Well...I`m not a web designer but I figure I`ll give my two cents worth...(and not just because of a contest, just because I`m opnionated):
Anyhow - the homepage doesn`t stand out to me one way or the other. When I pull up a site and see the standard logo in the banner ...
As for the talking cartoons...
The store itself -
There are a TON of products on your site - and only a fraction of them are really trucker items .
First of all, thank you for taking the time to not only visit the site, but to also post here. In response to this first comment, I believe several other members have addressed your "observation and desire to think outside the box" regarding web design. I`ll leave it to those posters, since there is no reason to beat a dead horse. (All that I can say is that many years of researching website design has brought forth the conventional wisdom that "top left logo / left or top navigation formats are successful on the web.)
As for this site being canned ... the answer is NO. It is a fully custom written site. Just the top headers for both the "new" HTML pages ... and the new header for the store area took over 1 week of design time to create.
It appears that we are split currently between those that find our "video hostess" appealing and informative and those that do not. (I guess the jury is still out; however, the benefits far outweigh the negatives, as long as we provide a mute button on the player.
For someone that does not like conventionality and has a desire to "think outside the box", I`m surprised by your commnets and suggestions. What you are describinhg is the traditional method of shopping. We, at GoTruckStop.com, offer several ways to shop or search for items. Using our drop downs , under 4 major categories, from Big Rig Accessories to Gifts by the 1000`s, to our entire Message in a Bottle line, to being able to Shop by Gender, we have allowed every shopper to be able to access the store through a multitude of aisles and entrances ... just like in a "bricks and mortar store".
If I am correct, and I think I am ... (since I`ve been a professional driver for over 14 years) there are several entrances to a traditional truckstop. An entrance for truck drivers, where trucking items are displayed and merchandised. Another entrance is for the general and traveling public, where gift items, childrens gifts and other gifts including cut glass and sculptures are displayed. And then there is normally an entrance to the restaurant area. Each entrance allows passage way freely to other marketing and merchandising areas.
GoTruckStop.com follows that same "free flow" of information, product displays, and merchandising ... as a traditional truckstop does. A truckstop, department store, Walmart or any other successful retail outlet does not have doors or barriers defining depts ... you simply stroll up and down aisles or leisurely walk from dept to dept enjoying your shopping experience. Best of all, we bring products to you with our many categories ... just like shopping at Nordstroms.
Remember, just like a traditional "brick and mortar" truckstop, GoTruckStop.com does not simply market to just the professional trucker. Just as truckstops have other customers besides truckers, so does GoTruckStop.com. That is why we offer a wide variety of products, accessories and merchandise. Not only that, but truckers also need to buy their families and loved ones gifts too.
Even more importantly, in the traditional trucker household its the "spouse" that controls the money, controls the credit cards, has more time to surf the web, and is more apt to make an on-line purchase. Normally that "spouse" is the wife. Not only is she looking for a gift for her driver, but she also will being shopping for gifts for the kids, gifts for Aunt Sally, gifts for Grandma and Grandpa ... and also for herself.
You are correct that we have a TON of items ... currently over 850 items, some with multiple colors or sizes. You are correct that we have a limited number of "trucking" items ... currently only about 175. (if you can call that limited) It is my job, as Dir. of Sales and Marketing, to find unique, exciting, and cutting edge products that will fit well both into trucking and for the general consumer. In fact, just next week, we will be adding an item into our Electronics Dept (as well as a few other depts) that will allow you to watch your cable TV channels right on your laptop ... anywhere in the WORLD !! Just this week we became an authorized re-seller of SlingBox, from SlingMedia. Now, how`s that for exciting?? So not only is it the next "pet rock" for truckers ... but for travelers too.
Oh, and if you are not sure how a "Message in a Bottle" is a "trucker specific" item ... ever buy flowers for someone ... you know how expensive they can be. And they only last a few days. A Message in a Bottle is a great item for drivers to send to their lovely brides, or Moms ... and it normally less than $30 too!
Also, we just added a "Big Rig Wishes" Message in a Bottle too ... just follow the link ....
http://www.gotruckstop.com/cgi-bin/acart/apple-search.pl?&am p;am p;keywords=0210tgs
Check it out amd tell me what you think.
If you also noticed we are able to create "corners" for an entire manufacturer`s product line, like when you are in sports shoe store and they feature the "Nike" or "Addidas" sections or corner. Just as an example we`ve created a "Tommys World" corner here at GoTruckStop ....
http://www.gotruckstop.com/cgi-bin/acart/apple-search.pl?&am p;am p;keywords=gt180001
We have done the same for Cobra Electronics, Max Burton 12 Volt products, and Steering Design`s full product line of custom steering wheels. I haven`t seen many stores able to offer that in the traditional .asp or .php formats.
The amazing thing is that everyone of you can have these type features in the data base that GoTruckStop.com uses ... and a basic site designed for a rather affordable price ... less than $5000 (NO, I`m not selling web designs or data bases ... I`m just trying to get folks to "think outside the box" ... like you, LMC has asked.)
Thank you for posting your comments and opinion. They are greatfully noted and highly appreciated. (Really, they are.) And please feel free to enter the contest, using our feedback form. (Who knows, you just might win!!)