Argos has launched a new Gift Guide minisite that aims to provide struggling shoppers with inspiration for Christmas presents.
It sits separately from the retailer’s existing ecommerce site but is linked to from its homepage.
The guide is part of Argos’ plans to secure its share of the whopping amount spent online over the festive season, which is predicted to reach £20.4bn in the final two months of this year.
To find out whether Argos’ Gift Guide will help to capture some additional sales, I browsed the site for Christmas inspiration.
As a fairly digital savvy consumer I’m used to brands asking for my location and in general I’m happy to hand over the required information, but even I was slightly perturbed when the Gift Guide came back with my exact address.
I’m obviously aware that this information is easily obtainable and that’s how location-based systems work, but it’s still a bit strange to have your exact address flashed up on screen.
The site then asks you to connect through Facebook – no dice from this shopper I’m afraid – before giving you a brief tutorial. But that doesn’t prepare you for the bonkers UX that lies within…
For children of the 80s the design will be strongly reminiscent of the old game show Blockbusters. The layout is covered with brightly covered hexagons with each revealing a different product.
The idea is to give people inspiration for gift ideas, so the items are grouped together in categories such as ‘big gifts for little kids’, ‘for gym nuts’, ‘people you don’t really know’ and, my personal favourite, ‘it’s the thought that counts’.
Users can navigate around the various options by clicking and dragging the screen, making it appear like a never-ending array of categories and gift ideas.
You can then select an individual product or choose to delve into a bigger range of options by clicking the ‘explore’ tab. This leads to another page full of related product ideas.
The category pages can be refined slightly based on gender and price, but it’s still quite baffling trying to take in all the different suggestions, particularly as it’s difficult to identify some of the items as the images are so small.
It’s made more confusing by the fact that some of the products have pound signs attached to them, which doesn’t appear to make any difference to the price as far as I can tell.
But despite all these faults, I still quite enjoyed browsing around the screen clicking on different product ideas. I can’t imagine I will ever buy anything form the site, but it’s still good fun.
The product pages are equally unique, offering just one tiny image at the top of the screen and a product description in font so small it was barely readable on my screen.
The call-to-action is also poorly designed as the colour matches other elements on the screen and ‘add’ is an ambiguous phrase.
But on the plus side there are additional images lower down the screen, star ratings, and it tells you whether the item is available at your local store.
For people that don’t want to just browse around aimlessly there’s a ‘Gift Finder’ tool that narrows down the options based on the answers given to a series of A or B questions.
Users have to enter the name of the person they’re shopping for, then the tool displays two images and asks which one would make the recipient smile.
It all feels a bit arbitrary and often the choice of images doesn’t appear to make any sense, as in this example:
There’s also no fixed end point. I went through 21 rounds of questions before I gave up and clicked ‘Finish’. Do more rounds equal more accurate gift ideas? I very much doubt it.
The shopping basket design is also quite fun to use as you can create lists for different people then add items to them as you go along.
It gives you a total cost as well as subtotals for each person, so you know exactly how much you’re spending on people – assuming you plan to do all your shopping at Argos.
If you choose to take all your items to the checkout then the normal Argos ecommerce site opens in a new window to allow you to complete the purchase.
It should be noted that you can only save your shopping lists on the gift guide site if you login through Facebook.
The UX and navigation of the Argos Gift Guide is unique to say the least, and to be honest it suffers from a number of flaws such as the use of tiny images and fonts.
But it’s clearly designed to offer a quirky, fun experience as there’s no point in just replicating the existing ecommerce site, and it certainly achieves this aim.
The site’s weird UX is unlike anything else I can recall using and it’s quite enjoyable scrolling around looking at all the gift categories that accurately reflect the challenges that people face at Christmas (e.g. ‘gifts for people you don’t really know’.)
So even though it takes a while to get used to and I would never actually buy anything from this site, I did very much enjoy navigating around its bonkers Blockbusters-style design.