I’m not putting this under a cut because a fair number of people are interested in either bras or website usability, in addition to those who care about both.

Just now I was looking up some bras. (And by the way the reason I was looking them up was to find out what I’m getting from Breakout Bras, who is having a “grab bag” sale – four bras for $50. To give you an idea of quality, two of the four I’m getting are from Freya, and one is from Le Mystere and retails for $76. You tell them your size and can put in some comments if you have some parameters you’d prefer, but there are no guarantees so only do it if you’re willing to be a bit adventurous or have similarly-sized friends you can trade with. Band sizes range 28-46, cup sizes go from A-HH, though not all combinations of cup and band are available.)

Anyway, while looking up the bras I’m receiving, I found what may be the best bra site ever. I have no idea how they are to actually buy from – how service is, or prices or any of that. But if what you want is just information about bras, Herroom.com is really, really well done. They have a huge variety and they tell you how the bra fits, how it’s shaped (or how it shapes you, what it’s made of and what that means, and what the design features are. They have several pictures of each (and in some cases video) and they have images showing how each one would look under a variety of necklines.

From a functional, athletic and feminist perspective the fact that they have a category for maternity / nursing sports bras means a lot to me even though I don’t expect ever to need one.

Some years ago I used to test websites for a living, which got me thinking about not just features but usability. Seriously, not only will I use this site next time I need bra info, I’d include it if I were teaching a course on web design. They have almost every feature a bra wearer could want – the only thing I’d add is a side-view image under a thin shirt to show if the bra has bumps (lace or seams) that might show through a light top. (I like my underwear to make sure that neither its details nor mine show through clothing. Especially its.) There are fitter comments and user comments which include commenters’ age and height category and bra size (optional, one presumes!) as well as a star rating. There are really a lot of features on this webpage, but they are easy to find and easy to use, the controls you need most are up there where you can see them and the stuff you have to scroll down to see is more of the details you don’t need on every purchase (e.g. an explanation of what microfiber is and why it’s used in bras).

You might not agree with all the features they seem to consider desirable (e.g.whether you want a bra to give you a more “youthful” shape or if you care about nipple show-through) but like a good book review they not only tell you what they like about an item but give you the information to figure out whether you will like it. I may well be buying my next bra from these people just as a way to support that website.

WHile I’m on the topic of website usability, someone please remind me someday to write about why the knitting site Ravelry is so brilliant from a users’ point of view. Yes, the community there is great, but the community formed not only because there was a need – there are other knitting networking sites – but because the site is so awesome to use.