Top Online Deals Websites Demonstrate Concept of Tradeoffs in Web Design

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can-ideal-template-be-found I’ve been tinkering around with various website designs for an upcoming project.  The idea was to take the best design elements of each website design that I like or that has top notch functionality and then combine them into a single great website design.  Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to design a one-size-fits-all website layout that is the perfect solution for every online purpose, even for sites that are all related or in the same category.

Obviously, websites with different purposes or audiences require different page designs, but I thought I could find an overall template for webpage designs that would be usable for multiple websites in the same category that performed the same function.  However, even similar websites can’t be shoehorned into a single design.

This morning I was doing what I always do for my morning break which is browsing through the handful of online deals websites that I like.  I know there are hundreds of other deals sites out there or coupon sites or sites with free shipping codes, but the four sites I scroll through every day have turned out to the best deal websites on the Internet for the types of things that I buy and shop for.

In no particular order, my favorite deals websites are:

  • Woot
  • Slickdeals
  • Dealnews
  • GottaDeal

All four sites are in the same category of online shopping or Internet-based shopping tips.  All four sites offer daily updates of the best deals they can offer.  But, each one has a completely different design and layout to serve its readers best.  The difference in designs and what that design offers, is very likely one of the main reasons I continue to use all four sites despite the fact that I just don’t buy stuff all that often.

Woot is the most well known.  They offer a single great deal each day.  If the deal happens to hit you with something you want or need, then you win.  If not, then you wait another day. Either way, the site displays a single product including its picture and a tongue-in-cheek review of the product that doesn’t generally contain any real facts until the end.  It is just accepted by users of the site that whatever the product and price is, that it is a good deal.  The site makes no mention of how good of a deal, nor whether it is a better or worse deal than might be sniffed out elsewhere.

SlickDeals.net offers many features to its users including forums where visitors can discuss potentially good deals, coupons, discount codes, and even the quality and specifications of the products in question.  However, the main landing page of SlickDeals is simply a list of text links.  Each product is listed along with its price.  No other information, pictures, or graphics are provided unless you click one of the links.  Only the best of the best make the SlickDeals front page, no matter how many or how few deals that means the site has on any particular day.  If only one item rises to the level demanded by the SlickDeals front page, then only one deal gets posted.  There is no filler.

DealNews and GottaDeal, by contrast, both have more extensive listings including a picture of the sale item as well as notes such as when, if ever, the item was offered for less and whether or not it takes a rebate or coupon to get the low discount price.

While both DealNews and GottaDeal look similar at a glance, a closer look reveals that DealNews groups their big deals by type with computers and computer related deals at the top and other deals at the bottom.  This layout promotes the ability to seek specific sale items. 

GottaDeal on the other hand lists their items chronologically as they appeared on the site.  The upside is that a regular user can stop looking once they encounter the deals they have already seen which can save time.  The downside is that if someone is looking for a deal on a hard drive, for example, they would have to scroll through the whole listing to ensure that they didn’t miss something.

In the in, four sites all offering very similar functionality are laid out and designed completely differently based upon their needs and the needs of their readers. I guess the best a professional writer and web designer can do is build a collection of tools for their design and development toolbox and then pull each individual piece out as it is needed.  It isn’t as sleek as a re-usable template, but if used properly can still save plenty of time and effort while still providing top quality websites.

Time to change the quest.  No longer do I seek the one great website design.  Now, I seek the great design elements and tools that build them.

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