E-Commerce Terminology Survey (Correction)

6 Nov 2009 - 4:28am
5 years ago
8 replies
726 reads
William Hudson
2009

(Apologies, a minor typo caught my eye as I was clicking the send
button. You need to be a 'woman' over 40, not a 'women'.)

Last week I asked list members to take part in a short survey regarding
terms I found while benchmarking e-commerce clothing sites.

The two terms (both used without explanation on www.nordstrom.com) were
'French front shirt' and 'placket shirt'.

The survey had 287 respondents, 40% male and 60% female. Exactly 5 women
(1.7% of respondents), all over 40 years of age, knew for sure what a
French front shirt was, 31 respondents (10.8%, predominantly women) had
a vague idea, while the balance of respondents (87.5%) had no idea.

Plackets faired a little better. 60 respondents (20.9%), again mostly
women over 40, knew what a placket was. 36 respondents (12.5%) had a
vague idea and the rest (66.6%) said 'no'.

So, there you have it, if you want to buy a man's shirt on the Nordstrom
site, you need to be a women over 40<g>.

(I bet you're dying to know now, so here is what these words mean - a
placket is the strip of cloth behind the buttons on a shirt or blouse. A
French front shirt has no placket. Both are discussed in this Wikipedia
article - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placket. But the take-away for
e-commerce sites is avoid words that customers do not understand!)

Regards,

William Hudson
Syntagm Ltd
Design for Usability
UK 01235-522859
World +44-1235-522859
US Toll Free 1-866-SYNTAGM
mailto:william.hudson at syntagm.co.uk
http://www.syntagm.co.uk
skype:williamhudsonskype

Syntagm is a limited company registered in England and Wales (1985).
Registered number: 1895345. Registered office: 10 Oxford Road, Abingdon
OX14 2DS.

Ajax design and usability course in November - Berlin:
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Comments

6 Nov 2009 - 3:15pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

I wonder if this is misleading though...

Is there ever a point on the Nordstrom site where they use the terms
without a corresponding picture of the product? I couldn't find an
example.

In spending hundreds of hours watching women shop for apparel, I've
found that the pictures are key. The descriptions and titles are far
less important. In fact, off hand, I'd guess importance is:

Most: - The picture of the product
- Price
- Availability
- Whether it's on sale or not
Least: - Product name

So, what does this actually mean that most shoppers didn't know what
placket was?

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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6 Nov 2009 - 3:35pm
William Hudson
2009

Hi, Jared.

If you don't know what to look for, I am not sure that a picture is
helpful. Certainly a description of the unusual terms would improve
things.

Confusingly, if you search on 'french front' (I know you hate search!)
you will get some shirts that describe themselves this way and others
that don't. It seems Nordstrom is using the term as a synonym for 'dress
shirt'. Hey, but on some of them, they use the words 'front button
closure'. As opposed to what? A bank-fastening straight jacket? Jeesh,
can't they just use plain, consistent terminology? Other sites manage
it.

Regards,

William

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Jared M.Spool
Sent: 06 November 2009 1:16 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] E-Commerce Terminology Survey (Correction)

I wonder if this is misleading though...

...

6 Nov 2009 - 5:15pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 6, 2009, at 4:35 PM, William Hudson wrote:

> If you don't know what to look for, I am not sure that a picture is
> helpful. Certainly a description of the unusual terms would improve
> things.
>
> Confusingly, if you search on 'french front' (I know you hate search!)
> you will get some shirts that describe themselves this way and others
> that don't. It seems Nordstrom is using the term as a synonym for
> 'dress
> shirt'. Hey, but on some of them, they use the words 'front button
> closure'. As opposed to what? A bank-fastening straight jacket? Jeesh,
> can't they just use plain, consistent terminology? Other sites manage
> it.

It's not that I hate search. I actually have no feelings toward it,
one way or another. (Eyetracking, on the other hand...)*

It's that, from our research (which, as far as I can tell, is some of
the most extensive ever done on actually online shopping behavior
specific to women's apparel), it's not how people shop.

It would be very rare indeed for a woman to type in "french front"
into the search engine. (I've seen search logs from most of the major
apparel vendors. I can tell you it's not in the top 500 terms.)

On most sites, most women click into the categories and peruse the
galleries. They only use search when the navigation really sucks (such
as high-level category terms which are marketing jargon, like "Shape
FX").

So, they wouldn't be looking at the definitions, because, if the site
is well executed, the product photography will make the differences
clear.

