Make your website user friendly with core building blocks

I tend to keep an eye on the UK’s most popular websites (Alexa is a good source for this data), as I know that my clients and their customers are likely to be familiar with their navigation features, tools and interfaces.

There is a risk that creating something ‘too new’ or ‘too different’ can give rise to negative user feedback, a recent case in point being Microsoft® Windows 8 lacking a Start button.

For most projects, delivery timescales are tight and there isn’t time to experiment with wild and fanciful navigation.

More importantly, users want to find things quickly. They don’t want to have to ‘learn’ how to use your site, it should be intuitive to them.

Should online retailers follow established patterns of navigation?

It seems that, after a few years of redesigns, navigation on most e-commerce sites follows a pretty familiar pattern. 

There is some sense in this. Online shoppers are accustomed to the same general patterns of navigation from their experiences on the online retail sites they use regularly, so there is much to be said for following precedent in this area. 

But does this prevent innovation in e-commerce design? Are there better ways that retailers could be using? 

I’ve been asking the e-commerce experts and looking at a few examples… 

Site review: Debenhams

Debenhams launched a brand-new version of its website earlier this week.

As well as revamping the site, the retailer has added new product lines, including electricals, though this has been outsourced to Buy It Direct with a separate checkout.

I’ve been trying out the new site to see if the user experience has been improved…