They lost my business after 15 years – why website accessibility is important

Why I recently switched from Tesco to Ocado for my grocery shopping.

Sometimes my international customers are surprised that I do my grocery shopping online. It’s not as popular in Germany as it is here.

I’ve been doing all my grocery shopping online for years now – since shortly after I moved to London. So that’s at least 15 years. It made me so happy, because previous trips to the supermarket had been a challenge.

In theory you can ask for assistance if you are blind and can’t locate the products yourself. In practice, you are sometimes given any member of staff who can be spared, and that doesn’t always work out well. I had one really helpful lady, but the next week I got a young guy who thought that you find cheese in the freezer section, and when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, the next week I got someone who couldn’t read. This was appalling – both because I ended up without most of the things that I wanted, but as an employer, the supermarket set that guy up to fail, giving him a task to do that he had no fair chance of completing. He felt bad because he wanted to help, but couldn’t. I felt bad because I couldn’t point out the things that I wanted. It was a disaster.

So, I tried online shopping and it was amazing. At first Tesco had a separate access site for screenreader users, and this was later removed, but the main site was perfectly accessible. I used it for years. Around 15 years. But then things started to go downhill.

I found the site was getting slower, and a recent revamp meant that it became considerably less accessible. I’m not sure how the appearance of the site changed, although in an IT group for access technology users, one member said his sighted wife didn’t like the new site much either.

The thing that a lot of people don’t understand with accessibility is that it’s not how the page looks, but the way it’s been designed, and whether a good user experience for access technology users has been built into the page at the design and coding stage.

For example, using style headings for product names means that a screenreader user can quickly jump from one product to the next by pressing just one button, without having to read all the associated information if they don’t want to buy that product. A screenreader user can’t skim read and scroll, so having a good navigation structure on web pages is essential if you want screenreader users to be able to move around efficiently.

Anyway – the headings for product names were done away with and the information was presented in a list, which was harder to navigate quickly. In addition to the slowness, sometimes the site crashed completely or threw up script errors. I tried different browsers, because sometimes this helps. But no. I just got more and more frustrated. Shopping took longer! My patience was at an end and I began to put off a job that I’d been doing easily for years.

I did pass on my comments, but never heard anything back.

One day was particularly frustrating and I ended up asking S to help me just to get the job done. But something had to change!

Some of our friends had been talking about how happy they were with Ocado, so I decided to give it a go. I signed up for an account and hoped that the experience would be better.

The first task was to import my favourites from Tesco. I believe a 3rd party site is used for this. It wasn’t great, because the buttons for the various supermarkets weren’t labelled properly, but I knew it couldn’t import anything without me logging in to the other site, so I clicked the first one and hoped for the best. It was Tesco! The cynical part of me wonders whether this is where most of Ocado’s customers import their favourites from! Who knows? This shows the importance of labelling your graphics – there are some people who can’t see the graphics and need to know what will happen when you click that button.

Anyway – the favourites will only be imported if there is a comparable product in the Ocado database, so I inevitably lost some. However, it wasn’t difficult to search for things that were missing, and I ended up getting a bit carried away with new things that I wanted to try as well!

It was easy to navigate around the pages, and Ocado does style their product names as headings, so I can quickly move through pages such as my favourites or a page of search results to find what I’m looking for.

Booking my slot and paying for the goods was easy as well, and when the shopping arrived, everything was as it should be.

I was also happy with the receipt. Tesco only provides an email confirmation of the order, but this doesn’t give any information about what actually arrived (for example if something was out of stock). The Ocado receipt tells you what was delivered, and also gives you information about when the products should be used up. This is particularly useful if you can’t see the packaging to check. To be honest I’ve never given myself food poisoning with out-of-date food, and now S is around to check, but in the past I’ve often frozen things to be on the safe side. With this information on the receipt, I don’t need to.

In terms of Unseen Beauty, I have been impressed at the extensive skincare and beauty section, so there will be some new reviews coming soon.

At the moment I am enjoying free access to the smart pass, which gives you free deliveries as long as you hit the £40 minimum spend. I will probably renew this when the free trial runs out because we will save in the long-term on delivery charges.

