Great lessons from Timbuk2's website

Posted on January 06, 2010

Websites are all about helping the visitor complete her task. Successful sites allow the visitor to complete her task in as easy and pleasant a way as possible. That’s why Timbuk2’s site hits the nail on the head. Their site is simple, easy to use and visually appealing.

My admiration for the Timbuk2’s website started when I convinced my wife she needed a tote bag for Christmas. Timbuk2 offers customers the option to buy any of their standard bags or make their own by choosing different colors, fabrics and accessories. My wife wanted a custom bag and here is where the magic happened, at least for me.

Customers can build and share their own product

Screenshot of Timbuk2's Send to a Friend formAfter you build your bag in the Timbuk2’s website, you can either buy it right then or send somebody an email with a link to the customized item ready for purchase. Great, isn’t it?

My wife built the bag of her dreams and I didn’t have to go through the entire process of choosing color, fabrics, accessories, etc. on my own again. All I had to do is follow the link on the email and complete the checkout process. The entire process took me only a few minutes and I knew I was getting my wife the exact tote she had built on the site weeks before.

What’s the big deal?

You would say, this sounds cool but why is this detail important to web designers? My answer is any time you can save your visitors’ time in completing a task you earn their respect and you are assuring they will come back to your site next time they need whatever you offer. Another thing Timbuk2 is doing great with their site is allowing customers to interact with it. They can build their customized products and share it with somebody else. As a customer, I feel they put a lot of thought into the process to make it as easy a possible and to make my life easier. As a result, I will go to their site next time I need a bag and will recommend them to anybody I know who needs a bag.

What lessons can we learn from Timbuk2?

As web professionals, there are 3 important lessons we can learn from the Timbuk2’s website that can help us make our sites more user-friendly.

  1. You need to understand who your customer is and what tasks they need to accomplish on your site. Timbuk2 knows their customers want to be unique and have unique products but with the quality characteristic of Timbuk2.

  2. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to complete these tasks. Don’t make customers repeat the same process multiple times if it can be avoided. With Timbuk2 you can build your own bag today and send yourself an email for later if you aren’t ready to buy it.

  3. Once you nailed 1 and 2 down, be creative with your site and add elements to make it appealing and memorable for your target audience.

What are you thoughts on this? Have you visited any sites lately that provide a great customer experience?