Comet has released a beta version of its homepage this week, allowing customers to give feedback before the new design officially goes live.


Comet beta homepage

We’ve taken a look to see what has changed…

Old homepage 

The main reason behind the changes is that the old version of the homepage (below) was considered to be too cluttered:

Old Comet homepage

A recent post on our blog, using heatmaps, found that people lacked focus when looking at Comet’s homepage, and that only a few actually engaged with the main navigation menu; a key area of the page.

The new version is less cluttered, so customers should be less confused about where to go to find what they are looking for on the site.

Flash

To make more economical use of valuable space above the fold, Comet has introduced a Flash display which showcases the latest products and special offers.

Customer can choose to see one of three display options:

Comet flash display

We are not huge fans of Flash at E-consultancy, mainly due to its implications for accessibility and visibility on the search engines. However, it has at least been used sparingly here, and does do the job of reducing clutter.

Flash can also impact on loading times, as is the case with the new Tesco Digital website. The box showing the latest albums slows down the page, and this is also the case with the ‘Magic Bookshelf’ feature on Borders.com.

With Comet though, while the Flash display is the last thing to load on the homepage, it doesn’t slow up the loading time too much.

More prominent basket link / search box


Comet navigation and search box

The basket link and the search box now stand out much more on the homepage, which should help customers find these options more easily.

On the current version of the homepage, these links were in the top right hand corner of the page, where they could easily be overlooked: 

Basket link

This is a good idea, and should have a positive effect on conversion rates; as customers shouldn’t be made to work too hard to find such vital links.

In addition, the increased size of the search box now allows users to enter more characters, handy when searching for laptops and TVs with long serial numbers.

Below the fold

Rather than just promoting more products, Comet uses the area below the fold to display some of the other features on the site; the knowledge centre, and Comet services, delivery, installation etc:

Comet - below the fold

Comet has a good deal of product information; guides to choosing a digital TV, MP3s, laptops and more.

All this is potentially very useful both to customers who are unfamiliar with this kind of technology, and for those who want to research their products online.

Around 70% of visitors to the Comet site come to research products and prices, and it makes sense to provide as much information as possible for these users.

Related research:

Usability and Accessibility Buyer’s Guide 2008

Related articles:

Site comparison: Comet v PC World

Argos beats competition with user-friendly web design