John Lewis – great fluid design pity about the tables

This week I discovered the John Lewis website and I must say it has mightily impressed me. The only thing that troubles me is the HTML/Javascript code lying beneath.

Admittedly, isn’t as awful as some (we’ve all seen worse) it isn’t as forward thinking as the website would suggest. A quick View Source reveals the culprit… Microsoft Visual Studio.NET 7.0

What does right

  1. Fluidity. This site looks as though it was designed for 800*600 and 1024*768 and doesn’t look too shabby on even big screens either. This is hard to pull off but then again they’ve used tables so they have cheated.
  2. No fly-out menus. When I first saw this site. that’s what I was expectin and I didn’t get it thankfully.
  3. A quality footer. Packed with information that was clearly part of the designer’s thoughts early-on. It’s very welcome and lets people find useful information with ease (well those who scroll anyway).
  4. Their related products are easy to add to basket at the same time as adding the item you want. I can only imagine upsale/items per order is quite high on this site.
  5. The customer service page is full of information and instead of hiding behind a link called FAQ (which by the way no non-web designers understand the meaning of) they show the customer the most important questions in plain English.
  6. The order telephone number is clearly displayed as soon as you get to the checkout.
  7. You are only asked to register once you have bought. No usernames & passwords if you don’t want them. Hurrah!

What does wrong

  1. I’d find it very interesting to see the stats or see some people using this site as I don’t think it’s overly obvious which parts of the page are clickable. Each department has a landing page with images linking to the main subcategories but to me they just look like decoration and not links.
  2. It could be argued that the design is overly simple. I might have added a splash more colour but it is very fittng with John Lewis branding so it isn’t a big issue.
  3. The contrast on buttons makes it difficult for me to tell what they say let alone someone with poor vision.
  4. The checkout process is too reliant on JavaScript. I turned JavaScript off and I wasn’t able to click any buttons and progress with an order. That’s just poor.Once again .NET is the criminal mastermind behind this.


I would dearly love to know the conversion rates, checkout process drop-off rates and everything about this site. I feel from a customer point of view it’s close to perfection but could do with a little TLC to fully maximise profits. I am going to be using John Lewis as a huge inspiration for the next stage of JJB’s development.

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