I couldn’t imagine doing my grocery shopping any other way now – as someone who is blind, there are so many advantages. I can read about the products. I can choose exactly what I want. I can browse for new things when I feel in need of some inspiration. I don’t have to wait for a taxi to get myself and all my shopping home. I don’t have to ask for help in-store. I can do the shopping any time that suits me, even if that’s the middle of the night. If there are cooking instructions for something, they can usually be found on the website.

In addition to all these advantages, it’s still important to have a website that works, that’s efficient, that provides a good user experience, and that doesn’t drive me crazy every time I want to do our weekly shop! Ocado ticks all of these boxes and I wish I had made the switch sooner.

Much is said in marketing about loyal customers, but even someone who has been using a company for 15 years will leave if they feel that the quality of service is not what it once was, or that there is a better deal elsewhere.

In addition to the plus points I have already listed about Ocado, there are other benefits such as the price match. If your shopping is found to be cheaper at Tesco, as mine was last week, you get a voucher for the difference. You can then redeem this voucher when you do your next shop. You also get 5p back for every carrier bag that you return, and there is a good range of products for people with dietary requirements, such as gluten or dairy free diets. When you’re checking out, you have the option of healthier choices for things that are in your basket. Ok you may want an unhealthy treat, but if you’re looking for a healthier diet, it’s nice to have the suggestions.

If you would like me to send you an invitation to Ocado, just fill out your details using the form below. You will receive a £20 voucher for your first shop, and a free smart pass, which gives you free deliveries for one year (minimum spend applies).

If you request an invitation, your email address will be entered on the Ocado site to generate an invitation. It will not be stored by English with Kirsty. If you request the news updates, your email address will be added to my mailing list so that you can receiveUnseen Beauty news, usually twice a week.
I will receive a reward if anyone signs up through me, but I only promote things that I believe are good value and am using myself.

Shopping without sight – my first Glossybox

The next installment in my series about my experiences as a beauty-loving blind woman on a mission to shop online! Could I get my Glossybox to my door without accessibility problems? Read on to find out!

So, I’d heard a lot about Glossybox and if you read my February favourites, you’ll know that I won January’s one in a giveaway. I was really pleased with it and decided to sign up for my own!

When I’m looking at new beauty boxes, there are three main considerations for me:

1. Is there a good range of products, and are they products that I’m likely to use?
2. Does the box get good reviews?
3. How accessible is the site for blind people?

Having already won the January box and watched a lot of unboxing videos, I felt pretty sure about questions 1 and 2. So I just needed to find out if I could access the site without sighted help. If the answer was “no”, it would be a dealbreaker for me!

I needn’t have worried. Using the screenreading software on my laptop, I could set up my account and sign up for my box. Buttons and data entry fields were labelled, and I could do everything with the keyboard as I don’t use a mouse.

What was in the February box>

When the box arrived, I was too excited to wait for S, so I used the Seeing AI app on my phone to scan the products. The app can recognise text on products and reads aloud what it can find. This works better on some types of packaging than others, depending on the size of writing and colour contrast, but I already knew what other people had received and could read some of the information on the card. I then checked out the products with sighted help later.

There are eight possible products and you get a selection of five in your box. I received

