Calling time on boring sites

When trendy watch retailer Face for Watches decided to launch an e-commerce site it wanted its online store to reflect the...

When trendy watch retailer Face for Watches decided to launch an e-commerce site it wanted its online store to reflect the concept behind its Covent Garden and Carnaby Street shops, writes Isabel Choat.

The designer behind the innovative Face for Watches site had his sights on something a little different

Senior graphic designer at Domino Systems, Chris Caller, who designed and built the site, explains, "The company wanted to move away from the traditional Internet shop with a catalogue of products and create a site that was clean but funky and alternative."

Fortunately for Caller an updated version of Flash technology was launched just as he was beginning to put together concepts for the site. "Flash 4 enabled us to create something that looked and felt different and that provided a more fluid experience where users can 'run' the mouse over an icon and bring the image up immediately," says Caller, who had taught himself how to use Flash.

"Most Web sites currently use ASP [active server pages] to enable store functionality. Baskets usually refer back to the server to request calculations, which means both a time delay and a break in the user experience. is seamless, using Flash 4's new programming components all the way through," he adds.

Aimed at young, fashion-conscious consumers, the site sells brands such as Spoon and Seiko. An animated navigation tool allows you to navigate through the store by style, brand or new watches. Shoppers can place their selected items on a "wrist" which immediately displays the cost including postage. There is no need to scroll back to reach a previous page, instead the screen reverts back automatically.

Caller says he wanted it to be as easy as possible for people to navigate their way around the site, without compromising on design. "The biggest challenge in building the site was turning basic functionality concepts into full-blown working elements and integrating those elements successfully into a seamless user experience," he says.

"Flash is becoming more popular among Web designers because action-scripting enables more true interactivity and functionality combined with fewer design constraints that you get with non-Flash sites."

The site, which operates on a standard NT4 server running on IIS4, has been up and running for more than a month now, but Caller still has plans for it, including the ability to adjust the watches on display so that they show the correct time.

Curriculum Vitae

Chris Caller

Age: 28

Job title: senior graphic designer

Qualifications: business degree

Skills: Flash, Director, Photoshop, Illustrator

Favourite book: Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Steven Donaldson

Favourite restaurant: Gili Gulu, Upper St Martin's Lane, London

Hobbies: cooking, eating, rollerblading

Caller on Caller: open, thoughtful, focused

E is for excellence

Next week: Dave Cooke, senior developer at LevelFive Online Solutions, who put flowers on the Web

  • Have you developed or designed an e-commerce project that Computer Weekly readers should know about? If so, e-mail us.
  • Read more on Data centre hardware