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Anyone in the know when it comes to ecommerce website design will realise just how important it is to have website that is attractive, easy to use and most importantly converts visits into sales! Play.com has recently revamped their old website (I’m not sure when but I noticed it today!), which I think is a massive improvement from the tired and busy looking homepage we first saw many years ago, to the clean & fresh faced looking homepage we can can see today (see screenshot of the Play.com homepage above).
Now I’ve always been a fan of Play.com for a few of reasons:
- Competitive prices
- Easy payment (sometimes a little too easy… there have been many a drunk, late night purchase when I was a student!)
- P&P is free, so I know what to expect when I get to the checkout
Okay, so you’ll notice that although the above are great, they don’t relate at all to the design in anyway. This is what I disliked about the old site:
- Horrible navigation
- Clutttered pages, too much information crammed into a small space (where do I look?)
- Bad pagination and use of filters (have you ever tried to search for i.e. a laptop which has tons of results in single category??)
Now we all know that sometimes even the smallest barriers in usability can have a big impact in terms of conversion rates when it comes to an ecommerce website, but when you have a site as big as Play.com with such a huge amount of products, a redesign and implementation is never an easy or cheap process.
Thankfully the new website seems to have addressed a lot of these issues. The site immediately looks much cleaner and easier to understand, while still recognisable as the Play.com brand. Some of the pagination issues have been addressed with the increased use of filters, however it’s still a bit of a roundabout process. For example I tried, as a test, to look for a Sony Vaio laptop. I clicked on Computers > Laptops in the main navigation, but couldn’t really see how to progress. So I clicked on the logos at the bottom of the page (I clicked the Sony logo) which took me to the Sony store page. I clicked on latops again and finally was in the section I wanted with the appropriate filters for price, ram, processor etc. Much improved, but could definitely have reduced a few clicks. If by clicking on Sony in the laptop section it took me straight to the Sony Laptops page I would have been much happier.
The main navigation is also now much easier to use. They have simplified it by reducing their top level categories to just 12 sections, and then having a wide range of subcategories. This is something we always recommend for ecommerce websites where possible. Give the user the choices they need, but not all at once!
So all in all, big improvements all round. I would love to have insider knowlege and see the data on how this has affected the way that customers use the site, and the impact that this has on overall conversion rates, but I’m guessing it will be positive. Check it out and let us know what you think…
*** UPDATE 24th August 2011 ***
A few people have been asking for a reminder of what the old Play.com website looked like. So, as if by magic… Ta da!