User Experience Review - Boden
16th June 2011
This article was published in May 2010 Internet retailing
I have to admit, I’m more of an occasional online shopper for clothes rather than using the internet as my main way of purchasing clothes. Boden is a UK-based mail-order clothing company which advertises its clothes as ‘Classic, carefree and simply stunning clothing’.
Having done a little research online, it appears that Boden’s key selling point is that they produce well-made clothes. However, when I accessed their website I was surprised to find that the main images used on the homepage were of such poor quality. They have a grainy look effect with diluted colours and blurring round edges. As a shopper, the use of these pictures would immediately worry me about the quality of the products. First impressions are vital when there is so much competition and Boden really need to sort this out.
Boden have recently added a few new features to their website. When I access a particular piece of clothing, I have further options to watch a video, or use the outfit maker tool.
The video allows customers to watch catwalk videos of a selected item. This has proved good business sense for competitor Asos , another UK online retailer which saw its sales increase 104% when it added runway videos of each item offered for sale. From my perspective, there are a few enhancements that could be incorporated to create a better customer experience here. Videos are a great way of showing how a garment moves, but what I’d like to see is how it looks on different shapes. Rather than being limited to one model, I would prefer to see models of different sizes and shapes so I can choose the one most similar to my own. When accessing the video, there is also a strange quirk that I can’t quite work out whereby I have to click on the icon twice to get the video to start.
Within the page layout, there is a cross selling section titled ‘complete the look’ where Boden suggest complimentary items to purchase along with the dress. On choosing to watch the catwalk video of a dress, the model had on a pair of sandals with the dress so I was surprised that the shoes shown in ‘complete the look’ was a completely different pair.
Another feature that has been introduced on the Boden website is the ‘outfit maker’. It’s a great concept that I’ve not seen before, and a straw poll of the office concludes that neither have my colleagues. The only thing I can liken it to is a toy that my niece plays with. The toy is a cardboard cut-out of a princess, and there is a selection of cardboard clothes that you can mix and match and stick on the Princess, giving her an array of different outfits from hats to shoes. On Boden, once you have chosen an item you like, you can then select other items to see how they would potentially look together. Each item is also shown in different colours, styles and prices on the left hand side, making it an easy way to find items that go together. It would definitely help to choose a whole outfit, finding a jacket to match a dress in colour and style. It is also a great way of upselling because it encourages users to purchase a complete outfit rather than an individual piece.
Boden also have a review section which allows real customers to judge their items. Reviewers can give individual scores out of five for the fit, appearance, quality and value of an item. The reviewer also chooses what shape their body is, as well as what height and size they are. This is particularly useful information for the more average shaped person.
On the whole, navigating round the site is fairly easy. My only issue with it is some of the labeling applied. The top level navigation is ‘Women’, ‘Men’ ‘mini Boden’, ‘Johnnie B’ and ‘sale’.
The ‘Mini Boden’ and ‘Jonnie B’ options are unintuitive and meant little to me. It wasn’t until I moved my mouse over the labels to see the drop down that appeared that I understood what these meant. Mini Boden covers children’s clothes, and Johnnie B caters to teenagers. However, it turns out that Johnnie B is a brand of clothing, so their main navigation is a mix of metaphors, women and men on one hand, and clothing brands on the other. The ability to shop by brand is provided as a secondary level of navigation for men and women, so it seems odd that they have adopted to have a mixed approach to the top level of navigation. Strangely, when you enter the outfit maker, the top level navigation changes to Women, Men, Girls, Boys, Baby and sale!
Overall, the features on Bodens website are great upsellers for clothing, they just need to ensure the message about the quality of their clothes comes over on the homepage which currently, it does not due to the pictures used.
What can you do next?
- Read some more usability and accessibility articles.
- Evaluate your internal search and the general usability of your site through usability testing.
- Attend one of our usability training courses.
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This article was written by Chris Rourke . Chris is the Managing Director of User Vision, a usability and accessibility consultancy that helps clients gain a competitive advantage through improved ease of use.