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When she presented her dissertation for her MPhil degree, little did Claudine Cassar know that her looking into the low adoption of ecommerce in Malta will eventually spark the creation and launch of the first maltese eMall. was launched on the 19th October and the response was astounding. Over the last few days the portal has been experiencing an average of 917 visits an hour, with each visitor viewing 31.5 pages per visit.


The TrolleyMania Facebook page has also been an instant hit, with hundreds of people joining in the first few days after it was launched. REDWHITEmt spoke to Claudine Cassar, Managing Director of Alert Communications, the company behind the project, now that has been launched.

What inspired TrolleyMania?
One of the most important findings in my research was the fact that most Maltese companies are interested in setting up an online store but refrain for a number of entry requirements, amongst which were the setup and running costs, the delivery issue and the cost of promotion. When the government issued a public call for the creation and launch of an eMall, i thought it was a wonderful opportunity that could not be missed!

How did you manage to provide a good design yet safeguard user-friendly functionality?
There was no doubt that the design of the portal was critical for its success. As from day one, we aimed to come up with a design that provides easy navigation with clear set objectives on every template, giving priority to the elements that need prominence and less to others. Apart from some stock imagery, everything on the site was created in-house from scratch.

It was also important to conform with general usability guidelines. At Alert, we adhere to W3C guidelines, making our sites as accessible as possible. Goals are achieved through an interactive approach. We start off by setting up a multidisciplinary design team, including specialists in:

* Project Management
* Development, including systems analysis and software design
* Interface design (seen from a user perspective)
* Visual design
* Usability planning
* Documentation
* Training

The Alert team uses a parallel design methodology, meaning that multiple designers independently evaluate the design requirements and propose design solutions. The different design proposals are discussed with all interested parties, and the best elements of all the proposals are selected and carried forward to the next stage while the rest is discarded. Design thus becomes an iterative process, with design prototypes being developed and tested and changes made on the basis of results. The process is repeated until the design prototype is suitably fine tuned and all usability goals are achieved.

Such a process speeds up development time considerably and also increases user satisfaction. The iterative design process continues once the site goes online the general public starts interacting with it. It is only then that it becomes possible to truly assess the success of the design exercise. Once the site is live and the feedback starts pouring in, it is important to continue testing, evaluating and retesting in order to finetune the design further.

How do you want to create brand value perceptions with website users?
We are trying to emphasize the concepts of choice (thousands of products), the direct relationship with the eShop operator (direct from seller) and the fact that the delivery is often made the very next day (direct to your door) as the merchant is located in Malta.

What inspired the logo and it’s concept?
It took us long to come up with it. We tried mascots but they did not work. We needed something that portrayed the name and the concept of online shopping. After many many trials, finally we picked what we believe is a winner.

Any specific target audience?
We are targeting online users whose demographic matches online shoppers. These tend not to be too young, but rather people in their thirties and forties who are comfortable with technology but are too busy to go shopping in bricks and mortar establishments. is going to make an impact on the local eCommerce scene – companies that previously did not have the financial or technical resources to sell online can now do so easily and securely. In fact 50 shops have already signed up to join 37 of them are up and running while the rest are still in the process of populating their online stores.

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