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Walmart.com: Consistent, Full of Choices and Overwhelming

In a rational world, the Fortune 500 list, Fortune magazine's list of the 500 highest-revenue companies in the US, would also be a list of the 500 most awesome websites. That's not always the case;  every Friday we'll be picking a company off the list and weighing in on their website, with everyone commenting on an aspect of the site, be it design, usability, search engine friendliness, etc.

To kick it off, last Friday we took a look at Walmart.com, which topped the 2008 list. Here are our first impressions:

Gabriel | Creative Director | Founder

"I think Wal-Mart’s website suits their stores and needs. The website itself doesn’t feel high-end, and maybe a little cheap. It is definitely user friendly, huge and feels impressive at first glance. But is it a pleasant shopping experience like Martha Stewart? I think not! It also lacks stickiness unless I am already looking to buy something."

Roman | VP of Developement | Co-Founder

"From first impressions the site is very narrow, which makes it look busy and boxy. I also think the logo doesn’t stand out or pop; the banner on top stands out a lot more to me. I also don’t understand why the boxes towards the bottom of the page are a different width than the boxes on top of the page. They are narrower and it doesn’t look like a part of this website.

"Lastly, it’s very busy and it seems difficult to find the product that I’m looking for. They have way too many banners. They also have a lot of links in the footer. On the homepage, specifically with connect and share area, there is a lot of text that I think looks like they were just trying to fill up space, and the average user would not read."

Lonnie | Designer

"Aesthetically the look and feel of the site is nice and consistent, but it feels very safe and maybe a bit boring. I do like the search and narrowing down layout for products, and how it shows a thumbnail, rating, facts of products, and availability options.

"I agree that this is a very accurate representation of what it feels like to be in a Wal-mart in the sense that I feel overwhelmed with products; products and categories of products within a huge and sprawling entity, which could lead to choice paralysis. I feel some consumers will navigate away from the site because there are too many choices."

Alhan | Director of Marketing

"To start off, their homepage doesn’t have a single H1 tag. All Google sees on their homepage is a menu, an enormous menu. Moving on to their product pages, the first thing that Google sees is their advertisements and menu, which is optimized somewhat. They could make better use of CSS to push some of their content up higher over their menu.

There are category landing pages, but they have 4 different designs.  Some of the landing pages have flash banners with scrolling products and some only list products; it lacks consistency.

They could also make better use of internal linking, and many products aren’t linking with any anchor text. Some products that could be a great landing page for certain keywords on Google aren’t being optimized with H1 tags, which could lead to smaller sites stealing that traffic for those certain keywords."

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