Key Web executive: Paul Wiggin, VP
Target audience: Manufacturers and large commercial facilities
No. of employees working on the site: N/A
Last major redesign: 2009
No. of pages on the site: N/A
Web developer: In-house
Since last year, visiting the McMaster-Carr Web site has gotten a lot easier on the eyes. The home page previously contained a text-only laundry list of products—more than 465,000 of them--which were broken out into subcategories. Someone looking to purchase sheet metal formers, for instance, would have had to wade through more than 700 links on the home page to find what they wanted. If they got lost, they could click through to “Help,” but even that function wasn't as intuitive as it could have been.
Today, the site boasts more than 480,000 products, but finding them is a little easier. In addition to the product names, the site features clear, delineated categories with a description of what each does below. Under each category there are subcategories, with black and white photos of products. Visitors can scroll down to find the appropriate category; or, if they're not in the mood for searching, click on one of the 26 category listings contained in a left-side menu. Once they click on a product, visitors find an extraordinary amount of specification information, as well as a photo or drawing.
The site also has tools to help repeat buyers do their jobs better, including a bookmark menu option that houses an individual's saved pages. Users can also refer to their order history from wherever they are inside the site; search by keyword, product name or number; and compare products similar to the ones they're considering. What they won't find: video, extraneous graphics or social networking features. “We aim to make McMaster.com fast and convenient,” said company VP Paul Wiggin. “Our emphasis is on the products and product information.”
Expert commentary—Howard Kiewe, senior research analyst, Info-Tech Research Group: Excellent basic site that gets the job done without bells or whistles. Less hype, lots of useful content and graphics that are useful rather than flashy. The site is easy to navigate around and loads wicked fast. It's a good example of a site that really stresses functionality over aesthetics. It's not beautiful, but it gets the job done. There's also plenty of ways to get in touch with people: [phone number], a live chat option and an email link that gets you a response in an hour. The site takes a customer [focus] rather than corporate focus, which is always good for the end user.
|Smith & Fong Co.|