WEB EFFECTIVENESS – SCORE 16/25
STEPHEN DENNING, SENIOR USER EXPERIENCE CONSULTANT, USER VISION
33 years since their first warehouse-style store opened in North London, Majestic Wines have launched a new site that boasts some significant improvements over the previous incarnation. These include the ability to browse the wines available at your local store, recommendations from wine experts, improved online ordering and a new mobile site.
This review puts the user experience of the new site to the test as I look to choose and buy some wine for an upcoming dinner party. The key aspects of Navigation and Information Architecture (IA), Persuasion and Trust, Product Page & Merchandising, Checkout/Bookings and Accessibility were assessed throughout the process.
Navigation and IA
The site’s home page features a 10-item primary navigation, 4-item sub-navigation, numerous special-offer notices and multiple calls to action, all of which left me a little bewildered as I looked for how to start my wine buying journey. A robust information architecture is key for all retail sites and wine is no exception, with multiple facets that the visitor could use to distil their choices down to that one perfect bottle (or in Majestic’s case, 6 perfect bottles). The main navigation in this case seems a little overcomplicated as some facets have been promoted to the top level (“Champagne & Sparkling” and “Fine Wines”), while the others remain together in the “Browse Wines” menu. The presence of other types of drinks (beers, spirits and soft drinks) also seems out of place on a wine site and I wonder if the main navigation would have had more room to breathe if these had been collected together under a single “Other Drinks” menu.
The navigation employs extensive use of ‘mega-dropdowns’, none more so than the “Browse Wines” menu that features 48 options over five categories. While grapes, regions and countries make sense, the generic and non-descript “Wines” seems to be a catch-all category for all other facets and, as such, makes it difficult for the visitor to figure out how Majestic are categorising their products.
Given the promotion of their new “recommendations” service, I was hoping for some clear call to action on the home page that would help me find a perfect wine for my dinner party. However, in its absence I had to fall back on my favourite choice of a full-bodied South African Red to accompany the braised beef. I look to the “New World” section and only find a reference to “20% Off South Africa”, in contrast to the rest of the list which is just country names. While I’m more than happy to hear I will get 20% off my wine, it leaves me uncertain about whether or not this is the only New World country to be discounted. A more consistent approach of listing the countries here and highlighting the discounts later would have instilled more confidence.
Once into the product listings, an extensive faceted navigation allows me to drill down to the bottles that are right for me.
Persuasion and Trust
Building customer trust in a site like this is a more complex affair than some as they have to build both trust in the wine producer, to provide a quality product that meets individual tastes, and in Majestic themselves to supply the wine in an effective manner at the right price.
If I wasn’t familiar with Majestic Wines as a supplier then the prominent mention of awards would put me at ease, along with their active blog.
A more prominent link to their “About Us” section (currently buried in a generic “Info” section) would have been useful, particularly given their interesting and trust-building historical timeline of the business.
However, at the end of the day it comes down to the product and Majestic have lots of choice at multiple price points. There is plenty of reference to “limited time deal” using the principle of scarcity to drive visitors to purchase. Award-winning wines are highlighted and they also make use of social-proof by providing a rating system for each of the wines, further building confidence in the quality of the product.
Product Page & Merchandising
The product page provides a thorough description of the wine and makes good use of graphics and structure to break up the information into easily consumable sections.
The reviews are a welcome addition, though when wine is such a subjective product, this does not always help you to make a decision. It has recommended foods to enjoy with the wine, though I would have liked to see this available as a searchable facet, so I could more easily find the wine for my meal choice.
The heavily promoted “if you like that, you’ll love…” recommendations certainly have some value, but are most useful if you have already sampled this wine and therefore know if you like it or not. This would therefore be more suited to the account area of the site where previous orders can be accessed and further recommendations can be made.
I chose my 6 bottles (minimum order quantity with Majestic) and was asked to select my nearest branch by postcode. Majestic doesn’t operate a central delivery service, instead providing collection and delivery services from their local stores. This raises a concern that the communication of stock levels could be complicated when a wine, seemingly available on the site, may not be in stock at your local store when you enter your postcode. However, I could not create this scenario and all wines I could find that were out of stock at my local store were shown as out of stock when no specific store was selected, so Majestic have possibly anticipated this issue.
The checkout itself was straightforward with a clear 4-step process and key choices, such as deliverycollection preference and form of payment, were well laid out and simple to interact with. The site features PostcodeAnywhere’s “Capture+” address finder that uses auto-complete to quickly find your address as you type in a city, street or postcode, without the need to press a “find” button.
The site’s accessibility statement is quite vague, referencing an aspiration to make the site the “pinnacle of web accessibility” driven by the W3C WCAG guidelines. Admirable though this is, it doesn’t actually mention if the site adheres to those guidelines. A cursory audit of a few key pages reveals a few errors (missing form labels, missing alt-text) and a number of further warnings, so further analysis of this would be recommended.
Contrast and text size is generally good, with only a small handful of labels that are too small or fail to provide enough foregroundbackground contrast.
Majestic Wines are a well-known name and their new site provides a fresh look and feel to the brand. The most complex aspect of any wine merchant site is going to be presenting the huge range of wines to the user in a way that is intuitive and useful. Majestic have opted to allow visitors to search wines on a number of facets, which is to be commended. However too many of these have been promoted up from the faceted navigation to the primary navigation and substantial mega-dropdowns, which means that the user is presented with many routes into the wine listings, while many competitors opt for a simpler “Browse Wines” entry point. The descriptions of the wine are well-presented and allow for cross-searching based on various aspects of the wine. However, given my task of choosing wine for an upcoming dinner party, there was a noticeable omission in food/wine pairings and being able to search by type of dish. The check-out process worked well, particularly the intuitive address finder, though the concept of deliverycollection from a local store may throw some visitors slightly. Overall, a visually pleasing and usable site, though probably a bit more complex than necessary.
Navigation and IA – 2/5
Persuasion and Trust – 3/5
Product Page & Merchandising – 4/5
Checkout / Bookings – 4/5
Accessibility – 3/5
Overall – 16/25