Weekly Content Critique: Sofa with Identity Crisis

By this time next week, bank accounts will have been drained. Money will have been squandered on HDTVs and Call of Duty games and diamond necklaces and miniature Chihuahuas* and dark chocolate truffles and fake babies and plastic holiday decorations. People will have been trampled in the process–let’s hope not fatally, but let’s also be realistic.

And stores like Toys ‘R’ Us, Best Buy, and Walmart will, however unwillingly, share accountability for whatever injuries to person or property ensued in Black Friday madness. Ah, Walmart. Earlier this week we reported on Walmart’s plans to expand their e-commerce operation. Walmart, you have a long way to go. Example: the Small Sectional Sofa page. To make our journey through this product page feel less like a David Lynch film, I have listed the progression of the content. Relevant sections are highlighted, where relevant = minimum information I need to make a purchase decision. Ready?

1. Title
2. Color options
3. Buy window (price)
4. About this product (no actual content)
5. People who viewed this item also viewed
6. Item description
7. Product manual and assembly instructions
8. People who bought this item also bought
9. Specifications
10. Customer reviews
11. Customer Q&A exchange
12. Product warranty and service plan options

See what happened there? The most important information is repeatedly interrupted by marginally useful information. Inserting two “people who … also …” sections is offensive enough, but I find the most egregious error the “about this product” header that is followed by no. actual. description. Only links, and links that take you to various different points on the very long page.

*Chihuahuas are chihuahuas. Miniature, teacup, and all other breeder jargon is nothing more than a ploy to elicit more exaggerated gushing.

The introduction: 1 ping

1-pings (wide)There is a title. A relatively informative title. And color options. The only header to be found in the actual copy reads “Small Spaces Sectional Sofa with Microfiber Upholstery, Black Faux Leather.” Enough said.

Informative copy: 1 ping

1-pings (wide)Once I scrolled to and fro a couple of times, I discovered that there is indeed some product info. Some things I learned about this sofa from the copy: It has a chaise. Its chaise can be positioned left or right. It does not include a battery. It has loose seat and back cushions and a no-sag sinuous spring foundation. I’m starting to think I should paint a large scarlet “A” on it.

Effective images: 2 pings

2-pings (wide)Here’s where Walmart really tried to stretch their wings and fly with interactive images (extra ping for the noble goal).

Fortunately, they are old enough to survive a fall from the nest. A closer look at this image reveals that the clickable feature explanations do little more than rephrase the feature itself.

The explanation of each feature simply restates the feature itself. Didn’t I just say that? Better to use some of that white space for a different view of the sofa, which is not to be found anywhere on the page. Or maybe not, since the white space around the first image is a refreshing break from the visual assault that is this page.

What I’m buying: 0 pings

0-pings (wide)I deduced from the page content that this sofa comes in more than one piece and requires some assembly. Note “deduced.” The most relevant text on the page itself is a bullet saying “minimal assembly required.”

If I were to download and read the product manual, I might know more. Maybe I’d even know if I have to download and print the product manual and assembly instructions myself, or if I’d be the lucky recipient of pre-printed instructions. Hardware? Presumably. Tools needed? I sure hope not, because I’m fresh out. Number of feet? The pictures show five, which seems a little light on support, but maybe the “durable frame construction” doesn’t need more. (If a three-legged dog can still play flyball, why couldn’t this durable frame stand on five legs for years to come?)

Oh, and there is no warranty. Or guarantee. Or service plan option. But clicking on a warranty details link did tell me that the sofa’s country of origin is “Imported.”

Design: 0 pings

0-pings (wide)Please refer to the bulleted list at the beginning of this post and all subsequent commentary for more information on my decision.

Final score: 1 ping

1-pings (wide)This bald-faced attempt to imitate Amazon’s product page format went wrong when it stopped imitating Amazon’s product page format. Now I will surely be dubbed a Hezbocrat by Hermain Cain for coming down hard on Walmart’s failure to pay a living wage and provide reasonable employee benefits content merchandising attempts. I am curious about this new faux leather microfiber fabric, though.

Think I’m being too harsh on Walmart?

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