You’re one of the coolest companies on the planet and you were recently purchased by Amazon.com for just south of a billion dollars. So...
I’d like to start by saying that I think Zappos is an exceptionally cool company - everything I say from this point on is exclusively in the interest of helping. I understand why you guys are successful. I’ve been floored by stories of your generosity towards your customers, and your company culture sounds wonderful. So, when I heard about the Amazon acquisition, I grinned wide. Then, the other day, I checked out your new website and wanted to stab my eyes out with a sharp object.
I’m not trying to be crass. Your new “Zeta” design is definitely an improvement, but you’re taking the site from 1999 to 2003. You constantly stress your focus on the customer, yet create web experiences that are so unsightly and confusing that they border on sadism.
Your website is the most important part of your customer experience. It’s your storefront, and it should receive the same amount of attention that your boxes do. Your boxes are attractive, easy to open, packed with care, and arrive sooner than expected. If the Zappos site was a box, it would be dilapidated, dole out paper cuts, and require an exacto knife to open. Yes, it gets the job done, but it communicates a general lack of care for the customer and leaves them with a bad taste in their mouths - that is, until they receive their shoes a day early and forget all about it. Fortunately, this is easy to change. Polishing your website doesn’t require a company-wide purge, but simply that you foster a culture of design. The details make a huge difference, and I think you’ll find that they’re really quite simple to implement.
Attaching familiar icons to actions helps customers find things quickly. When you’re in your car and you want to defrost your windshield, you know to look for a button that looks like this: . Websites are no different. When you want to view your shopping cart, you look for . When you want to search, you look for . Your current design groups important links together in messy chunks and fails to make any distinction between them. Your customers shouldn’t be left searching for a “Help” button, it should jump out at them.
The elements on the page need to be prioritized visually, so people know where to look. This includes the treatment, colour, position on the page and text size. When I hit the Zeta homepage, I’m left in a daze with my eyes jumping all over the place.
Your banners and the majority of your graphics are pixelated and blurry. There's no excuse for this! We no longer live in the days of 14.4 baud, and image compression has reached a point where it’s nearly impossible to recognize. I don’t know if your designers are using Photoshop 6 or what, but this is just plain sloppy! Here’s a tutorial to share with them.
You have a great reputation, but you need to tell people. Zappos is starting to hit critical mass, and while people might know your name, most won’t know what you stand for. Tell them who you are, why you’re special, and how to connect with you. The Zeta makes no mention of what drives the company, or even the gist of it. It makes you look like a big, faceless company. The only cultural selling point is a single customer quote at the bottom of the page. You guys have all this great content (Zappos blogs, core values, Dr. Vik, etc) but you’re hiding it. Show it off and tell people who you are simply and directly.
To help illustrate my points, I've mocked up my own take on the Zappos homepage. I did my best not to stray too far from the elements on the page, and instead focused on revamping your style and presentation. It doesn’t reflect all of the functionality and content currently in the Zeta, but it will give you a solid idea of what I’m saying. You’ll see many of the points I made above reflected here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
These are just ideas, but I hope that you will take the time to take some of my suggestions into consideration and pass them onto your design team. Best of luck with the new design.