those metrics down, take a look at each site to understand its strong points and weak points. Keep the elements that perform strong and apply these to your responsive design. Then ditch the under-performers. This is a simple yet effective approach to at least start off in the right direction.

To help motivate the push for responsive, below are some really solid examples of how going responsive had led to more revenue:

Happy coding,

BV
volpster.net

Why Lorem Ipsum text is more useful than you think

bacon_ipsum
BaconIpsum.com – A Twist on your typical Lorem Ipsum Generator

Everyone has seen the Latin Lorem Ipsum placeholder copy before. Or some of the more clever and funny variants such as Bacon Ipsum, Samuel L. Ipsum, or Veggie Ipsum. Using these text generators allows a web developer, graphic designer, blogger, etc to fill content up on a page to get an idea of how the entire page would looks visually once the approved content is ready to be used. All fine and good, right?

The concept of Lorem Ipsum has been around for pretty much as long as the Internet has been. However; you’d be surprised how often it is not used for various mockups and online tests.

From my experience, if you do not use lorem ipsum copy as placeholder text it can actually lead to some pretty bad to terrible scenarios:

  1. MINOR INFRACTION: Upon reviewing your work, colleagues will continue to ask when you are going to change the place holder copy when using things like “text, text, text” or “INSERT COPY HERE”, or “TESTING 123”, rather than just use lorem ipsum where it should be more evident that you will change the copy.
  2. MAJOR INFRACTION: By not using lorem ipsum, your developers can easily miss terms like “insert copy here”; hence leaving that in. At this point you have to rely on your QA team to spot this out. Whereas using lorem ipsum would have most likely prompted a developer or QA tester to at least ask you when the real copy is coming.
  3. WORST CASE INFRACTION: – If a website, landing page, or any digital document gets accidently pushed live into production for all the world to see using non-lorem ipsum copy, you could have a real serious problem on your hands. I’ll elaborate on this one…

Let’s say you’re working on an A/B copy test for your homepage. You are trying to determine if the button copy should say BUY NOW or SHOP NOW. Pretty cut and dry. But let’s say you didn’t know what the second option should be out of the gates; so you mock up the test for your development team and because they don’t know what the final copy is yet – they put something like “NEED COPY FROM BILL”. That’s not terrible – but what if that accidently gets pushed live to your site. Pretty embarrasing. Now, if it accidentally went live with “Lorem Ipsum dolor” – sure it’s not ideal; but it creates much less friction and blame on anyone than “NEED COPY FROM BILL” or something extremely worse like “BILL SMELLS LIKE CHEESE”. What might seem funny and completely harmless at the time, can potentially create some irreversible effects on your brand, your company, and potentially cost you your job.

So when creating new digital assets or performing any type of A/B testing strategies, just play it safe and use lorem ipsum. It may not seem like a big deal right now, but you gotta trust me on this one.

And besides, doesn’t this just sound more delicious than any other placeholder copy you could muster up: Bacon ipsum dolor amet tail doner prosciutto, boudin capicola cow rump. Spare ribs pastrami biltong corned beef ribeye.

“Mmmmm….bacon.” – Homer J. Simpson

Happy Testing,

BV
volpster.net

 

Why you need Bing Webmaster Tools on your website NOW!

bing_keywords
Bing Webmaster Tools – Search Keywords

If you don’t already have Bing Webmaster Tools for your website, you need to get an account setup immediately. Odds are you already have Google Analytics on your website, right? And if you do, you’re probably thinking why do I need another set of web analytics for my site? And who cares about Bing? – If you had any of these thoughts, let me try to convince you.

According to comScore’s July 2015 Desktop Search Engine Rankings, Bing accounted for 20.4% of all Desktop Search Engine usage in the United States, and Yahoo claimed 12.7% of the pie. And with the Bing/Yahoo partnership that has Yahoo leveraging Bing’s  search technology; their collective usage comes to an impressive 33.1%. Yes, Google comes in at 64% which is not unexpected – however the numbers show that you can’t ignore Bing anymore.

So sign up for a free account and start getting familiar with Bing Webmaster Tools. Outside of gaining visibility for a third of overall search volume in the US, Bing offers website owners with something VERY useful that Google no longer does – Organic Keyword Reports. Super useful for understanding exactly what organic search terms are driving traffic to your site.  Enjoy.

-BV
volpster.net