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Friday, Mar. 12, 2010 at 7:40 am

A Women’s Clothing Website that Actually Speaks to Women

By Melissa Burdon
March 12th, 2010

lululemon-designLadies! It’s time to speak out about our frustrating online shopping experiences. How many times do you arrive at a clothing web site looking for a fabulous pair of jeans or a pair of yoga pants that really fit, go through the actions of shopping, but don’t enjoy your shopping experience at all?  It happens to me so often that it’s worth writing about my exciting discovery of lululemon.com.

I have worked with many clients who sell women’s apparel and accessories online.  I’ve helped them improve their online performance by understanding their customers and visitors more effectively, and making changes to speak more effectively to those visitors.

These are some of the many things you should consider improving if you’re selling women’s clothing and/or accessories online:

1)    Design – Women like simple and clean designs.  They push away clutter.  Use softer, more rounded corners and use colors that are warm and more female friendly.  Don’t box things off, use less lines separating elements in your design, and feature plenty of white space.

2)    Images - Women like to be able to visualize themselves in the images they see on your web site, so the images shouldn’t look too posed.  Images that look more real, that feature specific pieces you sell and evoke some emotion, work more effectively.

3)    Copy – Women want to find out quickly what the site offers and what’s in it for them.  Keep it friendly, and offer her some kind of community.

4)    Calls to action and links - Women are looking for straight-forward guidance on how to move forward, whether it be text links or buttons.  Make it easy for her to choose from a few options to move forward in her buying process.

Holly Buchanan, an expert on marketing to women online, reviews various women’s clothing sites in this post, showing us that many of these things apply across the board.

My favorite thing about lululemon’s new site is the imagery and messaging that they convey.  It’s obvious that lululemon clearly understands their customers.  They understand that their apparel is not only being purchased and worn by yoga enthusiasts.  For example, their customers may be doing yoga to help improve their performance in other sports, or they may be using the apparel to workout in the gym and go running, or are simply wearing it as their casual everyday clothing.  Lululemon’s imagery and messaging show us that they understand these women, their lifestyles and their motivations for shopping online.  Are your images simply stock and aren’t speaking to your visitors’ lifestyles and needs?

The active window on this site also features clear-cut (and limited) ways to move forward.  It’s very easy to move forward from the homepage and choose to either shop for women’s or men’s clothing.  There is no confusion about what will be featured when you click. The active window of the homepage also features community aspects such as an image and introduction to their latest blog post and their monthly challenge.  Are you featuring easy ways for your visitors to move forward from your top landing pages? Do you create a relationship with your customer by engaging them with a community?

Lululemon also does a great job of featuring their Unique Value Proposition right in the active window.  The copy, right below the main image effectively explains who they are and what they offer the visitor that will benefit her.  Do you have persuasive copy on your homepage that explains what you offer that is unique and that will benefit the visitor?

There are so many things you can do to improve your performance, but how about starting with some of these basics?

Add Your Comments

Comments (120)

  1. I am sure it is a matter of opinion, but I really to not see a very good UVP. I see the text you are talking about but if a UVP should be why buy from this site instead of the competition, I think the copy does a poor job of that.

    I do agree the site looks like it is designed primarily for women.

  2. I also thought the images showing the products were done well. One thing I noticed about the few images I looked at was the women looked like regular women and not super models. I would think that would make things easier for the average female to see themselves in the clothes and not comparing themselves to super model types.

  3. [...] A Women’s Clothing Website that Actually Speaks to Women Published: March 12, 2010 Source: Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow, Inc Ladies! It’s time to speak out about our frustrating online shopping experiences. How many times do you arrive at a clothing web site looking for a fabulous pair of jeans or a pair of yoga pants that really fi… [...]

