photo via Flickr
My bias as a lifelong glasses wearer is definitely showing, but I personally love pretty much everything about Warby Parker—their branding, their style, their story, and their mission. Here’s the idea: they send you five frames free of charge, and you have five days to give them all a test run. At the end of your try-on period, you send the frames back (again, free of charge) and purchase your favorites. If you decide that none of the frames quite work for you, you’re free to continue searching, not a penny poorer for having tried.
The company was originally described as “the Netflix of eyewear” by GQ, but they have since carved such a name for themselves that other startups have begun proclaiming themselves to be “the Warby Parker of [insert niche here].” They even beat out juggernauts like Amazon and eBay for the top spot on Fast Company’s list of The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Retail. And have I mentioned that for every pair of glasses purchased, they provide a pair to someone in need?
By designing their own eyewear and selling directly to the consumer, Warby Parker brings the cost of a high end boutique-quality pair of glasses down to $95. And their innovative home try-on programs gives consumers (who tend to take these purchases very seriously—glasses do stay on your face all day every day, after all) the confidence to buy glasses online.
The Warby Parker website is very much aligned with recent trends in web design—large pictures, simple designs, and a clean layout that relies heavily on scrolling—and we found it to be straightforward and easy to navigate. It’s always good when neither function nor form is neglected.
Their product photos are of particularly high quality, and we love the way the model’s face follows your cursor to show the frames from different angles. One interesting thing to note is that their product page design differs between optical frames (right) and sunglasses (left). Neither is necessarily bad, but the optical frame page features a better call to action above the fold.
Overall, the thoughtful design of the site, such as giving you the option to view each frame color on the main category page, makes it a pleasure to browse.
While Warby Parker’s website is great from a UX perspective, it seems as though its SEO could use a little work. It has neither a sitemap.xml nor a robots.txt, and its title tags are lacking descriptive modifiers that could help the site’s rankings. It would also be good to add more text to the homepage and the category pages (Google’s crawlers read text better than images), but the individual product pages do contain plenty of useful information.
Not surprisingly, Warby Parker maintains a fantastic presence across all social media channels, and they even have a separate Twitter account for speedy customer support. But perhaps the best thing about Warby parker’s social presence is the WarbyParkerHelp YouTube channel where members of their team film personalized videos to answer customers’ Twitter and Facebook questions, which goes a long way toward personalizing the brand.
Our only recommendations here are to add a links to the Warby Parker Pinterest and Google+ pages to the site with all of the other social icons and to share more of their content on Google+.