Usability Competitive Analysis: Forever 21

Usability is what we as designers and consumers look for in a product. We like things to be easy to learn and use. There are a few major components in usability and I have chosen Forever 21 to break down those components.


Visibility and Feedback

The system should make clear what it is doing, to the level of abstraction that is most useful for the user of that system.

Forever 21’s website needs more consistency when it comes to visibility and feedback. The navigational links at the top of the page are white. When you hover over one of the categories on the left (Women, Plus Size, Men, Girls, Beauty, Home), the color of the category you are hovering over stays white, while the rest turn gray. This is a good indicator that shows the user which category they are hovering over.

But it becomes a problem when the user moves the mouse to the subcategories that open up. When the user hovers over one of the subcategories, it becomes underlined, which indicates to the user which subcategory they are hovering over. But that isn’t the problem. The problem is that now, the categories above have all changed back to white.

It’ll be difficult for a user to figure out which category they are in because there is no indicator. To solve this, they can keep the links gray and make the transformation to white only when the mouse is hovering over it.


Mappings are the relationship between moving a control and its results in the real world.

The website is well mapped out. There is main categories that lead to subcategories that lead to sub-subcategories. This helps the user refine their search and that makes it easier for them to find what they are looking for.


Affordances are the properties of an object or interface that show how it can be used.

The main visual for Forever 21’s interface that shows which links are clickable, is the mouse. The mouse has 3 different visual properties. The black arrow pointer indicates that there is no link to click. The finger pointer indicates that the word or photo the user is hovering over is clickable and that it will most likely direct them to a new page. The last one is the icon that looks like the letter “I”. That is an indicator that the user can type sometime. This is usually shown on the search bar and during the checkout process.


Constraints are limits to the perceived operation of a device.

When adding an item to the cart, the user can visually see that they have added it. Forever 21 shows a small box with a photo and description of the product added. There is also a number that appears on the shopping cart with the number of items that are placed in the cart. The user has an option to view the cart and remove any unwanted items. Forever 21 also adds details of “Online Return Only” for certain products. And the user is made aware of that before they fully check out. The wording is in red, so that the shopper won’t overlook that detail.

Consistency and Standards

Consistency makes a product feel cohesive. Inconsistencies can make the product feel broken, disjointed or confusing.

Forever 21 does a great job at making there website look consistent, minus the links. They use a grid system to organize their photos and products. This makes their website look more cohesive and organized. And it’s pleasing to the eyes and mind!

Help and Documentation

It’s better if the system can be used without it.

Forever 21 is pretty easy to use without any help. But if a shopper had questions about their products, there is a link at the bottom that they can click to reach out for help. And they help page is well organized and categorized.

They provide different reasons to select from so that it provides better direction for the shopper and the customer support staff.


I would have to say that Forever 21 is very efficient. They provide a search bar right at the top, so that a shopper can go straight to typing what they are looking for. Their categories are very organized and detailed that a shopper can refine their search, enabling them to find their item quicker. They also add the quick view feature, which allows the shopper to quickly see and read a high level detail of the product without leaving their current spot on the page. There’s also a section at the bottom of the clicked item that shows what other customers bought with the current selected item. And that can help someone figure out what to pair with that selected item.


Forever 21 has a great feature called “recently viewed”. I remember on summer, I was browsing through their website, looking for outfits to buy for a trip that was coming up. I remember clicking on several dresses and outfits that I was interested. I did not add a lot of them to the cart because I wanted to browse more and compare the different styles. I then noticed that Forever 21 had saved and remembered all the items I had clicked, which made it easier on me. I loved this feature a lot because it saved time for me because I did not have to go back and look at the items I had looked at before, and because I was able to compare the different outfits all together on a page! Forever 21 also saves previously used shipping addresses and credit cards (optional) and cart items as well. So for memory, I would give forever 21 an A+!


Personally, the only error that I have come by with using this website is selecting the wrong category because of the confusing hovering link issue. Other than that, there wasn’t any errors I came across. With Forever 21, it’s easy to add or delete an item from the cart. And their webpage runs pretty smoothly with no error.


Overall, I do like Forever 21 and their website. I shopped there several times and will continue to shop there. The website is clean and easy to use and their special features make my shopping experience great. I absolutely love the recently viewed feature the most. And that feature will definitely make me want to shop there more! :)

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