  4. I don’t think it’s just women who like simplicity, I think people in general don’t want all the fluff. People are tired of pages full of ads, then want content, to be directed to action, and then the support and security to feel sure of their purchase…

  5. A very simple and easy to use and understand website. Simple steps to order and as you say a good “community” samples to promote their products. I bookmarked this article for future reference.
    I still need your experience to improve my site.
    I m looking forward for an idea how to make my site to work.

  6. I read somewhere that women are the ones who do the majority of online shopping, so it makes sense to apply the “simplicity techniques” to all websites. I, for one, appreciate the clean-cut look.

  7. simple and cute information about women online shopping, and very useful cloth website, thanks

  8. I do agree, if we are making a site for women relate then u should consider the women first means it’s totally speaks to women

  9. I just visited the site. While design and presentation of website is amazing, the name “Lululemon” is amusing.

  10. thanks thankssss

  11. Very simple and nice post.

  12. nice thanks

  13. Thank You, very clear what you mean.

  14. All 4 items also apply to men. “Women like simple and clean designs”
    I believe men also…

  15. Very simple and nice

  16. I’ll be keeping my wife away from that site, and I’ll be erasing my history so she won’t find it. Thanks.

  17. This topic so interesting! Women! They don’t have to spend much time on choosing clothes…So there will be a special site about women’s clothes then.

  18. I agree with some of the comments above. This things can/may apply to all other websites and not just to girly websites. I will be definitely telling this to my women friends.

  19. I’ve been on the website… it’s great. Very active clothing for the active women.

  20. The most important thing to have in mind when creating this type of website is to create a sense of “what you see here is what you are going to get”. In my opinion that creates trust.

  21. I ask myself if there is really that much of a difference in web behaviour between men and women.

    I doubt it seriously.

  22. @ Andrew

    Good to see you around here blogger! Cheers!

    Sounds like most people agree with us. Although I can see why we can and should focus on women in this niche!

  23. i have to agree about the UVP. But marketing toward women’s clothing isnt very original and is a hard market to get into.

  24. That is totally cool. This will be a good news to some of my girl friends who are in to such thing. Thanks for the post.

  25. Interesting analogy between the insects behavior and the economic moment.

  26. nice thanks

  27. I don’t want to criticize the work just for the purpose, but I think there’s something missing. I do like most of the design, and layout, etc, but realistically this is expected in this day and age. Good images and snazzy designs are no longer something to separate a site from the others, they’re simply expected.

    I think it’s extremely presumptuous, and dangerous to your finances, to think that every visitor is going to start on, or even see the homepage. There is no UVP on any page less the homepage as far as I can tell, so the 70% or so of your visitors that don’t start where you want them to (how dare them…) won’t see any value vs landing on an inner-page of say victoria’s sectret… I’ve been marketing online retail and b2b for nearly 10 years, and I have never seen a site’s analytics suggest that even a majority of visitors visit the homepage let alone start there.

    So onto the homepage… I think that if we’re analyzing just the homepage, it’s also questionable as to the effectiveness of the UVP. On my screen any UVP text is far below the fold. Again, there’s nothing up top to make me think the site is any better than a similar competitor. I would start by putting whatever value lululemon offers, above the home page features. I would also venture to say it should be somehow accessible in the footer of ever page. A simple text teaser link would be a good start. As to the UVP itself, “We create components for people to live longer, healthier, more fun lives.” What is a component? The fact that I and many others’ wouldn’t associate the word “component” with what I’ve seen on the site so far, just doesn’t sell me. It may not cause me to leave, but it’s certainly not going to entice me to buy. I just don’t find the copy particularly strong, with respect to a UVP.

    I would say the product content, copy, images, and call’s to action are definitely above average. I like the very accessible product reviews and sizes. This is something that is so often buried but is so important for conversion. I also like the design. It is very simple, fast loading, and clean. In all it’s just a white box on a red background. The blue sewn stripe for navigation provides the right level of contrast, professionalism, fun, and usability without distracting the user. The subtle shadow around the content box makes everything pop. The auto-magnify on the product images is not a good idea, should definitely be user triggered.

