Pcclub com This Is an Analysis of the Term Paper

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This is an analysis of the e-commerce web site, www.pcclub.com.The analysis will examine the web site's content, functionality and appeal, (attractor).

Quick Overview:

Designed with the computer shopper in mind the PC Club's home page, http://www.pcclub.com/main.cfm, offers fast access to merchandise categories via a list of products, systems and services in a column, (site makes liberal use of tables), on the left hand side. Under each of the four main headings, are specific hyperlinks to specific product categories, such as "motherboard" or "memory." This column of links is on each page visited thus, allowing fast access to the specific products or services a customer desires without requiring him to wade through complex graphics or convoluted links to get the information he seeks.

The layout of the home page is clean, without being overly simple. In addition to the fast links to specific products, the home page is categorized into subsections, which include weekly specials, top sellers, a news section, and featured pc systems. In addition, the layout makes use of tabs at the top of the page linking to specific section in the e-commerce store, Home, Specials, Systems, and Forum. The tab format contributes to an overall good functionality and ease of use.

The Product Search feature is at the top of the page allowing the visitor to have quick access in searching the web site. Additionally, links to "My Account," "Shopping Cart" and "My Lists" are at the top of each page, allowing quick access to user specific information. The search and accounts links remain constant as you move from page to page on the web site, making it easy for the shopper at all times to review his account or search for products no matter where he is in the web site.

The website's page layout and links seem to be mimicking www.amazon.comlayout, in terms functionality and to a certain extent, aesthetics.

Content - Information Quality and Relevance:

For a shopper who has a general idea regarding what he wants to buy or price the quality of information is good. The organization bills itself as catering to PC professionals drawing mostly knowledgeable and well-informed shoppers instead of novice buyers. It features quick, relevant links to information regarding building or upgrading a computer system or building an entire entertainment system based around a personal computer.

The Products category on the left offers a quick, no nonsense set of links to various products for the consumer to search for and read about. Clicking on the "Digital Cameras" link, for example, under the Products heading pulls up a page with a list of brands of digital cameras, types of accessories and web cams. Clicking on the web cam link, (http://www.pcclub.com/product_list.cfm?cat=Digital%20Cameras&subcat1=Web%20Cams),leads to a page with 6 different makes/models of web cams along with a thumbnail picture, the price and the name, maker, and model of he camera that is also a link for more detailed information. The additional information includes relevant information about the features and functions of the product. What is missing is general information of what to look for in any given set of products and why a consumer may prefer one product to another, beyond price considerations. Basically, the e-commerce site gives good basic information about the products it offers but it is assumed that the consumer comes to the site with a base knowledge of what he is looking for. For the novice pc shopper this would probably not be helpful in determining what to purchase and why. The site does have a "Forums" link that let web site visitors ask questions, make comments, etc. On various topics related to computers, accessories, and software. While not a perfect solution for educating novice buyers the chance to exchange information with others adds a valuable service and increases the overall usability of the web site.

Each product offered also has a section for customer reviews allowing shoppers a chance to find out what others are saying about the product. Unfortunately, there were very few actual reviews. This feature is similar in functionality as the same feature on www.amazon.comand other e-commerce sites.

Content - Multimedia:

PC Club makes no use of multimedia capabilities. The there is no sound or flash embedded into the web pages and what little animation there is consists of changing gifs or jpegs which are used in advertising various specials. Store location pages are static, with directions to them written by the name and location of the stores but no links to maps, such as Yahoo maps. The lack of multimedia on this web site is not a determent however. The site loads fast allowing shoppers to get straight to the business of shopping without wading through a vainglorious introductory flash presentation or being pummeled by unexpected sounds or music.

Functionality - Search Facility:

The search facility on this web site is clearly labeled and is available at the top of every page on the web site. This allows for quick, convenient searches for the customer no matter where he may find himself on the web site. It appears to be a connected to simple, mySQL database using simple SQL type query searches. The web site visitor simply types in a word or string of words to pull up relevant information. The search function does not allow for complex or Boolean type searches. For basic product searches it is adequate.

Functionality - Interactivity:

PC Club's web site's user interactivity is kept to a basic level. Users can view the contents of their shopping cart from any page, one can post comments or questions in a Forum run by the company and one can contact technical support, read FAQs and articles on products and general PC information. Apart from the shopping cart features and account review features most of the web site interaction is of a passive mode. Users go to the page that they want to view and click on the category of information they want to read about. Additionally, users can download patches, files, drivers, and etc. from the website as well.

In addition, the site offers a fast search for stores locations. The visitor enters his zip code and the search engine either comes up with the store location closest to his area or returns a message that there are no stores in his part of the country.

While the web site is deficient in utilizing the latest flashy interactive abilities of other sites, this actually is the strength of the site. Accessing times to each of its pages is very fast, even on a dial up connection. The searches for products is fast, returning either a list of products that matches the search term or a message telling the user that his search term produced no results. By limiting the amount of interactive ability on this site the company has enabled it to be very fast are responsive to the customers, without being overly simple.

Functionality - Responsiveness:

As noted above the web site features fast loading pages and quick search results. Any gifs or jpegs that are part of the page are loaded quickly, with little fuss. This is achieved by a combination of a powerful server on the back end and simple JavaScript and HTML produced pages. Leaving things like Flash presentations and multimedia shows off the site allows it to load quickly and get the shoppers to the pages they want to see faster. The shopping cart allows users to view how different shipping methods will affect their final price and also allows for updating quantities of products chosen, without having to start over. The account review, for business clients and others, allows customers to view a history of their purchases over a user-selected period of time. This feature also allows customers to view a history of their purchases from the company's brick and mortar locations.

Functionality - Reliability:

The web site functions with only one small glitch that could be found. When clicking on the link for LCD televisions, (http://www.pcclub.com/product_browse.cfm?cat=Monitors%2FLCDs),offered for sale the link takes the user back to the home page instead of a products page. Several search attempts were required before finding flat screen television type products.

The pages loaded fast, with no missing gifs or JavaScript problems. Users can add products to their shopping cart, move around the web site and come back to the shopping cart without losing the contents of their carts. If a user leaves the web site and comes back, he will loose the contents however. There are some web sites that use cookies designed to allow the web site to ask if you wish to restore the contents of your shopping cart from your last visit if you have not completed the transaction before you exit the site, (http://www.alexauk.com/).This feature would be a good addition to the PC Club web site.

Attractor - Overall Appeal:

PC Club uses clean design and relatively simple graphics to create a pleasing but uncomplicated web presence. The colors are muted and consist of…[continue]

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