May 29, 2001
Aspial.com proves it's possible to have too much of a good thing. Aspial.com is full of high-tech and interactive features. The navigation expands as a mouse rolls over it, and an animated promotion plays on the main page. The images are sharp and large, there are multiple ways to browse, search and shop and it's easy to navigate. However, that's only if the different technologies used to make the site more interactive work every time. Unfortunately, they don't. While reviewing this site on a Macintosh computer, the navigation moved around the page in Internet Explorer, making it impossible to access some sections of the site and crashed Netscape Navigator repeatedly during few minutes of browsing. The site performed better on a PC with the Windows operating system, but problems continued with images moving around the page and parts of the site loading slowly.
Without the technology problems, Aspial.com would be great. The E-Shop section of the site allows users to browse wedding bands, men's products, purple gold jewelry, solitaire diamonds and sale items. When browsing, five items are displayed with small images across the bottom of the page and one item is featured at the top with a large image and short description. When users click on one of the smaller images at the bottom, the page reloads with a larger image and description of the selected item at the top of the page. Shoppers have to click on the "click here to purchase" link to see the price and to zoom in on the product image. Shoppers can also use the product finder to do an advanced search and select the occasion (day to day, engagement, evening, wedding), type of jewelry, materials, gems, price range and collection.
Aspial.com also has plenty of information helpful to online jewelry shoppers. The Jewelry Expertise section provides customers with information on purple gold, champagne gold, diamonds, Hearts on Fire diamonds and jewelry care. The Aspial Chic section offers users information about fashion trends and the designer collections Aspial.com carries. The site even has a thorough customer-service section with contact information, shipping information, Web site policies, international information and frequently asked questions. Aspial.com will ship to any international location and provides prices in Singapore and U.S. currencies.
The site provides shoppers with important information as well as a user-friendly shopping environment. The high-tech features of Aspial.com only make the site more difficult to use and may frustrate impatient Web shoppers causing them to shop elsewhere. The site would function better and retain its luxury appeal if some of the advanced features were scaled back to traditional HTML, text and graphics.
- by Julia M. Duncan