Ecco USA - continue

Just a few weeks ago I did a feature on the impressive eS Footwear site. So, when I got an email from PixelMEDIA’s Ben Alvord pimping their latest effort on e-commerce site Ecco USA, I hesitated. But then, after a few days, I visited the site and just couldn’t resist - large, well done e-commerce sites don’t come along everyday my friends.

First, of course, you notice the front page; subtle gradients and drop-shadows, crisp images and a notable absence of text. The only words on the page that aren’t links are the tagline (“The leader in …”), the special offer (“Free beach pail…”) and the copyright information. Some might say that such a lack of text could confuse the user as to what the site’s about. But with the crisp, detailed pictures of shoes all over the place, there’s not a lot of room for confusion. What you get instead is a tight, concise site that tells you only what you need to know.

That same conciseness remains when you go deeper into the site. If you click on say, “Women’s” you are taken to a page that breaks down, both graphically and textually, all the women’s shoes into four categories: “Outdoor,” “Dress,” “Casual” and “Sandals.” No room for confusion, no way to get lost or wander off accidentally into the Men’s section. And then once you drill down to the shoe you thought you wanted, it’s easy to find your way back using either the tiered navigation on the left or the breadcrumbs along the top.
The product pages also feature one of the better “Zoom” functions I’ve seen. Instead of loading a new page or a popup, it just uses a little dash of Javascript to hide some divs and unhide others. The same approach is also used with the different style variations and colors. The only problem with that approach is for those who browse with Javascript off. But, I’m guilty of the same thing with my tabs, so those in glass houses...

The site’s XHTML doesn’t quite validate. Just some general laziness with naked ampersands and blank id tags. Ben also said that due to .NET, “certain chunks of code within the shopping cart do not validate (.NET spits out, uh … crap).” Fortunately, the CSS validates just fine, thank you, and is also one of the first instances I’ve seen, other than myself, of indented CSS files. Check out the Home.css file to see what I mean. Before, I’ve indented child selectors underneath their parents, though not quite to the extent they do, just because I think it helps with readability. Long, foreign CSS files can be hard to decipher.

Anyway, hats off to PixelMEDIA for such a stalwart effort. It seems to me like there are more and more standards-compliant, CSS-only sites to choose from lately. I’ve gotten a lot of great submissions and hate it that I can’t feature each one. Maybe all the designers who’ve had to scrap by these last few years, learning about CSS and web standards in their abundant free time, are finally starting to get jobs? Or maybe clients have started seeing the success and advantages of big name redesigns by AOL and Travelocity and BP? Anyway, whatever it is (and it may just be me imagining things) I like it. And now, you can tell me what you think, too. So, go on and place your vote.