Monday, January 7, 2008

This site sells robots, but it’s got a warm human touch

iRobot.com is a great site.

Whether it’s talking to business buyers, generals from the Army or consumers, this manufacturer’s site has worked out how to juggle different online needs.
iRobot.com is easy on the eye and easy to use.

It may sell robots, but it feels like it was designed by real people:

• It is focused on applications not products.

The defense/industry section begins, “What’s Your Mission?” Military prospects can choose between bomb identification or route clearance, for example. Residential customers can choose between vacuuming, pool cleaning or gutter sweeping, etc.

• Its design is uncluttered. The online store, http://store.irobot.
com, has one big image with special offers. That’s it.

• It is not afraid of customer feedback. .

With new products, referrals are worth more than gas during an American holiday. The site’s packed with customer reviews and user forums. It also includes media write-ups but adds: “The praise we hear from customers is what matters most, but we’re also flattered by the great testimonials we get from the media.”

• It is intuitive.

It preempts questions that make prospects anxious. For example, during checkout it answers this question,“What if I want to send my robot to another address?”

• It uses the power of pictures to dispel fears. It uses video and 3-d displays throughout the site.


The downside?

Our only quibbles were small.

This is a great site, but it could do more to turn browsers into buyers.
Because it sells such an interesting and buzz-generating product, it may think it doesn’t need to urge interested visitor to take the plunge, and click on that “Buy Now” button.

That’s where the site falls down. For example, the shop online button on the home page falls appears
below the fold.

Weak call to action

And the call to action is also weak on the page displaying home robots.
The “Shop Now” button is too small and hard to see among all the products jostling for attention. We couldn’t even find it at first.
The page looks good, but why doesn’t it have a bigger “Buy Now” button that jumps off the page?

Technical issues could cost business

The site’s also running the risk of being penalized by search engines for “keyword stuffing.” That’s because it has keywords in the keyword META tag that don’t show up in the actual copy. That’s cheating to people like Google. See www.mattcutts.com/blog/avoid-keyword-stuffing


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