  • Studio 10 makeup mist glow-plexion (£14) – this travel-size mini is a multi-purpose mist. You can use it as a primer, hydrating mist or setting spray. I have such a stash of primers at the moment that this will probably be used as a hydrating mist, but I will also give it a go as a primer and I like the fact that it’s a new brand for me. It’s also nice and compact, so would fit in my handbag – presuming of course it’s still around by the time the sun finally makes an appearance!
  • A mini Siate nail varnish (£6) – this brand is cruelty-free. There’s 5ml in the pot and I have tried Siate nail varnishes before, so I know it’s a good one! I’ve already worn it and found it to be quite good in terms of not chipping. I did add a top coat as I always do, but when you can’t touch them up yourself, it’s good to have one that will last at least a few days!
  • Steve Laurent lip gloss (£17) – I’ve never tried anything from this brand before, which is one of the things I like about beauty subscription boxes. It comes in a little glass jar and has a creamy, but not sticky, formula. It says “live your life in colour” on the top, and the glass jar makes it feel quite luxurious! I was thinking it could be used as a cheek tint too and was happy to see that one of the writers on the Glossybox blog agreed!
  • oOlution eye contour cream (£30.99) – I have a couple of eye creams on the go at the moment so this one’s in the queue, but it seems nice and nourishing, and promised to hydrate the area around the eyes, reducing puffiness. It’s also organic and not tested on animals.
  • Sleek makeup palette in Storm (£8.99) – this is the only thing that I won’t use as I’m a cream shadow or shadow stick kind of girl. I don’t use powder products because I can’t see the fall-out and I find them harder to work with. No problem though as I knew someone who wanted it, and I think the product itself is a good one, with a selection of 12 shades to create a number of looks.

The other products I could have received were a face serum and two mascaras.

The only thing I won’t use was the palette, but that’s ok. It’s a random box and there’s bound to be one or two things that you won’t use or that aren’t the right shade. I think the value in the other products definitely makes it worthwhile.

Some people go into Facebook groups where you can sell or swap any unwanted items. I either give them to friends or family, or put them in a blog give-away. On the subject of give-aways, I have one coming up in March, so you can either subscribe or sign up for the email alerts if you want to find out when it goes online!

As I can’t see the box, the products are more important to me than the box design, but it has a colourful design with lollipops and lipsticks on it. These are nice, sturdy boxes, good for storage – or maybe for parcelling up give-away prizes in!

You can get 20% off your first box

If you want to give it a go and get 20% off your first box, you can use my code KIRSTY-RGE when you place your first order on the Glossybox site.

How could the Glossybox experience be better for me as a blind shopper?

The only problem I had was in the areas where you personalise your box and give feedback on products. On both screens, there is a list of questions. I move around the screen with my cursor keys and I selected my answer for each of the questions using the keyboard. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t submit my answers and I asked S to see what was happening.

It turned out that even though I’d been through all the questions and ticked my answer for each one, you need to click “next” so that the next question appears on the screen. I don’t really care what information is visible on the screen, because I don’t look at the screen, but it appears you have to click “next” until all of the questions become visible, even though I had already answered them! No sighted person would have this problem, which is why I guess nobody has noticed it.

What would be really good is if the “submit” button would appear when all of the questions had been answered because I had read and answered questions that my partner couldn’t see yet!

This is the only time I’ve seen a page like this. I wouldn’t say it’s inaccessible, because I know I need to keep clicking that “next” button until “submit” appears, but it was a bit confusing at the beginning as I could already read all of the information unlike my boyfriend, who needed to wait for it to show up on the screen!

The other thing that would be nice is if the information from the card which you receive in your box could also be available in the members’ log-in area. I could ask S to read it to me, and I did try scanning it with the Seeing AI app, but it would be great if we could access it online too.

Other than that I was really happy with the box and I’m looking forward to what will be in the March box!

Listen to the podcast episode

I’ve also produced a podcast episode about my first Glossybox. You can look for Unseen Beauty on Apple podcasts (previously known as iTunes), or wherever you get your podcasts. Alternatively, you can listen to it here:

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Shopping without sight – my online shopping experience at the Chocolate Emporium

This is the first article in a new series that I’ve started on the blog.

I love shopping! In many ways, online shopping is really practical when you are blind. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy going round the shops with my friends, but if I want something without the assistance of friends or people working in the shops, online shopping is ideal. Even more so seeing as I work from home and can take in the deliveries.

There’s only one problem though – not all shops design their websites in a way that makes it easy for blind people to use them. Some common problems are:
1. Links, pop-up login boxes, or page elements such as date pickers that can only be activated using a mouse – which is a problem if you don’t use a mouse.
2. Unlabelled graphics – I’m not talking about not having nice labels for your images, although these are useful. No I mean when all the buttons are labelled as “button” because the designer thought everyone would get the idea from the graphic on the button. That’s a problem when you can’t see the graphic.
3. Inadequate descriptions of products so it’s hard to know what you’re buying if you can’t see the picture.

