Retail Review - Argos Web Effectiveness
Jamie Sands, User Experience Consultant, User Vision
Argos is Britain’s largest catalogue merchant general-goods retailer in the UK. Its high street experience more closely matches its online offering with limited access to physical products and selection conducted through a catalogue. This allows Argos to deliver a wide range of products to its customers, however this makes the user’s ability to navigate, select and purchase items critical to the UX. In order to test this we looked at the seasonal task of purchasing a barbeque set online.First Impressions
The homepage is sober and uncluttered, a strong banner advertisement and clear navigation menu make initial steps clear and simple. A number of tiles representing ‘deals’ are also offered, driven primarily by imagery, the headings themselves are not strong or engaging. A ‘What’s hot’ section is below the page fold and as a result only likely to be used as opportunistic selling.Navigation and IA
The mega drop down menu gives users an option to deep link directly into all sections of the site within a single click. This also cleverly utilises a ‘Popular searches’ section - combining promotional and ‘what others have bought’ concepts into a single short menu. The site also has a clear search option to assist uses who are unable or unwilling to search using the menu options.
Once a specific product type is selected, Argos do not stop trying to assist users in getting the best deal – a link to half priced products is now placed at the top and the highlighted recommended products are placed first in the product list to bring these to users’ attention. However, if these do not meet the user’s requirements a faceted navigation menu is provided allowing appropriate product features to be filtered easily. The product display is also extensive, and allows users to scroll (in this case 41 products) on a single page without needing to change pages.
So far, Argos have ensured that navigation is clear, simple and intuitive, offering the user what they need to narrow the array of products in an intuitive manner at each step of the decision making process.Product pages
The product pages provide the user with clear images of the product however the product pages are less intuitive with their display of helpful information. There is no single clear ‘purchase’ call to action, instead 3 similar buttons representing Special Offers, buying/reserving or activating the Click Reserve are seen. The Special offers being the strongest, coloured red and closely associated with the product. As a result the purchase process is more challenging than users may be expecting.
Argos also seem more keen on upselling, with no clear list of product specifications for this product, instead ‘extras’ and ‘you may also like’ is placed with priority next to the product, product details are actually located below these.Persuasion
Whist a product rating is clearly visible on the product page, customer reviews are located at the bottom of the page limiting the amount of persuasion the page offers. Users appear encouraged to view alternatives rather than make a decision about the selected product.Checkout/Bookings
The checkout process is straight forward allowing a clear comparison of the Home delivery or Store pickup options. Potentially confusing however may be the position of the Apply for Credit call to action.Accessibility
Whilst it is clear Argos have tried to ensure the pages are optimised for accessible access, with all images offering well written alt text, some aspects of accessibility let the site down. For example the search bar has a missing form label and the controls for the rotating banner has 2 buttons read by screen readers as ‘button’ giving no help or context to the reader. The site also lacks ‘skip top content’ links meaning users have to read through the navigation on each page before accessing new unique page content.Overall
Argos offers the user a reasonably good online shopping experience with clear navigation and product refinement, however the user experience is not as strong when viewing products. The site’s product pages focus too strongly on alterative, upselling or purchase options. As a result, these pages reduce the perceived importance of the customer experience on these pages.
Navigation and IA – 5/5
Persuasion and Trust – 3/5
Product Page & Merchandising – 3/5
Checkout / Bookings – 4/5
Accessibility – 3/5
Overall - 18/25
Biography: Jamie Sands is a User Experience Consultant at User Vision in Edinburgh. Jamie has a broad range of ecommerce experience working with a variety of clients including the BBC, Emirates Airlines, Grohe, Ocado and many others.