Weekly Content Critique: Tens Unit

Recently, I found myself shopping for TENS units. Backstory: muscle pain, mildly slipped disc, chiropractor, application of TENS unit, pleasant relief from muscle pain, realization that I could buy such a machine for roughly the cost of one office visit. So I launched into the frustrating world of medical supply websites, which are not known for their easy navigation and good product pages.

Around the same time, I read an Internet Retailer article about Medical Supply Depot‘s redesigned site. “A ha!” thought I. No tension headaches, dry eyes, and cramped hands from obsessive browsing. No need to purchase additional medical supplies by the time I find the one I wanted in the first place. I eventually landed on this page for a BioStim M7 TENS unit. The site does indeed have a clean design–clear categories, prominent search box, simple color scheme. Clearly, this was the place to be.

The introduction: 0 pings

0-pings (wide)
Sorry, Medical Supply Depot. I try, but my creativity is not limitless–there’s just no introduction to be found on this page.

Informative copy: 2 pings

2-pings (wide)
There is copy. There is information. Not everything is greater than the sum of its parts. I’ve read through the numeral-dense paragraph on this page a few times and still can’t retain much beyond, the device has seven modes and settings that increase or decrease in different ways. While it’s true that I’d want to consult the instruction manual when using this product, I have to understand it well enough to get to that point (you know, by giving the company my money).

FYI, Medical Supply Depot, the manufacturer’s website has better product info for this unit. There’s just no excuse.

Effective images: 1 ping

1-pings (wide)
The one image is of relatively high-quality resolution and is a decent size, which is impressive for medical sites. Yet, it’s just small enough that a good chunk of shoppers will have to squint to make out what all those buttons are for, and it shows only one position of a product that has more than one (open and closed).

Speaking of buttons, this page could start to make up for the messy copy with a few close-ups that would give us a better idea of various functions and the screen display. There is plenty of white space in the area allotted for this image and the buy button and shipping info. It wouldn’t be ruined by a few thumbnails that popped up larger images.


What I’m buying: 4 pings

At least they got this right, since it is important to know whether the TENS unit you just bought comes with the type and quantity of electrodes you want and what kind of batteries it takes. Also, it’s great when companies include a set of those, as this one does.

Design: 3 pings

3-pings (wide)
The company’s president emphasized the cleaner, simpler site design in his chat with IR. They did indeed eliminate clutter. This is one of the most attractive medical supply sites I’ve seen–plenty of white space, simple navigation, good category organization. But there’s this ugly, markety newsletter promo at the bottom. That must have been an April Fool’s prank gone wrong.

However, there is such a thing as too streamlined. For instance, the lack of design in the copy. Use bullets. Another thing: electrotherapy is a subcategory of pain management, but is missing from the pain management category page. The only way to find this section is by clicking directly on electrotherapy in a drop-down menu–big navigation slip-up.

Final score: 2 pings

2-pings (wide)
In comparison to most medical supply websites, this page deserves 3 or 4 pings. But I don’t write a medical-supply-site-comparing weekly post. I went elsewhere for more product info and found this appalling but useful page on a competitor’s website. Luckily for our friend here, their price was higher.

An aside: WTF, Internet Retailer? A couple of weeks ago, they wrote about an apparel retailer’s devotion to well-designed product pages. Here’s the truth about those product pages. Now they’re talking about a successful overhaul of a site for the purposes of design and usability. But the site still features shoddy product pages in its shiny new packaging. Shoppers may be able to browse more easily, but will they be able to find the information they want?

See the full page here


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