The Cybercritic: New Chef

Reviewed Jan. 5, 4 p.m., Explorer 5.0

The bright blue home page of the New Chef site immediately wakes up The Cybercritic. This site is a winner, at least in terms of design and navigation. The home page has the current date and time listed as well as information and images that change when you point the mouse to the various selections. The home page also includes a listing for live customer service, a mailing list sign-up, and links to company press releases, specials, and job listings.

Despite the name, New Chef isn’t for chefs only. Product categories include Front of the House, which sells uniforms for front-desk staff, maids, and the like; and Wait Staff, apparel for servers. At the top of each product page banners flash with merchandise specials. And a search engine allows me to look for items by product type, style number, or keyword.

Unlike many other online marketers, New Chef prominently displays its toll-free ordering number on the home page. And that’s a good thing. From there my experience goes downhill. When I try to check out online, I’m given the option of Secure or Normal ordering, but when I choose the Secure checkout, a notification comes up stating that it is not possible to establish a secure connection because the identity certificate has expired. I’m not sure what this means, but I’m instructed to enter my e-mail address; from there I’m led to the Website’s policies. I weed through the privacy policy, which states that some versions of browsers do not permit a connection through a secure server and recommends that I order by phone.

Even if my browser could support a secure connection (it has on many other sites), I would still need to set up an account before placing an order. To try to become an authorized shopper, I click on the link provided. It takes me back to the home page, and I have to start all over again! So much for online shopping being easier and less time-consuming.

Overall rating 7.3
Brand identification 8
Fun quotient 8
Graphics 9
Depth/assortment 10
Navigation 6
Ease of ordering 1
Overall ease of use 4
Timeliness 10
Loyalty efforts 9
Information collection 8
Search capabilities 8
Privacy policy 6

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