MCM 721- Inspiration Journal 5

Usability testing is crucial to the development and growth of a website. Without testing, the input of the user and convenience of the site is unable to be captured appropriately. Through user feedback, site bugs and areas of improvement can be identified. The success of a website can impact the sales and overall success of a brand.

In order to get an accurate reflection of American Apparel’s website success, I asked 3 users to test the website of competitors as well. American Apparel, Forever 21, and Cacique’s websites were all tested. The following questions were asked:

Usability Test for Websites

  1. Locate a pair of black leggings on the website. In terms of site navigation, what was the overall experience? What were areas of opportunity for navigation.
  2. In terms of organization, how easy was it to locate products on the site without using the search feature?
  3. What areas of the website show strengths and convenience?
  4. What are areas of improvement for the website?
  5. Add three products to the shopping cart. Go through the check out process without actually finishing the transaction. What strengths and weaknesses were found throughout this process?
  6. Please provide any additional insights into the website experience below.


Forever 21’s website received the best feedback. It provided users with multiple options and organization that was easy to browse and locate items within. The website included attention grabbing advertisements that related to a variety of products offered. Transparent drop-down menus also added to the overall site experience, as customers could browse categories while also viewing advertisements below. Lastly, Forever 21 included a wish list feature for customers. This additional features allowed users to save products for later for easy access. It increased convenience and the likelihood for users to return to purchase the saved products.

forever 21

American Apparel’s website had too few of tabs and too many categories within each tab. The site organization was rated as being very weak and inconvenient for the customer. Also, locating an item posed a great challenge as the tabs up top were not clear to customers. For example, there is a men tab, a women’s tab, and then a basic tab that includes men and women tabs within. This confusion and duplication of headers through customers off and weakened the overall experience.

american apparel screen shot

Cacique had a product menu that was displayed on the home page vertically in addition to tabs up top. The breakdown made it very convenient and easy for users to locate products. In addition, the tabs up top included a hover over feature that expanded. This condensed the amount of room the tabs took up on the homepage unless specifically scrolled over by the user. The interactivity of the website made it easy to engage with for the user.


cacique 2

Overall, American Apparel is lacking in terms of site appeal, navigation, organization, and interactivity. Users are not given enough interaction with their selections and item categories are not organized in an efficient way. Making changes to the site would improve the experience for customers and may eventually lead to increased sales.


American Apparel. (2015). Retrieved September 16, 2015, from

Lane Bryant. (2015). Retrieved September 16, 2015, from

Forever 21 (2015). Retrieved September 16, 2015, from


MCM 721- Inspiration Journal 4

Synergy advertisements include combining text with images to convey a message to the viewer and promote a brand or product. American Apparel has used synergy advertisements in the past for a combined theme of sex appeal in relationship to their clothing products. A competitor in the industry that has had success with synergy advertising and received less controversy is Urban Outfitters.


The above photo uses the image of women drinking while not focusing on the upper half of their body. Emphasis is drawn to their leggings and panty hose, which is the product being sold as well as the theme of drinking. “Make it Party” coincides with the theme of the advertisement and attempts to make the viewer associate having an exciting evening partying with the products in the advertisement.


In the above advertisement displayed on social media, Forever 21 uses a combination of an image and text to get the attention of customers. The incentive of the summer promotion draws in a larger audience and attention to the product. Without including text about the promotion viewer attention would not have been as massive.


This advertisement uses the revealing image of a model to grab user’s attention and text to promote the collection being advertised. The text combined with the background color is sure to make a lasting impression to the viewer and be easy to remember. The outfit being worn by the model meets the “festival” theme.


This advertisement combines text with an image to create sexual appeal of the brand. The chemistry between the celebrities in the advertisement combined with the phrase “unwrap the party” is a playful twist on the holiday collection. It draws attention to the brand and encourages discussion in the media. It was a good strategy to broaden awareness and hype popularity of the brand.

american eagle

The final advertisement is from competitor, American Eagle. The image includes a model in lingerie. Combined with text promoting the benefits and promotions of the products, positive feedback was received from customers. Sales increased in connection to this advertisement. It includes a balance of image appeal mixed with effective usage of text.


