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

Image from:

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

Image from:

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

Image From:

lane bryant 6

Image from:

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