User Experience Review - Mr Porter
15th June 2011
This article was published in July 2011 Internet Retailing
NET-A-PORTER.COM was launched in 2000 and within its 11 year history has established itself as a leading supplier of luxury brands and over 350 leading designer’s collections. The Net-A-Porter brand aims to distinguish itself from competitors through a distinctive editorial format and prides itself on high levels of customer service and care. This review will focus on the usability of Mr Porter, the male version of the Net-A-Porter site.
Initial impressions of the homepage do not clearly offer any distinguishing feature of this site from other high value fashion websites, using high resolution images laid out in a modular style. These direct the user to style guides and link to collections. The site also uses a well established dropdown navigation style. The global navigation section sets out the main site headings and an expansive drop down is used to directly locate the clothing range sub categories.
The first subtle difference that distinguishes the Mr Porter site from others begins when viewing a product range in more detail. The Mr Porter site uses large images of the item against a stark white background, providing a clear focused view of the product itself. When hovering over the product a ‘headless’ model appears wearing the product, allowing the user to see the item both on its own and worn, with the focus clearly being removed from the model and placed firmly on the item itself.
The ability to view a wide range of products at a glance has become a standard feature of clothing sites, with almost all sites offering a ‘view all’ option, even on the most extensive of ranges. Mr Porter has taken this knowledge and offers the user an extensive page view as a default setting, removing the need for most users to select this when browsing. Whilst this often makes for large pages, the oversized clear images make the quick viewing of the products easy and pleasurable.
Another essential aspect of site navigation is the ability to filter results using faceted navigation. Again Mr Porter offers a clear and easy to use means of refining search results.
When viewing individual items up close, the site offers an even larger image of the garment with a handy zoom function via hovering. Multiple other views are also offered with a ‘wear it with’ section to help complete the look. Related links and upselling are discretely offered at this stage.
Overall the site offers the user all of the expected functionality to find, select and view items to make the shopping experience straightforward and pleasurable.
However where the Mr Porter site significantly differentiates itself from other sites is in its additional functionality and the way of recommending style advice and items. Behind the login these include the ‘Wardrobe Manager’ – ‘Essentials’, ‘Wish list’, ‘Recommendations’ and ‘Inventory’ pages. One section Mr Porter offers is ‘The Journal’. This is essentially an online magazine, offering articles on style and focusing on celebrities and their look. Another is the ‘Style Directory’ where celebrity icon ‘looks’ are highlighted and direct links to purchasing these ‘looks’ are offered. This allows the user to easily locate items that match a particular style they wish to create based on their favorite celebrity looks.
Alongside the ‘Style Directory’ is a ‘Style Advice’ section, where style questions are broken down into categories such as Shoes, Black Tie and Seasonal Wear. Questions are posed and alongside the advice given are links to the related products, again allowing a quick and easy means of not only finding out the information required, but also allowing the user to do something about it, in the form of purchasing the desired item.
In viewing these pages it is clear that the Mr Porter site does not simply offer the user a clear choice of items to select from, but rather is a portal where advice and information non ‘style’ can be sourced and from this a ‘look’ directly purchased. The Mr Porter site is not just a repository for fashion items; it is aiming to be a voice of style.
The Mr Porter site offers the user all the expected means of selecting, viewing and purchasing items. It does this in a very effective and user friendly manner, with no surprises and a pleasant, crisp and clean layout. Should the user choose to look deeper, the site offers much more.
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This article was written by Jamie Sands. Jamie is a Usability Consultant at User Vision, a usability and accessibility consultancy that helps clients gain a competitive advantage through improved ease of use.