An oldie but goodie: Sites That Don’t Click (2002) 20 Oct 2005

17 comments Latest by Chris

Back in 2002 we published a brief called “Sites That Don’t Click: Homepages that Leave Prospective Customers Hanging” The brief asked: “Why would any retail Web site feature a product on its homepage without allowing a site visitor to quickly and easily buy, or at the very least, learn more about that product?”

We reviewed the homepages of 10 prominent retailers and found that they all displayed product images that were either 1) non-clickable or 2) clickable, but did not lead to a page where the featured product could be purchased. Even worse, several high-profi le retailers featured products on their homepages that were nowhere to be found within their sites

Homepage imagery is more than just wallpaper. To treat it as such frustrates potential customers and throws away an incredible opportunity to sell. We hope that this research brief and accompanying best practices will encourage all online retailers to re-evaluate their use of homepage imagery and help offending sites improve customer satisfaction and sales.

Fast forward to 2005. Unfortunately it’s nearly as bad as it was in 2002. Oh well.

Download the free report (900k, PDF). Read it over and try going to the home page of some popular shopping sites and see if they click or not.

17 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Tim 20 Oct 05

Thanks for sharing this with us Jason - It’s highly appreciable for us (non experts) to get a hand on some valuable stuff like that - I’m gonna learn !!
I really liked the “search functions of websites” report too !
Thanks a lot

i just make up names because there are already 32 people here who post comments and have the same name as me. 20 Oct 05

this makes me wonder (especially pertaining to then and now) how the business compares between these stores with physical locations and their online counterparts.

i can only assume that the physical locations do the most business, but it really would be interesting to see what percentage of total sales online purchases make up.

Dave Marks 20 Oct 05 is doing a good job though… good on them, I like how they’ve done it as well…

Ed 20 Oct 05

This kind of mistakes not only happen on retail sites. For example in a local newspaper, when you click the image or title of a featured article on the main page of their site it takes you to the main page of the section instead to the article’s page. It drives me crazy!

JF 20 Oct 05

Yeah, J.Crew is doing a good job of this. Good on them.

Jamie 20 Oct 05

From a retail perspective, I have really been digging Gap’s site. But is it too Ajax-y???

Ben 20 Oct 05

I was wondering if there’s a reason this blog doesn’t have a ‘search’ button for the archives. Am I missing it, or are interested readers just supposed to use google? It just seems strange since you always like to address the user experience, and I think searching for past information on a blog is a big part of the user experience. thanks!

Mark 20 Oct 05

“…Yeah, J.Crew is doing a good job of this…”

Yeh, in the eyes of those who think about usability all day, it works well. But what about the general web-savvy individual who doesn’t? Does just having an image, with no instruction or indication (other than the cursor change) that it serves as a map, serve that functionality well?

David 20 Oct 05

JF - you ever consider pushing for a title attribute on imgs instead of the alt tag (had to say it!) as browsers like Firefox (and Safari?) don’t display the alt attribute for displayed images?

Jamie - I agree that the Ajax bits on aren’t so hot. They’ve tried, but don’t take you all the way there, and therefore make it that much more confusing. I’d give them credit for playing with the tech, but…

Dan Boland 20 Oct 05

Jamie and David: I went to to see what you were talking about and was stopped because I use Safari and doesn’t support Safari. That’s just lame.

Abdul Ovaice 20 Oct 05 use of image map rocks on their group pictures. If you click a model in a group image, your taken to mini-wardrobe page that has a list of all the clothing the person you clicked on (not just a coat or an image). Excellent use of image maps. Thats somethings retail stores don’t do. If want what the mannequin is wearing, you have put together yourself.

I’ve read the report. Excellent job Jason & everyone else @ 37.

pwb 20 Oct 05

How about stoopid TypePad that opens a window of the image when you click on the image!!

Jamie 20 Oct 05

Dan Boland, Gap doesn’t support Safari!? Eeesh! Anyway, I guess I can’t say a whole lot about the site because I didn’t actually try to buy something. Tinkering and using it to transact are 2 totally different things. They need to get up on their Safari support tho.

Noexes 20 Oct 05

I find it kinda weird that you guys talk about bad web design then pull one of my by biggest pet peves, linking to a PDF.

JF 20 Oct 05

I find it kinda weird that you guys talk about bad web design then pull one of my by biggest pet peves, linking to a PDF.

I’d agree if we didn’t say (900K, PDF) after the link.

Chris 21 Oct 05

None of the Gap owned companies have web sites that allow access using Safari. This includes,, and At least now they give you an error. When they first released the new sites, Safari got a constant reloading page. I’ll never buy from them online again due to their blocking of Safari.