    To me the only apparent UVP is the fun design, and the well planned product pages. But, is it enough to distinguish the site from all the others?

  28. Very simple and nice

  29. Great information for me thank for sharing

  30. I totally agree with this article. While you will save yourself some serious cash buying online you just don’t get the same shopping experience as buying and trying a retail outlet.

  31. As Audio Bible mentioned above…

    “One thing I noticed about the few images I looked at was the women looked like regular women and not super models”

    This makes so much difference its unbelievable.

  32. This is super exciting! Shopping can be hard, but this looks really helpful. I am going to tell my friends.

  33. Great site! now it’s time to spread the “word”! Thanks for sharing this!

  34. Very Simple and enthusiatic

  35. Great article Melissa, I really like the website. It offers a sense of what you see is what you get, which many clothing sites lack.

  36. It is so important to make sure that a website is easy to access and appealing to the group targeted. Of course, understanding your customer is key!

  37. very interesting article.

  38. Better think about function first and than make it beautiful. Thanks for the reference.

  39. As a man who likes to shop online, I kind of like the design of the website as wel. What does that say about me?

  40. Those useful tips apply to both man and woman’s online shop, i think. Thanks for sharing!

  41. @ Joe

    It doesn’t say much anymore. I know almost as many men into graphic design today as women!

  42. Gosh.. the interface pf this site is really amazing.
    but the most of all i like the way it shows popup to choose different color to show a product :)
    its not only appealing to women but also doing for men

  43. Nice discovery! This is really the perfect example of a user-friendly shop, not just for women. It inspires me to put a whole lot of more effort into usability.

  44. Good tips, visited the site and the layout is good and the site is user friendly, easy for non-frequent internet users to navigate the site’s pages.

  45. Really a very good site to visit or shop

  46. Sorry to post twice, but my first comment didn’t show up, so I thought maybe I should try again. Thanks for posting this great website. It is truly amazing and I love the way it speaks directly to women!

  47. design interface must be reflect women’s theme, so that women will get familiar to the store

  48. This is great recommendations for mom’s websites too as they tend to and mostly attract the femal population.

  49. Thanks for these nice tips.Its a must read for all women online retails store.

  50. [...] I read Melissa Burdon’s post about a Women’s clothing website that actually speaks to women, I was inspired to add a few ideas to her list of things to consider improving to market more [...]

  51. simple and cute information about women online shopping, and very useful cloth website, thanks

  52. nice post. That is totally cool. This will be a good news to some of my girl friends who are in to such thing. Thanks

  53. @ Hip Hop

    So true. These principles aren’t just for women, they can be applied to many different target markets!

  54. [...] to The NMS Blog newsletter. Thanks for visiting!When I read Melissa Burdon’s post about a Women’s clothing website that actually speaks to women, I was inspired to add a few ideas to her list of things to consider improving to market more [...]

  55. I hate shopping so going online it great for me. Some sites are awful. This site is a good one. Quality and ease of use is what I need.

  56. that is really what women needs. nice site! I delayed morethan one hour there. in some points I wasn’t accords with them. but thats for the nice tipp! its better then boulevards magazine :-)

  57. You’re right at some points, but overall the site in not interesting, maybe because I am a man :-)

  58. Excellence website for women that have many things I can do to improve my performance

  59. You have to speak to your customer, it is not an option anymore.

  60. The honor of winning an Apex Award is highly sought after in the digital signage industry, and it is great to see two Cisco deployments – both very different in their scope and purpose – be recognized. These awards also verify the work Cisco is doing with so many of its customers on a day to day basis. Many thanks all, we’re ready for the next mission!

