Website Review of Like.com
This is a quick usabilty review of Like.com which strives
to deliver shoppers to the promised land of visual search.
In other words, you can find a pair of shoes by choosing
colors, fabrics, and other aesthetic elements. On
the right is
a screen capture of the site as we reviewed it. This
is a challenging one. My content-centric checklist (the main
body of this page) has been showing its irrelevance to web
apps for quite some time and I haven't been able to spend
time to refactor it. Like.com certainly busts it wide open
at the seams. So read the checklist for a few morsels, but
now let's start the real game.
Twenty years ago I bought a pair of shoes from a real
stylish store, Ronald Philip in Philly. They were Italian
loafers and I constantly got comments, "those are nice
shoes." I drew a picture, Dr. Frankenstein style from some
images on Like.com:
Low tongue, thin, dark brown rope around the back, penny-loafer
front, with a unique reddish-brown inlaid fabric in front.
Since they wore out, I've been looking for them, but only
about 10 years now... I'm not obsessive or anything. So could
Like find my shoes? Uh, no. But they push the envelope as
far as can be, and my findings are below. After the checklist
are the important results... just stream-of-interaction notes
and ideas. Remember, it's just a few minutes of poking
around, on a site that could justify many, many hours of
Now that I've been inspired to draw those shoes, though,
I'm off to the brick-and-mortars with my printout, before
visual search sites put them out of business.
Congratulations! This is a free usability
review from UsabilityInstitute.com. "Usability" refers
to how easy and effective it is to use a Web site. Although
it involves how a site looks (graphic artwork), it is primarily
concerned with how a site works, what you click on, what happens,
and whether the site does its job. Perhaps
this review is all you need to improve your site. If that's
the case, great. Please mention UsabilityInstitute.com if
you talk with others who need help with their site.
The following three sections provide a general
analysis of your website from a relatively quick review. Although
Web design is still perceived as a highly creative endeavor,
there are many aspects of it that call for standardization
and compliance with widely established conventions. Implementing
even a few of the ideas below can really improve a site.
first section is intended for typical public web sites
(for products and corporate information), but also applies
for the most part to intranets and software applications
that run in a browser. We've been advocating many of
these ideas—in the context of general software—since
our 1997 book,
Computers Stink, but they've been beautifully
enumerated for WWW purposes in Steve Krug's book, "Don't
Make Me Think."
in top left, linked to home
like things that look similar..." In the competition between
"what is this site" and "how to use a new paradigm immediately,"
the latter wins. I'll have to reword my checklist for "category
pages are distinguished by link color-coding
this on your site map.
|| "Utilities" are
easy to find
being a category-breaking app, I think that Site Map, and
possibly Login should be top-right most. They can still
stay in the bottom band, but I think that the bottom band
is a vestige of days gone by when it appeared as text
adjunct to sites that became 100% graphical links. Bottom
links will probably persist for eternity, but they're not
the primary design solution.
on all pages, with box and button
Are Here" indicator
||The main nav highlight.
understand that this might be percieved as antethetical
to the concept of the site, but remember, that's your concept,
not the visitor's concept. If every breadcrumb stops at
Home>Likeness Search, maybe you have to reinvent breadcrumbs?
"Home>Likeness Search (Handbags... Blue... Transparent)
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sister site, WorkAtHomeWednesday.com
Do your hands ache after a day at the keyboard??? This review
sponsored by RSIRescue.com ...
JUST PRINTED, February 9th, 2007! For kids with smart mouths
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Summation & Next Steps
Overall Rating: Strives
Despite any and all areas for improvement,
software will eventually conquer this valuable domain.
Combined Notes and Recommendations:
- Oops, in attempting to prove that visited pages are indicated
by color-coded links---never mind that it's an irrelevant
heuristic from content-centric sites, bear with me---I repeatedly
clicked Mens Shirts in the dropdown and clicked Search to
no avail. Ahhhhh... it works with a required search term.
- The delay waiting for the Details panels when rolling
over an item proved challenging (on reasonably fast cable
- The search results caption, "Your search for men's mocassin
in shoes generated 3469 results" doesn't quite stand out
- Need more oblique photos, possibly better contrast. The
quality of images in shopping sites is always a challenge,
and of course not owned by sites like like.
- What's the difference between clicking a picture and clicking
the Likeness Search button?
- One rollover showed a series of angles. I waited to see
the same thing on another and there were none.
- When getting an empty search (Your Likeness Search for
Tommy Bahama Men's Lakeshore Blvd. in shoes generated 0 results
) the fact was
in the results area, only in the routine results heading
area. Yes, I stared at the empty page for 8 seconds, waiting
for data to fill in, partly because it said "Showing 
Results per page," and partly because I expect pages to take
time to load.
- After a search, the Price Range said 55-144 (apparently
constrained based on the hits) but I thought it might constrain
my search. I thought Reset should be Clear and not constrain
the value, but I can imagine your dilemma... (what's the
- As I use it more, I want more space for thumbnails. I set
my browser to Full Screen.
- The graphical (not text) control
headings are fuzzy in IE7. I'd like them to be text.
- The graphical headings along
with the ever-present "Like finds things... Learn How"
seems to take up space. Of course the initial appearance
must retain whitespace so as not to look to techy and crowded.
Maybe that line should go away once off the home page. Maybe
"Find things that look similar" should go where "Alpha" is,
and Learn How or "See Demo" should be moved right into the
Likeness tools toolbar?
- Change the Apply/Reset buttons to text links, to stop competing
visually with the other buttons.
- The powerful criteria tools are obviously a layout challenge,
and it feels like they're everywhere. Obviously they
have to be all over the place, but how does the designer
minimize the clutter and sense of sprawl/invasion? Possibly
the top bar needs to be in a graphical container of some
sort to say "look I'm just your eyeball tools, this is where
we are." As I experiment with my monitor settings, I
see there's a very light gray background. Could be my monitor,
I've seen the same washout even on my own pages. Maybe I'm
saying, visually promote the top toolbar and downplay the
left (faceted criteria) better. Perhaps the site as a whole
must attempt to emply more staging of tools based on visitation.
Show the faceted checkboxes only after some usage or show
just a few and a More button?
- I suggest putting Sort By in the results area. Consult
eBay as a sample, not that they're any sort of an aesthetic
model, but on this one count, I suspect their location is
right. This will move a control
closer to what it acts on, and simplify the "Likeness Tools"
(Eyebar ?) better.
- The search box didn't retain previous typing. Perhaps you
don't want to (or my computer is preventing it?).
- Couldn't tell if the slider bar for Color applied its effect
immediately (the Ajax feedback issue?). This is an industry
I assume the solution is popup progress indicators whenever
an Ajax retrieve is in action, right? Users need to know
when the computer is trying to help them and they really
should wait. I personally think this is a biggie, sitewide.
- Couldn't tell how to get details (zoom/rollover) window
on Your Search Item. Hovering on other shoes showed the detail
- Saving likelist confused me for a few seconds... why are
the Login/Register links there? Ahhh... because saving requires
- The Save to My Linklist popup should include the branding
and not look so much like a 'chromeless' window... it's very
- Even thought I like using emails as acct IDs, I actually
the Password/Confirm Password fields, starting to put in
(!). Perhaps studying other sites will explain how they break
that association. Maybe they have a more lengthy field caption,
"Enter a password for your account." Not sure if it was just
Hope this helps and let
me know what you think,
Jack Bellis, UsabilityInstitute.com