I’ve recently made many, many trips to Ikea and I’ve noticed quite a few pleasant surprises in the store. Well, except for the famous labyrinth! I’ve luckily studied the shortcuts so I’m usually in and out of the store in 30 minutes. Among the first to arrive, one of the first to leave (with a loaded cart!).
A few nice customer touches to mention:
- Free coffee 15 minutes before the opening of the store. Yes, there’s always a group of people who are surprised that the shop opens only at 10 a.m., so free coffee is a nice surprise.
- Chocolate offered upon opening of the store. Sweet!
- Labyrinth, I mean, shop maps on every key step.
- Shortcuts between departments.
- Yellow bag on every corner (some of which come also with wheels), because we’re all coming to get “just a few things” or to “browse” but end up needing a bag to put our brand new set of plates and curtains in.
- Cart return areas on every parking floor. I once couldn’t find where to return my cart but felt so terrible needing to leave it out like that (I was surprised to see there wasn’t a dedicated area), only to turn around and see it on the other side (I did go return the cart there). I was surprised that Ikea would have just ‘forgotten’ to set that up. Nope.
Thanks, Ikea! I could go on with the list for a while but today’s review is about the website.
I have noticed that this user (or customer) friendly approach doesn’t fully translate to their online property. So I’ve decided to take some time and review usability of the www.ikea.ch website.
A few notes before I start:
- I am taking account only the user, since I don’t know what Ikea’s business goals and headquarter rules are. That is – the template that Ikea Switzerland is using is following that of the headquarters, they probably can’t just go out and re-design things better. But there are small wins, too, so Ikea, if you’re reading, take notes.
- Ikea didn’t ask me to do this, this isn’t review of anything but the usability! I’m a big advocate of user friendliness, usability and UX, so that’s my angle.
- I’m only testing on desktop (a full usability test would include also tablet and mobile).
- This is a snapshot in January 2020.
- This review is not a complete UX review. It is based on one persona, one user flow, and some side observations.
Now, let’s get cracking.
The persona I will be applying for the review is pretty much who I am personally. Typically I would write out a mini story about the user but here a just the key points so we can get started:
- Woman, in mid-30s, living in Switzerland;
- Savvy online shopper;
- Recently moved into a house;
- Owns a car (yes, this is important for the online shopping experience, you’ll see how);
- Makes the most of the family’s furniture and decoration choices;
- Uses the online store to narrow down the results and then go check out the selection in a store and purchase the final choice there.
- My problem so far has been to find a chair by narrowing the options in different online stores (too many search results to sift through)
- My goal is to find a chair that I would like (so not a specific model), and add that to a wishlist and to the cart.
Homepage, above the fold
- My eyes go for the menu – but the menu items are confusing: “products” and “rooms” seems overlapping but it’s actually not.
- The image is taking almost the whole screen. And it’s not clear which user journey it’s designed for. A little too artistic, not enough conversion-oriented.
- The search bar is taking too much prominent space, could be smaller, perhaps in line with the top navigation (but visually gently standing out as this is an important feature).
- Top menu is missing some key items that can only be found in the footer.
Homepage, below the fold
- Not the best use of white space.
- Seemingly random selection of quick links.
- Inspiration category is a tricky thing to use for a prominent suggestion to how users should shop – meaning that it’s good that users can see how products are used in real-life environments to get ideas, but most of the room settings will not be what users have. Each user has to match their shopping list with personal taste, the space they’re furnishing and budget. It’s almost impossible to serve users inspiration that matches individual user needs. Inspiration images are perfect for Instagram and should be used sparingly in the online shop (a separate subpage, an Instagram feed and as one or two images on each product page).
- Using only product words in the headline (like SAMLA) is not user-friendly – unless users read the tagline they won’t know what it’s about (and when users scan, they won’t have seen the tagline); the photo that goes with it is showing quite a few things, so it’s not easy to tell what it’s about either.
- Scrolling a little further down: looks like there’s lack of logic to the bottom photos – a mix between articles and product offers. This type of magazine style layout is more fit for a news page. The good thing about this is that it makes the website pop – meaning that the products come to life and that there’s good photography.
Product listings page
This is the page a user reaches either by searching for a product or going through categories.
- I searched for a chair. On my rather large desktop screen I only see 4 results, of which one is actually a link to an article. I couldn’t tell until I clicked on the image on the right. Plus, that article is talking about a specific chair but there’s no ‘Buy’ or ‘Add to cart’ button on that page. I’ve just moved away from what I was doing (shopping) to reading an article (not shopping anymore). Not good.
- The display order seems random. I don’t know the logic behind “best results”. Being also an Amazon customer, I thought it might be based on a combination of nr. of purchases and nr. of positive reviews, but I don’t think that’s the case (at least, ordering by reviews is a separate display option). So if I searched for a chair, what exactly makes the nr. 1 result the best match? Ikea, let me know 🙂
- The search filters could be improved. There’s only one shape of chairs which (a) isn’t true and (b) makes this filter useless in this case. All products should be further classified (tagged), so that I can narrow down those 1,444 results. A lot of work? Yes, I know.
