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Department store retailer House of Fraser has added another element to its multichannel strategy with a new mobile website, which has been optimised for a range of devices. 

The mobile site has been developed by Usablenet, also behind the mobile sites of Tesco, M&S and John Lewis. 

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I've been trying the new mobile site... 

Homepage

The product categories are shown in a vertical list, the search box is in a prominent position, as are links to the store locator and shopping basket. 

This is a simple layout, and once which makes it as easy as possible for visitors to scan the page and find the links they need. 

Navigation

Navigational options are good, with a list of categories on the homepage leading to another page showing the various sub-sections. 

Some sub-categories contain large numbers of results (1,237 in the shirts section for example) but there are some good sorting and filtering options which enable shoppers to narrow their selection: 

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Product pages

Product pages on mobile can be tricky, as they need to show customers enough detail about the product while keeping the page simple to use and quick to load up. 

The House of Fraser mobile product pages are a good example of this. The page is well-designed and laid out, with good information and a clear call to action. 

The product photos are good, and several different angles are provided for each product:

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In addition, all the information that customers require on delivery, returns etc has been provided on the page: 

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Checkout process

Registration is not compulsory before shoppers enter the checkout, which is a good idea on a mobile site, as it speeds up the process. 

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One of the potential barriers to purchase on mobile sites is the hassle of form-filling, and this site has made data entry easy with well-designed forms. 

Features such as postcode lookup tools make address entry painless, while if you make a mistake, error messaging is clear, with instructions provided at the top of the page as well as next to the data entry box which requires correction. 

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There are a couple of small issues though. If you choose the collect from store option, you need to select your store from a very long drop-down list. This could be made easier by asking customers to enter a postcode or location. 

Also, once you have selected 'buy and collect' you still get a message about Christmas delivery. This is irrelevant now, and slows the process down. 

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Conclusion

The House of Fraser mobile site is an excellent example of mobile commerce usability. It is simple enough to use, quick to load, and easy to navigate. 

However, it still provides enough functionality so that customers can find the information they need, see multiple product images, and browse the full range of products from the main House of Fraser site. 

Graham Charlton

Published 7 January, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Andy Heaps

I like how potential product page load times have been addressed - on the standard web version product images use a zoom functionality which is made up of several different images. Each of these images are quite a bit bigger than their mobile equivalent, meaning that slower mobile connections are less of an issue.

I've looked at a few mobile sites on the usablenet platform and in the most part they're really good, both technically and from a usability POV. I still question hosting a mobile site on a different domain / subdomain to the main site (as usablenet do), more from an SEO perspective than anything. With over 4k pages of m.houseoffraser.co.uk indexed in Google there are duplicate content issues not to be overlooked. I'd prefer hosting the mobile version on the same domain and URLs as the main site, and rendering the page and its contents differently based on the device used. But, I appreciate there are pros and cons of this depending on existing platforms, server calls etc.

over 5 years ago

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Philip Woolgrove, Web Content Manager at T.M.Lewin

I went to HOF on my phone & was not automatically directed to the mobile site, I only got there by replacing the www with m in the URL, this is not a good way to have customers access the site.

Overall it performs well, however it is strange that they opted for Usablenet when their base platform (Demandware) support mobile natively.

over 5 years ago

Jakub Uradnik

Jakub Uradnik, Senior User Experience Architect at KIT digital

To my disappointment I also had to go to the mobile site manually. I was then really enjoying the shopping experience, but after adding an item into basket I wanted to go back to the product page from which I got to the basket and that's not possible :( The continue shopping button takes one back to the homepage. How difficult is it to get you back to where you were before appearing on the basket page!

over 5 years ago

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