These features include persistent filtered navigation, a novel idea, and light boxes for product pages.
So will these features work for Fat Face? Let's take a closer look....
Check out the left hand navigation, that's unusual these days, while placing the search box on the left is also pretty unorthodox.
This is not to say Fat Face is wrong here, the retailer's own stats and tests can provide the answer, but there is sometimes something to be said for following established patterns of navigation.
Elsewhere on the homepage, the message on the hero shot cuts off just above the fold (on a 15 inch laptop screen), while the prominence given to the 'recently viewed' link (at the top right where you might expect to see the search box) is also unusual.
It's a nice looking page though, and one that seems designed to cut the crap and get customers straight into searching for products.
This is pretty interesting. While most ecommerce sites opt for top nav, Fat Face has gone for the left hand side.
However, when you start using the filters provided this make sense, as the left hand placement allows space for the filtering options to expand.
There are plenty of filtering options, and good ones too, though adding and removing options does produce a noticeable delay while the page reloads, making it a less than smooth experience.
There's also a noticeable delay as you scroll down lists of products, which is another annoyance. (Try scrolling down in a large category to see whatI mean).
That said, the theory behind the filtered navigation is sound. The site takes users straight into the process of product search/research, and by filtering as they go, they are reducing the number of products for consideration, easing them towards a decision.
The filters are good, and I like the option of using colour as a filter. There are a couple of possible improvements though:
- Show the number of products matching the filter options. Showing the number of products for each feature that can be selected allows them to avoid filters that return none or too few results, while it also shows that they are making progress towards a purchase.
- Show the selected features in a breadcrumb trail. This allows users to instantly see the selected filters and remove them easily.
Another interesting feature here is the option to change the display mode. Nothing unusual about that, but Fat Face has given it more prominence than most sites.
You can view products in a grid, as above, with more options and information as below, or as a stream with larger images so you can scroll down.
This is a great idea, though the method of changing view options is a little clunky. It looks like a slider, but it's easier to change by clicking instead.
The placement of the search box goes against convention, but how well does the site search function work?
Not so well, based on a few test searches. For example, a search for 'blue gilet' draws a blank, despite the fact that Fat Face does stock such a product (you can see it on the screenshot above).
Similar searches for colour plus product also return no results.
There also appears to be a bug of some sort, as you cannot search again from the 'no results' page. You need to return to the homepage before trying again.
When you do find search results, the page works well, as all the filtering options are available.
The product pages pop up in light boxes, rather than on a new page. Initially I did wonder whether this was some sort of SEO disaster, but there are also product pages on their own URL.
However, there are a lot of 404 pages on this site, perhaps indicating that the relaunch is still a work in progress.
Here's an example of what I mean. Search on Google for 'Fat Face dress', and this is the set of results you see:
Of the three links there, the second and third take you to 404 pages, and it's not a good one either.
In fact, the site has loads of 404s. To see what I mean, search for site:fatface.com and try clicking a few links. The vast majority are dead links.
I asked Andrew Girdwood, Media Innovations Director at LBi about this:
I don’t think this is an SEO disaster. I think Fatface are trying something different and I would assume SEO wasn’t on the forefront of their mind. Launching the site before the Christmas shopping season probably was!
My biggest concern on the lightbox approach was that people wouldn’t be able to share products that they wanted to talk about. That would mean no Pinterest cover, no Christmas shopping hints, no Twitter love as well as no individual items in search. That’s not the case though. Fat Face has “Share URLs”. For example; http://www.fatface.com/jeans/clean-rinse-jeggings/invt/46029.
Those product pages have Open Graph meta tags so Fat Face is thinking about how individual pages present in Facebook and Google+.
SEO aside, the product pages look good, with clear information on size, delivery, returns and so on. However, there is only one image for the products I viewed, so Fat Face could improve conversions with multiple image views, and perhaps video.
I wrote a post about the 'basket add' on ecommerce sites recently, i.e. how sites indicate to shoppers that products have been selected and where they point users after this.
Fat Face takes customers straight to the basket page, thus forcing the customer to decide between continuing to shop and heading to checkout, with the latter a more prominent call to action.
This is a good approach, and one that has worked well for other sites, though the addition of cross-selling options would be one to test.
No forced registration here, instead Fat Face presents a range of options: guest checkout, creating a new account, or existing customer login:
The checkout is designed well, forms are well presented, and the process has been enclosed to ensure that shoppers aren't distracted by navigational links.
Overall, I like the new Fat Face site. It looks good and the idea of prominent filtered navigation is a good one.
I don't have access to Fat Face's analytics, but perhaps this is a reaction to the shopping patterns of its customers. In theory, it should speed up the product research and selection process, which can only be good for conversions.
There are a few rough edges though, such as noticeable delays when scrolling through results, adding and removing filters and so on.
though perhaps this just a case of teething troubles, and Fat Face being keen to launch the new site in time for Christmas, but it's something to fix in the coming months.