Bellbottoms (Photo source: Yahoo! Images)

Bellbottoms (Photo source: Yahoo! Images)

Back in the 70s I had some pretty fine bell bottoms, if I do say so myself, and some eye-catching silk shirts and a nice pair of platform shoes to round out any ensemble. I know fashions have a way of coming around and I don’t have any of those snappy duds anymore but even if I did I wouldn’t wear them. I’m not obsessed with my appearance but I still don’t want to be seen in public in clothes that are so outdated.

Which is to suggest that appearances do count for something. If you disagree, stop and think about what you wore to your last job interview. All of which occurred to me when I came across a tea site recently that would have been considered state of the art – about ten years ago. As far as the design was concerned, I’d say it wasn’t so bad, at least when it came to getting around and doing business. It’s just that the overall first impression I got was less than impressive.

Which doesn’t make it a rarity when it comes to the increasingly crowded world of online tea merchants. Doing what I do, it’s a rare day when I don’t click through to at least one tea site I haven’t seen before. Some are eye-catching, and some are at the other end of the spectrum. Most reside somewhere in between.

When I ran across this particular site, it brought to mind another one, one that I’ve been aware of for many years now, which suggests that the company is doing okay. Their site is also reasonably well-designed, as far as usability goes, but is sorely lacking in appearance. So, will potential customers turn and run the other way when they see a site like this? I don’t know. Should they? Probably not. Does having a thoroughly modern site mean the merchant will also provide great tea at a good price and with excellent service? Probably not always.

Yet another site I ran across recently had a modern looking design that was pleasing to the eye, but they’d gone to the other extreme, sacrificing usability for a sleek look. Specifically with regard to their actual product listings, which consisted of a page full of images of their teas. Those who wanted to know what tea they were looking at would have to drag their mouse over the photo or click.

But this is hardly the time or place for an extensive listing of web site no-no’s – there are too many of those. I’ll wrap things up with a snippet from a press release from J.D. Power and Associates. It’s about auto company Web sites, but I suspect it could work just as well for tea merchants, “the study also finds that many of the brands with the greatest declines in overall satisfaction from six months ago have introduced changes that have resulted in lower satisfaction with website appearance.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About these ads