There has been a great deal of talk on Twitter lately about redesigning Zappos.com and if I weren't a frequent online shopper of shoes and clothes, I may have to agree with people. Yeah, the design isn't the prettiest I've seen. In fact, there are plenty of more aesthetically pleasing fashion sites out there. However, in the defense of Zappos and in my experience of shopping there (quite frequently, I'm afraid to admit) even BEFORE the fancier new Zeta product, I want to let you in on why I think the design is almost perfect.

  1. Zappos understands shoe buyers needs. I have wider calves. I could say it was because of ten years of figure skating, but taking a look at the women in my family, I'm pretty sure it's just the way our bodies are built. Pre-Zappos, I would search around online and off for boots that would actually fit my calves properly. This was an embarrassing and frequently disheartening process. I'd find boots I love, but couldn't zip up and the boots that would zip up would be clunky and ugly. Not at Zappos! They let me filter my results to look at wide calf designed boots only...and there are some beauties in there! They also give me filters like heel height and casual vs dressy. Reading through the comments, I know that I'm not alone...
  2. Zappos posts real comments - good and bad. The first time I left a comment about some boots I sent back, I noticed it was held for moderation. I worried that this was because they may not want to actually post comments that were negative. Not so. It turns out that they want to make sure the comments would be truly helpful (and honest - not planted by a company representative or a competitor) for future Zappos customers' shopping experience. I find that sometimes on Amazon, the commenters aren't so helpful to my decision. Something in the way Zappos crafts comments makes me really sure about my purchases. Oh...and their new reporting on the overall comments is way useful:
    Zappos - helpful stats!
  3. Zappos makes it über simple to return. Knowing that they are selling shoes, which are very difficult to shop for, they've built in a way to make it super simple to return them. Right after purchase, they give you the actual link to the printable UPS label. They also give you this same link in your confirmation email and the packaging of the shoes themselves. There is no searching around. They get it.
  4. Zappos has a crazy selection that gives accurate filters. I can browse everything, which is good for discovery, or I can quickly find that perfect thing I'm looking for. They have a crazy huge selection, which can be daunting, but make it really simple to narrow it down. I don't think I've ever wished for another category, yet their categories don't seem overly extensive. It's like they are inside my head. I like that.
  5. Zappos puts their customer service number on EVERY page. That may seem obvious, but it is rare. I usually have to search around for a way to talk to a person directly. At Zappos, there is no confusion nor is there confusion when I call the actual number. It takes me little time to talk to a human being. The irony of this? I've rarely actually had to use this feature.
  6. Zappos warns me if I need to stop waffling and make the purchase already. Also a good sales technique, but I've been disappointed before when I've put something in my cart, waited a few days and found out that I missed the boat.
  7. On Zappos, it's not about how great they are. It's all about me! Sure, Zappos could make it more obvious how much their customers love them, but I don't think they are trying to hide that fact. I think they are just demonstrating that Zappos focuses on helping their customers rock, not telling the world how fabulous they are...which is why they ARE fabulous. A site needs to help me find what I need to find. Period. Let me figure the awesome part out for myself.

Much like Craigslist, the features Zappos makes easy to find are the ones that matter to me and those that they are missing (or are more difficult to access) aren't that big of deal. And I've been a pretty hefty user of online shopping sites.

So...Zappos...if you do decide to redesign and prettify, taking the advice of others, please remember that my experience as a customer is pretty much perfect, which is why I always go to you first when shopping for almost anything these days. But you already know that. I know you do. :)

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