This design audit was for Brian Vogel of Flyte Park. He makes and sells audio variometers for pilots. Yeah.. I had no idea what those were either so I thought this would be a fun challenge. I actually redesigned the site for this audit which is something I don’t usually do.
Here is the original Flyte Park site. As you can see it’s a very long page, especially for a single product. (click for larger)
So let’s break it down.
Logo and header
At first I was confused as to what the squiggle was and though it evoked a plane spiraling down, not a good image. But later after I knew about what the product did, it made sense. Hang glider pilots use the variometer to find themals that will increase their altitude. I am assuming only pilots will be coming to this site, so the logomark works. The wordmark doesn’t though. Some sort of bastardized font that looks like it needs to duck its head down to fit into a small space. It had to go.
It’s often the case that there is way too much information in the top nav of sites. Visitors to the home page don’t care about your blog and you don’t need a “store” for one product line. These left side elements just felt backwards as well. Lead with your logo, not your nav.
When a visitor first gets to your site you have mere seconds to engage their frontal cortex. Images work best, and the more evocative image the better. This product image is too soon, and really boring. The feature/description copy is matter of fact and implies that the new visitor is ready to buy an audio variometer and just looking for the right one. This may be the case for some visitors , but not all. There needs to be a real language description here.
But wait, there’s more
The home page is the AAA real estate. All the extraneous stuff should be kept off or relegated to the footer. You haven’t sold me on the vario yet, why would get the t-shirt. And it’s great that you have a twitter feed, but visitors don’t care. Push the twitter feed after they have made a purchase as a support or as an RSS option. You never know what might be in your twitter feed that could turn potential customer off.
Videos are great for selling or quickly communicating just what it is you have for sale. So why is the video buried in a blog post half way down the page? This video needs to be front and center, though I also recommend reshooting so it’s more explanatory of the features and benefits.
Made in the USA
Made in the USA is a great selling point for certain products. When a pilot is entrusting their safety to a product, like the vario, they will want something that is not made on the cheap from China. This point should be featured and celebrated.
I had a few conversations with Brian and came up with a redesign that address the above points and goes a bit further. The original site had sales information strewn across a variety of pages. Despite the $99+ price tag, I thought the sale would be much simpler especially with the right social proof and design. Here it is, click for larger.
Logo and header
I kept the curly logo but changed the font to something more appropriate. Here you can see the “y” invokes someone taking off. I also reduced the header have to “who we are” which is the about page and important when dealing with critical products. The “support” page is not something that needs to be there for first time users, but if you feature it, it shows you have made at least some commitment to support. Support is not just a tool for customers, it’s a feature for potential customers.
Direct and simple
A clear and effective “mission statement” is critical. This statement in 5 words outlines the vario’s unique value proposition. Combine that with an image to engage hang gliders and you can convey concepts and emotions to the user in the first critical few seconds.
Normally I wouldn’t feature the “who” so prominently on the page but in Brian’s case I thought there was an opportunity to present the “”who” story as well as some ad copy. Brian’s reasons for creating the vario likely align with what potential customers are looking for. And when you have a single product, the creator, or the person behind that becomes an asset. It show’s you are small, and all the connotations that go with that, craft, care, excellent. All important concerns when you’re 500 feet in the air.
The “who” segues nicely into the made in America part which people will attach their own stories too. I do with Brian had a better photo though.
Video and social proof
The video was moved up so people would actually get the change to see it. Social proof is paramount. You simply have to have it. In this design it’s featured and the user can click through to see more if they want too. The particular quote should be A/B tested as it’s hard to say which will work best.
And finally, the product
So the original site has two products, or rather versions of the vario. You click through to another page which has more info and you can add a mount and spare battery to your cart. The difference between the vario and vario Pro is slight and only useful to certain users. They also look identical so one photo can serve them both. In the mock up above, the user can add the mount by ticking a box instead of “adding to cart”. The “free battery” tick box is a bit of a psychology trick. It could just say “all varios come with a free battery” but the act of ticking the box makes the user feel like they are actually getting something for free. Another item for free, since it has a box. And that is something they might not want to abandon.
Finally, right at the point of checkout is the Money Back Guarantee which all sellers should have if they can. This is a product the customer will be using while flying hundreds of feet in the air. The single most important thing to engender is trust. Show the creator, made in the USA, social proof, money back guarantee all work to that end.
Finally, the social buttons and blog link all belong in the footer. If a customer is interested, they know where to look.