  61. Great design. The color was really feminine.

  62. This is a very interesting topic, so thanks for the article. I typically feel there very few gender differences when it comes to good web/app usability design. The thought experiment I use is this. By implication what’s the opposing side of the argument. If it’s ridiculous, then something might be slightly off. If it makes total sense, then it may hold water. This doesn’t always work, of course. So, if you allow me, from the article above, one would expect an article about designing for men to say:
    1) Men are fine with complicated and messy designs. They don’t mind clutter…
    2) Images – Images can look posed, and unrealistic…
    3) Copy – Men don’t mind hunting to find what the site offers and what’s in it for them.
    4) Calls to action and links – Men don’t require clarity when it comes to guidance on how to move forward, whether it be text links or buttons.

    While there may be at least a little bit of truth to some of them, as a whole, I think I’d have to disagree. So I agree with some of the previous posts that I’m not sure that these are the variables that differentiate gender-focused designs. But there is likely something that does because the website shown does appear to be slightly more feminine than NFL.com (for example).

    For me, it feels like it has more to do with the emotional design of the page. Does anybody agree that it could be broken down as follows:

    Men: Darker, more saturated colors; serious; harder; NFL.com seems much more industrial (ie., those sorts of sites have robots and sparks, etc.); and more data-driven copy (?)

    Women: lighter, gentler colors; slightly playful; softer, the site shown seems almost crafty (ie., the stitching and paper effects); and more emotional copy (?)

    As I look at this, I feel like this is playing directly into gender-stereotypes (which is why I usually avoid thinking too much about gender differences in my designs). So, I’d be interested in hearing the feedback. Am I stuck in the dark-ages and inappropriately gender-typing or do you think there’s something to it?

  63. Very professional and good looking site!

  64. This is really the perfect example of a user-friendly shop, not just for women. It inspires me to put a whole lot of more effort into usability.

  65. design interface must be reflect women’s theme, so that women will get familiar to the store website that actually speaks to women,

  66. Hi,

    I like design interface reflect woman’s theme and the website actually speaks to women.

    Thanks,
    bad credit mortgages

  67. I like the design, think the navigation is easy to use.

  68. design interface must be reflect women’s theme, so that women will get familiar to the store website that actually speaks to women,

  69. This is really the perfect example of a user-friendly shop, not just for women. It inspires me to put a whole lot of more effort into usability

  70. Very professional and good looking site!

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  73. the women looked like regular women and not super models. I would think that would make things easier for the average female to see themselves in the clothes and not comparing themselves to super model types.

  74. I would think that would make things easier for the average female to see themselves in the clothes and not comparing themselves to super model types.

  75. I think the site is good for anyone that likes well arranged websites. There are so many crappy sites out there, it comforts my heart to see that someone is actually able to create a site that good. But about the site being created for women; the same principals could surely be used on a website for men? I`m only speaking for myself here, but I`m sick and tired of visiting sites where bulging biceps and ripped sixpacks are the main ingredients. I just click my way right out of there as fast as I can, because the clothes they sell evidently aint made to fit me.

  76. Very good analysis!

    I strongly feel buying apparels in real-time by personally visiting store is always preferable compare to buying them online.


    Robert D.

  77. I think you have made some valuable points. Our experience is that many women do research either for themselves and/or their partners and often they are looking for simplicity, uncomplicated advice, and easy calls to action. Moving banners and fancy whatever and a real turn off.

  78. Isn’t this the way it should work anyways. Great conversion for the target audience in mind!

  79. If I am looking at any website from a shopping point of view my main requirements is that the site is somple to navigate,fast and uncluttered. This is far more important than colour schemes etc. Far too many sites are slow and frustrating, even those of the big retailers.

  80. If it doesn’t speak to women, it ain’t going to sell, period.

  81. I wonder how well clothes online sells convert. I had some attempts to start in this niche but I always thought clothes and shoes are sensitive goods for online sales as it is hard to say it if fits and looks good on you by looking some skinny models dressed with those clothes. I have an experience with going shopping with my wife she tries an average of 20 clothes before buying one.

