Dissecting Anthropologie's summer 2013 website overhaul

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


What's new? Anthropologie's website. As is their way every 6 months or so Anthro snuck out a mini-redesign a couple of weeks ago. Let's take a closer look and talk about our likes and dislikes!




This time around my feedback is overwhelmingly positive. I'm very happy with most of the UI (user interface) updates Anthropologie's team made and I like several of the new features. There are a few things I'm missing and I have a few suggestions, but I am very happy with the new look and feel.


(click on the photo to see a larger version)

The changes begin right at the top with the navigation bar and Anthropologie logo area. I'm delighted that the search is now an omni-visible bar. (If you can remember, previously you had to click to make it appear.) The search also gets prominent placement on the top left corner of Anthro's website which makes the web architect in me go hooray!!!!! I like it. Also nice is how the sign in and basket have been streamlined and are also always visible in the top right. I can't understand why Anthro ever moved away from this; I'm thrilled to see it back in place. High fives all around!

Anthropologie has once again overhauled its navigation. The results here are mixed. I'm not pleased that the navigation bar is still a flyout dropdown. It gives me a headache and I accidentally graze it with my mouse constantly. (My mouse typically rests in the upper right quadrant of my screen and this activates the nav bar whether I mean it to or not.) I also find that as I move further right on the menu the mouse tracking becomes less accurate. For example, if I roll over "online exclusives" I then have to roll alllll the way back to the left to choose one of the options on the flyout and half the time my mouse accidentally grazes another category on the way over. This is frustrating! I would recommend that Anthro make the sensitivity a little lower, akin to what Amazon has on their website.

The menu choices are more limited, which is both good and bad to me. I'm glad to see tops now in two categories -- blouses and tees. I have no idea what "beyond basic tops" meant in the last iteration and it seemed like most of those tops had to be double-listed on one of the other pages anyway. Curiously missing are pages I'd think Anthropologie would want to promote, i.e. the Archival Collection and Made in Kind. Don't those pages deserve their own link in the menu? I truly hope this doesn't mean Made in Kind is going away; I'd be devastated. Also weird is that shorts are conspicuously missing. I know it's the end of summer to retailers but here in reality it's only July. We have two months left!


(click on the photo to see a larger version)

On the section pages there are plenty of new features I love. On the left hand side there's a new box which has four features: a price slider, a brand chooser, a size chooser and a color chooser. These are excellent, awesome additions! The price slider is super fun. It's now so easy for me to find dresses under $100 to feature, or if I saw a dress in-store that was $128 but don't remember the brand I can now set the slider to only show dresses around that price point, making items much easier to find. The color palette is also a winner. Maybe I tried on a black dress in-store and can't remember anything else about it. Now I can come home, set the color chooser to black, and instead of having to dig through 200 dresses I only have to search among 20. Very helpful. For the next update I would love to see the item ratings shown under each product on the section page. (I can feel Anthropologie's marketing team cringing at the thought.)

There are some bugs with the choosers right now. I notice that if I choose one color and then try to choose another, the left-hand menu goes away completely on the results page. The same thing happens if I choose one of the text links, i.e. Wear to Work. Speaking of the text links, the choices don't make a lot of sense to me right now. You have subsections like Little Black Dresses mixed with completely different product categories like The Archival Collection mixed with specialty pages like Decidedly Dotted. I would like to see this rethought.

And there are some design choices that are weird to me. For example, I like that I can set a price range and then choose a color within that price range. I can set multiple variables. But the sizing menu and the brand menu are radio buttons and as far as I can tell I can only choose one size or one brand at a time. So if I don't remember if a dress was by Maeve or Moulinette Soeurs, I have to first choose to see all the Maeve dresses, look through them, clear if necessary and then choose Moulinette Soeurs. It would be better if I could select multiple brands at a time like Bloomingdales or Nordstrom's websites allow me to. Same deal with sizing. Thanks to inconsistent sizing between brands I could be anywhere from a 4 to a 10 in dresses. Being able to only choose one size at a time is annoying.

There are a few filters I'm missing. No more sort by newest item? No more sort price high to low or vice versa? And for fuck's sake why can't I view all of a category on one page anymore? Clicking through 4 pages of dresses is my own personal hell. Huge mistake removing that, please bring it back. One last thing I've noticed on the section pages is that the quick shop link doesn't always work. Boo. The pros far outweigh the cons in this overhaul however. Nicely done, Anthropologie team!