I don't believe that, in most cases, "a description of the unusual
terms" would improve things. It very well could just add noise into
the process.

After all, if the picture looks great (the outfit looks just right on
the model and matches the taste of the shopper) and the price is
right, do you think they'll say, "I would buy this, except I don't
know what 'french front' means?"

In our studies, it just doesn't happen that often.

That said, in technology, it happens a lot more. That's because
pictures of, say, digital cameras aren't as distinctive as womens'
blouses. The shopper has to rely on the terminology to distinguish one
product from another.

Our studies have shown that the nature of the products sold influences
the users' needs from the design. You need different designs to deal
with different genres of products.

Jared

* Made the eye tracking comment just to piss off Nick and Guy. :) I
don't really hate eye tracking either. Just it's application as faux
usability test results.

9 Nov 2009 - 5:40am
Paul Bryan
2008

I don't think e-commerce sites should avoid words that IxDA members
don't understand, as long as those words are not required to find
and evaluate the product. They add precision for the people who do
understand them.

I agree with Jared visual cues are more relevant than product names
and descriptions in women's apparel, although catalog taxonomy and
search seem to play more of a role in the lingerie sub-category. In
his list of apparel navigation priorities (images, price, etc.), I
would add brand (http://www.brandkeys.com/news/press/042209 WWD Women
Seeking Value.pdf), as well as size category or department (misses,
petite, etc.), particularly if it is a store that women shop at
retail locations in addition to online.

Just in case any women's apparel e-retailers happen upon this
thread, I have a suggestion for you. Consider offering a rear view of
products in the image options where relevant. Quite a few women that
I've interviewed said they would not proceed to purchase in an
online shopping session because they wanted to see what an article of
clothing looked like from behind. Oprah thinks it's important too, at
least with jeans. Her audience (http://www.quantcast.com/oprah.com)
represents a significant portion of online apparel shoppers, since by
some estimates 65% of online apparel sales are made by women over age
35
(http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124286245782441235.html#mod=rss_Weekend_Journal).

Paul Bryan
Usography (http://www.usography.com)
Blog: Virtual Floorspace (http://www.virtualfloorspace.com)

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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9 Nov 2009 - 6:01am
PhillipW
2009

Were all the respondents American ? (given that its an Amercan site).

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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9 Nov 2009 - 8:11am
William Hudson
2009

Phillip -

I did an analysis by IP address. Around 66% of responses came from US
locations (UK and Canada were 9% and 6% approximately). 'Placket' is a
word that is used in both American and British English. I am not sure
about 'French front'. I started by asking some American friends if they
knew what it meant, but they were as clueless as me (I was born and
raised in the US but have been living in the UK for 35 years). That was
the motivation for the survey (which was done on the CHI-WEB list as
well as IxDA).

In spite of other replies, I am not convinced that using unfamiliar
words in inconsistent ways is helpful to user experience (pictures or
no).

Regards,

William

> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-
> bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of PhillipW
> Sent: 09 November 2009 4:02 AM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] E-Commerce Terminology Survey (Correction)
>
> Were all the respondents American ? (given that its an Amercan site).

9 Nov 2009 - 10:15am
PhillipW
2009

I guess it also depends on the amount of 'clothing expertise' /
willingness to spend money in the target group of shoppers.

I think my own personal clothing vocabulary gives out after about 12
words. So there's no way I'll be buying clothes online in the
first place.

Goodness knows what this is:

"Beagle slanted placket shirt"

http://www.bstorelondon.com/shopping/men/b-store/clothing/item10020477.aspx

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=47247

9 Nov 2009 - 11:08am
William Hudson
2009

Wow, a "slanted placket with a concealed button fastening" (says the
text). And you cannot see a thing from the product photo. Oh well, maybe
they're hoping to sell it on the excitement generated by the name alone!

Regards,

William

> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-
> bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of PhillipW
> Sent: 09 November 2009 8:15 AM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] E-Commerce Terminology Survey (Correction)
>
> I guess it also depends on the amount of 'clothing expertise' /
> willingness to spend money in the target group of shoppers.
>
> I think my own personal clothing vocabulary gives out after about 12
> words. So there's no way I'll be buying clothes online in the
> first place.
>
> Goodness knows what this is:
>
> "Beagle slanted placket shirt"
>
> http://www.bstorelondon.com/shopping/men/b-
> store/clothing/item10020477.aspx
...

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