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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:

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.

David Moth

Published 17 October, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1690 more posts from this author

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Ben Goodwin, Email marketing manager at Personal

As someone working in the online print business. I can safely say this is a user interface stuck in the early 2000s. It's not intuitive at all!

about 4 years ago

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ASDA Photo (on behalf of)

Thanks very much for taking the time to look at the 'Beta' of the new photo site - ASDA genuinely value customer feedback and have acted on your feedback of yesterday accordingly.

You might be interested to know that we are the first major photo site to implement the 'Instagram' import feature you used - this feature was only released in Beta on Monday of this week so it's great to have the feedback so quickly.

The full release version of the website is due in a few weeks and improves on many of the points you mention, but we have passed on your suggestions to the development team and have arranged for there to be an interim software update tonight also.

Please visit us later tonight to see some recent changes, or at the end of the month to see the full release version.

We hope you enjoy your canvas, and appreciate your feedback.

ASDA Photo Team

about 4 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@Asda, thanks for your comment. I hope my suggestions prove useful and I'll be sure to check back on the site in the next few weeks!

about 4 years ago

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Rachel Kelly

As someone who uses Asda to print my photographs for display and sale, I have to say that I do not like this new website. I much prefer the old website where I could create my own albums and pick and choose images from each to print at any time. I also miss the best colour to black and white conversion tool I have so far encountered-where has their 'autofix' option gone when you alter your image to black and white?

I have to say, the website was much more user friendly before they updated it and made all the changes.

about 4 years ago

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Jason Haigh

I have to agree with Rachel. The old website was great - easy to create albums and print the appropriate photographs. Appears no facility to create albums under the new website which is a huge shame. Having albums was the main incentive to use Asda, without this facility, people like myself will now decide to shop around for the best deals which ultimately may lose Asda custom.

about 4 years ago

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Grimsby

I agree with these comments I do not like the new website and i much prefered the old wedsite as it was very easy to do prints, I tryed doing 3 photos,which took me ages to do,and also my photos had gone over the red lines ???? thought will see how they print out and then went to check out and you have to spend a minimum of £2 before you can order now ,where before I used to do a couple of photos then print, at a cost of 50p . It was great doing photos on line with you asda as it was so easy to use, but not now what have you done, well asda your new site Is rubbish and i will be going elsewhere so you have lost me as a customer.

about 4 years ago

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Kath Finney

Shockingly annoying new site and still doesn't seem to have improved as promised above. Shame on you Asda, you should never have launched a half-finished site. In the digital world, you need to act on negative feedback FAST or risk losing your customers.

Glaringly obvious oversights from my humble user perspective. Unsure how I can delete a photo from an album or indeed an entire album no longer required. That's basics. You may well have the functionality, but without making it clear how I can take advantage of it, you're doing nothing but p1ssing me off.

The only reason I haven't completely migrated to Photobox is because I can't figure out how to close my account on this stupid site! At face value this just seems like a cheap shot at a new gimmick that really hasn't worked. Not happy.

over 3 years ago

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