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Fashion retailer River Island relaunched its website last month, with a more accessible and usable version replacing the all Flash website which has been in place for the last few years.
This non-Flash site is long overdue, and can hardly fail to improve on the previous version. It was originally designed by EMC/Conchango, and project managed by Ideal Interface. I've been trying the new site out...
The homepage still doesn't fill the whole screen, leaving a blank grey space around the edges, River Island might have considered designing for higher screen resolutions.
It still looks good though, and follows a similar pattern to websites like Oasis and TopShop. I like the fact that you can click on the clothes worn by the models on the homepage to head straight to the product pages to see details of the clothes they are wearing.
Overall, it's a clear and simple homepage which is easy to scan and understand for visitors.
The navigational options are clear, with just four main menu options at the top of the page, which brings up this bare drop-down menu:
The sub-category pages are well laid out, with product images and price, making it easy to scan the list.
By mousing over the products, shoppers have a 'quick look' option which allows shoppers to click on products within search results and see product details and even add items to the basket without needing to go to the full product page.
River Island has got the product filtering spot on here, and provides plenty of options that allow shoppers to narrow their product selection; by colour, size, pattern, occasion and more. Very useful.
The product pages are good too; I like to see clear information on delivery, while the wording next to the returns link, 'returns are easy..in our shops, by post or courier', provides an excellent reassurance for shoppers.
The product pages are simple, yet still provide the information on size etc that customers will be looking for, though while the product zoom tool is OK, it would be good to see some clothes from other angles.
Video is used in some areas of the site, and perhaps River Island will be making more use of this in future. Certainly, it would do more to showcase and sell products on the site.
In contrast to the clumsy and usually irrelevant cross-selling options provided on the new H&M website, River Island has created looks around most products, and will suggest other clothes to make up the outfit.
Good shopping basket page, including a clear summary of delivery charges and payment options. Reassurance about returns policies, security, and links to FAQs are also provided on the page:
River Island doesn't make registration a barrier, giving first time shoppers a route through to the checkout and allowing them to add a password and register at the end of the process, which is how it should be done.
The checkout is also fully enclosed, leaving very few distractions for shoppers when they are entering address and payment details:
The checkout is a one-page process, forms are easy to complete, error messages are clear, and the process works smoothly.
Considering the accessibility issues with the old site, any new non-Flash version was always going to be an improvement. It has taken some time for River Island to ditch the old site, and I wonder how much that has cost the company in terms of lost sales.
Webcredible recently estimated that the disabled population in the UK has a combined spending power of £80bn, a market which until now has been excluded from shopping online with River Island.
However, River Island has created a very good site which follows most e-commerce best practice guidelines, and delivers a very good user experience.