Friday, April 5, 2013

Barneys New York vs The Dollar Store

There has been a recent trend on the web of presenting 1 idea at a time.  The thought behind this movement is that you don't want to overwhelm the user by asking for too many things all at once.  Instead, if you present one topic or call to action at a time, the experience feels more conversational as opposed to attacking someone with information and ads.

Some companies have taken this concept to the extreme with HTML5 and responsive designs so you can only see 1 thought at a time.  impressapenguin.com is my favorite example, and it works for this topic.  But, most websites are set up like a digital store front, you come in and learn about the company or browse their products.

This movement in the digital store world, is the equivalent of walking into Barneys.  I come from a working family, so when I walk into Barneys or any high end boutique store, I feel awkward.  (I'm sure the sales associates feel my presence is awkward as well.)  The excessive amount of space and lack of selection just isn't something I'm use to.


The opposite end of the spectrum is The Dollar Store.  You can't expect to be able to pass someone in the isle, and you'd get dizzy if you tried to look at every product on the shelf. 


Most people are more comfortable in a department store, where there is plenty of room and selection.  This is one reason that Walmart has continuously widened its isles and reduced the number of vertical shelves; it's an attempt at an upgrade from bargain store to department store.  

I'm not saying that the wide open websites with a single idea above the fold are all bad, but I believe you should cater to your audience.  If you need your visitors to have extra focus or they don't want to be distracted, a super clean, responsive website might be the answer.  If on the other hand, you're Amazon and are competing with Walmart, there's nothing wrong with using the extra space to up and cross sell your customers.

Does your web design match your customers?