We're quite excited to be able to launch a refreshed look for SFFLAB, ahead of 2019! While our original website worked well enough, we've learned a lot over the past year about how enthusiasts use the website, including some areas where the user experience needed improvement. Today's relaunch marks only the first of a series of changes we'll be rolling out over the next few weeks, but as our first '2.0' deployment it contains much of what's been under development internally.
Beyond the more obvious aesthetic refresh, there are a few functional changes that I want to call out, since they're what will make the most meaningful positive difference to those who use our website:
- Revamped product pages. Our original product pages were alright, but they took a "one-size-fits-all" approach to presenting information, which led to awkward pages for simple things (like parts and accessories) and nagging limitations for fuller-featured products (like enclosures). Our new website, comparatively, is modular and pragmatic, fitting the structure of the page more precisely to the content we want to share. This manifests itself in a lot of different ways, but some highlights would include:
- Quick info. Products now have a consistently formatted section above-the-fold (read: always at the top of the page), where you can quickly glean important info relevant to that item. Things like what's in the box, what warranty coverage you'll get, or the primary specs for the product are now easy to skim and much easier to find, compared to before.
- Dynamic fulfillment information. Until today, we only had the ability to provide limited guidance on order deadlines and fulfillment dates for certain products. We often complimented this with alert banners to try and explain order deadlines and shipping dates, but some customers were confused by this way of conveying that critical information. Now, on each product page, we provide granular fulfillment info for all products and variants, all in one place: the "Important Information" section, which exists inline with the configurable product options customers interact with. Furthermore, this information carries through to the cart as well, allowing customers to see when all of their items will ship at-a-glance.
- Product alerts. These used to be buried below the primary info pane for product pages, but now surface inline above the fold. We bet you won't miss 'em!
- Back-in-stock notifications. We've implemented the ability to be notified of restocks in a limited fashion already, but we've since expanded this to cover SFFLAB's entire catalogue of products, not just those which were introduced in a preorder state. Now, you don't ever need to manually check in to see if an item you're interested in is available; you can instead subscribe to be notified when the exact item you want is back in stock.
- Native responsive design. Whereas our original website kinda-sorta worked ok on mobile, our new website supports it natively, greatly improving the appearance and navigability of our website on your phone or small tablet.
- Improved navigation and search. As our catalogue expands, the need for intuitive navigation and effective search tools will become more important, particularly for enthusiasts who are purchasing multiple items at once. With this refresh, we've implemented a more sensible navigation scheme alongside universal search, making it easier to find pages and Worklog posts as well as products and brands.
- Expanded, intelligent product badges. A large proportion of users on our website browse collections at some point, but our original website was limited in what information we could surface in this context, via product tags. To date, these tags have been limited to mentions of free shipping or preorder states. Moving forward, we've implemented functionality that's able to surface much more information – if a product is a recent addition, for instance, or if it's almost sold out. Better yet, our website is intelligent about selecting the badge that's most relevant to display, if a product fulfills the criteria for several of them.
- Our key agreements and terms, now in plain language. Things like our Terms and Conditions and Limited Warranty pretty much require that dense legalese be used. But we haven't liked that this meant so few customers actually read them, given how important transparency is to us. To combat this, we now link the relevant T's & C's, Warranty and Shipping terms from product pages, and we've added "In Plain Language" notes to all of them such that customers can quickly understand the gist of what they're agreeing to, and what that means.
These improvements collectively change a lot around the experience of shopping on SFFLAB, but as I mentioned, we're not done yet - we'll soon be rolling out additional functionality to further improve the web experience.
Got questions about the new website? Just let us know!