The product pages haven't changed much this time around but I still have plenty to say. This is the page that remains the most troublesome for me. Let's use the Chantelle Jacket ($228) for our critique. (I am so in love with this jacket!)

First, I hate the model product shots. Models = great for catalogue. Models ≠ great for product pages. I would be OK with model shots as the tertiary or creative shots. But for the primary, back and detail shots please bring back the dress forms! Dress forms are uniform. They are consistent. Models are not and they often trick me into thinking an item will either look horrible or fantastic on me when the opposite is true. At least I can go to one of the plethora of NYC Anthropologies to see how an item actually looks on me. Our poor no Anthro zone friends are screwed.

Even worse are the hanger shots Anthropologie has been using lately -- here's an example. Here's how much a hanger shot tells me about an item: NOTHING. Ask yourselves, Anthropologie: why do you have dress forms in-store with outfit ideas? Why do you create catalogues or outfit pages on your website? Because people need to see how the item drapes, how it sits, how it looks on something resembling the human body. Hangers may as well be dinosaurs may as well be rocks may as well be, I don't know, lighting fixtures. They're all equally useless to human, curvy me. At least seeing an Anthropologie top on a T-Rex form would be funny. In fact, I think I just thought of my next April Fools' post.

Moving on. There is way too much going on on every product page. It's overwhelming. Ratings! Social buttons! Product descriptions! Add to places! Find places! Buttons! Backgrounds! Dropdowns! Enough already. Wouldn't it be wonderful, dear Anthropologie, if you made this a tabbed structure? Above the tabs: Product name, price  and average rating, with a link to read the reviews. First tab: product details, model's details (height, sizing). Second tab: social buttons, add to wishlist. Third  tab: size guide. Last tab: "editor's notes." Below this tabbed box: Size/Quantity Selection, Add to Bag, Find in a Store, Shipping & Returns. Done.

There's more. On some pages you can shop the outfit the model is wearing. This is somewhat helpful. It would be really helpful if the items were always shown, even after they sell out. But once an item the model is wearing has sold out it disappears from the "Get the Look" box. This gets two gigundo thumbs down. Many pages don't have a "Get the Look" box at all. These days I get about 10 requests per week for help identifying an item a model is wearing on an Anthropologie product page. So much conversion opportunity lost Anthropologie! If you want an instant 1-2% increase in revenue to tout on your next quarterly earnings conference call the secret formula is no mystery at all. Just detail what's in every outfit! On a related note, if an item the model is wearing, make it available for pre-order or just plaster the item with a "coming soon!" teaser banner in the "Get the Look" area. If the item is sold out put a "sold out!" banner over it, but still make the product page accessible. For the love of everything holy Anthropologie, please do this. Please? Pretty please? Cherries?

A final thought on product pages. Anthropologie's sister store Free People has this amazing newish feature called FP Me. These are simply photos of people in Free People garments. They live on the product page. So if you go to the Dear Brigette Top product page for instance, you can see about a zillion FP Me shots of people wearing the top. (See if you can find mine in there! I'm wearing the blue version.) Instagram shots, professional shots, blogger OOTDs, staff shots, they're all mixed in together democratically. People can like these shots, comment on them or ignore them altogether. It's like EA's Reader Outfits but attached to the product page. This is such a wonderful idea!! Truly, I can't gush enough about it because it's so smart and socially savvy and I'm embarrassed for every other retailer that didn't think of it first. Customers want to share their awesome little outfits. Yes, I know you can add photos to your Anthropologie product reviews. But FP Me is better-designed than that. It's awesome, and even though it might put EA out of business I totally think Anthro needs to do this. It just makes sense. It's one step away from a customer-created catalogue. It's free marketing, it shows how an item looks on a variety of body types and it makes me want to buy immediately.

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I'm sure the community has plenty of additional thoughts on things like the wishlist, order history, and the shopping cart. And then I'm sure there are higher-level issues you'd like to discuss like order cancellations, shipping issues, and such. So I'll open it up to your thoughts! What do you think of the latest look of Anthropologie's website? What features do you miss, what would you like to see in the future, and what feedback do you have?