Burgett, G. (2014, November 5). American Eagle Sees an Increase in Sales After They Stop Photoshopping Underwear Ads. Retrieved September 10, 2015, from

Forever 21. (2015). Retrieved September 10, 2015, from

Forever 21. (2015, May 12). Retrieved September 10, 2015, from

Gawlik, H. (2012, November 2). Provocative Clothing ads. Retrieved September 10, 2015, from

Kaluza, R. (2015, April 10). Retrieved September 10, 2015, from

MCM 721- Inspiration Journal 3

Visual based advertisements use the imagery to convey a message to the audience. Minimal text is used outside of the brand name. This form of advertising typically involves models and staged scenes or themes. American Apparel has received negative publicity for using models in their visual advertisements that appear to be underage. The appearance of these models has caused controversy and made customers question whether American Apparel is over-sexualizing young women.

Competitors of American Apparel include Cacique, Torrid, and Lane Bryant. These clothing selling brands are also known for selling a variety of clothing including lingerie. Their advertisements are known to be slightly risky and target women that want to stand out and wear “sexy” clothing.


The above image is a visual based advertisement for Cacique lingerie. The products are known for fitting plus-sized women. The advertisement shows a diverse group of women and lingerie in many different styles. By removing color and displaying this advertisement as black and white, the focus is directed to the lingerie and not the women wearing it. It emphasizes the deep coloring of the products without being overwhelming.

lane bryant 2

Image from: Lane Bryant. (2012). Retrieved September 2, 2015, from

This advertisement includes three models all with different physical attributes. The variation in models shows the target market of the company. This advertisement was featured in July, so a red white and blue theme was incorporated. Without any text, the viewer can gather the theme of the advertisement as well as the target group it is intended to reach. In recent times, the target audience has changed from women in their 30’s to women in their early twenties.

cacique 2

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Part of the new Cacique campaign, the above advertisement displays only the campaign name with a hash tag. It shows models wearing lingerie with serious facial expressions. The theme of the advertisement is to appeal to women that do not fit the normal mold. It encourages behavior that is outside of societal expectations and coincides with the overall theme of American Apparel.

lane bryant 4

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The above image included the campaign displays a model promoting sex appeal of all sizes. The model was quoted saying, “It’s all about how you feel” (Achkar, 2015). The advertisement is very simple but has a very bold statement about the direction the brand is heading. Cacique is inspiring women of plus size to embrace their sex appeal and wear clothing that makes them feel good about themselves.

lane bryant 5

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lane bryant 6

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Both of the above advertisement campaign images demonstrate women feeling comfortable in lingerie. They demonstrate confidence and illustrate it using body positioning. One woman has very messy hair and a low effort look, while the other appears to be dancing. Both women seem very comfortable in their appearance which is the goal of the campaign.


Achkar, J. (2015, April 10). #ImNoAngel. Retrieved September 2, 2015, from

Adams, E. (2015, April 6). Lane Bryant Goes After Victoria’s Secret With #ImNoAngel Campaign. Retrieved September 2, 2015, from

Ciambriello, R. (2015, April 8). Lane Bryant Bashes Victoria’s Secret With ‘I’m No Angel’ Campaign Attack ad lights up social media. Retrieved September 2, 2015, from

Lane Bryant. (2015). Redefine sexy. Retrieved September 2, 2015, from

Lane Bryant. (2012). Retrieved September 2, 2015, from

Inspiration Journal 2- MCM 721

Text based design advertisements are very beneficial in the marketing world. There are several companies that have developed a successful strategy to implement verbal advertisements into their targeting. These advertisements can be displayed through several mediums, most popularly through email and web based applications such as social media.

While American Apparel has received high amounts of criticism in the past for the combination of the images and text in their advertisements, other companies have demonstrated strength in this marketing area. One competitor that in particular has used risky marketing terms, but attracted positive reviews from customers is torrid.

torrid 1

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The above advertisement uses a red filter to draw attention to the text and away from the model. While torrid products are displayed and zoomed in on for customers, focus is automatically directed to the 50% off sale. This clever placement and color scheming motivates viewers to take advantage of the current pricing and promotes sales at the company.


