Yes its that time of year again…Black Friday (cue scary, suspenseful music). The food coma from the day’s turkey dinner is lifting and the deals are so good that they convince people to flock to the stores at increasingly obscene hours of the early morning and run the risk of getting trampled in the mad dash for that last Wii Fit.
It’s more than a little ridiculous, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Thanks to increasingly well-designed and easy to use e-commerce sites its possible to have a great shopping experience (and get great deals) without ever leaving your house.
AgencyTool is anti-gettingtrampled and pro-qualitydesign, so we’ve put together a guide of the best designed, most user-friendly online shopping sites around. We’ve also thrown in a few ‘off the beaten track’ sites to make sure you stay creative in your gift-giving. Enjoy!
Ideeli.com is members only, but you shouldn’t have any trouble finding an invite code. They run frequent promotions in magazines and chances are someone you know is already a member and can invite you. They have great sales on designer apparel and accessories. The best part? Every now and then they have giveaway contests, yep they give away designer handbags, jewelry, clothes, you name it. Awesome. They keep the design simplistic by only having a few items on sale at any given time, allowing users to check back whenever they want something new instead of being overwhelmed by millions of products.
Incase is the perfect mix between online store and design showcase. They sell cases for all your gadgets – cell phones, computers etc. – as well as stylish bags and carry cases, but the site is so much more. Their tag-line is “A better experience through good design” we think that pretty much sums it up.
While not really an e-commerce site on its own, RetailMeNot.com is a social shopping community that posts online coupon codes from various different retailers. The look is fun and fresh, and it’s user review system makes this the best designed coupon gathering site around.
Surprise.com’s design is crisp and neat, but not overly impressive. The site is extremely easy to use and understand but is on the list mainly because of the creative spin they put on online shopping. Not sure what to get someone on your list? Head to Surprise where they not only suggest gifts by holiday but by what the person is like. Is he a foodie? A movie buff? How about the perfect gift for someone who is always cold. The sites pulls gift ideas from various other online stores and presents the perfect gift for your hard to buy for person.
Another useful tool for your online shopping experience is Buzzillions. They have literally buzillions of reviews on all types of products. The site is clearly designed so that it is easy to find the exact product you are looking for. Also, the reviews themselves are uniquely designed, with pros and cons sections, ratings, and comparisons to similar products. The site isn’t trying to sell you these products and doesn’t pay reviewers – so you can be fairly certain you are reading a real review from an actual consumer.
Vann’s Spices is the perfect place to look for a gift for your amateur chef or impossible to buy for/has everything person. They even make custom blends of spices. The design is simple and looks great, its also laid out so that there is no doubt where to go for the information you need.
Like.com is another site that serves as more of a tool than an actual store. It allows users to visually search for products across multiple retailers. That means if you find a pair of shoes you love but are way too expensive, you can head to Like and search for a pair that look similar but cost much less. They’ve designed several cool features into the site, like the detail search – where you can draw a box around a particular feature of a product you like and the site will pull products that have that same feature.
The Purplebook is essentially a directory for online shopping – retailers are handpicked for inclusion in the book. Bold color choices make the design unique and the easy to use navigation makes this a great starting point for your online shopping session.
ShopLocal is for those who would rather do all the grunt work online and then just pop by the store to make the actual purchase. Type in your zip code and the site will scour retailers in your area for sales and special offers, afterwards you can buy online or reserve an item to pick it up at the store. The design is clean and organized albeit a little generic, but the site deserves a mention as it is a great stepping stone for people still a little uncomfortable typing in their credit card info.
Restoration Hardware has everything you could possibly need for the home, plus great gift ideas. The design is easy on the eyes, which when compared to sites that have a similar number of products offered, is no small feat.
Last, but definitely not least, the Apple Store. Apple’s site is the epitome of clean, fresh design and their online store is no different. They also show us that Black Friday is a go for online retailers as well, announcing that prices will be slashed on their site for that one day only.
There you have it. So now when the crazies line up around the block at Best Buy at 3am (no offense, I’ve been guilty of this once or twice) you can be warm and cozy, sitting in front of your computer in your pajamas with a cup of hot chocolate – or really strong coffee.
Think we missed a few? Let us know in the comments!