Web Critique #1: Ducati.com

As part of my new role here with the Lab, is bringing hopefully some fresh ideas and a unique skill set and perspectives. The Lab is doing what we call Web Critiques—and is a take on examining a current piece of art (mostly web) and breaking it down. We show off the good, the bad, dos and dont’s, why and how it works (or doesn’t), and the list goes on.

The entry into our Web Critique series will be looking at the Italian Motorcycle company’s website, Ducati. We will try to assess their brand goals, style, and what the site is trying to do and get across…and how well it works.

Homepage

Ducati.com Homepage

The Ducati Hero page is a actually pretty good; but I wouldn’t say its pretty. The Ducati brand is too small. This is a focus that should be made more clear, not necessarily the 300 victories. I think Ducati is making the assumption that “You know why you are here”. Creating Brand awareness is somewhat like brainwashing, it needs to be seen time and time again before it sinks, some more recognizable than others, that is well supported by style, trust, and product.

Ducati Homepage Details

Lets be frank: the real issue here is that of the typography. Sure we get the point, lots of successful riders and races won, but at what cost? The cost of safe type and common design decency? On a webpage covered with ordered design and what would seem to be organized, this type is chaos. This is an unwelcome contrast and only hurts the page. We often find ourselves struggling to find a button to click in hopes of moving on and find what we are looking for. This hero image is not sexy, sleek, or stylish; a sharp contrast to what seems Ducati is striving for.

The Sidekicks of the HomepageInteresting design decision here. Most of the time I am not a huge fan of drop-down menus, it is difficult to make sure it isn’t “finicky” (works well) and gets you to where you need to. Ducati’s isn’t particularly bad, but isn’t great. What I do like about it is that its simple to get to the bike I want. It keeps me from clicking too many times, straight and to the point—working as intended. The images are key here: they let those who may be interested in a Ducati, but don’t know what direction they are going in. This lets me pick a point based on looks, and go from there. Sex sells…and so do Ducatis.

Product Page

Ducati Product Page

This page does not suffer from the main typographic issue of the homepage. The branding here is a little bit stronger merely due to the fact that there is a product shot. There is still a lot going on here and can be somewhat distracting. The page does do a good job of navigating us around, main focal on the product shot and then our eyes moving top-right to bottom-right. This is clever and relevant to users—it helps us scan the way in which the things we are concerned with (buying, colors, specs, etc) are part of our navigational process.

Product Sub-details

The details of particular items come up through lightboxesque style—a standard way of viewing “attachments”. It is reassuring that they aren’t using Flash and are designing progressively. Unfortunately, this operation does not flow smoothly and at times fails to operate as intended or to deliver what it is you are looking for; sometimes it wont center. This is a small issue that not only hurts the site’s quality, but overall brand awareness and begs certain questions: “How good can their bikes be if they can’t get simple web code correct?” Sure not everyone thinks this, but if you extrapolate very small flaws you’ll find how your trust in a particular brand starts to diminish. The good? Well it looks good and does a nice job of highlighting the key point—the ultimate goal. Sure how you get there may be a bit clunky, but ultimately achieves what is needed.

And so it repeats

Most of the site continues in this sort of fashion. The interface continues to be a bit clunky, especially when searching for accessory items or using the drop-down selection menus (not navigation). The overall brand feeling falls a bit a short. Ducati sleekness and style doesn’t quite come off in the site presentation. Minimalistic approach does play well, it is evoking of the Ducati spirit and in line with the motorcycles, its unfortunate that their products just aren’t quite highlighted enough.

The site’s footer continues the use of minimalism but fails to reveal much information or evoke the sense of “I want this damn bike”. It is an attempt to be elegant, but doesn’t quite meet the mark. We get basic functionality and utility here. Sure I am nitpicking a bit, but it feels like a halfway attempt at creating more of an inviting and immersive experience, so it must be commented on.

Solutions…

Ducati Product edited with SolutionsThis is a not a perfect photoshop mock, but it gets the point across. I went with the idea of making the product the focus and emphasis here and built on the idea of their minimalistic approach. It is easier to navigate a product page top to bottom—this is human nature, therefore I envisioned it so. The icons of the different colors are below the product. This gives a sense of “many different options” and helps to add contrast from the boldness of the product shot. Selecting these options are easier without forcing the eyes to look else where—its all right there. Simple and to the point: You want this bike.

Another small touch is adding in the Ducati font logo. Some may not of even noticed its addition, it is subtle. Its subtle because it belongs there, some experienced web users assume that a logo is nearly always there: we have recognized that is a prime position for such things. The Ducati emblem was not enough. Seeing as how most bikes show off the Ducati font logo, this is fitting to brand the navigation with this logo. Its a visual reminder that your peripheral vision picks up and builds on subconsciously.

Be a part of this

We hope you enjoyed our first Web Critique featuring Ducati.com. The idea here is to take real world examples and explain what we think were the design decisions and share those thoughts. This is a great way for novice and veteran designers to find things to debate and learn from. We also want to encourage user submissions! We could even break down a fan’s portfolio or website or print piece—submit it and we’ll take a look. Recommendations or suggestions just send us a tweet @inspiredology or email me. We would love feedback on things this article needs or ways to improve this new type of post we will be doing.