January 24, 2001
Small jewelry stores don't usually have the extra money to create flashy and expensive Web sites. However, that doesn't mean they're limited to boring sites. Jewelry Gift, a bricks-and-mortar store in New York City, has a simple Web site, but uses good design and creative features to set it apart from the rest.
JewelryGift.com is divided into these sections: the collection, blowout items, plan your calendar, visit the virtual jeweler, company profile and instructions/policies. The main page features a cartoon woman named Jules, who acts as a guide through the site. As visitors place their mouses over the links, Jules points at the section. It's a bit silly, but it gives the site a personal feel and makes it unique. Jules shows up throughout the site to point at products.
The best parts of this site are the virtual jeweler and the calendar. When shoppers choose to visit the virtual jeweler, they are greeted by another cartoon, Joe the Jeweler. In this section, customers can do an advanced search of the products on the site. They can select the type of jewelry, such as rings and necklaces, enter keywords and set a minimum and maximum price. Once they click on the search button, the site returns all matching results. While this is a common e-commerce site feature, the creative way it's presented gives the site more of that personal feel.
The calendar section is great for customers who need to be reminded about upcoming holidays and special occasions, and it helps Jewelry Gift know its customers better. Site visitors can sign up for the calendar reminder service by filling out a simple registration form that doesn't ask for much more than a mailing address. JewelryGift.com promises to keep the information private. Once customers have registered at JewelryGift.com, they can fill out their personal calendars and set them to send e-mail reminders one, two, three or four weeks before important dates. Plus, as a bonus for registering with Jewelry Gift, customers get five bonus points to be used toward future purchases. Each bonus point counts as $1, and users can earn three points each time they make a purchase over $50.
Customers interested in browsing the jewelry will enjoy the collections section. They can browse earrings, rings, bracelets, pendants, pins, necklaces or men's jewelry. When shoppers choose to browse, they see a list of products that includes a small image, retail and online prices, product details and an option to buy for each item. However, most sections include over 100 products, so it could get tedious looking at page after page of jewelry. The section would benefit from better organization. When users click on a product, they get a larger image of it, but they have to click on the back button to get back to the original list to purchase the item. It would be easier to buy on the individual product pages, and it would be nice if there were more details available for each item.
Despite a few problems, the site is well-presented and simple to navigate. Its unique features and personal touch give it an edge against other small store sites.
- by Julia M. Duncan