Thalasar Ventures

Review of

Recently we reviewed the AC Lens Affiliate Program. Today we will be reviewing the overall site design, user experience and selection of AC Lens, a contact lenses retailer.

The first thing that strikes me with the AC Lens design is that they are using a fixed width design. The site is 750 pixels wide and is fixed at that width. This means on most modern screens (those shipped in the last three years) significant screen real estate is lost. On my browser this means roughly 30% of the screen real estate is lost. With this particular design choice you also lose screen real estate when your users need to scroll down below the fold. For example on my browser (and likely everyone else’s too), the links to the most popular contact lenses and the special offers are below the fold, meaning I have to scroll down to see them. The special offers could easily moved above the fold by removing the “10 years online” graphic and replacing it with a textual link, “10 years online” that could take you to a company page explaining more about the history of the company. That would serve both to push up the offers and to increase the customer’s comfort level with

AC Lens Home Page
Picture of the Home Page. Notice the space on the right hand side of the browser. Wasted merchandising opportunity!

There’s no reason to have fixed width design. You should be utilize the entire browser and thus fully merchandise the site to the user. Significant merchandising opportunities are currently being lost because of the fixed width layout. You should have a design that utilizes 100% of the browser window.

The site navigation appear functionally solid with lenses broken down by type, brand and accessories. To my mind the URL structure should be cleaned, eliminating the special characters from the URL structure. This will help with bookmarking and with user experience optimization.

For example the URL to Ocular Sciences is
That URL has both ampersands and spaces in it. A cleaner URL should be something like the following;

That URL structure has the benefit of being shorter and human readable. While it is less common than it once, human readable URLS have the added benefit of being more search engine friendly.

The UI also needs to be more consistent. For example, on the bottom left hand side is a link to the Contact Lens Catalog. Clicking this link takes you to this page.

Contact Lens Catalog
Picture of the Catalog Page

Notice anything different about that page? The consistent navigation has changed, a whole new row of links is added to the top blue bar (the bar underneath search and the pulldown menu for your specific contact lens. More importantly the click path isn’t entirely clear for the user. Those links should be consistent to when you first arrive at the site. As it is now you only see those links within the context of the catalog or a product page.

AC Lens should engage in a basic coffeeshop usability test to see how users are using the site. In this regard it should relatively easy to find users that regularly buy contact lenses and offer feedback on the site. It doesn’t take too many user tests to find the obvious problems with the site.

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