Overstock.com: E-commerce Analysis

Overstock.com has very similar design elements that you can currently find on a lot of e-commerce websites, for example the navigation features that are found at the top of the page have a ‘shopping cart’ image in the top right hand corner.  Moving to the center of the page on the same line you see a ‘sign in’ and ‘my account’ text links that allow a returning user to access their account information.  What is interesting about overstock.com is that their top level navigation is gray, unless you are on one of five tabs: shopping, virtual auction, cars, real estate or community.   Additionally of the five upper level tabs, only the shopping and community tab share the same primary navigation which leads me to believe that they were built at the same time and the others were developed later.  The additional red text on the auctions, cars and real estate also support my idea that these pages were developed together.

Focusing on what I would consider the primary navigation of the site, directly under the five tabs overstock.com used their name with a stylized white ‘O’ on red as an image link to the home page.  It’s in the upper left hand corner and all the upper tabs have this navigation feature in common.  Next to the company name image link, you find a search box that allows the user to shop the site.  It’s a very prominent search box that takes about 2/3 of the page width vertically and has no black near it, but rather a red box around it and event the word ‘search’ is in gray, or at least it appears to be gray.  The next level of navigation, going down the page that I consider part of the primary navigation that takes you the second level of pages on the site.  It runs that entire site and covers the major categories in which a user can shop under, from furniture to sales. Once you’re on a second level page, a progress bar loads right below the primary navigation so that the user can narrow down their search and see what they have selected as their search criteria.  A great feature of the progress bar is that it lets the user see how they have developed their search and change the elements they want.  The products pulled by the search are then displayed, six items per row.

The six items per row, suggests that the second level pages are built on a grid of six columns.  This theory was supported for me when I was looking at their social network images/texts links and it occurred to me that even their products are show as six across.   Needless to say, social networks are not as important as shopping and so they are located at the bottom of the page.  If you want to connect with overstock.com you can sign up for Omail, ClubO facebook, twitter and even mobile O ( I wonder if Oprah knows that there  is another company using the letter ‘O’ ). 

As for the overall feel of the site, based on their color choices, white for the entire site with gray text and red as the accent color, it feels very light as a site even thought I can tell by my analysis that it is information heavy.  The font selected is easy to read and anything of great importance is in red.  Visually this makes it very easy for the user to move down the page.  Photos are used to show the products and if you click on clothing & shoes or jewelry you can see that women seem to be the primary audience they are tying to reach.  The exception is the sports and electronics pages that are clearly for male audiences and gamers. 

Since I’m a semi-regular user of the site, it meets my needs and I’ve always found it easy to use.

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