User Experience Review - MyDeco.com - May 2009
1st June 2009
The article was published on 22nd May 2009 on Internet Retailing website .
So, what do you do after you’ve built a successful business in the form of Lastminute.com? Well Brent Hoberman has created mydeco . Bringing together furniture and home design products from 750 retailers and 150 independent design boutiques, its mission is to be the “first stop to design and shop for your home.”
The site hosts features that lean more towards playability in the gaming industry. There’s a 3D room planner where you create your own room, add furniture, decorate it, and can purchase anything you have chosen. There’s a moodboard where you collect items to inspire you, and import photos of your own living room to see how mydeco might furnish it.
If I was being picky (that is my job) I’d like to see a few usability issues ironed out. The navigation is a bit clumsy in places. At points, navigation would go back two steps rather than one, so I had to rely on the back button of my web browser to get around.
Whilst logging on is straightforward for most of the site, it changes in the moodboard section. There is no recovery for the user if they can’t remember their password.
Websites need to provide an easy process to retrieve forgotten passwords. That process is nonexistent here.
These are not show stoppers, but issues like these can degrade the user experience, and providing an experience is central to mydeco.
A distinct lack of user instructions meant the moodboard section was a bit lost of meaning, and users may be baffled on what to do here. The moodboard category filtering system took a while to work out; it wasn’t clear how to use or reset it. I didn’t even notice the colour filtering until a colleague had a go. Finally, the pop up product description was sometimes frustrating as it obscured the filtering elements. The 3D room planner is very playful, but can be time-consuming. Firstly, it can take a while to load changes, and secondly, it can be quite fiddly. If you ever made model airplanes in your youth, remember trying to glue two small bits together when you had a bit too much glue on your fingers? That kind of fiddly. If you have the time, and you’re not an internet novice the tool is great fun.
Once I’d created my room, I had to search the screen to find how to save it. The ability to create a new room, open an existing room, or save a room is on the right hand side. Internet convention is to have this at the top left. It would be interesting to do an eyetracking test based around this part to see where users initially scan the page.
I’d also include a few extra enhancements taken from other sites. M&S and ASOS allow users to zoom in to inspect the fabric, thus getting the ‘feel appeal’ factor that is achieved in shops. Some of the products on mydeco are expensive, and people prefer to have a close examination before handing over money. Mydeco could also incorporate a feature used in ‘feelings liquid imagination’. A slider lets you set the light level, so you can see how the colours look from day to night time light.
The most engaging part of the website was the massive and extremely active social networking community. The joining process is fairly straightforward: a user name is required, it asks for a minimum amount of personal information, and an email is then sent to you which requires validation before the process is complete (double opt-in).
I joined the community and in one day I already had friends, I’m a member of various groups, people have rated the living room I’ve created, I’ve rated others design work and I have a status level of ‘Design Devotee’. Posting tips and creating blogs provide you with more kudos from the community members, as well as earning points to move up the community status level. I haven’t created a blog yet. I’m trying to decide whether to take on the persona of Grace Alder or Linda Barker.
So it seems that due to the community, this website far exceeds the business model. Users create rooms not just for themselves, but for the sheer enjoyment of the process, they create rooms to celebrate Mother’s Day, Easter, and even as birthday cards for other members. Mydeco is able to capitalise on what the community produces and feed this back into enhancements to the user experience of the site. Hopefully this community buzz and increased traffic will turn into an increase in conversion rates and cross selling.
In a time where people see moving home as a formidable process even if they can find someone to give them a mortgage, improving their home is the next best option. Mydeco provides a playground for users to be able to spend hours doing this from the comfort of their own home using one website. It’s far more preferable to pushing a trolley around a cold warehouse waiting for the kitchen department to have an available slot with a ‘kitchen designer’. Now, everyone can be an ‘interior designer.’
What can you do next?
- Read some more usability and accessibility articles.
- Find out how usability testing can improve your offering.
- Attend one of our usability training courses and learn the tricks of the trade for yourself.
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