Today Waitrose has launched its new website. Costing £10 million pounds, we have to ask, what does it do? That is a lot of money, in developer hours it is like employing about 150 people full time for 1 year.
So, lets look at the new Waitrose site. First, SEO. Good to see that they have some nice site links on Google, and that Google has cached the homepage today – “9 Mar 2011 10:40:19 GMT”. So the design has not resulted in it being ignored by the big G. That is all on the SEO of Waitrose for now (ooh, added a bit at the bottom). Lets take a look at the site.
The site certainly looks good. Clean design, good navigation, good usability, colourful and vibrant images, nice use of images for navigation, big UK chef name dropping (Heston, see the celebrity factor is good for most businesses).
Their community looks like it is set to develop. They are now running the Waitrose Cookery School and have links to their mother company, John Lewis. I mention this only because these are things which could be easily lost, but are brought to the front well without getting in the way of the main message. John Lewis was in the news today for its excellent financial results and that John Lewis is rewarding its staff with big bonuses.
What else is good? The top feature image rotates nicely to display offers and services, such as its Brand Price Match, Spring Savings and Recipes from top chefs like Heston Blumenthal. I wonder if Heston’s burger recipe is on the site now? Oh, I see Delia is on there too.
At the top right are some customer links, such as “My Account” and “MyWaitrose”. One that caught my attention is Broadband. Waitrose have a broadband service that I was not aware of. Interesting. Low bandwidth though, only 5Gb per month, with speeds “up to 8mb”. OK for the average home user I guess, not much good for people like me.
Waitrose Top Navigation is Broken in Chrome!
OK, the nav looked good, but Waitrose’s £10 million website does not work properly in Chrome, which is the fastest growing browser from Google, the World’s most important traffic source. The drop down is shown in Chrome, but when you attempt to move the mouse it closes again. A common problem in Chrome, but one that a £10m budget should have tested and fixed. If the Waitrose web developers are reading this, then I am using Windows Vista and Chrome ver. 9.0.597.107.
They have a forum too, and it looks clean and matches the theme of the rest of the site well. It is not very active at the moment, only a few posts today. They have a thread on “Our Website”, I will look more at that later. Seems a lot of users are questioning the reason of the new website. Some problems that the Waitrose community have raised on their website are:
“What has been gained by changing the website? The new one is slow – and crashed more than once – there is no longer a ‘favourites’ facility (or I can’t find it), and using the order history to re-order is very slow, no logical grouping of the items, and often no quantity or size shown.”
“I thought the new website was appalling. It took twice as long as usual. The contrast of the text is too low. Many items are missing quantities. The search box within an aisle has disappeared meaning I have to scroll through heaps of stuff I do not want.”
“Just wanted to say well done to the Waitrose Team behind the new Website… The overhaul was well overdue and I especially like the new Deliver / Entertaining site which is much easier to use and navigate and a lot quicker too.”
Interesting comments. It loads very fast for me, at least the parts I have looked at so far. Ah, just worked out some confusion. Their comments are all upside down. Tip: Read from the bottom!
I just signed up and the process was pretty painless. Had to chose one of their few food related avatars though. I chose a piece of sponge cake.
Waitrose Home Direct
Like many other supermarkets Waitrose has its own home shopping department, similar to Tesco really. One interesting thing, some people complained about lack of search, for a moment I could not find a search bar either. But they do have one, a huge bar across the top. Looks like a big white line… maybe that has confused some people?
No META Description set
Not a massive problem as they are Google number 1 with sitelinks for their brand, but they have no meta description:
<meta name=”description” content=”” />
They have not bothered with keywords, which is understandable, but should chose a description that really sells their site in Google.
It is a nice site. There must be a huge amount of stuff going on under the hood for a £10 million price tag though, still seems excessive. Waitrose.com be one of the UK’s most expensive websites.