A few months ago, I looked at Halfords’ e-commerce site from a user experience perspective, and found it lacking in some areas.

A bit of tweaking has happened since, so it’s only fair to comment on the improvements that have been made…

Homepage

Halfords has done away with the overpowering orange colour scheme and added more white space, which makes the site more appealing to look at, as well as easier to scan to find the relevant links.

Halfords homepage

The page also makes good use of space to promote its categories and latest offers, as well as providing links to advice about more products like sat nav systems and child car seats.

A larger, clearer site search box has been provided, which is another good improvement. According to stats, 30% of web shoppers will use this tool, while others will revert to searching if they have failed to find what they want.

I was also impressed with the clear links to customer services, details about delivery charges and other terms and conditions, displayed at the top of each page on the site.

Navigation / product categories

I found the navigation confusing last time, especially the labeling of product categories. Previously, clicking on the bikes section gave me options such as ‘bike clearance’ or ‘bike deals’.

Now the labeling is much clearer; categories like ‘adult bikes’ and ’kids bikes’ are what shoppers will be looking for, while the sub-categories now also make more sense.

Halfords product categories

To make it easier, users now have more filtering options, and can search by brand, frame size, price range and more. A big improvement.

Product pages

The product pages were OK last time, and contained all the price and delivery information shoppers would expect, but Halfords has managed to add more useful features this time.

Product photos are better and more technical information has been added, while user reviews have also been added to the page, which is always a good idea to help customers decide on a purchase, as well as increasing trust in the website and products.

Another useful innovation is this Q&A section, which gives customers a chance to ask specific questions about a product, which are answered by other users. This is a good idea, though the answers would carry more weight if answered or at least checked and approved by Halfords staff.

Halford product pages Q&A

Problems

The site is a big improvement on what came before, but there are still a few niggles.

The checkout process remains unenclosed; the navigation bar is visible throughout so customers could easily skip out of the process. Removing links to other areas of the site should focus the customer’s mind on the purchase and reduce checkout abandonment rates.

Halfords checkout

Also, Halfords, though it has logos trumpeting the fact that it was a top ten Hitwise site in April, doesn’t provide any third party verification logos to reassure customers about server security to ensure customers that they can shop safely on the site.

Related research:

Usability and User Experience Report 2007

Online Shopping and Credit Crunch Survey Report

Related articles:
Ten ways to improve online checkouts
Establishing trust in the buying process