Halfords recently launched a reserve online, collect in-store service so we had a look its website from a user experience perspective.

Halfords homepage

Navigation / site search

The main navigation bar, as well as the site search option, is at the top where most users would expect to find it. Customers also have the option of navigating using the links in the centre of the page.

Halfords navigation bar

However, the main navigation links are in small text so don’t stand out very clearly compared to the rest of the homepage.

The site makes good use of breadcrumb trails to show users where they are  and allow them to easily go back to a previous point in their search.

The options could be clearer though. For instance, if I want to search for a bike, after clicking on the main link from the homepage I get this:

Halfords bikes

If I’m looking for a man’s bike for instance, I’d like to see a link to this section, rather than having to look through ‘bike clearance’ or ‘bike deals’.

The options could be clearer – from the homepage to visiting a product page for a man’s mountain bike took me five clicks.

Ideally, most products should be no more than a couple of clicks away from the homepage. This is something which could be improved with better labelling and a more intuitive layout.

Also, by enabling users to find the products they want more quickly and easily, this should improve conversion rates.


I’m not a fan of the homepage, partly because I find the predominantly orange colour scheme off-putting, but mainly because the amount of photos and adverts on the page distracts from the main navigation.

Product pages

The product pages contain most of the vital information customers will be looking for, such as price and delivery charges:

Halfords product page

In addition, detailed technical information is provided as well as, in the case of this sat nav system, links to further information and FAQs about the product.

A few criticisms though: contact details are not clearly displayed on the product page, so customers with a query about their purchase will need to hunt around for a phone number.

Also, on a number of items I visited product pages for, I found I was unable to purchase the item in question:

Product page - out of stock

This can be annoying for users, though at least it doesn’t allow me to add the product to my shopping basket.

Halfords could handle this better though, either by giving some information on if and when the product will be available to buy, or by offering to email me when it is back in stock.

Adding user reviews would also be an improvement to the product pages, especially for items like expensive sat nav systems. The product photos could also be improved.


The checkout process works smoothly enough, and has a few examples of best practice.

Halfords checkout

For instance, it isn’t necessary to register first before beginning the process. It has also been kept relatively short – just five steps from shopping basket to confirmation of order.

Halfords also has a bar which indicates which stage customers have reached in the process and how many stages are left. This is a useful form of reassurance for users.

Checkout progress indicator

There are a few problems though – we would recommend that e-commerce websites provide information on server security, and assure customers that they can shop safely on the site.

This means displaying third party verification logos, such as Verisign. I didn’t see any of this in Halfords’ checkout process.

In addition, there are plenty of links to other areas of the site when in the checkout process. The main navigation bar is still there so I could click on a link, leave the checkout process and then have to enter my details all over again.

A better idea would be to enclose the checkout process as far as possible – this removes the risk that users will accidentally click away from the page.

This means removing all links other than those that are necessary to complete the transaction – it can also have the effect of funnelling the customer towards confirmation of the purchase.


According to Halfords, this is the most visited sports and leisure website in the UK, and the company says that the reserve and collect service has worked well so far, with over 100,000 orders taken between November and January.

However, there are still a number of areas on the website which could be easily tweaked to improve Halfords.com’s conversion rates.

Related research:

Usability and User Experience Report 2007

Online Retail 2007: Checkout Special

Related stories:

Site Review: Mydeco
Ten ways to improve online checkouts
Whistles – a user experience review