Habitat’s traffic has increased by 35% in the past year, and 50% of its customers use mobile and tablet devices to make purchases. 

As a result, Habitat decided to revamp its site with a mobile audience in mind

I thought I would have a dig around the new site to see how well it performs. 

In Habitat’s own words, the new website brings the following improvements: 

  • Refined user experience with easier navigation and multi-divide image browsing.
  • Easier checkout process.
  • Enhanced search function.
  • Improved rich editorial content.

In this post I’m going to focus primarily on those four factors, specifically from the point of view of a mobile user. 

The user experience

Mobile UX is extremely important when it comes to maximising revenue in online retail. Let's see how Habitat's mobile site fares. 

Homepage

The first thing to note here is the slightly annoying pop-up that seems to instantly appear upon entering the homepage. 

habitat mobile site ux  habitat site review

To me, pop-ups are nothing more than a nuisance. I can’t remember ever engaging with one in any way other than clicking the cross, but perhaps that’s just me. 

The homepage is heavily image-based and quite clearly laid out. No complaints there considering the type of products Habitat sells. 

Navigation

As for the navigation menu, it is easily accessible from the homepage and easy to use once you go into it. 

habitat site navigation

The above menu is, however, missing some key elements that could improve the user experience further. 

One of those is the inclusion of a link to frequently asked questions or something similar: information a customer might be looking for. 

The other thing lacking is a contact telephone number within the menu. This should ideally be displayed somewhere near the top of the page. 

On this site you have to scroll all the way down to the bottom to find links to useful information such as contact details and store locations. Not ideal for somebody looking for quick and easy answers. 

habitat site review

The functionality of the menu is actually pretty good. When you click on a parent category a second menu replaces the first with further sub-categories.

Clicking those sub-categories opens up a drop-down menu where you can select a specific range.

habitat mobile site reviewhabitat mobile site review

Once you click through to a specific range it’s easy to sort the products. 

You can filter them by a number of criteria such as colour or collection, or by price using the neat little slider tool pictured on the left below.

Or you can sort items by recommendations, name or price using the selection wheel shown in the right hand image. 

habitat mobile site reviewhabitat mobile site review

As for the product listings themselves, I like the simplicity: a clear image, the product name and the price, surrounded by a subtle black line that jumps to the next product as you scroll.

habitat mobile site review

For some sites I might have suggested that a small description could be added in, but in this case I think the quality of the imagery speaks for itself.

It’s not like we’re dealing with technical products here.  

Product pages

I have to say the product pages are pretty damn good. With furniture it’s largely about how things look, so Habitat has quite rightly put a strong focus on imagery. 

The page includes several different standalone product images from every angle you can imagine, along with multiple lifestyle images where you can see the product in its natural environment. 

habitat mobile site product pages

You can tap to expand one of the product images and then double tap within that screen to zoom in further.

As you can see below, the detail and quality of the zoomed-in images is fantastic. 

habitat mobile site reviewhabitat mobile site review

There are also videos on the product page showing the product range in action, including commentary from an expert at Habitat. 

This is a clever approach because it caters for various different types of people. Some like reading about a product while others would rather hear somebody talking about it.

Providing various options enables Habitat to please the maximum amount of customers. 

Below the product there is a clear summary, including delivery time, and a big call-to-action button that you can’t miss.

It's also worth mentioning at this point that you can tap that upward arrow in the bottom right at any time and be sent back to the top of the screen, which is a nice touch.

habitat mobile site review  habitat mobile site review

You can scroll down the page further for written description, which is split into four categories. 

It’s worth noting the clearly displayed delivery cost information. A big positive. 

The checkout process

When you click on your basket the summary page contains everything it should. Most importantly the total cost, including delivery, is included at this stage. 

There are also two clear CTAs, whether you want to go to your bag or continue shopping. 

habitat mobile site review

When you click ‘go to my bag’ you’re taken to a full summary page with much of the same information, although at this stage Habitat attempts to cross-sell you other products.

This could actually be useful to the customer if there was something they genuinely missed. 

habitat mobile site checkout experience

Again there are clear CTAs here, with the ‘proceed to checkout’ being the most prominent button. 

