Every week we take a look at a new website and analyze the design. We’ll point out both the areas that are done well as well as those that could use some work. Finally, we’ll finish by asking you to provide your own feedback.
Today’s site is Primo Lights, an online holiday light retailer.
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About Primo Lights
“Primo Lights is a leading online provider of premium quality Christmas lights. We offer a complete range of residential and commercial holiday lighting and decorating products perfect for any occasion.”
Here is a screenshot of the homepage:
Next, we’ll pick apart the design and discuss which aspects are working and which could use a little work.
First of all, I think this is a great looking online retail site and I can see right off the bat that there’s not a whole lot I would change. The general appearance is nice and bright, there’s plenty of whitespace, and the alignment is just about perfect.
Online stores have a tendency to turn into a cluttered mess that make for more of a frustrating hunting expedition than an enjoyable user experience. Primo Lights however markets such a targeted product that they can keep the shopping process nice and simple.
The color scheme is a driving factor behind the attractiveness of the site. The design is predominantly white, which has the double benefit of suggesting Christmas and winter (the site’s primary season) while being versatile enough that you can insert any other holiday into it (notice the Halloween marketing).
Gray gradients are used to add a little texture to the site’s UI features and blues and reds are used as strong accent colors that draw your attention to all the right places.
Other than searching, the primary way to find what you are looking for on this site is to use the horizontal navigation at the top of the page.
The dropdown menus are quite large and could even be considered to be on the verge of a “mega-dropdown” but they’re clearly organized and make it easy to both get an overall feel for what the site sells as well as find the specific product you want. Each menu is divided into two primary sections with subtle dotted lines providing the separation and unique rollover effects on each side of the menu (a nice touch).
The real home run for this site’s design is that the owners have invested the time and money to get professional photography for all the product shots and general design touches. Whether this is a mixture of stock and custom photos or all custom is unclear, but you can definitely see a pattern of quality throughout.
Great photography is one of the main ways that you can take a small online business and make it feel like a big online business. Mom and pop sites are easily identified by their “flash and trash” quality photography, which can have the effect of casting doubt on the quality of the product and even the trustworthiness of the site in general.
As you’re browsing the store, the shopping experience is fairly typical. In fact, at this point I noticed that the colors, UI and layout started feeling an awful lot like Apple iTunes store. If this similarity is intentional, I think it’s a strong choice. Who better to model your design after than Apple?
The sidebar on the left guides you to all the important parts of the site, the grid of products is attractive and familiar and their are plenty of ways to sort the products (price, most popular, manufacturer, etc.).
As you may have noticed by now, I’m having a bit of trouble with the “critique” portion of this web design critique and seem to be only capable of dishing out compliments. In all honesty, I couldn’t find anything significant that I thought needed addressing from a design or functionality point of view.
I spent a lot of time on the site running through different purchasing scenarios and I was always able to find what I was looking for with little trouble. I figure people either shop for color, light style or both and Primo lights makes it a breeze to browse based on these characteristics in addition to others that I hadn’t even thought of such as bulb spacing and wire color.
I think the single aspect of the design that I didn’t like much was the logo. The sketchy snowflake is nice, but it only relates to the product in an indirect manner. I would suggest working at least a subtle suggestion of a light or the general concept of illumination in somehow. Also, the snowflake suggests Christmas, which is no doubt their primary season of sales but it also pins them into that category a bit and they’re obviously seeking to expand into other Holidays as well.
Basically my thought process is that it might be a good idea to break away from the restricted seasonality in the logo. In fact, it’s worth looking into other primary uses of these types of lights as well and trying to target these customers a little. Perhaps adding a dedicated wedding section to the site would help draw in those customers. Weddings are one of the most popular places to see Christmas lights when it’s not actually Christmas so this could be a primary driver of traffic in the off season.
On the whole, I think Primo lights is off to an excellent start with the design of their site and can safely shift the focus of their efforts into new business ideas, marketing opportunities and other ways to strengthen the business.
Now that you’ve read my comments, pitch in and help out by giving the designer some further advice. Let us know what you think is great about the design and what you think could be stronger. As always, we ask that you also be respectful of the site’s designer and offer clear constructive advice devoid of any harsh insults.