Site spotlight is the process in which we focus on a particular website and analyse the user journey and the overall user experience. This week is the turn of Forever 21, a hugely popular American fashion retailer, to see what its e-commerce site has to offer.
Upon landing on the site a popup blocks entry requesting an email address to sign up to their mailing list, which is an unnecessarily pushy and obtrusive method to collect data.
The site is also not yet responsive so even when browsing on a laptop there are sections which are partially hidden and even call to actions which are cut off entirely.
However, the main issue with the home page is that it is made up of images with no HTML text. This is bad practice, makes the site unreadable for those with screen readers and harms the site’s SEO. Even worse is that the images do not have alt tags, which again is bad practice and doesn’t give the user a description or any information about the image should it not be displayed.
The search function on the site is very poor and often includes unrelated products, particularly when a colour is included in the search term.
“Red dress” returns a blue dress as the top result and further down bizarrely offers a leopard print headwrap.
“Black shoes” returns silver shoes, bangles, jeans and joggers within the first row.
In fairness some criteria did return relevant products, such as a search for “Scarf”.
There is no functionality though to filter the search results so the user has no choice but to scroll through the products hoping to find a match.
The product page performs a little better. There are several images that provide different views of the dress which can be zoomed in on when hovered, there is a product description with a link to their returns policy, and a nice clear call to action.
Oddly the price is displayed in GBP yet the sizing is US sizes. There is a size chart on the page within a tab but some of the text is too small to read comfortably.
The site asks new users to make an account rather than offer the option of a guest checkout, which only inputs a barrier and increases the customer abandonment rate.
Once registered the order overview page features a large banner which distracts from the order and the call to action. At this point the user shouldn’t be persuaded to leave the checkout.
The text in the billing and shipping page is small and the forms are not given any breathing space.
Annoyingly users can search for their address and select it from a drop down list, yet are asked to type it manually below this too.
The shipping method page is light and could easily have been included on the previous page. The call to action is also on the left hand side of the page whereas the user has to select an input on the right hand side which breaks the natural flow.
Finally, the payment page is long and cluttered. The call to action has been moved again to the right hand side and is hidden right at the bottom of the page. There is however reassurance for the user in the form of a large “VeriSign Secured” icon, a link to a “Hassle-free Return & Shipping Policy”, a link to a contact page and the addition of live chat (which incidentally isn’t working).
The Forever 21 user experience could benefit from some improvements to its search API and checkout process to help increase conversion and decrease customer abandonment. The entire website should also be responsive to cater to the growing number of users accessing e-commerce sites on their mobiles and tablets. The user journey should be at the forefront of every e-commerce site and sadly Forever 21 don’t seem to have revisited this.