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This advertisement was included on the website and emailed out to customers to promote Torrid’s intimate clothing. The image is somewhat revealing, but uses a model that is clearly over 18 and does not include nudity. The black and white image is different from standard advertisements and grabs the attention of viewers. The white text contrasts very well with the gray and black ombre background. The email sent to customers included the subject line, “Jaws Will Drop!” (Torrid, 2015). This attention grabbing statement promotes purchasing products and the sexual appeal of the items.

torrid 2

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The above advertisement is for a valentines themed edition of torrid lingerie. The advertisement uses multiple colors of text on a grey background to stand out to the viewer. the color of the lingerie on the model corresponds to the text and heart shaped logo included on the advertisement. This shows a unique blend of words and model positioning to convey an overall theme.

torrid 4

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Torrid uses love advertisements during different times of the year. Through verbal advertising and phrases they attract customers and provide an emotion and feeling associated with their clothing. Whether it be sexual appeal, beauty, or uniqueness the brand is known for associating perceptions towards their product lines.

torrid 5

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Torrid sells work attire, casual clothing, and intimates. In the above advertisement the brand illustrated many of their different product options while using text to create a common theme. The simple message of “show your strips” connected all three model’s wardrobes into the advertisement. It is a creative and blended approach to advertising.


Jelsoft. (2012, January 9). The judgement of paris. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Torrid. (2015). Torrid intimates collection. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Judgement of Paris. (2014). Plus-size models and timeless beauty. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Madison Plus. (2012, January 25). Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Torrid. Retrieved August 29, 2015, from

Inspiration Journal 1

Ad_Philadelphia Weekly

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American Apparel, a clothing company, has many competitors and risks within the industry. The company has a lot of controversy surrounding some of its advertising techniques. Issues with American Apparel advertising include risky poses, revealing clothing, and models that appear to be unhealthy or underage. One competitor in the industry, Gap, has several successful examples of advertising campaigns that can be used as examples for the direction American Apparel should go for productive advertising.

gap 1

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The first advertisement from Gap displays a woman in jeans with the text, “Born to Fit” above (Griner, 2009). This advertisement includes a neutral color palette that does not draw too much attention and is gender neutral as well. The advertisement appeals to a target audience of both men and women by advertising a product that can be purchased by both. While the model is wearing semi-revealing clothing, the position of the pose does not create controversy or concern. Unlike advertisements by American Apparel, the model clearly looks over 18 and does not have too revealing of clothing on.

gap 2

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The above advertisement applies many marketing techniques that are likely to draw a positive reaction. The model used appears to look natural, with obvious freckles and a unique trait of red hair. This makes the model more realistic and relates to the target market. The message “Be Bright” is displayed across the image (Proof Films, 2012). This promotes self value and standing out from the crowd in a positive way. The ideal target market for this product is millennial generation females. With back to school shopping nearing, having an advertisement that draws attention and reaches the target audience by relating to the viewer is important to a successful campaign.

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This advertisement has received praise from many customers. The advertisement shows children wearing Gap products, but also embraces a child with a disability. The girl in the second row is in a wheelchair. Using this approach is marketing reaches the target audience of parents and also gains the attention of customers nationwide due to the uniqueness of the advertisement. Rather than focus on sexual appeal or negativity, the advertisement shows support for children of all types. The advertisement promotes, “inclusion for everyone” (Bologna, 2014).

gap 4

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The above advertisement shows the use of a minority by Gap. This promotes diversity and appeals to all ages. Parents, young children, and older children can all be reached from the scope of this advertisement. It displays realistic clothing and shows the brand is not secluded to a specific demographic or age group. The child used in this advertisement was 7, expressing the open mindedness and creativity of Gap in their marketing campaigns (Linebrink, 2015).

Four young adults crossing city street

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The final advertisement demonstrates Gap’s concept of “dressing normal” (Silva, 2014). The brand decided to promote confidence and authenticity of customers through their average appearance. Advertisements were created to make customers feel proud of dressing in Gap clothing in a normal manner, rather than having impostor syndrome with their clothes.

Overall, Gap has demonstrated effective advertising that appeals to a variety of target audiences. Customer satisfaction and brand loyalty derive from their positive marketing strategy and response to customer’s needs. Being unique while not controversial or offensive has helped Gap remain successful.


Bologna, C. (2014, October 16). The Inclusive Gap Ad That Has Everyone Cheering. Retrieved August 18, 2015, from

Griner, D. (2009, August 14). Gap’s new ads seem very American Apparel. Retrieved August 18, 2015, from

Linebrink, M. (2015, February 21). Elyria boy’s face graces GAP ad. Retrieved August 18, 2015, from

Proof Films. (2012, February 1). GAP: Red. Retrieved August 18, 2015, from

Silva, T. (2014, September 9). The Gap’s Strange New Ad Campaign. Retrieved August 18, 2015, from

Week 5 Website Monitoring / Current Events

Customer service is crucial to the success of any business. NCWIT, a non profit organization, relies on the contributions of members and partners to fund the company. In this case creating a satisfying experience and promoting the value of the company influences the financial support of the organization.