The last one is less about web design, but it doesn’t make me want to come back to a site! Points 1 and 2 are the worst, which is why I do a lot of my shopping on Amazon, because I don’t usually have these problems on the website or iPhone app.

Still, I wanted to talk about my experience of using other shops and in my “Shopping without site” series I’m going to set myself the challenge of buying something from different online shops.

It’s not going to be an in-depth analysis report as I would do if I were working with a brand, although if you are interested in a consultation on your site’s accessibility, you can find further details of this service on my contact information page.

No, this is an account of how easy the process was to select products, pay for them and get them delivered to me at home. Some sites are amazing. Others are terrible and I’ll never visit them again. Most are somewhere in the middle, with a lot of good points and one or two things that can be improved. I’m going to try and keep away from web design jargon that most people won’t understand – these articles are about the experience, what went well, and whether I encountered any problems. Mission fail is when I have to ask S to come and complete some part of the order because I couldn’t do it myself with the software that I use to read my laptop’s screen.

I thought I’d start with some chocolate from the Chocolate Emporium.

1. How easy was it to find things on the site?

Very easy. The keyword search facility worked well, and if you click on the chocolate shop, you can jump through the headings to see what chocolate selections they have, a bit like shelves in a shop.

2. How well were products described?

Very well. There are one or two paragraphs about each product when you click on to the product page.

3. How easy was it to put things in the basket?

This is where I had my first problem. On my first visit to this site, I ended up stacking my basket full of chocolates, going to pay for it, and then finding to my dismay that the basket was empty.
On most sites, you click “add to basket” and the item goes straight into your basket. On this site, a pop-up message appears about whether you want to add a free gift message or continue without adding one. This is immediately obvious to a sighted person, but in terms of the order in which my software reads things, the information from the pop-up message comes further down the page, past the information about the product I want to add and the recommendations for what else I might want. I totally missed it, and if you click off the page without setting your gift message preference, the item does not make its way into your basket.
The same happens if there is a question about what colour gift box you want. Because of this, use of such pop-up messages makes it harder for a screenreader user to use the site.

Now I know that it’s there, I know to look for it and make my choice. So it’s not inaccessible, because I can do it, but it does take points away from the user experience because the first time I used the site, I had to go back and add everything again. I wanted the chocolate, so I had the motivation, but if I had been less bothered about the products, I may have given up on it.

A way to fix this would be to make the gift box colours a second drop down box before you click the “add to basket” button. We already have a dropdown list for the size of box that you want. Perhaps the gift message options could come later when you’re about to check out. If both of these things were done, adding something to the basket would not require this second step that screenreader users are likely to miss.

4. How well were buttons labelled?

I didn’t have any problems with button labels. However the label for the basket is “The Chocolate Emporium – Lindt Lindor UK and USA pick and mix – Ghirardelli, Godiva, Monty Bojangles chocolates to buy online – account basket” and really “basket” would be sufficient!

5. Could every control be activated without a mouse?

Yes.

6. How easy was it to pay for the goods?

Once I’d got to my basket and clicked the checkout link, there was another of those messages further down the page. This time it was asking whether I wanted to add an additional chocolate bar. You can’t get to the next page unless you answer the question. There is a check-out button, which doesn’t appear to do anything – you have to click the no thanks button if you want to move on.

7. Can you complete the whole shopping process without sighted help?

Yes. There are some sites where I really can’t finish the order on my own, but with this site, now that I know how it works and what to look out for, I can do it and get as many chocolates as my heart desires!

8. What do you think of the goods?

I bought 3 things this time – a lemon chocolate bar, a lime chocolate bar and some coffee truffles. I really like the variety of different chocolates on this site. As someone who likes fruit and coffee chocolates, there is a good selection of things that you won’t find in the shops, and this is a good reason for me to come back. Also, Lindt chocolate is amazing!

I think my favourite this time is the lemon bar – it has a lemon cream type centre.

