site search

How John Lewis, M&S and Debenhams handle on-site search

Not wishing to sound too astoundingly obvious right off the bat, but your on-site search tool is a key way in which visitors look for products on your website, especially if you carry a huge range of items. 

The surprising thing is how easy it is to get on-onsite search wrong: bad placement, lack of auto-suggest, poorly displayed search results, and so on. 

How Walmart, Target and Costco handle on-site search

Using a selection of specific criteria I’ll be gauging how some of the top US retailers handle on-site search. 

The search tool is perhaps the most common way for shoppers to navigate an ecommerce site, so therefore its effectiveness is paramount in directing highly motivated visitors, who know exactly what they’re looking for, around your site.

Cathay Pacific unveils new responsive site, but fails to optimise checkout

A few weeks ago I reviewed the state of web design in Asia’s airline industry.

It was surprising to find that these major brands expected customers to put up with clunky, out-dated web forms and a difficult purchase journey.

But Cathay Pacific was clearly already aware of the issue and has just unveiled a new responsive site as part of a wider rebranding exercise that seeks to present a “simpler, cleaner, more customer-focused Cathay Pacific brand.”

I’d like to claim that my blog post spurred it all, but it actually comes after 18 months of planning.

The resulting philosophy will guide the design of “new websites, lounges, cabins, in-flight service, entertainment products” and more.

From our point of view the most interesting feature is the new website. So, what’s it like?

The rise and rise of search

The recent preview of OS X Yosemite from Apple caused predictable amounts of chatter online (including this article) and rightly so.

Sales of Macs hit 4.8m in Q1 2014, up from 4.1m for the same holiday period in 2013. OS X has a big impact on the conventions of UI and UX.

The feature I saw the most buzz about on social is the improved Spotlight. The feature has a new search window and a rich, scrollable preview of results that finds stuff on your Mac but now also Wikipedia, Bing, Maps, and other sources.

This is the latest reminder of how powerful search is and how consumers increasingly rely on it across technology and the web.

13 ecommerce best practice lessons from AO.com

We’re often looking for examples of good, and not so good, practice in ecommerce for our reports and articles, and there are a few sites you can generally rely on for the former. 

One of these in AO.com, formerly Appliances Online. The company was launched 14 years ago and its recent IPO valued it at around £1.6bn. 

A key reason behind the company’s growth can be found in its focus on good design and customer experience, as well as a culture of testing and optimisation.

As a result, AO.com contains many examples of ecommerce best practice that others can learn from. Here are just a few…

Ecommerce information architecture: the devil in the detail

I’ve worked with many clients (and on my own sites) where avoidable structural/data problems add unnecessary complexity to website management.

I say avoidable because they’re usually a result of not asking the right questions upfront before the site is built. It’s a tough task to cover all bases for an ecommerce platform because there are so many factors in play that can affect elements like on-site UX, business reporting, data flows and SEO.

In my experience, it’s a continuous learning curve, picking up insight from specialists along the way to build a (hopefully) thorough knowledge base of what information you need to effectively build a website, what format the data needs to be in and what it needs to do e.g. data field X in the CMS drives site search results

Marriott edges out Hilton and Accor in hotel site UX survey

Marriot International has come top in a usability report that includes eight of the world’s top hotel brands.

The report also looks at the onsite effectiveness and brand awareness of Holiday Inn, Radisson, Hilton Hotels, Best Western, Choice Hotels, Accor Hotels and Starwood Hotels.

As mentioned, Marriott International was the top performing hotel with an average score of 83%. Hilton came second with 81% while Accor came third with 78%. The overall average among all eight hotels was 64%.