The next page contains further positives: a customer services phone number clearly displayed at the top of the screen, the reassuring ‘secure’ symbol and ‘secure checkout’ wording. 

habitat mobile site review

You do have to provide an email address in order to get to the actual checkout, but thankfully Habitat does not force you to register in order to continue with your purchase. 

Forced account creation usually results in instant basket abandonment for me, unless your site happens to be literally the only place on the internet I can get that product, which is extremely unlikely. 

Once the email address is provided, I can see from the handy little progress indicator here that there are just three stages to making a purchase. This results in a sigh of relief from me and a reduced likelihood that I’ll get bored and give up. 

The forms themselves are short and easy to use, again making use of those scrolling selection wheels. 

habitat mobile site progress indicator   habitat mobile site forms

And the predictive address selection deserves a special mention. Just start typing a post code and get a gradually more accurate selection of addressed to choose from.

Pick the right one and the rest of the form fills out with one touch. 

habitat mobile site predictive address function

I’ve said in the past that effective UX is designed for lazy people, and this address feature certainly ticks that box. I don’t want to type in my whole address, or even postcode, when your techies can do it for me.  

You can set up an account at this point by literally just providing a password, meaning your details will be saved for next time. 

The way this is laid out – after you’ve already input your delivery details – means most people would probably just do it as it requires almost no additional effort. 

The payment screen provides options for both credit/debit card or Paypal, the latter of which will redirect you to the Paypal site.

Making it easy for people to use Paypal is important from a checkout UX point of view. 

habitat mobile site sign-up process   habitat mobile site payment

The call to action in the right hand picture is another positive. The words ‘review order’ leave no ambiguity as to whether you’ll be charged by clicking, thus increasing customer confidence in pressing ahead. 

habitat mobile site review   habitat mobile site review

The final screen in the checkout process gives a very clear and detailed summary of your order, including billing and delivery details, delivery times, total cost, and anything else you would want to know. 

The payment call to action is clear and unambiguous, so no complaints there either. 

habitat mobile site checkout

The search function

The search bar is displayed nice and clearly on the site, so plus points there. 

There is also a predictive search function, which in my view is essential for ecommerce sites these days. I’m a very lazy man, I’ll give you that. But so are millions of other internet users.  

Search results were always relevant to the query, which isn't something you can always rely on from ecommerce sites.

habitat mobile site search function   habitat mobile site search results 

The editorial content

Now let’s look at the onsite content.

One thing I will say is that the content could have been more easily accessible from the mobile home page. Perhaps the blog should have been included in the main navigation menu. 

In fact, there is no directly visible link to the blog. You have to expand the ‘About Habitat’ menu at the very bottom of the page in order to see it. 

Granted this is more of a UX issue, but given that Habitat is lauding the quality of its content, why not give it the attention it deserves?

As for the blog page itself, it’s quite visually pleasing, with large images that fill the entire width of the screen and nice clear text for headings and descriptions. 

habitat mobile site blog link visibility   habitat mobile site blog landing page

Within the blog posts, however, the story is sadly not such a happy one. 

Let’s start with the below headline: ‘Habitat fitted kitchens’, along with the completely impartial subheading of, ‘A new kitchen will change your life, so get yours from Habitat’.

Then, just three paragraphs in, we see the line, ‘Maybe you didn’t realise Habitat do fitted kitchens’, followed shortly by, ‘Our team is there to ensure your new kitchen blah blah blah blah blah’.

habitat mobile site blog contenthabitat mobile site blog content

I can’t help feel that Habitat has completely missed the point of creating editorial content for a brand.

It’s not about producing a sales letter in a different format, it’s about giving your customers useful information that is relevant to your industry. 

Yes, editorial content can, and should, increase sales. But it has to be done right. Brazen sales pitches simply don’t work in this format. 

The blog formatting also leaves much to be desired. The paragraphs are long and there are no subheadings to break up the post. 

That said, the writing is not bad. The language is clean and simple and fairly easy to read. Plus there is plenty of eye-catching imagery. 

