DX Award :: Girlshop


Girlshop has got to be this year’s most innovative e-retail site. If you are looking for new directions in e-commerce and shopping cart functionality, just click it and visit. Keep an open mind and think about what the designers have done.  You will be shocked at the simplicity of their approach.  In fact, you’ll probably think that they’ve just done the obvious. Good design is like that — it seems obvious, at least once you’ve seen it. However, it also begs the question as to why you haven’t seen it before.


ARCHIVED DESIGN AWARD PAGE :: 1998 DX AWARDS

This page is republished for historical and archival reasons, highlighting the history of online design and the work of some of the many talented individuals who were instrumental in the early days of online media.


We are honored to select Girlshop as this week’s recipient of the IPPA’s Award for Design Excellence.


Girlshop has got to be this year’s most innovative e-retail site. If you are looking for new directions in e-commerce and shopping cart functionality, just click it and visit. Keep an open mind and think about what the designers have done.

You will be shocked at the simplicity of their approach. In fact, you’ll probably think that they’ve just done the obvious. Good design is like that — it seems obvious, at least once you’ve seen it. However, it also begs the question as to why you haven’t seen it before.

Overall, the presentation at Girlshop is rock solid and quite unique. This is highly focused stuff — if you are a male analyzing this site, you will still be impressed. However, for a woman, the colors are spot on, the layout is dynamite, and the overall shopping methodology is a dream come true.

It is so hard to know what is hip in NY or LA fashion-wise, but with Girlshop, you’re just a couple of clicks away from what’s really making it hot. These clothes are still months away from the shops if you live in Cleveland. So, put on your shades and just think Big Apple.

One of the most outstanding features of the site is that (for the first time) it is actually faster to shop online than it is at the store. Other e-retail sites should stand up and take notice. At Girlshop, you can view all of the items in each designer boutique at once. You don’t see a listing of line items in the raw (the natural solution for a database designer, but not the best one for a buyer).

With the commonly used line item lists, shopping is an almost tortuous affair. You laboriously click back and forth to view each item, spending about a minute per as the all important graphic downloads. You’ve got to see it to buy it, so you’ve got to wait, right? At Girlshop, you get a single large graphic of the clothes on hangers, lined up for perfect viewing. If you like something, you click it and it tells you more. To buy it, click it again.

Some of you are going to slam this site because the shopping graphics are upwards of 70 KB each. Before you do, however, think it over. You see it all at once and this is vastly superior to hitting a dozen pages at 15 KB each — kilobyte wise, megabyte foolish.

Further, the shopping cart and e-commerce pack is fully integrated into the presentation. In effect, you don’t have to “go to the order form”, “go secure”, etc. You just click it to buy, it’s added to your cart, and you move on. This is fast, easy, and a great way to shop online.

There are two really innovative features that really change the game at Girlshop. The first is called, “Tell a Friend”. This ties in with how women shop — bottom line, many like to shop with other women. With the Internet, you have to buy it alone, then when it arrives, you show it to a friend. Returns are rampant, putting the whole e-retail business equation in question.

“Tell a Friend” artfully solves this problem. Looking for a second opinion on that dress? You just click the “Tell a Friend” button, address the message, and an e-mail is sent to your alter ego directing her to the site, right to the item you selected. You can even type a message like, “Do you think Bill will like this dress?”

The other really innovative feature is the “Registry” (we couldn’t test it yet, because it is not fully deployed, but the concept is 100 percent there). In effect, the “Registry” allows you to set up a personal shopping cart, stock it with your selections, and then let others in to view your choices, consider, and buy. Think about this for the holidays. With each transaction, the item purchased is removed from your “Registry” so you don’t receive a gift twice. This is really a good concept, even though there probably are not enough stores in Girlshop for it to be completely effective — yet.

With so much advanced thinking going on, it is a real surprise that Girlshop suffers from basic HTML and image errors. Click just one page in and you’ll be forced to needlessly wait. Quite simply, the cardinal rule of defining the WIDTH and HEIGHT of every graphic on a page was ignored. The result: you stare at an empty screen until at least the header information of every image is loaded, then the page suddenly appears. Frankly, if the stunning red wasn’t so strong, we might have given up on the site at this point and never done the review.

Another basic problem has to do with leaving the diffusion option on when indexing the graphics to a 256 color palette. This is basic. There are telltale little “jaggies” on many graphics and the main icon, the playful figure of a woman at the left, lacks the smooth tones and softness required. For most GIF images, leave diffusion OFF, please. Your images will be cleaner, smaller, and more powerful.

Ultimately, Girlshop is really cute and perfectly geared to the target demographics. The functionality is out of this world (meaning straight from Manhattan) and it makes e-shopping fun. Our virtual hat is off to the designers — you’ve scored big here, really. And, you’ve broken new ground as well.

Scoring (10 is Maximum):

Graphics Design…….. 8.3

Programming………… 8.9

Content and Copy…… 8.2