Last week Asda launched a new photo website claiming that it is “the easiest and most convenient to use in the United Kingdom.”

It sells a range of personalised products including canvases, pet beds, mugs and stationary.

Customers can upload images directly from their computer or social networks. So now any photos you’ve uploaded to Facebook, Picasa, Instagram or Twitter can be turned into a personalised dog’s bed.

Never one to turn down a challenge, I thought it would be interesting to test Asda’s claim that it’s the UK’s most user-friendly photo site and see if there were any glaring UX errors.

To find out, I tried to buy a canvas print of one of my Instagram photos…

Problem one

The homepage has a fairly standard layout, with canvases housed within the ‘Wall Art’ category on the toolbar at the top. It gives you a number of sizes to choose from, ranging from 8” x 8” up to 20” x 30”.

All very easy so far, however once you select the size you want it starts to become more complicated.

This is the screen you’re presented with:

asda photo

The page isn’t particularly attractive and it’s not immediately obvious how to upload a photo from Instagram.

The small ‘Upload Photos’ call-to-action in the bottom right is the obvious choice, but that only applies to images saved on your computer.

Instead you need to click on the tiny ‘Find Photos’ CTA, which has a barely recognisable Facebook logo on it and three others that I can’t make out.

Problem two

Once you click on the ‘Find Photos’ button the next stage is much easier to decipher. Massive calls to action (CTAs) appear for each different social network making it easy for the user to navigate to the next stage.

This is when another UX problem occurs. The login page for Instagram opens in a new tab, which then closes automatically once you’ve entered in your username and password.

My Instagram photos then loaded in the original tab. However, when the login tab closed I was left looking at my Gmail account rather than Asda’s photo site.

While this is a minor issue, I doubt all Asda customers will notice that they have to click back to the previous tab, and at the very least it will cause some frustration.

Problem three

Selecting the photos you want to put on the canvas is easy as the user’s Instagram photos are presented as large thumbnails.

But having selected the one I wanted, I was genuinely stuck as to what I was supposed to do next.

The site navigates you back to this page again, except this time the photo you’ve picked appears as a tiny thumbnail on the right-hand side.

But what do you do next? Choose a border or some text? I’ve no idea what the picture will look like on the canvas yet.

Clicking on the different ‘Designs’ (of which the options are portrait or landscape) still doesn’t make my image appear.

Only when you hover the mouse over the tiny thumbnail images does it tell you that you need to ‘click and drag this image to the slot in the design where you want it to appear’.

Clearly when ordering a canvas print there’s only one ‘slot’ where you want the image to appear, so the instructions could do with being rewritten.

Or alternatively, my chosen image should just automatically appear on the canvas.

Problem four

Asda allows customers to further personalise the canvas by adding some text to the image. This is also more difficult than it should be.

The options for font, text size, colour and style appear on the left of the screen, but the tiny ‘Add Text’ CTA that allows you draw a text box is on the right of the screen.

This is another design flaw as it’s not immediately clear how to create a text field and requires you to search round the screen for what to do next.

Why not just put the ‘Add Text’ button next to the other options?

Problem five

Once you’re finally happy with the canvas, you need to click ‘Save’ before being routed to the checkout.

But when entering your customer details there is no indication that any of the fields are compulsory, yet if you don’t fill them in a ‘Warning!’ message appears.

This is quite frustrating for customers, particularly as there was no prior instruction that these fields are compulsory.

Also, there’s no postcode lookup tool, no assurances that this is a secure checkout and the delivery cost of £1.50 isn’t added until the penultimate screen.

However, perhaps the most poorly designed aspect of the checkout are the payment options.

This CTA says ‘Place your order’, but the customer hasn’t entered in any payment details yet. This is despite the fact that it clearly says ‘Payment Options’ on this page.

Instead, once you have chosen to ‘Place your order’ the next screen requires you to add in your card details. This is another small point, but one that will undoubtedly confuse some customers.

Conclusion

Far from creating “the easiest and most convenient” photo website in the UK, Asda has committed some fairly basic UX errors.

At few points in the purchase journey does Asda signpost what the next step is, and instead the customer has to spend several moments working out what to do.

CTAs are generally small and hidden out of the way, whereas they should be big and bright so it is obvious that the customer needs to click them.

The most obvious UX problem is failing to automatically load the selected image onto the canvas (Problem three).

There was no indication that I needed to click and drag the thumbnail onto the canvas, and why should I have to anyway? I was trying to buy a canvas print, so surely the logical thing to do is to automatically load the selected image onto the canvas?

The checkout issues are also fairly basic, which is surprising as the payment process on Asda’s grocery and Direct websites uses a different design that is far more user-friendly.

Overall, if this is the easiest photo website currently available, then the industry has a long way to go before it gives customers a decent user experience.