The Task-Based UX Benchmark Study

UserZoom ran a quick competitive UX benchmark study between Claire’s and Accessorize, two internationally known accessories and jewellery retailers, to see how users experienced navigational and core tasks, as well as how they rate their overall experience on these websites.

  • We ran an unmoderated remote task-based benchmark study with 60 in-the-wild users on their own devices over the course of a single day
  • Participants were equally divided between the companies’ UK sites so that 30 went to www.claires.co.uk and 30 went to uk.accessorize.com
  • They completed several tasks while on the site: a screenshot click test, a tree test on their main menu and a task-based test, where we asked them to find a pom pom bag charm, an item described on both sites as a top new trend
  • We also measured their brand perception and how they rated their overall experience

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First impressions are lasting impressions

For starters we wanted to know the users’ first impression to both of the contenders’ sites. We showed all 60 participants images of the Claire’s and Accessorize homepages and asked them to choose which site they associated with several UX attributes.

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Opinions this week seem to be very balanced. Both sites are almost equally associated with the terms Welcoming, Trustworthy, Informational and Helpful. And even though Claire’s is more related to the term Lively, it is also associated the most with the term Overwhelming. On the other hand, Accessorized was preferred by more participants to be described as Organized and Easy.

Round one goes to Accessorize!

Screenshot Click Test

To understand if visitors were able to easily find important information, we showed them each an image of the assigned contender’s homepage. Based on that image, we asked them to complete a simple task: “Where would you click first if you wanted to join the site’s newsletter?”

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60% of the Claire’s homepage visitors succeeded on this test by clicking on the one option the site offers for registering to the newsletter: the ‘Sign up to our email club’ field in the bottom of the page. The rest of the participants clicked on other parts of the homepage: 10% on the ‘What’s New’ menu option, 3% on the ‘Accessories’ menu option, 3% on the ‘Contact Us’ menu link, 10% on social media buttons and the rest clicked somewhere else.

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The Accessorize site also provided visitors only one option to join their newsletter; an option located on the bottom of the homepage that clearly stated ‘Sign up to our newsletter’. 70% of the participants clicked in the one correct option while the rest of the participants clicked in non-valid locations: 7% wrongly clicked on the ‘New’ menu option, 3% on the ‘Offers’ menu option, 7% clicked on the ‘Log in’ button and the rest clicked elsewhere.

With a 10% more success, Round 2 goes to Accessorize!

Tree Test

Good information architecture is necessary for providing a good search experience. To evaluate the findability, labeling and organization of the contending sites’ structures we placed participants in a plausible scenario: “Let’s say you are invited to a fancy event and you are looking for an accessory like the one on the picture to enhance your look.

Participants then were shown the site’s menu structure as a list of topics and were asked to select the area where they think they would find a black feather and mesh headpiece like the one above. Once finished they would mark the task as completed and if they reached the requested info the task would be rated as Success.

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Both UK sites have dedicated menu options where fascinators can be found. The Claire’s site keeps them in one section called ‘Occasion Hair’. On Claire’s site only 3% of the participants chose the correct option while most of the participants chose wrong options like the ‘Hats & Scarves’ option (53%) or the ‘Dress Up & Fancy Dress’ option (17%), both under the ‘Accessories’ category, as the place they would expect to find a fascinator.

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The Accessorize site has two menu options where fascinators can be found: ‘Hair & Fascinators’ under both the ‘Accessories’ and ‘Occasion’ categories. On the Accessorize site 33% of the participants chose the correct options: 3% under the ‘Occasion’ category and the other 30% under the ‘Accessories’ category. Still, a huge 33% of the participants thought the specified hair piece would be found under the ‘Hats’ option.

Round 3 also goes to Accessorize!

Online Task-Based Test

Fashion trends change quickly and retailers have to provide an easy way to find those statement pieces that web visitors are looking for. Both of the contenders highlighted the pom pom bag charms as a hot trend on their webpages, so to evaluate the navigation on the contending sites we had all participants complete one task-based test: find a hot-pink faux fur pom pom bag charm and reach it’s details page.

To evaluate the success of the task, validation through an URL was used so that only participants who reached any pink pom pom keychain/bag charm would have the task be rated as success and then be redirected to further questions. Both sites offered more than one possible correct item.

A Non-Success result meant that the participant decided to abandon the task.

So, how did the two challengers do?

Results show that 10% more participants were able to find the requested item on the Accessorize site than on Claire’s site.

Some participants had a hard time finding the bag charms and decided to abandon the task, giving the following reasons:

  • “Wasn’t sure if it should be under accessories or bags. Using the search bar I was unable to locate the item.” (Claire’s)

  • “I searched under where I thought I would find (it) under a few different places and I saw nothing. My choice was to search the entire site to see if I could find it or give up. I gave up, just like I would have in real life to look somewhere else.” (Accessorize)

Ease of Use

After the task we asked all the users who were able to complete the task successfully to rate how easy or difficult it was to accomplish, with 1 = Very Difficult, 4 = Neutral and 7 = Very Easy. This is what they said:

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Results show that participants on both websites found the task to be relatively easy to accomplish.

Still, more participants were able to find the item on the Accessorize site, which is why round 4 goes to Accessorize!

Problems & Frustrations

After the study, we asked all participants if they encountered any problems or frustrations and their responses are here:

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The “Problem & Frustrations” analysis shows that more visitors to the Accessorize site seem to be happy with the experience they had, with 53% of them selecting the “I did not encounter any problems and frustrations” while only 43% on Claire’s site chose that same option.

In comparison, Claire’s visitors complained more about having to make too many clicks to find information, being unsure where to begin the tasks, the navigation being confusing, and the site being slow, while more Accessorize visitors complained about the information being unclear.

Brand Perception

Now, let’s talk about perceptions and find out what participants were really thinking about their experience. We asked participants to rate the perception they had of the challenging brands before and after their experience on sites.

For the rating scale: 1 = Very Negative, 4 = Neutral, and 7 = Very Positive. In the pre-test survey we also included the option for participants to say they’re not familiar with the brand.

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Before participants interacted with the websites, Claire’s had a brand perception rating of 5.7 and Accessorize a 5.1 out of 7. Claire’s had 0% of users saying they were not familiar with the brand while 37% of the Accessorize participants said they were unfamiliar with the brand.

After the participants completed the different tasks, we asked if their brand perception changed. For Claire’s, brand perception fell 0.6 points while the Accessorize brand perception increased 0.2 points.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

As the final part of the study, once the participants have interacted with the sites, we asked everyone to rate how likely it was they would recommend the brands’ sites to friends, family or colleagues.

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More people would be comfortable recommending Accessorize based on their experience with their homepage.

And the winner is…

This is a knock out! Accessorize surpassed Claire’s on every task and with more positive visitors’ opinions. Sure both contenders have room for improvement but we can say that as of today, Accessorize is providing a better digital experience to its visitors.