The luxury retail space is a highly competitive, dynamic industry. The finest brands are all vying for the attention of high-end clients. While designers focus on the latest collections and upcoming fashion shows, developers need to make sure their luxury web design seamlessly delivers everything to the online customer.
In our Luxury Web Design Series, we analyse the online offerings of the leading luxury retail brands. This series will provide invaluable insights for businesses looking to tap into the luxury retail space. We will be analysing luxury web design, evaluating everything from user experience to mobile optimisation and retail integration. What are the biggest luxury retail brands doing online and, most importantly, what is proving most successful with consumers?
Burberry’s Luxury Web Design: Innovative Animation and Strong Brand Identity
Established in 1856 with the guiding principle that clothing should protect people from the British weather, back then Burberry was the brand of choice for hardy explorers. With the creation of their trench coat over 100 years ago, the name Burberry became synonymous with the iconic classic.
Burberry has come a long way from those humble beginnings. Now they are internationally recognised for their cashmere scarves and famous check, whilst still maintaining their quintessentially British character. Their clothes are much loved for their quality materials, sharp lines, and earthy colours.
In this article, we take a look at Burberry’s online offerings. We break down how they channel their identity and engage their digital audience with their luxury web design.
Quirky Animation and a Classy Application: Special Features Rating 3/5
One of Burberry’s special features is their innovative animation. In their Animal Kingdom campaign, they have paired each of their classic bag silhouettes with an animal. Wild cats and impressive gorilla silhouettes adorn the web page, emanating a sense of power and luxury. They have rolled out pop-up experiences across stores worldwide, alongside the creation of an equally engaging digital campaign.
Their innovative online experience includes high-quality, interactive animations that perfectly replicate the in-store models. The Animal Kingdom web page pops with eye-catching pastel pink pelicans and mint green gorillas. They have achieved the perfect balance between classy and engaging. Users can navigate between the animations before seamlessly moving through to view and purchase the products.
However, they could have made further use of moving images across the whole Animal Kingdom ‘Discover More’ section. The animations signposting you to the page build anticipation for a highly interactive experience. Whilst no doubt a great element of their site, it doesn’t live up to the expectation it builds.
An Excellent App – But Only For Apple
Burberry has created an app, but only customers with an iOS device can enjoy this aspect of digital experience. Android users currently dominate the market, therefore Burberry’s scope is limited. From August 2019 – 2020, Android was the mobile operating system for more than 53% of UK consumers. Evidently, Burberry is missing out a huge number of potential customers. Even more so when you look at worldwide figures for the same period. Android accounts for a whopping 74% of the market share, with iOS devices representing just 25%. Whilst exclusivity often equates to luxury, Burberry is missing an opportunity here. One that their competitors, including Gucci, Chanel, and YSL, are not.
Android limitations aside, they have created a beautiful application. Following the brand’s signature colour palette of black, white, and honey tones, the app fits perfectly within Burberry’s wider digital world. It also delivers far more personalisation capabilities than their online site. Users can explore personalised stories and shop recommendations curated with their preferences in mind.
Perfect Functionality: User Experience Rating 4/5
Getting where you need to be is easy with their navigation bar. They make great use of white space and muted blacks to create a beautiful finish which avoids stark contrasts. However, the lists are very text-heavy as they break their site down into numerous pages. This is great for customers who know exactly what they are looking for, but a little overwhelming for anyone simply browsing.
When browsing multiple items, Burberry makes full use of the screen width, creating a pleasant, uncluttered viewing experience. After clicking on an individual item, the page is split. One half is dominated by the vertically stacked images while the other half provides clear sizing and additional product information. This more unique viewing option does shake things up for the user and differentiates Burberry from its competitors. However, a slight drawback is the zoom function which isn’t as manoeuvrable as most users would expect.
