Design Distasters

I really am not the type to rant or openly complain in my blog. But there has been something thats been getting under my skin lately, and leaving me a bit perplexed. And I KNOW I’m not in the minority, here.

One of the favorite past times for many of us in SL is shopping. Everyone does it, and many of us spend hours a week browsing stores. There are hundreds of fashion blogs out there, and most of the time if a blogger thinks that a new clothing release sucks, they’ll say so. They’ll point out the flaws, maybe explain what they didn’t like about it and why. Something I haven’t noticed is people complaining about the stores themselves. But BELIEVE me, we sure do complain in conversations or IM’s with one another.

In the mood for a new outfit, I decided to indulge myself in an afternoon of shopping today. I have a list of favorite stores I usually go to, so I loaded up my landmark list and picked one at random. I arrived at Muism, which I love. I just got a great dress from there last week, so this is in no way a complaint about the merchandise. But I do have a bone to pick, and I’m going to do it here.

I stood around the store for some time, waiting for everything to rez. But even once it did, I found it extremely hard to find my way around the store or focus on any of the items displayed. Why is that? Because like a few other stores, Muism is one of those that was done in VERY dark colors. I roamed around for a bit, but found it very hard to distinguish between the walls, floor, doorways leading into another section. I was tempted to put on a facelight, just to get a little bit more light to see with. And yes, I checked my environment settings. I was set to midday.

Right before Muism, I had gone over to Pixeldolls in hopes of finding something. I had the exact same problem there. Now, its a lot less extreme than the example of Muism. The floors at Pixeldolls aren’t bad, but I think between the darkwood floor, and the very dark walls and ceiling, it really gives the whole store a cave-like atmosphere. In both cases, I left after about five minutes because I found it too hard to find my way around in the dark interior.

Darkly lit stores aren’t the only mistakes that store owners make. As I was writing this post, I was talking to my friend Salaamata Afarensis about the topic, and he brought up another interesting example: Nicky Ree. Now, Nicky’s store is actually designed beautifully. She has beautiful wood floors and walkways, accented with indoor ponds and bamboo lighting. It really is gorgeous. The problem is, she has SO many items that the layout is really cramped. In order to get everything to fit, she has tightly packed aisles and small picture displays of her clothing. This makes it really hard to see things from a distance. I’ve been here several times, but always give up and leave after a few minutes because it seems so chaotic and hard to really see everything. Sadly, I’m not sure what the solution for her would be, simply because she has so many items. Maybe instead of packing everything into one store, she could cut back on her displayed inventory and rotate things in and out on a regular basis. Who knows, that might also draw people in more often to see her latest designs when they are made available. And for the items not currently on display, there would always be SLX or Onrez.

Now, on to the biggest mistake of all: Sine Wave. ANYONE who has ever been to shop for dances at Sine Wave knows exactly what I’m talking about. This place is a visual nightmare. I have listened to countless conversations where people have complained that they hate going there because it can be physically painful to shop in. I really wish I knew why Easy Babcock decided to make the floor AND dancepads white. It really can hurt your eyes to spend any amount of time there. My partner once had to leave because it was triggering a migraine. People joke that you need sunglasses to shop there. Plus the layout in general isn’t so great.. its nice that its wide open, but everything looks so washed out and is spread so far apart that unless you know your way around, you probably won’t find what you’re looking for. When I went back just now to take a picture, I saw that the floor has at least been changed to a less intense shade of white. But its still pretty bad.

That being said- I love the Sinewave Dances, and own several. In fact, Sine Wave is the only place I WILL buy dance animations from, because I haven’t seen any better ones in SL. I just wish they had a better store design.

Now that I’ve griped about the places that look bad, I do want to give some nods to a few of my favorite stores that ARE aesthetically pleasing. I’m not going to spend a lot of time explaining why I think these are nice places to shop in. I think the pictures will speak for themselves. But I will add that one of the most important things I look for in a clothing store are large displays that are easy to see from a distance. They draw you in, and its nice to be able to stand in one section of a store and see most everything they have to offer.

First up, Redgrave.

Next, Blaze.

And finally, a store I only discovered a week or so ago with a bunch of my blogger friends, Henmations. They sell furniture, and also dance animations. I think they are going to end up giving Sine Wave a run for their money, because the dances are very high quality.. and the store has a very nice layout. And its nice looking.

Stores like Redgrave, Blaze and Henmations are the ones I tend to go first when I want to shop. And I will spend the most time in them, just looking around.

As for the others.. they really might want to think about changing up their design. They have great products, but how many sales have they lost over people leaving a few minutes later, out of frustration?


~ by Nika Dreamscape on August 17, 2008.

3 Responses to “Design Distasters”

  1. what I do like about sine wave is that they said “screw the RL style building idea, this is SL, we don’t need a roof and four walls.” I really like that. what i don’t like is exactly what you said about both the visual and functional failures of theirs. it’s hard to see without contrast and it’s hard to find a damn thing there. it takes a LOT of searching.

    I still have that problem with stores in SL in general, and I think I have a decent third-party style solution in mind for that. more on that later.

  2. Excellent post, Nika. I find myself avoiding some stores, or shopping only at their smaller, secondary locations, if they have one, because moving around and finding what you need can also be a chore. I would like to point out that Callie Cline’s new store is also well-designed. Brightly lit, and sectioned off with theme rooms for each collection…and the place is HUGE and open, so you can see where you are going without having to wander aimlessly. Also, I like that ETD has teleporters all over the place so that you can easily get to the section of the store you need.

  3. Bravo Chica… well stated.

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