Vodafone UK redesign – clean and simple on the surface, but it ain’t necessarily so.

New Vodafone DesignNew Vodafone Website design

Vodafone were certainly well over due for a redesign of their website, and so I was pleasantly surprised when I went to look up some contact details and found that redesigned they had…. and what a nice change. Compared to previous design (you can see more or less what it was like here), this design is calm and controlled and much less frantic. The old design used to make me feel stressed even before I started trying to negotiate it. My starting point with this new design is much more positive.

How have they achieved this? Dramatically cutting down the complexity and busyness of the old design and taking a much simpler and more cleanly structured approach. The clear division of the personal and business section certainly helps this, but even within the sections, significant work has been done with the information architecture to achieve this apparent simplicity.

But does the new design work better?

The thing that *really* aggravated me on the old website was the web interface for buying new ‘Pay As You Go’ credit, or Topping Up. I could find the functionality very quickly, but ended up caught in an endless cycle of error messages that never resulted in a sale.

So, I tried to perform this task on the new website and I found:

  1. it was much harder to find where I was supposed to go to ‘top up’. Perhaps this is low down on the Vodafone priority list (although I’d be surprised at this… a whole lot of Vodafone customers PAYG customers). The information scent around this functionality is much weaker than on the previous website. I assume, although I’m not entirely certain, that I would find it somewhere in the ‘Manage Your Account Online‘ section…. I tried this after I tried Shop and My Vodafone without success.
  2. it looks to me as though this design just re-skins the horrid software that I’ve battled with in the past to ‘top up’ my PAYG account (it certainly has the same look about it). I gave up when I struggled with the log in. Given that there is virtually no information provided as to what exactly I can ‘manage’ in this section, there is little incentive go through the registration process and maintain patience with the system.

So, from this quick evaluation, it seems to me that although the Vodafone redesign is, in some respects, an improvement on the previous site, particularly with regards to visual appeal, there are still plenty of opportunities for Vodafone to deliver a much more impressive customer experience online… perhaps focussing a little less on the flashy animations (yes, they’re still there, just on the lower level pages now), and more on supporting user tasks.

A step in the right direction though. I wonder if this design is now going to be implemented globally?

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4 Responses to “Vodafone UK redesign – clean and simple on the surface, but it ain’t necessarily so.”

  1. Olly Wright December 5, 2006 at 8:44 pm #

    Funnily enough I was clicking through the site last night and came to the same conclusion. Initially the look and feel gives a good impression, but as soon as you start clicking around you get easily lost. A case of visual design leading over IA my diagnosis. I’d be curious to know how many user tests this thing went through during development, my guess would be not many.

  2. Olly Wright December 5, 2006 at 8:47 pm #

    fyi Vodafone don’t have a unified web architecture so rolling this out across all their territories would be quite a feat. Since vodafone internationally comprises a mixed bag of acquired telcos, my guess would be they just inherited whatever web architectures are in place.

    For what it’s worth I am a happy vodafone customer, for the simple reason they have a great 3G network.

  3. leisa.reichelt December 12, 2006 at 5:16 pm #

    hey Olly, glad to see we had the same experience of the site. I agree.. perhaps a little too much emphasis on pretty and not enough on usefulness.

    I was aware that there were dozens of different Vodafone sites (not running off the same platform), but from my experience of dealing with Vodafone in Australia they were quite restricted in terms of what they could and couldn’t do to their website by the design template and IA that had been adopted globally.

  4. Mr S.Bain July 20, 2007 at 7:21 pm #

    I’ve had similar problems trying to remove content control,unable to find any way to unlock it despite following all pointers:I tried ‘phoning customer services as per instruction on website only to be told ” I’m sorry, i can’t do that you’ll have to go on vodaphone live” Which is where i had just come from.I’m just going around in a circle,disappointed and frustrated.

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