Perhaps I’m just picking on this one post (although it is certainly not the only one of its kind). Habitat does have stuff like recipe content, which is certainly moving in the right direction.

But then there's a post that offers a brief history of some stool that Habitat sells. Yes, it is kind of interesting I suppose, if you’re interested in that type of thing.

But how does it actually help the target audience?

habitat mobile site blog content recipes  habitat mobile site blog content

Conclusion: brilliant UX, but blog content needs work

The editorial content on Habitat’s site is undeniably poor, but clearly it has skilled copywriters so it is more a case of coming up with a better strategy and improved formatting. 

Having said that, perhaps content is something it’s working on, having concentrated more of its efforts on improving the user experience, which, to be fair, is excellent. 

I suppose UX is arguably the most important aspect of an ecommerce site, so overall I would still rate the new Habitat site in a positive way. 

It’s just a shame to have an otherwise pretty decent ecommerce site let down by something that could be quite easily improved. 

Jack Simpson

Published 6 January, 2016 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (7)

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Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Re: The first thing to note here is the slightly annoying pop-up that seems to instantly appear upon entering the homepage.

I've never understood why brands make this mistake. Pop-overs can be very effective, but you have to leave enough time for visitors to find out about your site - otherwise they are very likely to just bounce and try one of your competitors.
https://www.freshrelevance.com/blog/using-pop-overs-to-add-to-the-customer-experience

over 1 year ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Deputy Editor at EconsultancyStaff

Maybe it's good the blog is hidden? I do find blogs in ecommerce are often hidden away, put there in the hope of search benefit but never being read.

Having said that, there is an 'inspiration' section of the Habitat website where you can nosey around people's homes. I quite like that (voyeuristic) and it doesn't come with a hard sell.

over 1 year ago

Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson, Writer at Econsultancy, Centaur Marketing

@Ben - True. I guess I was (perhaps unfairly) picking on the blog content, but actually some of the image-based stuff on the site is pretty cool.

over 1 year ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Deputy Editor at EconsultancyStaff

I don't think you were unfair, that blog content takes time to produce, but I'd wager the analytics doesn't make good viewing.

over 1 year ago

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Jackie Bullock, Head of Ecommerce, Habitat at ArgosEnterprise

@Jack – good to get your feedback and glad you found our new site easy to shop! One of our launch objectives and key priorities was to significantly improve UX and keep it simple to purchase, with a new checkout. We launched just before Black Friday and from the many hundreds of user feedback comments we’ve read so far, generally our customers are very positive about their experience, the content including imagery, and how much easier the site is. And the acid test – conversion stats - agree.

Our ‘Voyeur Coolest’ content has also been well received by customers who, yes, do love to have a nose around! So your headline focus on blog content does seem a tad unfair.

As always, launch is just the start. We’ve focussed on the basics, as a springboard for our improvement programme over the coming months. There’s much to test and do. Including our approach of finding new and effective ways to ‘mesh’ fresh and relevant content into our commerce offering. Luckily we do have a great team and fab imagery in the pipeline. So watch this space…..

over 1 year ago

Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson, Writer at Econsultancy, Centaur Marketing

@Jackie - Thank you for your comment.

Firstly, I have to say the mobile UX on your site is genuinely very good, as I tried to get across in the post, so I'm glad to hear this is reflected in conversion rate improvements.

In terms of content, I'm not trying to put down the team's efforts there. As I said to Ben above, I do really like the more image-based content on the site.

My focus on blog content was due to the fact that, while there are a huge number of positives on the site, when doing a site review it's only fair that I bring up any negative points too.

And as I said those negatives were primarily around formatting, subject-matter and being too 'salesy'. Easily fixable stuff.

Hope you feel my piece was fair and balanced, despite the criticism.

Look forward to seeing how the site develops! :)

over 1 year ago

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Jackie Bullock, Head of Ecommerce, Habitat at ArgosEnterprise

@Jack. Absolutely – and we always welcome feedback as it helps us shape our priorities much more effectively! Do keep an eye on how the site develops now we’ve steered through launch :)

over 1 year ago

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