Usability Review #2: ALIEXPRESS

In continuation with ‘Why does your Product need a Usability Review?’ , we have done a healthy exercise. We picked some applications randomly, reviewed it, and identified the elements which are leaving the users struggling in some way.

You might also want to look at Usability Review #1: Noom. 
This time, we picked the mobile app of Aliexpress.com.

What is Aliexpress?

Aliexpress is an online retail service (ecommerce portal) much like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal, in it’s basic functionality. It is a service made up of small businesses in China and elsewhere, offering products to international online buyers.

AliExpress is the most visited e-commerce website in Russia and was the 10th most popular website in Brazil.

The main difference between Aliexpress and sites like Amazon is that Aliexpress does not sell products directly to consumers. It rather connects Chinese businesses with buyers.

What do we love about Aliexpress?

  1. The product range is much better than standard sites like Amazon, Flipkart…though quality of products may not be known.
  2. The app navigation process is easy if the user has done something like this before.
  3. The app communication is direct, simple and complete in most scenarios.
  4. The layout of the application is simple and consistent.
  5. The visual styling is very consistent with the business model.

What did we review Aliexpress app for?

We decided to review the app for the following three yardsticks:

  1. Relevance
  2. Usability
  3. Workflow

First Impression

We found the landing page to be a bit overwhelming but good, because while a normal user may get confused looking at the multitude of products, the app gives them a feeling of an open marketplace which tends to work in its favour.

However, the problem is authenticity. Due to the rather generic visual language, the lack of a logo in the header, the slightly randomised product listing and some minor aesthetic considerations, the whole app gets a very “buy at your own risk” feel.

Screenshots of the landing page of the app

Evaluation For Relevance

We asked questions like, “Is the app experience tailored to the audience it is trying to cater to?”, “Are the products and/or the service such that the target audience is enticed?” and so on…

The app has good approachability because the information representation, product range, offerings etc. cater to the simplistic design tastes of the target consumer group. It also has a good product and price range keeping in mind the target consumer group.

The app suffers from low brand differentiation because users cannot identify with the brand of Aliexpress as a unique identity, something which their competitors have succeeded in achieving to some extent.


Workflow and Navigation

Basic information architecture of the app

PROS

The app has a functional similarity with other apps like Amazon, Flipkart or Snapdeal, so the user does not have to learn anything new in order to use the app. Another good feature is the search by image functionality in the master search by which a user can capture a photograph using their mobile phone camera (via the app) and the app will search for similar products. This works very well for users who don’t know what a product might be called, or for those with linguistic limitations.

CONS

The progressive disclosure is confusing in some sections like Flash Deals, where a user expects a product detail page to open, but is instead redirected to another listing page. The menu structure in the app is not as good as that on the web version which makes navigation as well as category browsing less interesting and sometimes outright difficult.

Some Selected Usability Problems On Specific Pages

SEARCH PAGE — The search page has a low interpretation value because the highlighted arrows are of ambiguous meaning.
SEARCH RESULTS — The page has low user control due to missing buttons of crucial functional and navigational value.
FILTERS SECTION — this drawer has too high user control which works as a confusing point and a disadvantage for an otherwise good concept.

Detailed Heuristic Evaluation Report Card

This report card evaluates the app with reference to multiple factors as mentioned as reference guidelines in the Weinschenk and Barker Classification for Heuristic Evaluation.


These are just an ounce-ful of thoughts on improving the usability. Let us know what you would do differently or suggest for spreading a better experience out there.

Do you own a product? 
What do you do for usability review? 
If you do a rigorous user testing, doesn’t that cost a fortune? Well, Usability Review serves the same purpose, the only difference is we could do it for free. Get a FREE Usability Review done here.

There might not be a lot of WOW moments, but that’s not gonna hurt for sure. Because finding those spots and converting them to WOW is what we are doing this for, isn’t it ?