Karmaloop (Karmaloop) is my absolute favorite clothing website on the Internet. If I could have a free gift card to, or given a job at any online retailer, it would be them. They are based out of California and have the biggest selection of “streetwear” style clothing I have ever come across, based on collaboration with the best designers in the fashion industry. They carry every brand that I have ever liked, and support many more, including the lesser known and smaller start-up companies who are trying to get their creative fashion ideas to the forefront of the industry. I appreciate their effort to reward the quality brands and most popular lines of clothing by creating a unique sort of “underground” style of fashion that a majority of people don’t really appreciate or seem to have an eye for.
The layout of the website is as simple as it gets; the main colors are black and white and every picture or dialogue pops out because of the contrast between black and white. The lines are very sharp and defined, making all the options easy to distinguish. For example, on the main page, everything is displayed in a collection of perfect boxes, with the most current styles (summer type clothes), towards the top of the page. These squares use simple colors and contain certain images so that nothing distracts a visitor from their next step. They use “creative cropping” as well, as explained by Dave Underwood in the video, where they select only a certain part of a body or display part of a full picture, but only focus on one single item, like a hat or jacket to display that specific product to the customer. Another technique that Karmaloop web designers use is “sublimated imaging” with simple text over the top of a nice image, so that they can focus a customer’s attention on a current discount while still showing off the actual product, all in the same image. Dave Underwood talks about “layering images together” similar to a collage, as a group of items together in one place can speak volumes greater than one item in the same space. I remember visiting the site once when they had used this technique to create a “back-to-school” sale section, where they had backpacks, discounted clothes, and iPhone/iPad accessories all stacked in one image with one common discount percentage. Besides clever use of parts of images to promote different items, Karmaloop mostly sticks to creative use of contrasting white/black space, easy to read fonts, and separating sections of their online store with sharply defined squares and lines, which makes the customer experience very efficient and effective when trying to shop for something specific.
Ethos & Logos
The use of Ethos – appealing to customers via using a distinct use of words – is apparent on Karmaloop as all their pages use a technique called “gridding” or alignment so that the pages are easy to follow, as the use of space around the different squares makes things easy to select and dynamic to interact with. Dave Underwood mentions that typeface really matters on any site, as the message that comes from using differing fonts can be drastically different. The typeface on Karmaloop is very simple and non-aggressive, leading the focus on the apparel modeling pictures, which are much more effective at drawing a customer in than an aggressive or overly colorful sequence of words. Underwood also says to never use more than two kinds of typeface, and Karmaloop uses exactly two throughout the site, which include both a serif and a sanserif typeface. They use sanserif for the broader titles and to name the sections, while they use serif, the curvier typeface, for the smaller details, such as information about the items, which make it easy to distinguish what you’re looking for as a visitor.
Karmaloop uses the concept of Logos on their site in a very effective way. It is obvious that the web designers want the customer experience to be streamlined, as the most important sections of the website (Men’s, Women’s, Brands, New) are simply laid out on the top of the page so that one can instantly narrow down their criteria. Logos is all about the most important aspects being bold, or step forward, while the less important things can be moved to the background, as said by Dave Underwood in his instructional videos. Karmaloop does a great job of this, as categories of clothing pop out on the home page (Tees, Denim, Shorts, Dad Hats) and one can further narrow down customer options and make the whole shopping process more focused and directed at the customer’s satisfaction. The website is overall very organized and there is no unnecessary tabs or advertisements that so often can distract the customer from shopping and making a purchase, which eventually leads to the website as a whole being more successful.
Karmaloop has always provided a very simple, fluid, and enjoyable user experience, as well as a wide selection of different styles and brands. This simple overall design makes me as a visitor more inclined to purchase something, and when I am in a position to make a purchase, makes me confident that I covered all my options and made the best choice.