Paragon Sports is a sports super store serving Manhattan and New York area, as well as sports-minded tourist from around the world for over 100 years. Given the vast array of products they carry, we were assigned a project to review the information architecture of the website to check all points of the user experience.
Heuristic Evaluation & Summary of Insights
Using Abby Covert method of heuristic evaluation, I evaluated the homepage, product page and check out in over 60 points of communication, rating usability of the product according to :
Overall, the primary pages of the Paragon website seem to meet expectations for an e-commerce website, noting that the website offers:
- Easy navigation through Homepage, Product Page, and Check-out with several points of entry and exit
- Breadcrumbs and filters are available to provide further assistance with navigation
- Multiple ways to get to any product or category as seems logical to a user
- Minimal use of distracting promos or animations
- Images and text that are consistent and generally pleasing
- An easy-to-reach option for human contact by email or phone
- Links to updated social media outlets are available
There are some layout and features that I would recommend to be added or improved:
- Break up details and specs in easier to read blocks, these details are currently shown in lengthy, bulleted blocks of text
- Size charts / guides should be provided for sized items, it’s currently missing
- More realistic / accurate color swatches, perhaps with texture to show fabric
- Additional product photos in different points-of-view, and consistency in showing enough detail
- Fun, engaging features/content (such as run club and ski trips) can showcase more company personality, currently it is shown at the bottom menu after a lot of scrolling
Also missing are features that might take the site to the next level. As a website dedicated to sport / performance / travel, Paragon has opportunity to inspire & motivate and could benefit from :
- Motion graphics or gifs showing products in-action
- More modernity and delight with interesting transitions
Competitive & Comparative Feature Analysis
Dick’s Sporting Goods, Modell’s, and R.E.I. were used for the competitive feature analysis, and for comparative features I referred to the Samsung website for ideas on how product (in this case unrelated) could be shown in an interesting way.
In comparison to Paragon, Dick’s Sporting Goods meets all recommendations for the product page as recommended after the heuristic evaluation. Dick’s Sporting Goods product pages have helpful size charts and product reviews from customers who’ve purchased the item with size notes such as “fit as expected” or “runs small”.
Product point-of-views are minimal on the Paragon website. For example, the trench coat shown shows only the front. Also the color swatch is not accurate to the product. Some products on the website show more views, but this feature is not consistent among all products.
Multiple POVs are shown for the trench coat on the REI website, and color swatches are accurate for color and texture of the fabric shown. It’s also shown on the body.
Additionally, specs and tech details of the product on R.E.I. were organized into more digestible blocks of “features” and “specs” set separately.
Comparator Feature Analysis
Though Samsung is showing completely different product than Paragon, it is to be noted that the show of product in live action video like Samsung does, could be of major benefit to a sports- and performance-related retail store. Samsung’s video was motivational and inspiring and a great showcase of how potential users could put themselves in Paragon’s shoes, so to speak.
To further gain insight into how a user might navigate their way through the Paragon website, I created a simple task of a user finding a bra on the Paragon website. Starting from the home page, I mapped a user’s flow surrounding this task.
After completing the task, I would go back to the home page and try it again a different way and came up with 5 different ways to get there, plus one way to get to the bra externally from Google.
Card Sorting Documentation
In order to understand if the current navigation options as laid out by the Paragon site made sense, I proceeded with a card sort. I selected 45 navigation options from the current menu and wrote them on index cards. I shuffled the cards and found some willing participants.
For the open cards sort, I instructed the participants to group them and chose a heading. Then for the closed card sort, I pre-set the headings and had them set the balance of the cards. From these card sorts, I learned that many were bucketing as close to mental model of the how the Paragon website is set up.
Observations from the Card Sorts
- There were several cards that could have been placed under a number of different Primary navigation options, and it appeared as such in the card sorts. Ex: There was only one “Jackets” card, and the placement differed by user, however the Paragon website also has jackets in multiple places.
- The Mental Model of the typical user and the set up of the website seem the same for Gender / Age and Activities. Gear & Accessories secondary nav options were more widely varied as the product that would fit the category was defined differently by participant.
- Bags/Packs + sub-cats were placed either in their own primary category, under Gear, or Women. This is also another category that was under several different headings on the website.
- Although there are many repeating secondary navigations across the gender/age categories, it seems to make sense to the user that you could look for specific product by gender/age rather than by product first and then gender/age.
Suggestions for Improvements (all to be tested)
- Add “Accessories” as a secondary navigation option for small non-apparel wearables (like watches, sunglasses, bags).
- Move “Camping” and “Recreation” from “Gear” to “Activities”.
- Try “Clothing” as a primary navigation with Gender/Age categories as secondary to see if it can streamline the categories.
- Move “Jackets” to “Clothing”
Sitemaps (Original & Revised)
I created a sitemap of the existing site with primary and secondary navigation so I could all of the categories at-a-glance.
I then created a site map of changes as informed by my card sort…
In order to see if this navigation could work, I would do another card sort changes would make sense to more users.
Overall the navigation through the Paragon site goes mostly as expected, and my main recommendations would be to provide users with more helpful and robust information in the product page that could give them more confidence in purchasing.