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House of Fraser unveiled an updated version of its website recently. 

Online sales rose by 110% in the first 24 weeks of the year, and House of Fraser aims to continue this growth with the redesigned website. 

The previous incarnation, as reviewed here by Paul Rouke in 2007, was a good site, but the new version provides a more up to date, streamlined look. 

Homepage 

The new homepage design, shown above, has replaced al the black space from the old version (below) and looks much brighter and less cluttered as a result. 

Search and navigation

The navigation on the new site reflects a move away from traditional department store websites. 

Instead of a top navigation bar with ten sections, as on the old site, the new version just has four, and uses relatively small drop-down menus to show sub categories: 

In response to customer feedback, there is more prominence to navigation by brand, which provides an alternative method of browsing and searching for the site. 

Once a brand has been selected, each has its own 'homepage' within the site, through which customers can navigate further and use the various filters: 

The filtering options on the site have also been improved and, unlike on the previous site, users can select more than one option, as well as easily removing individual filters. 

Product pages

House of Fraser is in the process of adding more images to the site, but most products now have multiple images (if not necessarily zoomable ones) which enable shoppers to see clothes from various angles. 

There is now much more information on the page to aid shoppers with purchase decisions - on pricing, sizes, delivery and returns, while reviews have now been added. 

Checkout process

Once items have been added, customers can now hover over the shopping bag link to see a quick summary of products and prices, and the main page is much improved. 

In a recent post on shopping basket best practice, guest blogger Paul Rouke said a good basket page should 'provide the visitor with all they need to know for them to be happy to progress to checking out, without any un-answered questions'.

It does an excellent job of this, providing clear security logos and a prominent contact number for any shoppers seeking reassurance:

It also makes delivery charges and options very clear, and summarises the available payment options, while the pink calls to action stand out clearly on the page. 

There is a voucher code field on the page, but it is one of the least visible elements, overshadowed by the calls to action.

This may mean that those shoppers that aren't looking for it don't notice it, thereby avoiding the risk that they leave the process to search for their own code, while those that are looking for it can find out. 

The checkout provides similar security reassurances, and has been fully enclosed to focus customers' minds on the purchase. In addition, a guest checkout option has been provided for those that would prefer not to register first. 

Social media

In addition to some of the changes I've mentioned here, House of Fraser has given more prominence to its social media, with links to the blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts on the homepage. 

Social media content is also integrated into the 'Your Style' section of the site, along with competitions and useful buyers' guides and fashion ideas. 

Conclusion

The look of the new site is a big improvement on the previous version, and the overall user experience has been enhanced by the changes made to the navigation, product pages and checkout. 

Graham Charlton

Published 12 August, 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 (5)

Andrew Lloyd Gordon

Andrew Lloyd Gordon, Digital Marketing Expert, Speaker and Trainer at New Terrain Limited

I'm impressed. It looks great and is a real improvement on the previous design.

I'm intrigued to see a few classic usability 'laws' being abused e.g. white text on a black background, quite small fonts in places and even the use of drop-down menus. Rules are meant to be broken however.

The other thing I find interesting is how the site encourages user feedback and reviews. You're exhorted to 'Be the first to ask a question' and 'Be the first to write a review'.

Makes you wonder how anyone has time to shop online with all of these reviews to write...

Although, to be fair, they've taken a bold step in offering the chance to win a £250 voucher if you do write a review.

Maybe econsultancy could offer the same for blog comments ;)

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

We'll have to put you in a prize draw then ;)

almost 5 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Afternoon all,

Got to admit that small white font on black background is a pet peeve, especially as without my glasses it's like web browsing fuelled on red wine.

However, that aside, I think the homepage is quite cool. Nice positioning of core service messages - Conversion Rate Experts gave a case study on how doing this can increase conversion. The "Hello stranger" link made me laugh, I like it when brands lose the formality.

I think they could get real benefit from using a solution like 10CMS to make the merchandising more interactive, using hotspots and lightboxes to enable direct purchasing without clicking away from the homepage.

On the product page I like the image viewing controls - much better than lots of big alt images scrolling down the page. Interesting that now other social bookmarking options other than FB Like - sure there is logic why but i've always found people like to use other options like Twitter and Digg. Customer reviews presentation is really neat.

So overall site looks good - be interesting to see how Andy evolves and tweaks it over time.

cheers
james

almost 5 years ago

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Laure Moyle

Great revamp! :)

I like the "less is more" decluttered approach, especially the new home page bold statement and simplified navigation.
The new, more intelligent filtering options are good too.
yes the text is a bit small but I didn't find it that off putting personally.

As a side note, could have been good to see in the review how House of Fraser handles search results/mistypes and also how they follow up on abandonned baskets.

All in all a very good effort with some clean ideas- thanks for the review @e-consultancy :)

almost 5 years ago

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Momchil Milev

Isn't it nice?! :)

over 4 years ago

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