The lime bar is thinner and the lime is actually in the chocolate, rather than a cream centre. I will always be happy about coffee chocolate!

9. Overall how good was the experience for a screenreader user?

I’d say that overall, I could get what I wanted using my screenreader and there wasn’t anything that I couldn’t access because I don’t use a mouse. Questions and tick boxes appearing further down the page for me as a screenreader meant that the site wasn’t particularly intuitive and I could imagine less confident blind internet users getting annoyed with it. It certainly frustrated me initially.

I will continue to use this site now that I know to scroll down and check that I don’t need to answer any questions before going on to my next purchase.

10. How accessible were newsletters or other communications from the brand?

This is often another problem area because companies use newsletter software that doesn’t produce accessible newsletters, but that wasn’t a problem I had with the Chocolate Emporium. Their links and graphics were well labelled, and I could read exactly what was on offer and how to get my newsletter subscriber discount code.

Have you bought anything from this site? If so, what would you recommend?

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This is not a sponsored post. I paid for and ate most of the chocolate myself!

Postboxed – gifts that will fit through the letter box so you don’t have to worry

My review of Postboxed – gifts that slide through the letter box so the recipient doesn’t need to be at home to get them.

We’ve all been there – you are expecting the postman to bring you something nice, only to find one of those “sorry you weren’t at home” cards which means you’ll either have to go and collect it, arrange a redelivery, or hunt around for where it might have been slung.

One of the benefits of working from home is the ability to indulge in my online shopping habit and know that I’ll be in most of the time to take in the delivery. In fact, our usual postman knows me quite well by now! He even waits for me while I make a mad dash for it down the stairs, whereas some of the other delivery drivers are already halfway back to the gate by the time I open the door.

Of course even I get caught out sometimes. It’s usually the parcel delivery companies. I had a note to say that the parcel was either on my property or with one of the neighbours – massively helpful, particularly when you’re blind! In the end I enlisted the help of my sighted partner, but even he didn’t see it straight away because it had been chucked behind the wheelie bin. I guess I should count myself lucky it wasn’t in the bin – my Nan once had that happen to her new jacket.

Anyway – enough moaning – the reason I’m telling you this is because I recently discovered Postboxed, a new gift service that takes away the problem of the recipient needing to be in, because all of their gift packages fit through the letter box.

I think this is a great idea for 3 reasons:

  1. You don’t need to worry about your friend being in (I’ve had cryptic conversations about whether I’d be in on a certain date because flowers were coming)
  2. The gifts are packaged for you – so there are no trips to the post office (really handy for my business now that Christmas is coming up – I believe they even ship internationally)
  3. you can either put your own box together or choose from one of the themed boxes that have been put together with specific types of people in mind (coffee lovers, cyclists, women, gin lovers etc).

I decided to order two boxes to try them out.

Firstly, S and I enjoy cooking spicy food, so I got the foodie matchboxes for us to try some serious chilli! You get 3 match boxes. The first contains a bottle of the 2014 chilli world champion, Carolina Reaper chilli powder and some very, very spicy chocolate! In the second matchbox, there are four of the world’s most expensive spices: 1 jar of sargol Persian Saffron, 1 jar of premium Madagascan Vanilla, 1 jar of true Ceylon Cinnamon, and 1 jar of fragrant Indian Cardamom. I haven’t used all of them yet, but I put the cinnamon into a meat dish and it was very good. The 3rd box contains 1 jar of Scorpion Moruga (2,000,000 SHU) chilli powder (the current World Champion), 1 jar of Scorpion Butch T (1,500,000 SHU) chilli powder, 1 jar of 7 Pot (1,300,000 SHU) chilli powder, and 1 jar of Ghost powder (1,000,000 SHU) (Naga Bhut Jolokia) chilli powder. No, I hadn’t heard of them either, apart from the ghost chilli, but they are some of the hottest chilli powders in the world. Yes, the bottles are tiny to fit in the matchbox, but believe me, you really don’t need much! I used just one of them to make a batch of spicy meatballs, which we really enjoyed, but I wouldn’t have needed any more. Tip – the little jars are well-packed with cute little corks, so if the powder doesn’t all come out when you open it, get something thin and pointy like a bamboo skewer to make sure you don’t waste any.

