Fashion boutique Whistles recently launched a transactional website, and we’ve taken a look from a user experience perspective.

Whistles homepage

  • Navigation / search
    This is clear enough and simple to use, with a navigation bar at the top of the screen:  
Navigation

Customers have the option to navigate by category of clothing,  brand, or to look for new items, sales items or clothing that has been covered in the press.

After selecting one of the options, the matching items are displayed with product photos:

Product search  

This is fine if you want to browse through pictures, but it means that customers have to trawl through 12 pages of product photos.This is where Whistles could have some feature filters.

  • Product pages
    The images are good, and shoppers are given a selection of angles to view the clothes from, as well as a zoom tool. We love the layout here, which seems to reflect the company’s ’boutique’ status.

Product page

Links are provided to further information on T&Cs, delivery charges and the returns policy.

A few important things are missing though, including a visible contact telephone number, and signs of server security, such as third party verification logos.

Phone numbers are not only essential for customer queries but are also an indication of trust – many web shoppers are reportedly reluctant to purchase from sites without them.

Third party certification is also evidence that it can be trusted and provides reassurance for security-conscious shoppers.

  • Checkout
    One thing Whistles does well here is to keep the number of steps in the checkout process down to a minimum, with just three stages for customers to go through.


checkout

The process is relatively simple, form-filling works intuitively, and the site does at show verification logos at the payment stage.

We would suggest a couple of improvements – enclosing the checkout process by removing links to other parts of the site can help to focus the customer’s mind on the purchase and prevent them from unintentionally leaving the checkout. It’s ommon practice these days to do this.

Another problem is that the site doesn’t allow users to go back and forth in the checkout process – meaning that, if a customer needs to amend any previously entered details they will have to hit the back button on the browser. As such, customers could lose the information that they have already entered in the checkout process, which is a surefire way of encouraging frustration and dropouts.

Despite these suggested improvements, this is a visually appealing site that the company says has achieved ‘exceptionally high’ conversion rates since its launch. A few tweaks and they’ll be higher still, by our reckoning.

Good going, Whistles.

Related stories:

Ten ways to improve online checkouts

Related research:

Online Retail 2007: Checkout Special