Does it work? House of Fraser

Whatusersdo founder Lee Duddell, talks about online retail for Drapers.

Whatusersdo – Drapers Article 2012

House of Fraser boldly describes itself as the “leading national premium department store in the UK”. It’s a bold statement and one that needs to be borne out both in-store and through online interaction.

From a personal perspective (I’m a loyal fashion customer of House of Fraser), the online store delivers against that statement. It gets nearly everything right and from a professional perspective, serves as a best practice example. The key facets that move an online shopping experience from being usable to pleasurable are in place.

What House of Fraser does well is to remove actual or perceived barriers to online shopping as well as engendering trust while conveying the ‘premium’ nature of its brand. So many sites achieve some of this, but few combine them all into a seamless user experience.

Of course, being in the position (at WhatUsersDo) of having access to not only my opinions of the site, but also the opinions of real users giving feedback on thousands of websites, I’m justified in saying that the fashion shopping experience of the site is one of the best.

The basics are all in place – from fast page load times to free delivery to guest checkout, as well as sophisticated and yet easy-to-use product searching and filtering. The product imagery is well thought out too – I’m buying physical goods in a virtual environment – so being able to easily view the product and how it wears (on a model) gives me a strong sense of what will actually be delivered. And, most importantly, engenders trust.

Navigation is fairly straightforward too (although not perfect). The ‘Mega Menu’ categorisation meets almost all of my needs – it’s easy to get to the right ‘department’. However, recently my wife was looking for outfit ideas and inspiration.

I suggested the House of Fraser site, but she soon gave up and reverted to the Asos Outfits and Looks site, which lets users create and publish outfits from the Asos range. House of Fraser doesn’t provide for an ‘inspiration’ user journey. It has a ‘New Season Looks’ section but this appears to be a simple listing of the latest products and I’m not even sure my wife looked there. In the meantime, I’m perfectly happy continuing to loyally shop for fashion.

Lee Duddell is Founder and Head of UX at usability testing site WhatUsersDo

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