Weekly Content Critique: Calling (Kate) Spade a Spade

A few clothing brands, including kate spade new york and Mr Porter, are repeatedly cited as paragons of the content and commerce model. I took a look at kate spade’s site and was sorely disappointed by the so-called integration of editorial content into the retail site. The site’s home page offers two destinations, shop or blog. Is this immediate fork in the road indicative of the brand’s overall success at integrating content and commerce?

Wanting to give the company a proper chance, I checked out their blog, came across this post full of product images, and clicked away–in vain. The retailer’s blog post featured images of products for sale on their site without links to product pages. After following a text link, I was able to click on products in that image and landed on the page for the Dunes Lane Fringe Straw Hat. Or rather, on the hats and scarves page, where I selected the hat for this critique.

The introduction: 0 pings0-pings (wide)

What little product information there is can be found on the lower right side of the page below the social media buttons, without any marker to draw attention to itself. What’s more, I had to click yet another link to read the entire one-sentence description.

The introduction amounts to: “add a dash of retro charm to your plage du jour.” And only people browsing on largish screens will be lucky enough to read the last word of the phrase. No fewer than three different product descriptions on the site include the phrase “plage du jour”; there’s no mention of the particular product until shoppers click “more info.” What is there to compel that click in the first place?

Informative copy: 2 pings2-pings (wide)

Now, I understand that when magazine or fashion editorial types say “content,” they mean something a little different than when Content Ping editorial types say “content,” but can we all respect a universal definition of content as writing that informs and enriches reader/viewer/shopper experience? This copy is little more than a tease. The hat is made of straw, but is the fringe? Is it thick, thin, stiff, flexible? Straw is not a uniform substance.

Effective images: 1 ping1-pings (wide)

Does that look effective to you? (Hint: No.) All that white space above the hat seems to be a placeholder for the alternative image of a model wearing the hat.

There are two color options, black and “natural orange.” Problem is, the orange of the images and the orange of the color swatch don’t remotely match. One is red (or maybe “artificial orange”?). Which orange would I get if I chose this option?

What I’m buying: 2 pings2-pings (wide)

Most of the time, hats that come in only one size are stretchy. I have to assume this straw hat is not stretchy, and therefore that its one size will only fit a particular range of head sizes. Thus, providing measurements of the hat is advised.

I thought that “details” link would lead to more information about shipping, but it’s simply hover text. The pop-up text reads: “enjoy free ground shipping to all 50 states.” Unless you live in Alaska or Hawaii, reading that was a waste of time.

Design: 2 pings2-pings (wide)

The brand employs certain unstructured design choices such as all lowercase type and minimal formatting in running text, but does use case, font type, and color liberally to distinguish site elements. This approach sometimes works, but not always.

Let’s look more closely at the screenshot above. Color names appear on top of “one size”–which could simply inhabit one line instead of two, solving this problem. Elements immediately surrounding product color swatches are also brightly colored, which I find distracting, while the product description and details further down the page go without special formatting or even a dash of color. And I swear the fuchsia of “details” is different than the fuchsia surrounding it.

I support using all lowercase type, even if it is sometimes an overdone nod to Bauhaus. However, in this case it’s just an overdone nod to Bauhaus. Kate spade’s blog also uses all lowercase in running text and is harder to read for doing so. It’s almost as if the company secretly wants shoppers to ignore the writing and just look at the pretty pictures (that’s what Pinterest is for, and kate spade is using it well).

Final score: 1 ping1-pings (wide)

While I respect the effort to be authentic rather than “just another fashion blog or retail blog,” a post with a packing list for the brand’s travel sweepstakes is a reasonable place for product links. Ultimately, it took three clicks to get from blog to product page, where I found fluff instead of editorial content. Certainly not the seamless reading/shopping experience I was expecting.

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