Launched last week, Sky Shopping is a price comparison site displaying products from retailers including M&S, John Lewis and Comet.
There are already plenty of shopping comparison sites out there, so is this one any different?
The screenshot above shows how the homepage is supposed to look, but on my laptop, for whatever reason, I get this on all browsers, which doesn't look good.
I think this is due to the banner ad blocking on IE7 / Vista, but perhaps the designers should have tested the site on various browsers and operating systems to avoid this.
Elsewhere, the homepage doesn't promote the products on offer above the fold. So much space is taken up by the box promoting competitions and voucher codes that the visitor has to scroll down to see any products.
The top navigation menu isn't great from a usability perspective either; the text headings are too small, and the drop down menus could be a lot better.
Below the fold, the site does start to promote some of its top sellers and featured products, and the price finder is potentially useful.
Searching for products
The top navigation menu is not especially usable, and some of the product category labels are misleading. For instance, instead of labels like 'input devices' and 'hardware', why not provide links to 'PCs/laptops', and 'accessories'.
Once you click on a category, it doesn't get much better. Some of the options and links can be confusing. The arrows below next to the product categories make you think that a drop down list would appear when you click it, but instead it opens a new page.
For a site with so many products on offer, the filtering options on Sky Shopping are woefully inadequate, and enough to frustrate most online shoppers.
Looking for computers, I can't find a way to show only PCs, not laptops, so I am left with over 9,000 products listed:
The lack of any filtering options is truly shocking, and makes the product search virtually useless. Even once you get down to a list of laptops and sort by price, you still have 4,000+ products listed, and would have to go through at least 40 pages of accessories which have also been place in the same category.
It doesn't get any better if you know what it is you are looking for. Search for a 'Sony Vaio' for instance, and you have a list of 1,600 results with no distinction betwen Vaio laptops and accessories.
Considering the amount of decent websites around that offer more sophiscated product search options and filters, the fact that Sky Shopping has not bothered to provide even the most basic methods to refine searches is baffling.
This makes searching for anything on the site a potentially long and frustrating task.
It doesn't even do much of a job at price comparison either; once you select a product, related products in a similar price range are displayed, but you don't have the option of looking at the products and prices from different retailers, which is what comparison sites are supposed to do.
Sky Shopping will get a fair amount of traffic, just for being promoted on the Sky.com portal, but will need a lot of improvements to get people to use it regularly and keep returning.