H&M released an updated version of its iPad app this week, adding the ability to make purchases through the app. 

The fashion retailer’s recent UK e-commerce launch was a big disappointment, so does the iPad app offer a better user experience? 

Er, no…

The app features some new in store items, style guides, a store finder, and video content, as well as a shopping function. 

Some of the catalogue style content could be useful, but instead of being able to browse the collection by swiping left or right, you need to select thumbnails of each item before viewing a larger version: 

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H&M has added very little information to these product photos, just the price in small text at the bottom, and the option of sharing via email, Twitter and Facebook. Surely the option to see more details, available sizes, and actually buy the item would have been a good idea. 

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The transactional part of the app is separate from the rest of the content, so if users see anything they like while browsing through the style guides or viewing videos, there is no way to connect directly to product pages. This is a missed opportunity to convert people while they are expressing an interest in products. 

This iPad app has been out for several months, and it seems that this last update consisted of H&M tacking on a transactional section to the existing version. 

So, within the app, you need to select ‘shop online’, and what you get is a small version of the main website (minus the Flash) which doesn’t even fill the whole screen. 

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This mini-website within an app has all the usability flaws of the main website,(poor navigation, lack of filtering, no site search, lack of info on product pages…) which I have covered before, and won’t go into again. 

H&M has failed to take into account any of the usability issues around the iPad. For instance, navigational links are so small that it is impossible to click the right link without resizing the window. 

If you manage to navigate to a product page and add an item despite these problems, then finding and clicking on the checkout link is a real challenge. See if you can spot it in the screenshot below…

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Much like the desktop website, H&M has added the shopping function to the app without considering the user, or in this case the device the app has been designed for. 

There have been some excellent iPad apps by retailers such as Net A Porter which have combined catalogue browsing with e-commerce functionality, while others like Yoox.com have just made sure that users can easily browse and buy from the app. 

The H&M iPad app falls well short of these examples, and has actually managed to produce a poorer user experience than the main website…