Clothing retailer Boden recently relaunched its website, with a new look, and some new features, such as an 'outfit maker', and more product videos.
I've been taking a closer look at the new site, as well as watching some other users trying to browse and select items from Boden...
The homepage is, as one tester pointed out, bright, colourful and welcoming. The main nav bar is clear, as is the search box. Further down the page, links to Facebook groups and Twitter accounts are clearly displayed, as are email sign up options and a link to request a catalogue.
Overall, the homepage is well-laid out and easy to understand.
Site search & navigation
The main navigation bar is clear, and is simplified with just five main links. This is achieved thanks to the large drop-down menus, which enable Boden to present all the sub-categories at once, and makes it easier for users to skip quickly to the appropriate section.
There isn't much filtered navigation on the site as you browse through, mainly because the sub categories are so specific that there are few sections with more then ten products. Further sub-categories appear when there are more products, but there is no way to browse by colour, size etc:
There are more filters on the site search, though the searches I tried produced some patchy results. For example, a search for a 'blue suit' doesn't find any blue suits, despite the fact that they can indeed be found on the site.
The product pages can't be faulted for the level of detail provided for customers:
There is extensive information on stock availability, size guides, measurements, as well as user reviews, though delivery costs and information take some finding, which isn't ideal.
It could be argued that this results in a relatively cluttered page, and there is a lot to take in. This means that some details perhaps stand out less than they ought to, such as the price and the call to action.
The add to bag and checkout buttons are barely visible until you select a size, and even then, they don't leap off the page as they should.
What Boden has done is to create a table showing the various sizes and stock levels, so that when shoppers select a size, then the add to bag button becomes visible.
While I applaud the information on available stock levels, I do wonder if this forces users to do too much work. Though perhaps Boden's catalogue customers will find this kind of table familiar, new visitors to the site may not pick this up so easily.
One interesting feature is that, if you select a size but don't press the add to bag button before clicking away from the page, a reminder pops up:
I'd love to know how this works out for Boden; it may save a few lost sales, but perhaps clearer call to action buttons would remove the need for it in the first place.
Elsewhere on the page, product photos are good and taken from a variety of angles so, for instance, the tester could easily see that the suit he was looking at had two buttons and two vents.
Videos are also provided on some product pages, and can be played without leaving the page or opening a new browser window, which is much more convenient for shoppers:
Shopping basket / checkout process
The basket page is fine, with a summary of the order, any additional requirements such as hemming, though again the call to action buttons aren't made as clear as they could be.
At this point, many retailers choose to display some information about payment methods, as well as security reassurances, but neither are visible on this page.
Boden has made registration optional so you have the choice of logging in, creating an account, or going for the express checkout option:
This is a sensible move, which covers all bases and removes a potential obstacle to purchase for some customers. Also, forms are easy to fill in; a postcode look up tool means that shoppers don't have to do too much work to enter their address details:
The delivery charges are displayed during the checkout process, if you didn't manage to find them via the links in the footer. The trousers I added to my basket were subject to a three week wait for delivery, but the delivery options promises delivery within six days. This is something which could confuse and annoy some customers.
Overall though, the checkout process is well designed and easy to navigate. Form filling is easy, and the number of required fields has been kept to a minimum, while labels and error messages are clear.
The process has been fully enclosed so that the majority of links to other areas of the site have been removed. However, the effect of this enclosure is undermined if users click any of the links on the footer.
For example, users may want to click on the 'delivery & returns' link for info, but this takes users out of the checkout process altogether. If, like me, you have selected the express checkout option, this means going back in via the shopping basket page and re-entering address details.
The new Boden site is generally well-designed, and contains some very useful features, such as the outfit maker, which allows shoppers to create a look, though this only works on the women's range. The product videos and images are excellent, and the navigation on the site is intuitive and works well.
Thanks to whatusersdo.com, I have seen some videos of people using the new website, and these testers uncovered a couple of issues which I may have missed.
For example, the tester shown on the video below (male 55+) went to look at user reviews from the product page, selected the 'more reviews' link, and found himself at a dead end, with no obvious route back to the product page.
Testers were also asked to try the 'outfit maker' on the site, and found it confusing. Two testers struggled to find it at all, since the link is below the fold on the homepage, or via product pages for women's clothing.
The limits of the outfit maker should probably be made clearer, as this would have saved these testers some fruitless searching around the site for a male version.
The video below shows one tester given the task of browsing and selecting something to buy from the site, and encountering one or two problems with the product pages...