Jane Seymour, Head of Design
Rachel Harrison, UX and CRO Manager
Is 2022 the year that we see an increase of websites experimenting with new features, pushing out the norms and saying goodbye to the good, reliable hamburger menu? Increasingly, from a UX perspective, we have seen some key websites adapt by trying out new innovative concepts, all in hope of driving more conversions and improving the on-site experience for users.
But what are these concepts, and how can you introduce similar themes on your website? Rachel Harrison and Jane Seymour will talk through some of the most innovative websites on the market:
Rachel – As a frequent user of the Lush website, I was slightly thrown off when they re-launched their website with a refreshed main navigation. It took me a while to establish how to use the website, particularly when I switched over to my mobile to continue with some sale shopping that I started on a desktop device.
Despite this, I love the new format of category links, and how users are ultimately being encouraged to further use the search bar function. Due to a large number of different categories, I think it would be really easy for users to miss key bits of information, such as sales, without the secondary support of a sale hero image. Lush’s website is certainly one to keep an eye on to see how it evolves with these changes!
Jane – From a design perspective, although much less fussy and much cleaner, which in my opinion is always a winner, I question whether taking away the use of the main nav would throw users off. This comes purely from understanding the perspective of users who do not like change. Without the familiarity of those three little lines that we all know (and love), or those keywords equally placed in a row along the top header bar, I personally think it looks unfinished. It’s almost like the page hasn’t completely loaded yet.
Another thing to note is that without the use of arrows on either side of the tags, users may not know that there are more categories to explore.
With all this said, I hope that we start to become more familiar with this new way of navigation. It’s simple, clean and easy to use… once you get the hang of it!
Jane – Zara. The winners of white space. This brand website really knows how to do the whole ‘less is more thing’. Personally, I like the way their site looks, but the functionality and practicality of it, not so much.
The burger menu is SO subtle that it could be missed. I do like the list function on the left-hand side when choosing clothing categories, but I think users start to become thrown off when another nav appears at the top, after choosing one. It would make much more sense to me for all the subcategories to expand and collapse from underneath the main category, all in the left-hand side nav. Because this keeps everything all in one place.
Rachel – When we asked the connective3 team about which navigations they had particularly strong feelings towards, Zara was the website that was frequently mentioned. It was a split opinion overall, mainly because of some of the issues that Jane talks about above. So the question is: Are we going to see more websites go down the route of choosing aesthetics over usability?
Rachel – Spotify has mastered its design, making it as simplistic as possible for users to be able to navigate, and in the least number of steps, users can get to the area that they require. Like the app, Spotify continues to prove to be easy to use – with its especially slick design making it easy for users to switch from mobile to desktop devices.
Often, brands can have websites and apps with completely different identities, making it more challenging for users. I expect over the next year to see brands further aligning their website designs and apps with one another, to provide a seamless experience for users no matter the device they use.
Jane – Spotify is one of those interfaces that all designers wish they had designed. It’s sleek and easy to use. For me, ‘dark mode’ designs are always much more striking. What more could you want!?
Rachel – Whenever I think about going on holiday, I will always use Skyscanner as a starting point to look at new countries that I could visit. On desktop, this site provides a great experience, and it always gives me ideas that I came to the website to find.
However, recently I’ve found that on mobile it’s quite the opposite. The navigation on mobile is so subtle, that it can easily make you go around in circles; making it quite challenging to find flights that are suitable. Going forwards, I will be using the website on desktop for ease, or at least until it gets a little bit easier to navigate on mobile!
Jane – The Skyscanner desktop navigation is a strong example of a nav filter system that is done very well. As Rachel said, on desktop it’s easy to use, giving you all the right and relevant options all in one place.
On mobile, however, there is a distance between the two. They almost appear like different sites, making the usability on mobile a different experience to that on desktop. I think it is important for brands to maintain continuity between mobile and desktop interfaces so they can easily switch between the two when needed, and be familiar with how to use them in synergy.
Is the hamburger gone for good?
Overall, we have seen that generally, companies are coming away from your traditional navigation bars and exploring different options to provide users with a choice on how to navigate a website. Even companies such as Made.com have expressed an interest in getting more creative and different with their marketing strategies, which shows that there is still room for more drastic website changes from brands to come.
But are these more unique and different navigation styles coming at the expense of a good on-site experience? Our recommendation to a brand would be to always do some form of research before putting big website changes live, as you can never be 100% sure how your users are going to react to the change.
Likewise, if a research piece is too costly, then A/B testing the new experience is something that is always a good plan. Because taking the experimentation approach means that you can adapt your solution before setting it wild to the world. Undoubtedly, if a website change goes live then we have seen time and time again that brand perception can be impacted.
In our next UX & design piece, we are going to focus on search functionality, on-site animations and the ever-growing dark mode trend. Want more of our expert opinions on your website? Contact us today.