Case Studies - Portfolio site for User Experience consultant Barry Briggs

Matalan Online - ecommerce Website Design - Case Study

Written by Barry Briggs / Date: 10/06/2009


This project's main goal was to define a new ecommerce site for Matalan on the BT Fresca platform. My work involved creating a site map and a set of fully annotated wireframes.

Matalan did not have any customer research, nor was any research commissioned, so my work was informed solely by established best practise in conjunction with my own experience and domain knowledge having worked on other retail ecommerce sites before.

This was not an ideal situation as I prefer to make design decisions based on research and proven data, but so many projects happen under less-than-ideal circumstances and upon reflection, I am happy that we produced an engaging result that served Matalan's customers well and converted at a significantly higher rate than the client's stated KPIs.


Matalan is one of the UK’s leading clothing and homewares retailers offering quality fashion and homewares at up to half the equivalent high street price.

Prior to 2008 Matalan’s online presence was limited to a brochure-ware site which promoted their off-line catalogue and their in-store Reward Card schemes. The company did not have the fulfilment infrastructure or the stock levels to support the additional demand an ecommerce site would generate.

However, in the second quarter of 2008 Matalan decided to change this and commissioned Code Computerlove to design a contemporary and functionally rich ecommerce-enabled site using the BT Fresca platform.


Phase 1 of this project was to build an ecommerce site to run in parallel with their existing non-transactional site. The ecommerce site was to carry a limited range of stock and serve as a proof of concept for the organisation while they better established their order fulfilment and customer services infrastructure ready to handle higher volumes of sales and enquiries.


My role for phase 1 was to define the information architecture and feature-set for the new ecommerce site, create wireframes for page templates, define any interactive elements on the new site and ensure that any user journeys between the ecommerce site and existing site were coherent and clearly sign-posted.

The phase 1 trial ecommerce site was a huge success and conversion far exceeded Matalan’s expectations, so much so that the plans for a full roll-out of their entire product range were brought forward by 3 months.

Phase 2

Phase 2 of the project involved merging the two sites into one fully-featured ecommerce site, and to turn off the non-transactional site. This involved migrating existing elements on the old site, such as the Store Finder and Reward Card sections, over to the new site.

I produced a full content inventory for the old site along with an updated set of wireframes to illustrate how the ecommerce site’s architecture and key navigation would be revised to accommodate the new content.

Phase 2 went live in April 2009 and the non-transactional site has now been turned off. I have since recommended a series of smaller, conversion-focussed updates based on the feedback from monthly analytics reviews. These iterative updates have been very successful in maintaining and improving traffic and conversion across the site.

It is hoped that future iterations of the site will be informed by usability testing, along with a structured programme of A/B and MVT testing.