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I've been looking for a new laptop lately and have been doing my research online at a number of sites.

Two of the best known are PC World and Comet, so how do they measure up?

There are a lot of laptops on the market, so shoppers need to be provided with the tools and information to help them to make a choice.

So how do the two websites compare for a search for laptops?

Comet - after selecting 'laptops' from the homepage, this is the page I get on the site:

Comet - laptop search

The entire range of laptops is displayed and sorted according to lowest price first. Working through this list would be a daunting task, as there are 82 laptops on display.

You don't have to trawl through the entire range though, as Comet had provided some filtering options to help users narrow down their search:

Comet feature filtering options

Users can look for laptops according to brand, price range, RAM, screen size, and so on. There are eight filtering options in total, which covers most features people are looking for when buying a laptop.

These feature filtering options make it so much easier to browse through a site, and eliminate irrelevant products. In addition, Comet has given the amount of products which match each filtering option, to help customers avoiding searches with no results.

All this means that, if I am looking for a high performance laptop, I can detail the memory size, processor speed etc, all of which helps narrow my options and eventually make a decision.

PC World - this is the start page for a laptop search on PC World:

PC World laptop search

Now, PC World does give me a few options to narrow my search, but not the same range as Comet. I can choose from small or large screen, business laptops, accessories, and that's about it.

Having chosen one of these options, I still have 28 laptops to go through but, unlike Comet, my filtering options are limited:

PC World filtering options

I can narrow my search by brand and price, and that's it. This means that, if I want to look at laptops according to processor speed or memory capacity, I'm forced to trawl through the list looking at each laptop in turn.

Product pages

Search / filtering issues aside, both sites provide the kind of technical information and product pictures that users would need to help them decide on the best product.

Comet's product pages have the edge here though, as the information is laid out more clearly, while useful links to further technical information have been provided  on the right hand side of the page.

It has also started to display product reviews, provided by Reevoo. User reviews are extremely useful, especially for high value products like laptops.

Coment user reviews

Users are coming to expect reviews on e-commerce sites, and many will hunt out product reviews on other sites if an etailer doesn't already provide them.

Conclusion

Of the two sites, Comet was by far the most useful, and mainly due to the filtering options provided for my laptop search, which makes it so easy to narrow down the search and avoid users having to browse through too many products.

PC World, and a number of other sites I came across would do well to adopt these kind of filtering options.

This is the beauty of using feature filtering - not only does it help users browse and find the products they are looking for more quickly, but the gradual narrowing of options can also help funnel users towards a purchase decision.

Related research:
Online Retail User Experience Benchmarks

Related stories:
Feature filtering - what is it and why do you need it?
10 things Tesco can do better online

Graham Charlton

Published 30 April, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

Paul Rouke

Paul Rouke, Founder & CEO at PRWDSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Graham,

Another interesting and concise site comparison. Your experiences struck a cord with me, going back to August last year when I was shopping for a new digital camera.

As with laptops there are alot of digital cameras on the market, and features and specifications are key aspects for me in making a buying decision. The 2 main sites I experienced were Kodak and Fujifilm, and just like yourself, 1 site provided great multi-faceted navigation and the other provided more traditional and less user centered filtering options.

Following the comparison going live the head of customer experience at Kodak responded to my post, detailing how they are addressing their current lack of feature filtering, but having just looked on the UK site the same lengthy product list pages exist.

For reference the user experience comparison that I produced can be found on usability blog www.paulrouke.co.uk - just search for Kodak or Fujifilm and you will see it.

Paul

over 8 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the comments. I think feature filtering makes a huge difference, especially with complex products like laptops and digital cameras. It amazes me that more e-commerce sites don't adopt it, as the benefits for users seem so obvious.

Graham

over 8 years ago

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