December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Modeled after its successful catalog, fits an online niche

(Page 2 of 2) attracted 313,000 visitors in April, up from 278,000 last September, according to the Internet usage measurement company MediaMetrix. Freedman attributes the site’s popularity to its functional layout and innovative techniques. “They have made it fun for people who are returning to the site, and easy for newbies,” she says. And clothing isn’t the only reason people come back. Under a link titled Fun Stuff, offers three games-Wintersport, Lifeguard and Golf-and Freedman calls the games a great incentive for browsers to return. “Look how many people play solitaire,” she says.

Like other upscale retailers, has found a natural audience online. Its demographics-the highly sought-after Generations X and Y-are among the most Internet-savvy and active online purchasers. “ has figured it out,” Freedman says. “They’ve listened to their customers and they’ve nailed it. Hats off to them.” Particularly if it’s a shredded twill crusher hat in khaki and wheat.

- Time to load home page: 5.3 seconds

- Time to move between pages: 10 seconds

- Total clicks to merchandise: 1

- Notable site features: Fast, very easy to navigate. Weekly sales and clearance items can provide great bargains.

- Ease of contacting company: OK. Under the Help button is a list of FAQs, including how to contact J.Crew. Brings up 800 number as well as e-mail and snail mail address.

- Ease of ordering and paying for merchandise: Good-basically two steps after you choose size and color.

- Are privacy/payment policies clearly posted and explained: Not listed on home page, but as soon as you get to checkout, assures you that “your info is sent only to and can’t be decoded.” Also offers fax, phone and mail order options for consumers who don’t want to give information online.

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