Coach has an ultimately frustrating website.
Don’t get me wrong, the desktop site, designed this year, isn’t presenting too many barriers to customers. It also has some nice touches that should shine in a tweaked redesign. And it has some amazing product images (of amazing products).
But, at the moment, it’s a little buggy and has a homepage lacking in features above the fold.
With a little work, the desktop ecommerce site could make content and products easier to surface, and provide a much more immersive experience.
In this post, I’m looking at the US website. If you’re not in the US, you can hit ‘global sites’ in the footer and take a look at the American view.
For those outside of the US, Coach is big, with revenue of $3.23bn in 2009. It’s big enough that when I Google simply ‘coach’ (and bear in mind I’m in the UK), I get a Google company ‘card’ on the RHS of the SERPS (see below), which I can click to take me to results more relevant to the luxury leather goods store.
So, now that I’m in the store, what does it look like?
Homepage needs a tweak
There’s a snazzy video on the homepage which launches when you arrive. It’s not bad, aspirational and high-res. It features some origami birds which, when the video finishes, are then created by the tracking of my mouse, and annoyingly fill the screen.
This little bit of HTML 5 is impressive for a second, but then you want it to go away, forever.
The paper birds compound a UX annoyance, which is the lack of reference in the window. The menu at the top doesn’t travel down the page with you, and because the imagery is so big, it’s become quite disorienting to explore. I’m tempted constantly to return to the safety of the top nav panel.
This is a shame as it may cause people to miss the email sign-up prompt at the bottom of the page.
However, there isn’t much on the homepage, and it could certainly be used more effectively.
Compare it with this homepage from Net-a-Porter and it’s obvious which is the more enticing.
Continuing with bad design properties, all the enticing links on the homepage, both pictures and text, can’t be opened in another tab (the right click doesn’t work).
Notice the birds still fly round and around. Don’t worry, there are some good features to come!
Category pages also need a tweak
These pages have a giant header that takes up a lot of the room above the fold.
Doubtless this is thought of as opulent or luxuriant, but it makes the page seem top heavy to me, like one of those over-sized tennis rackets sported by poorer players in the ‘90s.
Below the fold, the category page is good, but again no right click on products, so lots of jumping around.
Above the fold…
Below the fold…
With less above the fold, users would be seeing more of the products, sooner.
Product pages quite good
I must admit I quite like the product pages. They are bold and have some nice touches, such as…
- Prompts to email.
- Prompts to share socially.
- ‘In stock’ when you select a size.
- ‘May we suggest’ cross sell.
- Big image.
Shipping details available but would benefit from some formatting
Shipping details are linked to fairly prominently in the top left of the home page. When you navigate to them, there is a lot of detail.
Granted this is the norm for US shipping, but the page is very text dense, and details could do with being picked out or enlarged, so FAQs are a little easier to find.
Checkout straightforward but not pretty
There is the option for guest checkout, which is good. I had a funny feeling of insecurity because of the fact that the checkout only took up a small amount of page, and looks like a form. It is a form, but the design might be better served by being opened up a little, and making the fields a little bigger and bolder.
For a luxury brand, the form is bit low-rent, and looks like it’s been plugged in.
The checkout again does well in cross-selling before a purchase has been finalised.
Mobile not yet considered
Here’s the homepage on mobile. Only the email signup and categories have any text, so it’s hard to know what one can explore here.
It’s possible the site has big imagery to look like buttons on the mobile site, but the site doesn’t respond well to the size of my iPhone screen, and I’m left feeling I’m somewhere far from home.
Logically, enlarging the screen and picking a category and a product set from the dropdown is the first step. These subpages basically don’t work on mobile.
They start off at an enlarged size in my mobile window, and I can’t pinch it to move back and see what I’m looking at. Instead, I’m allowed to scroll left and right, up and down.
This non-pinchability means I can’t enlarge the product set, and so I can’t actually see, with the naked eye, what is for sale, and I can’t really click on it.
Features are good and need to be crowed about
When I didn’t want to shop, I gravitated to the ‘features’ category in the menu.
This would be a good place to cram inventive content and editorial, competitions, UGC etc. And indeed, there are some interesting options..
Some of these work very well indeed. Here’s the ‘spotted’ feature, which should probably be made more prominent on the site, what with celeb culture being such a draw.
The product is clickable in the photos, and the page includes an enlarged pic, too.
There are a few lesser successes, too. Here is the ‘watch the watches’ page. D’oh!
But, Coach News is promising, and isn’t far off what I would like to see on the homepage in terms of balancing images with text (albeit needing a broader product range, and a couple more features). It includes more text, and a social competition at the bottom.
Again, the page is too large, with massive images, and perhaps designed for the well-heeled who have enormous monitors. I reduced it to 50% to get it to look close to how it should do, allowing the customer to see what’s on offer.
The ‘Fall Looks’ and particularly the ‘Wallet Guide’ are done well.
The Wallet guide is nicely surfaced by being linked to from the wallet product pages, too.
Good social ideas
One of the features is #coachfromabove.
It’s a fairly active hashtag, considering it’s niche and a luxury product.
The user generated imagery is great and really brings personality to the products. Perhaps Coach could benefit from spreading some of these images around the website a little more, even going to the trouble of tagging them, as it does with the ‘spotted’ celebs’ products.
All in all, Coach isn’t far off. It’s fairly easy to use. The photographs are brilliant once you get to the category pages.
However, though the homepage is a bit showy, this paradoxically doesn’t show off the products. There are some features that can be teased out a bit more.
Here are a few things to improve:
- Make homepage nav follow you as you scroll.
- Bring out ‘spotted’, ‘news’ and ‘product guide’ features in the homepage.
- Use the great user photos a bit more for some personality.
- Reduce the size of the enormous images, to allow for less myopic navigation.
- Add a bit more design class to the checkout form.
- Invest in mobile!
A site tweak would be like shooting big fat ROI fish in a barrel for a company this size. It’s evident that some luxury brands are designing responsive sites that work beautifully.
Once mobile works, and the desktop homepage is as simple yet classy as the product pages, Coach will have a site that fills the shoes of the brand.