Your Measurements Are Subjective

I was a beta tester for a fashion website, the goal of which is to help you shop online. When you sign-up, you fill-out your personal clothing size – are you an XS, S, M or L?

I wrote the website and suggested they have members use actual inch or centimeter measurements, because ‘jeans and shirt size are subjective, and therefore will hinder the concept of your entire site; jean sizes are very different. In the sign-up menu, is the jean size measured by hip, or by waist? For T-shirt, are you specifying if it’s a loose shirt, or a tight one? One brand labels a dress a 0 while another labels it a 2 – this will not at all help users. Because it’s so subjective and open-ended, there are a lot of holes with this sizing process.’

I also added:

‘You can even get more specific than that. For instance, a lot of online shopping issues I run into is the length of my torso. Even good reviewers do not list their torso length and the length of a shirt, or where a dress falls, so a lot of dresses that should cut me off at the waist hit my ribs, instead. This is what deters me from shopping online, altogether, and needs to be an added feature.’
Personally, I’m an Xtra-Small or a Small – maybe a Medium, depending on where I shop, the type of clothing, material, style, brand, store, etc. Using actual measurements (for example, the way measurements are listed to help stylists on Model Mayhem), would make this a lot easier.
Though it helps to say you’re wearing a size ‘small’ when posting a specific shirt, if someone doesn’t know your measurements, they can’t figure out whether or not the small would fit them, too.

What makes this website sizing limitation even stranger is the fact that men’s jean sizes are measured in inches or centimeters, already – and some women’s jeans are, now, too. Even people who sell clothing on eBay list detailed measurements. So why wouldn't this website?

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But then I got this really ridiculous response about the issue:

‘…we are hesitant to use measurements as opposed to clothing sizes for two reasons – 1. Far fewer people know them, 2. Those measurements can often be just as subjective depending on who takes them.’

I found this immediately humorous because the website is in ‘beta-testing’ mode. Therefore, its users are testing the site for holes and weak points, and their ideas should be considered and, if do-able, utilized. This one-sentence response I received clearly doesn’t understand, or give any sort of shit about, beta-testing and its users.

This website is not only limiting itself with such a glaring oversight – but it’s also limiting its users. By stating that ‘far fewer people know [measurements],’ they acknowledge their audience is ignorant to something that should be fundamental to their use of the site, and, then, the site perpetuates this ignorance by doing nothing to teach their audience.

Why wouldn’t the creators of a fashion website, the goal of which to help you shop online, want to further assist its users by educating them on measurements? Why can’t the creators make a comprehensive guide explaining what measurements are, and how to take your own measurements? Rather than enhance the site’s, and users’, usability and performance, they hinder it.

Additionally, I don’t see how your measurements can be any more or less subjective whether I take them, or if Jane and Dick take your measurements; you’re using a ruler. It’s not terribly open-ended.

If a website is created to help its users but will not take the time to do so, I will not give them my time. If you’re creating something – an organization, institution, website, etc., in order to help, inform or assist others, and you decide not to take the time to do so – you may as well quit while you’re ahead, and save the time you would spend creating a half-assed website, elsewhere.

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