Why do UK fashion ecommerce sites all look the same?
August 21, 2013 at 11:40 AM
by Mikul PatelDigital Marketing Consultant at Matraxis
It is often said that copying is the sincerest form of flattery, but can the same be said for website design? Trends evolve over time, fancy flash animations were all the rage 10 years ago but now they are considered to be bad for SEO and interface design. One thing i’ve noticed, certainly in the UK, is a trend for fashion ecommerce sites to adopt the same design traits.
Is this an indicator that UX designers have found the ideal design for ecommerce or are they just being lazy and not taking the risk in embracing new design styles in a competitive environment?
The fashion offenders
To make it easier for comparison, below are a screenshots from the Women’s Dresses category on the websites of popular high street brands.
Breaking down the similarities
Im by no means an UX expert, but there are some clear resemblances between the top fashion catalogue websites. Some observations include:
1 - Monotone black and white colours
This is the clear similarity. Perhaps these sites have in the past tested that having a monotone colour scheme diverts visitor focus to the products being sold and increases conversions? A/B & multivariate testing is the ideal thing to use for analysing the impact of different design styles.
2 - Special offers
We all like the feeling of grabbing a bargain. In the extensive list of 31 things to see on an ecommerce page, highlighting special offers was identified as being a key sales driver. Being located under the header navigation seems to be a popular position.
3 - Category banner design
Search engine optimisation, is a key area for ecommerce sites if you want to appear high in search rankings. A category banner can help search engine bots crawl a page and summarises navigation for a visitor who lands on that page.
4 - Grid layout
This is pretty much standardised now. Visitors expect to be given multiple options to view products in the grid layout. Offering users the option to view 20, 40, 60, All items encourages longer browser sessions.
5- Product page filters
Similar to grid layout, the industry is moving away from the dated approach of using dropdown filters. Using tick boxes to enable multiple filter options and dynamically update the product list is considered the norm (something ASOS have had for years).
Do ecommerce websites need to be different?
With content heavy ecommerce sites, a visitor is expected to land straight on a product page if you rank high on search engines. Therefore it could be argued that if visitors are presented with navigation design that is not familiar, they will exit the site straight away.
That being said, I don’t think there is no harm in injecting a bit of colour to a site design, possibly to reflect the brand image. Urban Outfitters does this perfectly with a funky polka dot background (see above) to complement the retro design. Also worth mentioning the special offer animation on the mega menu...a twist on the static offer banners you see on ecommerce sites.
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