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Outdoor clothing retailer Fat Face recently relaunched its ecommerce site. Thanks to some interesting design features, I thought the site was worth reviewing. 

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....

Homepage

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. 

Navigation

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. 

Fat Face filtered navigation

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. 

Site search

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. 

Fat Face site search

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. 

Product pages

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. 

Checkout

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. 

Fat Face basket add

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. 

In summary

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. 

Graham Charlton

Published 15 October, 2013 by Graham Charlton

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

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Comments (15)

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AZ

Good review.

I did have a look and apart from feeling not very familiar with the homepage layout, the interface is quite intuitive and easy to use.

almost 3 years ago

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Aaron Buckley

Nice review Graham.

It's a real shame this design isn't responsive. There are some nice elements to the site that should work well for mobile. Seems odd that the company decided to go against that. Was there a reason to not go responsive?

I'm not massively keen on the 'Women's/Men's/Boy's/Girl's' icons but only because they don't seem to suit the styling of the site.

I'd be keen to know if the quick view for product whilst on the homepage works out for them. Do customers feel 'safer' adding a product to their basket from an actual product page?

All in all though, it's a nice new risky design. Much like Firebox.com. That's Firebox.com : )

almost 3 years ago

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Claire Stead

I'm really not a fan of the random products featured on the homepage - with mens and womens mixed together and no guidance as to why they are featured - new in / hot picks etc.

It looks like they could be toying with the idea of going responsive, as when I minimise my browser slightly, the homepage icons actually do re-arrange, but they don't adjust again once I continue to shrink the browser further.

I also think the recently viewed icon is a strange one - this is heavily based on returning customers, and would possibly be better placed appearing once a customer has signed in. For anyone visiting the site for the first time and wanting to explore by clicking this option, will just be greeted with a blank page.

I would be interested to know when the site went live as I can only assume it is probably still a work in progress, but will be interesting to see how it develops over the coming months - especially since on the homepage it is inviting visitors to leave their feedback on the new website.

almost 3 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Rather nasty usability issue - you're forced to click on the colour of the garment - even if it's only available in one colour anyway!

A nag popup tells you to 'Please select both colour and size'

FatFace being a Venda user, I wondered if the site change was due to a move away from the Venda platform: but judging from the fact the site is making public the Venda modules within a bunch of 'style guide' pages - I'm guessing it's still a Venda site:

http://www.fatface.com/style-guide/modules/page/vendamodules

(not sure FatFace had really intended to let those framework pages be world-visible?)

Overall - the nasty slowness, and 404s and all - this feels a like site release rushed out before Christmas, that has not been properly tested.

The next question - will be whether it can cope with coming traffic peaks - did load testing also get skipped in the rush?

almost 3 years ago

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Andrew Tickle

I love Face Face stuff BUT the new website is a disaster

From the 'Home Page' however when I choose Mens for to select specific items it consistently hangs

Not a happy bunny !

almost 3 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Hi Bernard

Is the FatFace site is something you've worked on personally?

Sorry if you feel the site has been 'slagged off' - that's not my intention nor I'm sure that of Graham, or any of us who chip in here.

eConsulltancy posts these site reviews on a regular basis; and say it as they see it, good or bad: so yes Graham did mention usability and speed problems: and yes me and others chipped in also pointed to problems that we spotted on the site.

There's potential learning benefit everyone gets from discussing good and bad things on a specific site.

Many companies see it as a useful free audit from knowledgeable commentators, when their site gets feedback here!

Deri

PS the comments sometimes get properly heated - I remember the Whistles review from a while back - scores of comments and many strong opinions!

almost 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Deri That Whistles review did get rather tetchy didn't it?

@Bernard We review sites regularly and try to say it as we see it. I think there are positives here, but also areas for improvement. We also often have no idea about which agency / vendor did what on the site, and it may well be better that way.

I'm all for debate, but I draw the line at personal comments and slagging off other people's businesses.

almost 3 years ago

Richard Fullerton

Richard Fullerton, New River Marketing

Not entirely a great review, with some serious and valid criticism of key features. I'd be disappointed with this if I was the brand owner.

almost 3 years ago

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Animation Institute

A great review! I am sure my web designing students will find it insightful. There are few hiccups in the Fat Face website but I think they have tried a few unconventional things that the students will learn from.

over 2 years ago

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jamescraft

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The maintenance of the website is also quite important. The back end work, which is termed as SEO should be covered properly.
The content should be updated regularly depending on the business concept.
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over 2 years ago

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Web designing company in Bhopal

Really nice. Interesting concept and it seems to work well. Thanks for the resource of ideas!

over 2 years ago

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igen

Great tutorial on how to create clean , simple and wonderful website designs with minimal layouts. Such tasks usually required great vision and good website designing skills in order to achieve the perfect layout!
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over 2 years ago

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onlinetraining expert, hr at www.onlinetrainingsexpert.com

The content should be updated regularly depending on the business concept.nice tutorial to understand the concept.thanks for your posting.

over 2 years ago

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onlinetraining expert, hr at www.onlinetrainingsexpert.com

The content should be updated regularly depending on the business concept.nice tutorial to understand the concept.thanks for your posting.

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over 2 years ago

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raju kumar, seo at santosh technology

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I most certainly will recommend this website!

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8 months ago

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