Disclosure: The following is a paid review.

A new site called Crystal Occasions, out of Burlington, Kentucky, carries a moderate assortment of Corporate Awards that you might present to employees at an awards ceremony. I went and reviewed the site and had a few thoughts, both in terms of usage, site design, and purpose.


Many e-commerce sites struggle from “too much”. You can buy a book - or a pony! Crystal Occasions stays true to its mission. In fact, its main menu has only five links: Corporate Gifts, Corporate Awards, Golf Gifts / Awards, Personalized Gifts, and Wedding / Anniversary Gifts. This is my kind of site. I could probably find a few larger sites on the internet that would sell similar, if not exact, types of products. But they’d also want to sell me business cards, mailing labels, and maybe a pony.

Overall, I found the site quite useful, and a good stop if you are going to consider purchasing these types of gifts for someone. They also have gift wrapping options along with custom notes - a must for this type of site, so you can ship straight to the recipient.

Site Design

Beyond that, the site navigation starts to get a little hairy. Each topic, as you might suspect, has a series of subtopics, but they are displayed only as a list of pictures with appropriate text captions next to them. I can’t just see a simple text list alone - which as a fast reader I could scour more quickly. I’m forced to look at cute pictures that supposedly describe each product subcategory. I can’t fault Crystal Occasions though, as somewhere on the internet is some guru preaching that this is an acceptable method for e-commerce stores. In other words, a lot of stores are doing it. From a usability standpoint, however, I’d say you should give users the option.

Under the topic Corporate Awards, for instance, are eight pages of subcategories, each having 15 pictures (with text captions). Each of these opens into various product listing pages. In other words, to “browse” the store could leave you exhausted. The subcategories are organized alphabetically, not logically. Having the main navigation to expand - or show more subcategories to begin with perhaps - might be one easy option. The hard option would be to more logically organize the store and not rely so heavily on the search page. This is the kind of site I’d love to puddle through and look for a gift, but not when I have to click eight pages of subcategories, and on each page click on one of 15 links to view various products, then back up, click on the 2nd of 15 links, etc, until I’ve exhausted page one and then go to page two. It’s like Disney World - I’ll never see it all in one visit.

The site does use a breadcrumb trail, so you don’t get totally lost. Not totally, anyway. But for a site that focuses so narrowly, it needs more comprehensive structure. If you want to go from way too many subcategories to the other extreme, a giant list of everything on the store in strict alphabetical order, visit the sitemap. At least they have one - a good sign - but it could use a few simple headings and some restructuring for ease of use.

There’s a lovely banner at the top that highlights some great products. Don’t click on them though, because it is a static JPEG image. It would be nice if they had some subtitles under each image, along with a clickable link to similar products.

The colors are drab and gray, but they kind of work for this site. They somehow seem to reflect the prestige of crystal. But a little color would be nice, especially for navigation. Even the main navigation links don’t reflect any change to let you know where you are. This is unusual for a modern site these days. There is a little triangle next to each main navigation item which gives you the impression that if you click it, it will turn and point down and open a list of subtopics. Don’t be fooled as I was. Nothing of the sort happens.

The site is a Yahoo storefront. While I applaud any company who takes their e-commerce seriously to use Yahoo’s storefronts, I recommend they make some basic changes. Having the favicon still be Yahoo’s famous (or infamous - depending on your worldview) red Y, is a bit of an oversight. A good designer will use Yahoo’s front end technology, while giving your site a truly custom feel. If you’ve visited other Yahoo storefronts, you’ll see very similar looks here. However, I can’t blame them as I try to promote Yahoo storefronts to most of my clients as a very affordable and simple solution to get online as quickly as possible. At the least, the famous red Y gives you a since of security, but for a more professional look, they should have a custom favicon.


The site has a few differing purposes, as you can see from the main navigation links. I sort of question the logic of purchasing some of these items as corporate awards. Personally, I’d prefer just a raise. I really don’t want a set of 19 ounce Lyrica Balloon Wine glasses with my company’s name and logo on it. But that’s just me. When I come home, I really don’t want reminders of my employer around my home. But they had a great assortment of paperweights, frames, and other such things.

I was surprised at the affordability of many of the items. Look at this nice Nova award, for instance. It’s only $81.00. You’d think some of the cheap employers I’ve worked for before, including major government contractors, would spend at least $81.00 to get something this nice for their employees - instead of a Microsoft Publisher certificate printed in fading ink jet colors.

Bottom Line

I give the website a B. If you are an under-appreciated employee, send your boss or HR department a link to this website with a subtle “hint hint”. Also, bookmark it for weddings and anniversary gifts for the future. You’ll definitely find something here for those rich folks who already have everything. Who in the world has one of these?

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Posted in: Management