As any luxury web design should, Burberry offers a perfectly functional user experience. Without unnecessarily reinventing the wheel, it takes a lot of imagination to create a unique and engaging navigation design. However, by interspersing their site with small but perfectly formed visual elements, Burberry catches the user’s eye and keeps them engaged.
Classy Colour Palette and Bold Videos: Visual Design Rating 4/5
Burberry’s home page engages all their customer bases, highlighting their recent collections for adults and children as well as their unique projects and installations. Providing an intoxicating mix of classy animations, sharp photography, and image carousels to immediately engage the user.
The muted pastel colours of their Animal Kingdom animations strike the perfect balance between classy and quirky. While the tongue-in-cheek moving images are a fun addition, they retain the sense of luxury with the stylish choice of colours.
The colour palette is strictly in line with the brand, making smart use of the black, white, and honey which they are famous for. However, it does make for a very neutral platform. Bolder use of colour to pull the user in wouldn’t go amiss.
In 2010, Burberry was the first brand to live-stream a fashion show and since then they have continued capitalising on the engaging potential of video. Live-action video snippets have become the norm for luxury web design in retail. However, Burberry takes its offering to the next level. Their ‘Discover the Trench Coat’ section utilises seamlessly embedded video snippets along with rotating photos and image carousels, to bring to life the intricate construction of their iconic coat. Highlighting the 180 hand-sewn stitches that create the perfectly rounded collar in an engaging way is a tricky job they have executed perfectly.
While Gucci’s website is classically minimalist, Burberry makes greater use of text in their white spaces. Their copy introduces their collections with aesthetic continuity throughout the site.
All in all, Burberry applies consistent, understated details across their website to create a sense of familiarity for the user. Their brand identity is consistently conveyed, and their design choices create a sense of trusted tradition, the foundation of any luxury retail brand.
A Minimal Aesthetic for Handheld Devices: Mobile Optimisation Rating 3.5/5
Burberry’s mobile site is a far more paired back, visual affair. There is little context provided for the images on their homepage. Whilst the quality of the photographs can’t be questioned, it doesn’t deliver the same user experience as their desktop site.
Where the more minimalist aesthetic does work, however, is the navigation bar. It is far more simplistic than the text-heavy desktop version, yet still extremely easy to find even the most specific pages.
Speed and functionality vary across the mobile site. The zoom feature is a lot more responsive on mobile devices, making for a great user experience. However, while the rich details provided by the multiple short videos dotted throughout the site are not lost when using mobile, slow loading times do delay viewing across some pages.
Unobtrusive eCommerce: Retail Integration Rating 3.5/5
Burberry’s eCommerce customer journey is simple and unobtrusive for the casual browser. Beyond the homepage, there are minimal calls to action and instead, the focus is on colour options, availability, and price. It couldn’t be easier to find items in nearby stores, with a pop-up window and map providing clear and accurate information. If anything, they could push for sales a little more than they currently do.
They are smart in providing an option to go straight to purchase from the home screen, with the ‘Shop Now’ button. It’s not very often you can get to the digital till with just one click, which Burberry intelligently employs to take away any distractions. However, a ‘Buy Now’ button, whilst not as classy, would be clearer for a first-time visitor.
Another understated element of their eCommerce is using an image of an outfit, as opposed to the individual item, as the first product image you see. Straight away customers can see how to style the item, are offered a complete outfit choice, as well as matching items. With just one image, Burberry achieves much of what a shop assistant and clothing display do in-store. Even if a customer is after a different item, the ‘Wear With This’ bar underneath means any item pictured is only two clicks away.
Burberry’s Luxury Web Design: Unexpected Animation and Consistent Brand Identity
Burberry’s website is not as forthcoming with its calls to action and personalised shopping experiences as some of its competitors, which are definitely areas that could be improved. However, their careful visual design using consistent form and colour makes for a seamless online experience which delivers powerful brand identity. Their excellent use of animation and video is crucial to engaging their customers and puts the fun in perfectly functional luxury web design.