Site review: ao.com

Looking at eCommerce sites helps me to learn more about effective User Experience design and user journeys. I recently looked at ao.com, a UK website specialised in selling white goods.

  1. How did this site come to my attention? – I recently read a great article by David Kyle titled “What ecommerce managers can learn from AO.com” . David’s article triggered me to have a closer look at this well known website.
  2. My quick summary of the site (before using it) – A site dedicated to selling washing machines, dishwashers, etc. Not the most sexy stuff, but ao.com has been doing particularly well in this segment, resulting in a successful stock listing last year.
  3. How does the site explain itself in the first minute? – By scrolling down the homepage, I get the impression that ao.com is all about getting the best deals for products such as fridges and hoovers (see Fig. 1 below).
  4. Getting started, what is the process like? – Let’s say, I was looking to buy a new fridge, there are number of ways to navigate the site to discover the fridges that ao.com has to offer. I’ve outlined the different ways in Fig. 2 below. However, the “product overview” was the feature on ao.com which I was most impressed with. I believe that product pages are critical to any self-respecting eCommerce site and ao.com does a great job in this respect; well written, easy to understand, practical and a good use of imagery (see Fig. 3 below).
  5. How easy to use was the site? – Very. It’s easy to find out about the service that ao.com offers to its customers. For example, both in the header and the footer of each page you’ll find the key tenets of ao’s service: “Price match promise”, “Pay on finance”, “Free delivery”; “We’ll recycle your old”; “We’ll connect your new” and “14 day returns” (see Fig. 4 below). Using site search on terms like “finance” and “delivery” was also pretty straightforward, I got direct to a finance and delivery page respectively (see Fig. 4 below).
  6. How did I feel while exploring the site? – Again, ao.com did feel very easy to use and to navigate. The page design and structures felt intuitive and not too overwhelming.
  7. How does this site compare to similar sites? – I looked at Currys site, which felt similar to ao.com. However, I felt that the site navigation and use of imagery throughout the Currys site could be improved substantially. From my initial browsing, Currys’ site didn’t feel as intuitive and easy to use as ao.com. However, “Things to consider when buying a …” is a feature that I particularly liked on Currys as it felt very informative and practical (see Fig. 5 below). In comparison, when I shop for fridges on BestBuy the navigation is similar to ao.com. For example, on the fridges landing page, I can choose between “Shop by Type”, “Featured Refrigerator Innovations” and “Shop by Brand”.
  8. Did the site deliver on my expectations? – ao.com definitely did deliver on my expectations as it was easy to find out about good deals and compare products. The site doesn’t feel over-engineered and instead provides a clear and easy to use site structure. The way in which ao.com executes its product pages is great and something which I believe lots of other eCommerce sites can learn from.

Fig. 1 – Screenshots of the homepage of AO.com

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Fig. 2 – Different ways to discover fridges on AO.com

Way 1 – Via top level navigation: I select the “Fridges & Freezers” tab in the top level navigation. This opens up a clean and well presented overlay, which displays five self-explanatory product categories within the “Fridges & Freezers” category. For example, the “Fridges” categories has been broken down into three sub-categories: Freestanding Fridges, Under Counter Fridges and Best Buys.

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When I click on “Best Buys”, I’m directed to landing page for fridges. It becomes clear from looking at the banner at the top of this page, titled “Best Buys Fridges”, that the fridges displayed on this page represent good value for money.

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Way 2 –  Via “Looking for the best appliance” landing page: On the homepage, I click on the call to action in the “Looking for the best appliance” tile. The “shop now” call to action takes me to a landing pages which shows me an overview of the different product categories, with the promise that these are “Our best appliances, handpicked by our experts for: Best quality; Best price and Best features”.The sub-categories under fridges are nearly the same as when I navigate to fridges via the top level navigation (see Way 1 above: Fridges, Under counter fridges and Wine coolers. When I click on “Fridges” I automatically land on the “Best Buy Fridges” landing page (see screenshot above).

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Way 3 – Via “Best Sellers” section on homepage: Alternatively, I can select a fridge as featured in the “Best Sellers” section on the homepage. For example, when I click on the Hisense American Fridge Freezer featured in the section, I’m taken to the product page for this make and model (see screenshot below), where I can find out more about this fridge freezer and explore similar products.

 

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Way 4 – Via “Shop by brand” section on homepage: If you already know which brand you want for fridge, the the “Shop by brand” section at the bottom of the AO.com homepage is your place to go. For example, if I know that I want to buy an Indesit fridge, then I simple click on the Indesit logo and I’m taken to a landing page for all Indesit products on AO.com.

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Fig. 3 – Screenshots of the product overview for a Hisense American Fridge Freezer – Taken from: http://ao.com/product/rs731n4ac1-hisense-american-fridge-freezer-stainless-steel-28316-27.aspx

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Fig. 4 – Screenshots of header and footer on AO.com:

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Fig. 5 – Screenshot of a “Things to consider when buying a fridge or freezer” section – Taken from: http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/household-appliances/refrigeration-333-c.html

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Related links for further learning:

  1. https://econsultancy.com/blog/66233-what-ecommerce-managers-can-learn-from-ao-com/
  2. https://econsultancy.com/blog/64902-13-ecommerce-best-practice-lessons-from-ao-com/
  3. https://econsultancy.com/blog/64704-25-effective-design-patterns-for-ecommerce-site-search-results

 

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