Patagonia is known for their quality and corporate responsibility with their efforts towards protecting the environment. These are the reasons I continue to shop from Patagonia for casual clothing, performance outdoor clothing, and equipment. Since I’ve been shopping on the Patagonia site for several years now I have become very familiar with navigating the site. Despite my experience, the site is clean and simple. These are two essentials qualities of excellent design that John McWade. The simplicity is highlighted be powerful colors.
Patagonia being the socially responsible company that they are highlights their new environmental efforts and their new clothing on the home page with great color. Six featured stories or items rotate through sliding one to the next. Each story contrasts from each other with powerful coloring that sets a new mood and presents new part of the world Patagonia is helping. This also addresses the user-centered design that the site addresses. Patagonia recognizes that it retains customers by being a green company and openly communicating is essential to maintaining that cornerstone of their brand. Patagonia excels at contrasting colors to make the product stand out from the white space by using a drastically different background which makes the product pop out. The contrasting colors are coupled with a simple font type extensively used by Patagonia so that the words display the story but really let the product do the talking.
Patagonia however falls into the design tendency that Mr. McWade warns limits a design’s story. Patagonia uses a lot of rectangles or blocks of text to communicate and navigate the site. This design flaw definitely takes away from the aesthetic of the site but is an essential piece to navigation and browsing on the site. Patagonia attempts to mitigate the negatives of this this by being consistently simple and experts at using color. One of the first things I noticed about Patagonia’s site is that the entire font theme is uniform and simple. Typography is bolded or capitalized to contrast it from the lowercase details on the drop downs and product descriptions. Patagonia implements a consistent color theme in its typography to guide and indicate to the shopper. Black typography is highlighted with a sharp contrasting red when hovering over new pages. It is small detail that has a large impact on the eyes for the browser so that they receive a positive indication.
Patagonia also implements a subtle technique McWade mentions to take away from the boxing of text. Patagonia adds their iconic mountain chain from their logo on the navigation bar. This cropping separates the navigation bar from the featured center stories. The simple, boxed navigation at the top is floating on top of the stories and featured products, which gives the site an incredibly unique and clean look. I browsed some other popular sites that I shop at and was not surprised when I saw the boxing design strategy was rampant in most online stores. It is an organized design that most shoppers are conditioned to expect and are easy to navigate. I think Patagonia does a an exceptional job relative to most online stores at keeping a design that is simple, easy to navigate, and beautiful.
After leaving the home page and going into the product pages Patagonia minimizes that amount of boxes and color of the screen to focus on their products. Each product is contained in a box that is highlights when it is hovered over but this is a design pro that draws focus of the shopper on the exact product they are looking for. The only color on the page is that of the products; all the navigation and detail is in black and white. This draws in the focus completely to the design and style of the product rather than the eye being drawn in several different directions. The emphasis reinforces the goal of the design, to sell clothing. Patagonia’s simplicity aids the effectiveness of site at selling and ties to the concept of their mission to cause no unnecessary harm to the environment. Cutting out the unnecessary design elements makes Patagonia’s site true to their story to let their product be the gateway to the wilderness they protect.