If you have food lovers in your life who like it hot, I think this makes a really interesting and original gift.

The other box I got was one that I put together myself. There was a box for chocolate lovers, but I am not a fan of salt and chocolate together. This box was slightly larger because I ordered four bars of chocolate, but I read that if you put too much in your box, the order will be sent in two letterbox-friendly boxes. My boxes didn’t come through the letter box because the postman had a bunch of other stuff for me, but I measured them afterwards and they would have fit.

Anyway back to the chocolate! I got things that I’d never heard of before because I was intrigued and wanted to try them. So there was some roast espresso chocolate, honey milk chocolate, lavender chocolate, and orange, geranium and lemon chocolate.

The bars work out at around £5 per bar, but you are getting good quality chocolate, and the bar is a fair size too.

I learned by this that you should never judge a bar by its name. I fully expected the coffee to be my favourite, as I’m a lover of all things coffee, but actually it was the lavender that I liked most. I was really surprised by this. I mean, lavender is something you put in the bath or you use lavender oil before going to bed, but I never knew that you could put it in chocolate too and that it would taste so good! The coffee bar was good too, although I think I would have preferred a bit more coffee in it. I’d never had honey chocolate before and I would definitely get it, and the orange and lemon one, again. I was a bit worried about the geranium in the latter, but it tasted more citrusy, and not as though I were eating flowers!

From an accessibility point of view, I could browse products and place my order myself, without getting frustrated or needing to ask for sighted assistance because of inaccessible design, something which access technology users can’t take for granted. This good user experience is another reason why I would return.

So, if you’re looking for an unusual gift now that Christmas is coming up, or maybe you’d like to treat a special someone, you’ll find plenty of variety on Postboxed. I went for the foodie options, but there are also books, tea towels with information about particular topics of interest, alcohol, tea, socks, and jewellery to name a few other options.

The boxes were not PR samples, which means I paid for the products myself, but as I was so happy with the service and the quality of the products, I have become an affiliate, so the links are affiliate links.

So, have you heard of or used this service before? What do you think of this idea? Let me know in the comments!

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Lovelula Feb 17

The Lovelula subscription was one of the first ones that caught my attention when I began researching beauty boxes in December. In January, I decided to try it out. I was too late for the January box, so I got the February one.

The concept

I subscribed to this box partly because I’m interested in organic products, and partly because there seemed to be more of a focus on skincare than make-up. I am interested in make-up, but I’m more choosy about the type of product that I will use, whereas with skincare I’m more open to try new things. This is important for a box which puts the selection together for you – I wanted there to be a higher chance that I would use the things in my box.

Another plus point for me is that everyone gets the same, so there’s no disappointment because someone somewhere got a better deal, or products that you would have loved.

I’m lucky in that I usually ask my partner what the products are – out of all the guys in our circle of friends, I think he knows the most about beauty and skincare products now! I know not every visually impaired person is in this position, but the fact that everyone gets the same means that in a few days of the beauty boxes arriving, people start to blog about the products, so you can find out more about them that way if you haven’t found some other way to do it!

The products

This is what I found in the February box. I hadn’t heard of any of the brands before, so it was a good chance to get to know some new ones, and there were also two types of product that I’d been hearing a lot about and that I wanted to try.

The first was an instant hit – the Greenfrog botanic body wash – neroli and lime. I’m a lover of all things citrus, and this body wash contains anti-bacterial lime, along with organic soapberries,which are good for sensitive or dry skin, and moisturising aloe vera.

My other favourite is the Ooh replenishing oil. This fast-absorbing marula oil contains vitamins C and E, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids. Although I have dry skin, I’ve never worked with face oils before, mainly because I was concerned the oil would leave my skin too oily or cause breakouts, but so far I’ve been happy with the results and I’ll continue to use this in my evening skincare routine.

