We asked participants to find a gift on the House of Fraser website. From the homepage, eye tracking showed us that users were attracted to the main rotating graphic. These panels were predominantly targeted at women, so the variety of products available was not immediately obvious to all users. Once into a section, users normally needed to scroll before viewing the second line of products. One user actually complained about the ‘excessive’ scrolling, as she worked her way through the screens of hand bags.
Users experienced particular difficulty when looking for a product that was contained within a section with multiple categories. One user was looking for some cufflinks and browsed from ‘Gifts for him’ to the ‘Cufflinks, belts and ties’ section. There were 302 products available in this section, but there was no way for users to narrow down their search to just cufflinks, so the user was forced to page through all the results. Filtering by the colour ‘silver’ helped bring up a few cufflinks, but the user could not be confident that they had seen all the products.
It became apparent from the unsettled eye movements that users became confused when unexpected items appeared within categories. The only two products in the women’s gloves section were actually belts and the clearance gift vouchers and cards section only contained flip flops. This made participants question whether they were in the correct place and quickly eroded confidence in the navigation.
Some users hunted for the search box, as it was not immediately obvious because it was pre-filled in with text and a grey fill. Users who failed when browsing for a product often resorted to the search to find a product. When a user searched for ‘cufflinks’, they got 308 results, with the first two products listed being belts – which added to the confusion.
When accessing the product information page for a particular product, we observed that users were quickly drawn to, and distracted by, the related items and the ‘more from this brand’ tab for the actual product. This often distracted users away from their original purchase. This type of page sometimes included a device that contained a scroll bar. Users found it very difficult to scan the supporting text for the product because of this.
Overall, users loved the high quality, zooming photography and the overall feel of the site, but were then annoyed by the unnecessary scrolling and common errors in merchandising.
SimpleUsability have been providing expert eye tracking advice for the readers of Internet Retailing Magazine since 2009.