Customer relationship management systems are beneficial to staying organized and delivering a satisfying experience to customers and partners. NCWIT is currently implementing a Salesforce CRM strategy due to a new partnership. However, previously the company considered using Insightly, a highly recommended tool for small businesses. Insightly includes “an integrated project management solution”(Waring, 2015). The extra features and low cost of the software made it a very appealing option for NCWIT. Until Salesforce is implemented, NCWIT has no CRM managing software. Everything is completed through social networks and individual schedules and tasks. As the company continues to grow, the urgency for CRM software increases.

Customer Service Policies

NCWIT has firm customer service policies addressing time, accuracy, and reflection of the organization. All voicemails and emails are responded to within 48 hours. In addition, dedicated staff members are assigned to specific groups to provide a better and more personalized answer to inquiries. Specialized representatives are available for students, alliance members, partners, and prospective donators. Being a technology group, NCWIT offers online methods of contact. An email address, social media presence, and online form all allow questions to be submitted and routed to the appropriate individual.

Web Site Navigation

The NCWIT website is very easy to navigate. It includes separate sections for students, career professionals, and members of alliances. The customized pathways allow viewers to locate relevant information directly from the website homepage. Once clicking the appropriate tab, users are directed to further information and resources. Upcoming events, program opportunities, and volunteer opportunities are all displayed for the viewer.

In addition, all news related items are in a separate category on the website. These include videos, blogs, newsletters, and articles relevant to the industry and mission of NCWIT. The homepage also has a moving slideshow that includes a direct link to summit information. This event is held annually and is the prime way NCWIT reaches out to new members and promotes the organization. Having direct access to further information about the summit is convenient for current members and individuals considering joining.

Organization is crucial to the effectiveness of a website. Making items easy to locate and relevant for users increases their site experience and increases overall customer satisfaction. NCWIT achieves this through “dividing categories clearly” and including separate menu options for each subcategory (Degeyter, 2012).

Customer- Facing Business Processes

Customer-facing business processes of NCWIT include marketing, training, and networking. NCWIT trains employees to offer the best services possible to members and locate resources to further help empower girls and women interested in STEM fields. NCWIT advertises its products and services through social media, local conferences, and in-person events at schools and companies nationwide. These marketing tactics are visible to potential donators and members. While production is a “business process”, the results of purchasing and creating products for members are customer facing (Markgraf, 2015). These items are given away at events and helped to further promote NCWIT.


Degeyter, S. (2012, September 21). 6 Easy Ways To Improve Your Site’s Navigation. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from

Markgraf, B. (2015). Customer-Facing Vs. Business-Facing. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from

Waring, D. (2015, February 3). Best CRM for Small Business: Insightly vs. Nimble vs. Zoho – See more at: Retrieved July 28, 2015, from

Week 4 Website Monitoring


COSI advertises throughout the website. There are banners, images with links, and events on the calendar all to promote upcoming shows and events. The images with links scroll across the homepage of the website. Users are redirected using an on-click function. Some of the advertising includes 21+ only events. These events are advertised on social media, local news channels, and the COSI website directly. The homepage of the website includes upcoming giant screen movies, membership advertisements, and family events over the summer months. By emphasizing these dates and times, COSI is advertising their events to customers and promoting membership purchases. COSI does not advertise for external companies on their website. It is all advertisements relative to the organization and events within.

 cosi web page


COSI does not sell products online. Instead, the organization sells admission tickets and tickets to extra features within the building. COSI also rents out exhibits and meeting spaces for customers. Consumers have the option to rent several areas of the building for work events, banquets, weddings, and social gatherings. In addition, COSI always promotes donations to help support the growth of the center.


COSI communicates to the public in a variety of ways. The website includes a blog that is typically updated a couple of times monthly. These blogs include information about upcoming events and exhibits, as well as experiences at past encounters. In addition, the website includes a newsletter sign-up area. Customers that sign up for the newsletter receive emails from COSI once or twice a month with updates about the organization and highlights of upcoming events. Twitter and Facebook are also used by the marketing team to reach target visitors and reach larger audiences.

cosi communication