Cards Against Humanity, an awesome website for horrible people
If you’re not familiar with Cards Against Humanity, think of it like Apples to Apples for very sick and twisted (grown-up) minds. They don’t call it “A Party Game for Horrible People” for nothing. While the game is definitely not for everyone (NSFW doesn’t even begin to cover it), the website selling the game is a fantastic example of doing everything right in ecommerce design. It’s fun, easy to use, and stands out from the huge volume of other online stores out there. Best of all, it fits the company’s brand perfectly.
A little history
Cards Against Humanity was originally funded via Kickstarter back in early 2011. The game was originally a free printable, with 40 exclusive Kickstarter-only cards that were only available to those who pledged. It was also available as a professionally-printed set. While the project’s original goal was just $4,000, they ended up raising over $15,000, and the rest is history. Since then, CAH has released multiple expansion packs, as well as special holiday-themed bonuses (including their “Holiday Bullshit” product in 2013, which offered 100,000 very special buyers 12 surprise gifts for 12 days in a row in December), and a recent “90s Nostalgia Pack”. CAH is often unavailable and sells out quickly when it is in stock (we’re talking 24 hours or less sometimes). But, you can always print out the free PDF edition of the game if you just can’t wait. The game’s designers claim it’ll cost you about $10 to print it yourself at home.
It’s all about tone
The entire Cards Against Humanity website is designed with a tone very similar to that of the game (though a bit more PG rated than many of the cards). The header of the site displays hilarious card combinations, getting visitors in the mood to play the game. The FAQ (titled “Your Dumb Questions”) at the bottom of the home page is filled with questions like “Is there an official Cards Against Humanity theme song?” (yes, it’s called “A Good Game of Cards”, written and recorded by The Doubleclicks and available for download) and “Will you sell Cards Against Humanity in my inferior country?” (the answer to that one is that they’re working on making it available outside of the US, UK, and Canada). This tone supports the tone of the game, and makes the website downright fun. When was the last time you said that about Amazon?
More about the homepage
The homepage for Cards Against Humanity is a study in simplicity and effectiveness. Below the header slideshow, which was already mentioned, is the link to either purchase the main game or download it to print yourself, followed by extra instructions and links for the printable deck. Below that is a slider that showcases additional products: the expansion packs, The Bigger, Blacker Box, and the special edition packs. It gives the basics for each product, along with a purchase link. There are also sections to sign up for the newsletter, information about additional CAH products (including Tabletop Deathmatch), and the FAQ section. One thing that’s really cool, though, is the form to anonymously suggest a card idea, or even several. It’s a great way that they help engage with their community.
The store itself
The store has a simple design, with the ability to add products to your cart by clicking the plus sign next to each one to change the quantity (click the minus sign to remove them or reduce the quantities). Your cart appears in a sticky footer at the bottom of your screen, with an indicator for how to get free shipping, as well as a prominent “Pay now” button once you have products in your cart. You can also review your order, add additional quantities of products from your cart, or even remove them all together. The description for each card pack is simple, yet fun. For example, the 90s Nostalgia Pack looks like this: Then there’s the description for The Bigger Black Box: How many online stores include something like “There might be other surprises in there. Who knows?” in a product description? Not many.
The checkout process
The checkout process is one of my favorite parts of the entire site. Why? Because it’s fun. Like, really fun. And funny. So you’ve got some products in your cart and you click on the “Pay Now” button. You’re taken to a page that first auto-detects your country and then tells you to “Tell us where to aim our mail catapults.” In other words, put in your address. It verifies your address and lets you confirm (and make changes) on the next screen. Once you confirm, it asks for your email address to send a receipt, and lets you opt into the newsletter to find out when they release new products. This is unlike a lot of other sites, which require you to opt out instead. Shipping is chosen on the following screen: But I think my favorite screen is the one where you enter you enter your credit card information: “We don’t need your billing address, this isn’t 1998.” Does it get any better than that?
Why is this site so awesome?
While there are tons of perfectly functional, easy to use, effective ecommerce sites out there, the Cards Against Humanity site really stands apart. But why? What is it about this site that makes it so great? The main thing is that the site just fits with the overall company and brand values. The tone of the site is perfectly matched to the tone of the game. Considering the cult-like following that tends to happen among Cards Against Humanity players, this kind of synergy works really well. People who play the game either love it or hate it, and those that love it are going to love the site, too. And of course for those players who just can’t get enough, there’s also the Cards Against Humanity Tumblr blog, with updates on the game, funny emails they get from users, and more. It’s a great fix for those days when players can’t actually play.
What we can learn
The main takeaway from the Cards Against Humanity site is that it pays to really think about who your target market is and what they’re going to enjoy in an online shopping experience. That’s where CAH has really excelled: in making their user experience fit what their customers are looking for. If you can look at your own brand (or your client’s) and your own company and figure out what’s going to click with your customers, then you can create a shopping experience as compelling as the Cards Against Humanity site, even if your product is completely different.