User Experience Review - ASOS

26th April 2010

This article was published on January 2010 in Internet Retailing.Link opens in a new window

ASOS has become a major player in online clothes retailing. ASOS international sales grew by 112% in the six months prior to September, overall sales up 47% with UK sales alone increasing 33%. Considering that other businesses have suffered or even ceased trading, what is ASOS doing that differentiates it from its competitors? 

The aim of ASOS is to provide the customer with outfits similar to the styles of celebrities available on the high street. In keeping with this ‘streetwise’ theme the homepage adopts a magazine look and feel, with multiple text sizes and fonts creating a high energy and vibrant look. However instead of being interpreted as cluttered, this page manages to appear busy but not overwhelming. This is achieved by compartmentalising content into defined areas with a clear global navigation, basket and sign-in area.

Asos Sign in Area 
When searching for a product, the global navigation makes the initial selection process easy, although it may not be immediately clear to the user what differences they might expect to find in Women/Men, Designer and Clearance tabs. Selecting a tab unexpectedly produces a large drop down menu. Although large, the drop down menu is a very helpful feature for gaining deep access to specific departments within the site. However as the only obvious means of accessing these areas, the small text of the drop down and ‘fiddly’ interaction may make this process challenging for less competent/dexterous users, or users with poor eyesight.

Asos Drop Down MenuThe drop down  itself is divided into headings dependant on which tab has been selected, with women’s and men’s clothing offering ‘Shop by Product’, ‘Shops’ and ‘Inspire Me (women) or What’s on Trend (men)’. Some helpful options such as ‘New in Clothing’ are also offered, these give the sense of the site being up to date and dynamic. 

ASOS make a good job of offering the customer the ability to see a wide range of products at once. Larger product ranges can be seen with up to 200 items per page. They also provide a comprehensive method of filtering results. These options include a price slider bar, whereby the user can choose a price range by the minimum and maximum price of the items sought. These options allow the user to be as broad or as specific as they wish in their search.

ASOS also provide the customer with a number of tools to help in viewing the products themselves. All clothing products are shown on models, giving an impression of how the clothing looks like on in a large image, with multiple thumbnail images showing different views and areas of detail. Also offered is a catwalk view, showing the item being worn as the models move down a catwalk. Unfortunately this catwalk option is not provided for all products. Products that are not worn, such as accessories and shoes offer a 360 degree view instead.

Unfortunately, rather than providing the user with control over the zoom, the customer is simply provided with a larger image which they can move up and down. This precludes the ability of the customer to investigate aspects of the product they may wish to view. 

Asos Size ChartAnother aspect of the ASOS site that promotes further selling is the ‘Complete the look’ and ‘What others bought’ areas. ASOS does not offer the user a ‘Recently looked at’ section, showing them the other items they have viewed, but by replacing this with items that ‘complete the look’ or ‘what others bought’ ASOS cleverly promotes additional sales by providing complimentary items alongside the main item.

With a single click from the product page, users can also see a size guide, save the item for later, email, bookmark it on Facebook or tweet it.

The checkout suffers slightly if the user is purchasing only a few products as small text is used to facilitate ease of viewing for a larger list of shopping items. However, the keen eyes of the targeted market age group should be able to make out the text and also see the handy thumbnail image of item purchased.

Overall the ASOS site competently manages to handle an enormous array of products and a bewildering array of choices in a lively and trendy style. At the same time, it makes the user’s choices straightforward, step by step and importantly, not pressured. ASOS does a good job of coming up with a solution to comprise the browsing qualities of high street shopping with the bonus of an increased product range offered online.

Although some aspects of the site may be more easy to use for younger, and more familiar audiences,  it is clear to see why ASOS is second only to Next as an online clothing retailer.

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About the Author

Jamie SandsJamie qualified in 1999 with a BSc. (Hons.) in Psychology from Edinburgh University and completed his PhD. in ‘Usability of Stereoscopic Augmented Reality’ from the School of Computing at Napier University in 2007.

Jamie has also spent 2 years working within the Advanced Technology and Research department of NCR, the world leader in Automated Teller Machines (ATM) development, as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Napier University and NCR, Dundee. This challenging assignment encompassed the full project life-cycle, from initial project space investigation, through user testing and prototype development. This work included the development of the largest multi-national investigation of user opinions on banking behavior and personalization.

During his time at User Vision Jamie has worked with clients such as the BBC, DirectGov and the Student Loans Company and has taken a particular interest in the application of eye tracking as a means to gather further understanding of the user experience.

This has also included emotional response testing using sophisticated eye-tracking technology to measure the immediate, instinctual, psycho-physiological reaction to visual stimuli.


User Vision quickly developed an understanding of the issues we face with the website as we move from developing to delivering the new national qualifications. Their insights showed how the structure and content needed to change to better meet the needs of our stakeholders. Their thorough research and evidence-based recommendations gave us a clear way forward and showed that the changes we’ve implemented have improved our service

Web Manager, Scottish Qualifications Authority.