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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

A Shinier, Tastier Green Apple

Last week the new site for The Green Apple went live, and it seems to be running nicely so it’s time to give it a mention. I redesigned it based on a great brief to make something fun and not overly ‘worthy’, and rebuilt from the ground up using Zen Cart and ZenMagick.

The background imagery is set up to change slightly every 3 months to reflect the seasons, suiting the brand and extending the design’s lifespan. Tiny apples appear in the cart image when you add items, you’re ‘Anonymouse’ when not logged in, ducks are in various places and Finn the cat is in charge of highlighting products. It’s certainly possible to overdose on the cute/whimsical, but too many ecommerce sites are dull and lifeless.

As with any project, I learned/confirmed a lot, including:

  • Sometimes the best place to start the design is the colour palette.
  • Always try to take ideas from reality where possible, e.g. Mickey really does have cats and ducks around the place.
  • If a category contains too many products to fit onto one page then it’s best to break it down into subcategories; pagination should be avoided where possible, and made prominent where it’s used.
  • It’s well worth using CSS ‘sprites’ if you can. I eliminated at least 16 HTTP requests from the home page by combining images.
  • Cut out the stupid junk that clutters most ecommerce sites. Trust me, you don’t need to give every product a quantity dropdown and Buy button on the category listing page.
  • Try to find time to make the unglamorous information pages (privacy, delivery charges, etc.) as attractive and readable as possible.
  • Allow customers to buy without registering, or make registration feel like a natural part of the checkout process rather than a separate chore. Don’t ask for unnecessary data such as gender, date of birth or fax number.

A couple of stubborn technical issues still need to be addressed, but overall I’m really happy with the result and hopefully it’ll succeed in attracting more orders.


Fantastic work Matt!

— Greg, 9th Apr, 2:06pm

Looking really nice. Are we likely to see this dynamically changing design idea when the malevole site is releaunched? ;)

morcs, 11th Apr, 9:58am

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