- Scrolling through results I suddenly come up against a mini survey, asking me how happy I am with the results for “chair”. First of all, I’m not entirely sure what “happy with results” means. Out of 1,444 results, there’s bound to be a few chairs that I’ll like but I haven’t seen them all yet. Or do they mean the way the results are displayed? I’m not sure.
- Secondly, these types of “how happy are you” questions are usually at the bottom of the page, or at the end of an experience. As a user, I immediately thought “oh, that’s all the results then” and would almost close the page. If you keep scrolling, you get to the rest of the results (see below).
Bottom of search results page
- Why do I need to click to see more results? Just unfold the next batch when I reach the bottom of the page. In that case you need to make sure that there’s nothing in footer that’s not also in the top menu. For example, I’ve been on a few pages (not Ikea) where I wanted to change the language of the page, which could only be found on the bottom of a page, but results kept unfolding and extending the page and I could never switch the language! (I ended up manually changing the URL but most users won’t.)
- I would replace the text link “scroll to top” with a right-side arrow that triggers upon, say, 200px scroll down the page. Discrete, clear, and doesn’t take up additional space.
- Overall, well done. Lots of gems on Ikea’s product page. My favorite is the part where I can check how many are on stock in a specific shop. This is a total win! I usually create a wishlist of exactly the products I want to buy, then I drive to the nearest Ikea, and the worst would be to find out only in the shop that the product is not on stock. So checking for availability is great.
- Still on the same product page, there are a few links in the top description, that make the users navigate away – the delivery fees, Click & Collect and pickup points (the first 3 links) should all be opened in a new tab. Only the last link (“read more”) links to the full description of the product that’s located on the same page.
- Footer of the page is loaded with great resources! There are definitely missing in the top navigation. The whole IA and navigation should be optimized, so that users don’t have to google for “IKEA planning tools” like I had to, just because it’s not in the main menu.
- Selecting the language of the page is only available in the footer (unlike on mobile site, where it’s also in the hamburger menu), so that’s something that goes with the menu optimization. Also, the “Traduction” shouldn’t be in bold and looking like a link. Bold the language that’s currently in use.
- Clicking on the login link in the top right corner takes me to a completely new landing page, without navigation or any reference to what I was doing before reaching this page. The design is also starkly different (a full-page photo as a background).
- After logging in, I get taken to my account page, and not back on the page where I was just before logging in. As a user, I’ve now either (a) forgotten what I was looking for or (b) going back via browser Back button and possibly confusing the Ikea website whether I’m logged in or not.
- I would suggest simplifying the login with a simple pop-up window.
- Also, the icon on the top right (see screenshot below) doesn’t indicate whether I’m logged in or not. Users who are creating wishlists, researching and spending time narrowing down products, really don’t want to end up realizing that none of their product selections have been saved in the right place because logging in didn’t succeed.
- Some great gems here! Like checking for shipping fees based on your address (which happens on the same page), or choosing to pick up the order at a nearby pick-up point. Final amount is therefore calculated on this page and there are no surprises (additional fees) later on.
- The top headline (My basket) should be redesigned to look like a heading, not like a text link. The fewer the links on the cart page, the better! I would probably remove also the link that says “remove all the products” – users can individually remove items by clicking the trash icon, and they don’t need to easily (or worst, by mistake) remove all their shopping.
- I’d suggest making the “Total Amount” line slightly bigger, to indicate that this is the final amount (at the moment it’s the same typography as the “Total without shipping” line).
Wishlist – a feature packed with fantastic usability
- Wishlist – my favorite functionality! From creating several lists to checking for availability, this wishlist functionality is fantastic.
- Another great feature is that once you’re in the store, picking up items is easy because they list has been sorted by department, and I believe also by the order of the department. For example, if you have to get 3 items, a chair, set of plates, and a plant, the wishlist will show you to set of plates at the top (and indicate the department name) because of all the 3 places you have to pick things up, that’s the one you’ll reach first. Then you’ll have the plant, because you’ll reach it before you get to the chair. Well done, Ikea, well done!
I think Ikea has done a lot of things in a very thought-out manner, especially offline. I’ve always had a great experience (even when returning things). I think that there’s room for improvement online so that their attention for customers’ needs gets translated.
As I said, the above is not a full usability review, but it gives a taste of things that can be improved, and some great features. Good usability is win-win for everyone – the customer, because they get to experience shopping at Ikea in the easiest and most convenient way, and for Ikea, because the conversion rate of users-to-customers goes up, which means more business, returning customers and referrals.
Now where’s my Ikea login, I need to add some curtains to my wishlist for the next time I’m in the store …