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...

River Island 1


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:

River Island 2

The sub-category pages are well laid out, with product images and price, making it easy to scan the list. 

River Island 4

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. 

River Island 5

Product pages

The product pages are good too; I like to see clear information on delivery, while the wording next to the returns link, 'returns are our shops, by post or courier', provides an excellent reassurance for shoppers. 

River Island 10

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.

River island 9

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. 

River Island 7

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. 

Checkout process

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 11

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. 

River Island 12

The checkout is also fully enclosed, leaving very few distractions for shoppers when they are entering address and payment details:

River Island 13

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. 

Graham Charlton

Published 21 September, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (10)

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The site is hardly ground breaking - its look more or less like the rest of the fashion websites with a couple of frilly bits around the edges.

Does this really warrant a post? 

almost 8 years ago



I think it's the move away from Flash that makes this notable. For years River Island refused to budge from Flash and often took a pounding over its website, especially on the accessibility front. So this is a huge change for them.

It's not about it being ground-breaking design-wise, it's about it being more user-friendly and more accessible.

almost 8 years ago


John Hyde

They need to check the maps on their store locator - eg the Hull Princes Quay location.

Retail is detail.

almost 8 years ago



The site is an improvement on the last Flash site but the navigation drop down for the womens is so long it doesn't fit on my laptop very annoying, also makes me think it is unfinished in the way it is set out. Not bad but would prefer easier paths to features and best sellers fairly easy to navigate around but not as easy as other sites.

almost 8 years ago



The navigation doesnt even work in Safari and Chrome for mac. Disaster much.

almost 8 years ago



Lacks content throughout the site though.

almost 8 years ago



I am a flash developer, I am pleased that brands like River Island have ditched flash used for the entire site. Flash should only be used where it can add value to an existing html based site. When flash is used in that way it can complement and add another level of experience should the user want to "opt in" to that experience. This is a positive step for flash as it would no longer be seen in a negative light, yes there are times where a minisite would be useful, but not for an online fashion retailer like River Island.

almost 8 years ago



It is a imporvement, it is great to see them catching up with the rest of the fashion reatillers in terms of providing a good accessable and usable site. However it is flawed and has its issues.

The main menu is so bulbous it falls off the bottom of the screen if you have a small resolution or window (womens is so long for this style).

The design for me isn't impactful enough, when competing against others in the same sector they look the same - there is no USP with this site or wow-factor! (i sound like a client now, but their is no 'edge' or 'pop'!)

This is the sort of design which annoys me - one company does something, and everyone else follows suit - surely the fashion istustry is to make and set the trends... not just follow the herd. Make it new and different!

I wanted more apart from a move away from flash - I'm disappointed. 

almost 8 years ago



I love the look of the new web site and its easy to navigate around. Only problem is since the re-launch i've not been able to order anything because i don't ever have the option to select a size. Is there anything i could do to fix this??

over 7 years ago


kelly storey

well iv loffed in and cant get to checkout just goes round in circles tried disabling pop up blocker still nothing basket wont go to checkout using internet explorer so tried firefox and same there.! so theres an £80.00 sale lost for river island.!

over 6 years ago

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