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A few months ago, I looked at Halfords' e-commerce site from a user experience perspective, and found it lacking in some areas.

A bit of tweaking has happened since, so it's only fair to comment on the improvements that have been made...


Halfords has done away with the overpowering orange colour scheme and added more white space, which makes the site more appealing to look at, as well as easier to scan to find the relevant links.

Halfords homepage

The page also makes good use of space to promote its categories and latest offers, as well as providing links to advice about more products like sat nav systems and child car seats.

A larger, clearer site search box has been provided, which is another good improvement. According to stats, 30% of web shoppers will use this tool, while others will revert to searching if they have failed to find what they want.

I was also impressed with the clear links to customer services, details about delivery charges and other terms and conditions, displayed at the top of each page on the site.

Navigation / product categories

I found the navigation confusing last time, especially the labeling of product categories. Previously, clicking on the bikes section gave me options such as 'bike clearance' or 'bike deals'.

Now the labeling is much clearer; categories like 'adult bikes' and 'kids bikes' are what shoppers will be looking for, while the sub-categories now also make more sense.

Halfords product categories

To make it easier, users now have more filtering options, and can search by brand, frame size, price range and more. A big improvement.

Product pages

The product pages were OK last time, and contained all the price and delivery information shoppers would expect, but Halfords has managed to add more useful features this time.

Product photos are better and more technical information has been added, while user reviews have also been added to the page, which is always a good idea to help customers decide on a purchase, as well as increasing trust in the website and products.

Another useful innovation is this Q&A section, which gives customers a chance to ask specific questions about a product, which are answered by other users. This is a good idea, though the answers would carry more weight if answered or at least checked and approved by Halfords staff.

Halford product pages Q&A


The site is a big improvement on what came before, but there are still a few niggles.

The checkout process remains unenclosed; the navigation bar is visible throughout so customers could easily skip out of the process. Removing links to other areas of the site should focus the customer's mind on the purchase and reduce checkout abandonment rates.

Halfords checkout

Also, Halfords, though it has logos trumpeting the fact that it was a top ten Hitwise site in April, doesn't provide any third party verification logos to reassure customers about server security to ensure customers that they can shop safely on the site.

Related research:
Usability and User Experience Report 2007
Online Shopping and Credit Crunch Survey Report

Related articles:
Ten ways to improve online checkouts
Establishing trust in the buying process 

Graham Charlton

Published 13 October, 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 (8)

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It's interesting that they have a Q&A section. As I started reading through your review the first thing that popped into my head was that this kind of site is ripe for the live support facilities that were in fashion a few years ago before fading away. Buying a bike is quite a personal thing and with the jargon surrounding a bike purchase can be quite intimidating for the uninitiated.

The Q&A feature goes some way to resolving that, but if as you say the feature isn't really manned by Halfords staff it doesn't really do as much as it could. A bit more hand holding could go a long way, not just for initial purchases but for spare parts and other features too. After all, Halfords is a cycle shop for the casual rider so giving them as much help as possible would see some handsome dividends I think.

about 8 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Adi,

Yes, it's an interesting feature, and well suited to technical product questions. For me though, I would be reluctant to take the word of a random contributer before spending a large amount on a mountain bike.

Perhaps some user profiling and rating of their answers may improve the reliability of the service but I do think that, if Halfords moderates the answers for bad language etc anyway, it should also do some fact checking and say so if it does.

about 8 years ago


Nathan J Pledger

Removing the navigation during the checkout is surely a means to make the purchase more challenging?

Everyone points to Amazon as a fine example of e-Commerce and it is, but the one thing that winds me up about Amazon is that you get to a certain point in your checkout and all links to your products disappear, so you can't just "nip out" and check something before you press "Buy". Instead, you have to "back out" (I picture myself annoying a lot of disgruntled shoppers behind me as I push past them), fidn the product and re-login.

As the link you provide for checkout abandonment mentions product availability, price and "hidden delivery charges" as being reasons to drop out of a checkout, surely giving the user an easy option of adding/removing products or changing their selection using the navigation structure they already know their way around would be beneficial?

about 8 years ago



Hi Graham,

I think the key, as you say, is the reliability of the source. One of the things I love about going to a local bike shop (ie a non chain store) is that they are often staffed by people with a real love of cycling. So when you talk with them they have excellent knowledge of bikes and can help you determine what is best for you.

If that could be replicated on the web that would be great, but of course it does require resources to ensure staffing levels are suitable. Few sites have really devoted the resources to this kind of usability, hence perhaps why community support has been so popular because it is essentially a cheap way of providing what you as a company should be providing. I don't want to poo poo user communities because they're fantastic resources, but I don't think they should be used in place of company support but rather in addition to it.

If both were provided the site would then have some expert knowledge from Halfords plus the impartiality that is so crucial from customer reviews and feedback.

about 8 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Nathan,

I think product availability, price and delivery charges are more likely to be reasons for customers abandoning the shopping cart rather than the checkout process.

A site should make this, as well as other product information available well before the checkout process is enclosed to avoid the need to nip out and check something.

Sites could also make it easier to nip back and forth through the process to correct and check details without losing the address and payment information which has already been added.

about 8 years ago



Surely checkout enclosure is for the benefit of the site rather than the user? I thought the review was from the perspective of user experience, and yet to recommend that the checkout be enclosed brings no benefit to anyone other that the retailer.

My opinion is that checkout enclosure is actually a compromise of user experience in deference to the retailer's conversion rates.

almost 8 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@FDM: Good point, and yes, you're right. I can't see that enclosing a checkout does improve the user experience.

The headline we used related to improving e-commerce, which I'm sure is the case for Halfords having done this, but point taken.

almost 8 years ago


lawrence shaw, Marketing at Sitemorse Ltd

presume this means the online presence is important ? - could we suggest the issues around quality and compliance (that Salmon deny exist....) are sorted out, may help to improve usability, performance and conversions.

example at;


about 7 years ago

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