Having decided to review any heavily popular deal site, I used Yan’s recent update of popular deal sites to find the website I want to review. Wanting to review site among the top 10 in the list, a quick peruse of the list showed a weird number there, Deals2Buy which is in the 4th position has a Google rank of just 3, while every website in the top 10 has a Google rank of 5 or 6. To be more specific, except for deals2buy.com every other site in the top five has a Google rank of 6. Hunting for a reason, my best guess was that deals2buy.com was the only site without a forum while every other site in top 10 had a “forum”. It’s well known that Google ranks sites better for “original”/”new” content while penalizes for duplicate content. Given these reasons, I found it really impressive that deals2buy.com could be at the top 4th position, taking Amazon ranks at its face value. Forums for sure attract committed/dedicated users and can drive traffic really up. But with no forum nor any personalized feature (features requiring users to signup), driving traffic really requires something else. So here goes my review about deals2buy.com.
Before beginning to review lets list some items we would like to see in a daily deal website:
- Quickly be able to see the hottest deals for the day
- Provide methods to view deals selectively
- Every deal listed is expected to be best possible
- All possible rebates, coupons etc need to be clearly mentioned along with exact steps to make sure the deal is secured
- Methods to alert interested users about deals
Deals2Buy has a plain simple look to its home page (may be I should write Web 1.0 look) listing all the deals for the day paginated. Right above the list of deals there are options to sort the deals by clicking on links. However there is no mention whether the links are to sort or filter. I indeed expected it to be a filtering link, while it sorted. Sorting can be done based on whether tech deals appear on top or bottom, price, deals with no mail-in-rebates on top, category, merchant. Added to the set of links meant to sort is a link titled “text version”, which takes to a light weight version (only loads one liners for each deal and on clicking of an icon expands to load that particular deal from the server). The box which carries these links carries an image with the text “hot deals” on it. Clicking on it just resets the sorting you set (takes you to the home page), which was not the action I expected to happen. Could have just not made it a link!
On searching for a filtering option, I finally found in the bottom of the page. I really want to praise this designer who expects someone to scroll through the longgg list of deals, reach the bottom of the page and then filter the page to see the selected deals only. Filtering can be done by product category or merchant. You cannot filter by manufacturer.
The top navigation bar is assorted with links to deals for special merchants (Dell, Buy.com etc), coupons, freebies, hot picks, RSS Feeds, some hot categories like camera, computers etc. Though the link texts are obvious, there is just no proper grouping of them. This seems more like a random generation of links to fit in there. There is also link to take you to the archives, which list archives for about 6 months in past (we will talk more about this). There are also shortcut links in the home page (in the top navigation bar) to the deals in the past 7 days.
I am not sure, how is it useful for a user to browse over the past six months archives. These are not archives of a technical mailing list or so, from which users could gain valuable information. Deals change by the day and sometimes even by the minute. So, what is the purpose carrying a six months old deal? I am just not able to find a good answer for it. Meanwhile I could find some negative results due to this. Consider this Google search text “HP dv2500t, Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Duo T5250, 1.5 GHz, 14.1” WXGA, 2GB RAM, 120GB, 8X DVD+/-R/RW”. This is just a computer config. Anyone could have got this config in an email or whatever. On googling for this text, you will find a link from deals2buy in the first page of results. This link takes to October 20, 2007. Though there is disclaimer in tiny fonts on the top about chances of deals expiring, a user in a rush is just going to quickly look for the text of interest to him and just click on the link provided there, which takes to a 404 on HPShopping.com. So, these archives serve no purpose for the users, may be the deal2buy.com just maintains these archives to get more search engine traffic? If so, they have forgotten that websites need to be designed for the users and not for the search engines. However maintaining a reasonable archive (even 1 month long is ok) might be justifiable as some deals do last so long. However expired deals would exist there also.
Search: A search box is included in the top of the page. Entering a query into it and submitting takes to the result page with set of form elements on the top, which indicate that deals for past one week were included by default and also disclaimer about expired deals. The form element also contains options for filtering the search results by merchant or category. Few other options also exist. The search results are appended with results from PriceGrabber with whom deals2buy has partnered for price comparison results. For analyzing the search results, let’s ignore the results from PriceGrabber.
Here are some test queries:
- Canon Powershot - I guess there was no powershot camera within the past 1 week, so all canon products or accessories for Canon products were listed. Interestingly, even a Panasonic product (video tapes) was listed as the description says; the tape could be used in canon as well.
- Elph - Worked as expected.
- 2075B001 (Manufacturer part number of an item listed on the homepage) - Does not work, part numbers are not cataloged.
Now let’s see the main heart of the website, the deals listed. For each deal, there is a link along with steps to be followed to get the deal. Each deal lists an image with a magnifier next icon next to it, which brings up a bigger version of the image in a pop up window. Above the picture, the list price and deal expiry date are listed. Each deal carries a small description of the product as well. The steps to get the deal are detailed clearly, which makes it really easy. Despite no fancy features and a lot of usability problems mentioned above, these concrete blocks of information which exist in this website, make it as successful one.
In my attempt to see if the deals given there are really the best deals possible (from a reputable store), every deal was the best one possible, so there is no point in me listing those deals here. However I should point that, listing several dell computers configured to take advantage of few coupons was a bit annoying, as it effectively just meant that you could get a certain % off by crossing a set price limit.
The only fancy feature found here was an “occasional deal alert”, where in, if you submit your email address, you would occasionally get email alerts about “very hot” deals. However there is no feature to sign up to learn about deals on a particular category/product.
In conclusion, if you just want the best deals on a given day and do not have time to read the long forum threads hunting for information, head to Deals2Buy. You need to keep checking multiple times a day to really keep track of the latest happenings.
Giving a numeric score is quite difficult here given that this site is just focused on listing a set of deals for a day, nothing more. However one thing worth considering is the many usability issues even though the website just focuses on one aspect. Content wise, deals for any given day are very good, but as I said above, I don’t know how useful the archives (for 6 months) could be. Taking these points into consideration, this daily deals site could be ranked at 7.5/10.
A few features to make it a bit easy for regular users (example: customized alerts) and some focus on usability of the website, would very much increase the score above.