How is the Bass River Chairs website horrible?

After reading my story of a search for a simple wooden stool, which, in part, described my experiences at Bass River Chairs, the webmaster of the website sent a pleasant note, writing, in part, that their site isn’t really horrible as I suggested.
While I agree that horrible is a strong word, I stand behind my comments. Here’s why I don’t like their website:

  • There’s far too little information.. An Internet user’s thirst for information is unquenchable and no amount of [well-organized] information is too much. For example, why is there a section called Wood and the Environment which actually says nothing of value on wood or the environment? Where does Bass River Chairs get its wood? Do they buy only from ecologically sustainable forests? What kinds of wood do they use? How long will their furniture last? Web users want to know this kind of thing. Instead we get empty marketing jargon.
  • The site is much too graphically intensive for the amount of information that is there. I click on Products, for example, and I have to wait for 6 graphical headings (“Kitchen Ware,” etc.) to load? Once that wait is finished, I then click on any of the headings only to find that there’s next to no content provided. Does Bass River Chairs sell stools? You’d never know it from their website! Graphics are great when they help tell a story, but even the pictures of products are content-less feathered shots that give me little feel for their quality or design.
  • The website contains Java and JavaScript elements that add nothing to the content. And they take a long time to load. Why should I have to wait for my browser to start Java, then wait for an applet to load, then wait for the text to scroll, only to find about a “new line of Grohmann knives” after which I must then click on What’s New and then New Products and then Grohmann Oak X-tra Knives to find out more. If you want to highlight your Grohmann knives, make it easier for me to find them, and then tell me why they’re so great!
  • Typographically the site is all over the map. Graphical headers are made harder to read because they’re on a yellow mottled background; headlines on some pages are set ALL CAPS, which makes them hard to read; other heads are small and in red or large and in green; there’s a confusing combination of fonts (Times New Roman, Arial, Courier); use of white space is poor.
  • Generally, the site lacks a soul. Bass River Chairs in the “real world” has a soul — you can tell when you walk in the door. The company takes great pains with store design and merchandising to build a image of consistent quality. They have good products. They have good staff. Alas the website hides these facts, and leaves one feeling more muddled and underfed than motivated to visit the stores. That’s too bad.
  • The site loads too slowly. Try this: go to the Kodak website. It’s just as graphically intensive as Bass River Chairs’ website, but it loads in half the time. In network-geography terms I’m closer to Bass River Chairs than I am to Kodak, so it’s not a network-dependent slowness. What’s going on?
I’m constantly warning my retailer friends about the dangers of creating a web presence without the resources behind it to make it zing like the rest of their operations. Sometimes it’s better not to have a website instead of having an anemic one which doesn’t do justice to the efforts you place to build your brand elsewhere.


Suzanne's picture
Suzanne on January 6, 2006 - 22:35 Permalink

Hello! I was just searching for Bass River Chairs on google and I noticed your article came up in the results … An article from 2000? Not sure how/when Google updates — wow. To the point, I think their web site is beautifully done and easy to navigate — have you seen it lately? Perhaps five years has been enough time to rain on their parade? Maybe they’ve seen the supposed error of their ways? I’d love to hear your current opinion!

Larry Burke's picture
Larry Burke on June 2, 2006 - 01:23 Permalink

Dear Mr. Blogger,

Perhaps you should have a look at your own site before publicly slagging others. Your rant describes a site that was replaced years ago.

Another news flash: the company is gone anyway.

For someone with such vocal criticism of other sites, you may want to clean up some of the outdated blog on this one. :-)

Larry Burke

giggles's picture
giggles on October 12, 2010 - 14:42 Permalink

I have been looking to see some kitchen chairs before making the trip all the way to Bass River.All I am getting is phone # and maps and other junk.I was hopeing to see some designs for kitchen furnature.My brother and I are both looking for kitchen up dates and are tired of running around to find what we want. Why is there no catalogue to look at? I know where to find you and I think the history is interesting but These are not the things I am after. As for anyone wanting to know how good the furnature is it is great.Family have had this furnature for years with little problem and the one minor problem was handled with prompt service directly to the house.well made solid and beautifully designed.I would just like to find a design more suited to my taste.