Kalahari.net: Any questions?


Kalahari.net is SA’s largest online retailer. News from them is that they’ve embraced a new web design methodology to improve the e-commerce experience on their site. The new look site is designed around user experience and the process is being spearheaded by Rian van der Merwe, an eBay veteran in User Experience Design previously based out of San Francisco, who is the newly appointed Head of Product & Design for kalahari.net.

User-Centred Design, which is something all web design should incorporate, is gaining traction globally because it has proven time and again that it makes websites easier to use, which of course makes customers happy. Van der Merwe says, “Simply put, we’re optimising our service around the needs and goals of shoppers, instead of forcing them to change their behaviour to accommodate us.”

The benefits of user-centred design for kalahari.net are that it will be simpler to see, browse, find and buy from their extensive catalogue of approximately 13 million products. Initial changes to the design include new navigation, cleaner pages, and faster page loading.

Any Questions?

10and5 will be interviewing Rian van der Merwe soon and instead of making it a Q+A by us, we’d like to interview him on behalf of the Between 10and5 community. If there is anything you’d like to know about user-centred design, web design in general, kalahari.net or Rian himself, let us know. Leave your questions for Rian in the comments section below and we’ll put together an interview – by all of you.

Some more about Rian:

After matriculating at Stellenbosch High, Rian completed an undergraduate degree in Engineering, followed by a Masters in Information Science at Stellenbosch University. He then obtained his PhD in Internet Marketing from Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia.

His next six years were spent in Silicon Valley: first at market research firm Survey.com, followed by four and a half years in eBay’s User Experience Design group. His last position at eBay was as Senior Manager of Product Strategy, where his responsibilities included leading a team of strategists who worked with various parts of the organisation to develop and guide product roadmaps and requirements that meet user needs.

He then joined startup Yola.com in San Francisco as a Senior Product Manager, where he was responsible for the product vision, strategy, design, and development of a variety of areas of the Yola user experience. He and his family moved back to South Africa and in December 2010 and joined kalahari.net to head up the Product team.

Rian’s blog

Rian on twitter


  1. what impact does aesthetic design have on usability, can a nicer look and feel contribute towards a more usable site? how much importance do you place on the quality of the design work for a site?

  2. 1. How have users responded to the new site, and what is Kalahari.net’s protocol for dealing with that feedback?

    2. How important was maintaining a level of familiarity with the old site?

    3. What were the biggest challenges with the redesign, if any?

    4. Apart from the obvious visual updates, what are the major differences between the old and new sites, and what affect do these differences make (or intend to make) towards the ultimate goals/targets for the site?

    5. Although there is a conditional style sheet for IE6, there are still some small styling and layout issues, broken navigation, etc. (a) What is Kalahari.net’s browser support/compatibility and/or progressive enhancement strategy? (b) What is the IE6 percentage of web browsers?

    6. Where does the balance lie between providing a good user experience and the ultimate business goal of making a sale? ie. is a compromise or sacrifice ever necessary? (I could probably word this better but I think you get the point).

  3. 1. How extensive was the UI test?
    2. Is the site design going to be introduced gradually so the user can get accustom to new look and feel?
    3. And how is the website accessibility compared to the old one?

  4. Cannot access the website anymore, from any computer in my house. We have Windows 7.
    Server Error 500