  82. Thanks for your info, online clothing is still hard to sell. Most people want to fit and want to feel the substance. But with a virtual guide it’s getting better… Still seeing a lot clothing sites that are slow and have a bad user experience.

  83. This name Lululemon is amusing. But I liked the web design. It is engaging and very well made.

  84. Nice to see a well designed site. I have to agree that the same old sick pack/perfect body type images being sold to us all is getting annoying and tired.

  85. The site you chose is an excellent example of the design practices I too follow when it comes to creating attractive sites for female shoppers. Simplicity of design combined with an elegant presentation has always been a point of professional pride for my team and I. It’s been quite a few years now that we’ve been designing and developing with these principles in mind and we’ve yet to have a dissatisfied client!

  86. This is very interesting and I think it can be apply to any industry. Try to understand your market, who is your potential buyer … and speak their language.

  87. Nice title A Women’s Clothing Website that Actually Speaks to Women

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  94. There is probably a difference between visualizations in gender. If a website can magically detect the gender of a person visting the site and adjust/customize the design, wouldnt it be great?

  95. Nice article from you.

  96. Great design.

  97. All women want simplicity when they shop online, but I think this concept is relevant for any industry.

  98. optimized shops for womens to shop some clothes and shoes become more and more popular b!cause they like simple shopping

  99. Very nice idea indeed. Online shopping for clothes has always been difficult.

  100. Great idea.. good thinking lol :)

  101. It is nice blog for all women who are very fond of clothes.

  102. It is very good for online shopping.

  103. In my opinion girls have a great choice for garments. In today’s life there are too many brands opens for girls and also a huge variety of designers clothes available in almost every small and big market for girls

  104. You will be surprise what a rounded looking box versus a sharp corner looking box can do for conversion. It also seem to work better for women.

  105. great post, my blog is covered in it!

  106. The use of Audio and Video is now increasing every second of the day online. take Ndubz.com they offer an imbedded Video file, for the background image, sound and video.

    Whilst the trend for lower end sites, is with Voice over images and the occassional man or woman in a suit, trying to sell the site some more. I guess if your product doesnt sell anyway, adding Audio wont drastically increase sales.

  107. @mattress: and what about zulu.com?

  108. People generally approach Web sites with “skepticism” or fear with regards to whether or not they will be services properly. Now, good Web design really, really helps!

  109. Good design always create an image thats help ppl in decision making.

  110. I like the big promotion area on the front of the site, really clear and informative.

  111. Also, don’t forget the vital ingredient of A/B split testing or multivariate testing. Good design and good copywriting are entirely subjective notions until they can be validated by actual test data. This also helps the client to understand why their site is (or isn’t) working.

  112. By implication what’s the opposing side of the argument. If it’s ridiculous, then something might be slightly off. If it makes total sense, then it may hold water

  113. I also thought the images showing the products were done well. One thing I noticed about the few images I looked at was the women looked like regular women and not super models. I would think that would make things easier for the average female to see themselves in the clothes and not comparing themselves to super model types.
    ..

  114. I must admit online shopping can be a frustration experience, however I do feel that the experience is improving all the time especially with the 360 degree views you now can get of most products.

  115. Woman are often not targeted as much online as men are. If we think of there needs and what appeals to them = profit.

  116. I feel that men are targeted a little more online, or maybe I am just getting that thought from the likes of google with saved searches etc

  117. l that men are targeted a little more online, or maybe I am just getting that

  118. My opinion is that women are not so simple as men.They want to show herself in slim and smart dresses.They are also fond of shopping to.Thanks for the info.

  119. Women’s clothing has changed dramatically over the centuries. Women used to wear dresses and skirts all of the time. It has been a fairly recent phenomenon, since around the turn of the twentieth century, that women began wearing pants. Women were always taught to be lady-like and they always dressed in modest clothing. Women never used to show cleavage or wear tight pants.

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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