Next out of the box was the Madara micellar water, which is actually my first micellar water. I’ve heard the hype about micellar waters. I do like the fact that this one also includes hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin to retain moisture. As I haven’t really been using it long enough to measure results, the jury’s still out on whether it will remain part of my cleansing and moisturising routine, but I’m happy to give it a go.

I was intrigued by the Weleda skin food, which is apparently to protect and repair dry skin. I’ve read good things about it on other blogs, but I wouldn’t usually use something on my face that I also use on my feet! That said, the ingredients are natural and it does contain almond and peanut oil, which both soften and sooth the skin. I think I will use this as a hand and foot lotion.

The only thing in the box that I won’t use was the

Love Me Beauty – my first impressions

What I thought about my first subscription box from Love Me Beauty. What I liked and the change that I would like to see.

Love Me Beauty my first order

Back at the end of last year, I started looking at beauty boxes. There are so many. In the end, I bought myself an advent calendar and put the idea of beauty boxes to one side.

Then I got talking to a friend about them, and I decided to take the plunge.

The first one that I signed up for was Love Me Beauty. This is what I thought.

The concept

Unlike many of the beauty subscription boxes on the market, with Love Me Beauty, you decide what you want in your box. So on one hand there’s no element of surprise, but on the other hand, you know that you are getting products that you genuinely want to try, and you won’t feel like you wasted money on products that you know you’ll never use.

This is a big plus point for me. In terms of skin care, I’m quite flexible and happy to try new things. However I’m quite fussy about make-up, I don’t use nail varnish and my visual impairment means that I intentionally buy specific types of make-up products because I know they are easier for me to use. This meant that I was really happy to have found a build-your-own box.

Basically you get a set number of credits each month, and you can choose how you spend them – each product has a price in credits.

The products

So, I had 60 credits for my first month, and I decided to get 3 products. I chose:

1. Laura Mercier pink pop lip glace
2. Make up for ever skin equaliser primer
3. Make-up for ever artist Rouge m401 (lipstick)

The products came presented in a make-up bag, which is useful for storing products in afterwards.

I thought my favourite was going to be the lipstick, but no, it was actually the primer. It gives really good coverage, has a silky texture when you’re applying it and doesn’t leave your face feeling greasy. I will be purchasing this again!

I think I’ll use the lip gloss more in the spring/summer, so I’ll be using that up in the next few months.

I tend to go for creamier lipsticks, but I’m told the colour looks good and as long as I moisturise my lips before using it, I’ll be ok!

These were my first products from both Make-up Forever and Laura Mercier. I will use all of them and repurchase at least one, so I think that was a good result. I like the way that this box gives me the opportunity to try new brands before buying the full-size products.

The website

Unfortunately, this is the potential deal breaker for me. As someone who cannot see, I do a lot of shopping online because it is easier than negotiating stores, but in order for this to work, the website needs to be accessible. Unfortunately this isn’t the case with Love Me Beauty.

I only have a basic level of web design knowledge and I’m not sure exactly what is happening on this site, but when I click the log-in link, I’m unable to navigate to the email address and password fields without the use of a mouse. I don’t use a mouse and can usually navigate websites using the keyboard, but unfortunately this doesn’t work on the Love Me Beauty site. A few people have tried this with other assistive technology software used by blind people, and they couldn’t access the site either.

Once logged into the site, I can read the product descriptions and add things to my bag, but it’s also difficult for me to click through to the next page of results without a mouse, which means that I don’t have access to all the items on offer each time.

Normally this would make me not want to use a site. In this case, I am interested in the products, so I’ll give it a bit longer and hope that the company will take this feedback into account and look into making the site more accessible.

However, at the moment, I can’t honestly recommend it to any blind readers using screenreading software, as you are likely to be unable to access your account and make purchases without assistance.

My conclusion

I love the idea, I’m really happy with the products, but I find some of the issues on the website very disappointing as they prevent me from having a good user experience on the site. I hope that this can be fixed so that I and other blind users will be able to use the site fully.

What do you think?

Do you use this beauty box service? If so, what do you think of it and what did you put in your January box?

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