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Nordstrom, long known for delivering one of the best customer experiences in retail, totally revamped its website last weekend. The site is focused on serving and puts the customer in control right from the start. No matter how you think about shopping, there's a pathway for you to get to the information and products you want in a way that feels right for you. When you visit www.nordstrom.com, check out the department | brand | conversation tabs across the top and the "Narrow By" drop down menus just under the brand names. Just a few clicks and you're right where you want to be. 

Unlike many other retail sites that fail to marry a great design aesthetic with the efficiency of an on-line category, Nordstrom's effort hits the mark and is an example for other retailers to follow. Nordstrom delivers both with a focus on fashion and the feeling of being in the store. Short, powerful copy titles floating panels on the home page and a drop down menu system makes it super-easy to shop by department, brand, or lifestyle. Three clicks is all it takes to get practically anywhere in the site. Clothes are presented with, get this, people in them! Instead of lifeless fabric resting flat for the camera or on a hanger, each garment is worn by a real person so you can envision it better. Click on any image to see the back. Details about colors, sizes, fit, and shipping are available on the same page. 

Subcategories for men, women, and teens have their own submenus designed to appeal to that category of shopper. Ship or pick-up options are available at the first level of product information, not at checkout. Rollover magnification allows you to see the detail you're paying for. 

Most interesting to me is the Conversation tab which lets shopping start by guiding site visitors to explore various lifestyles through real people's opinions and experiences. In the videos, you'll hear about why people wear certain clothes, how they pick a wardrobe, and how their clothes reflect their own sense of style. The guides talk about how clothes make them feel, help them do their work, and become part of their lives. A mix of photos, strong copy, quotes, videos, and background imagery is provided so that you can feel like you're actually conversing with each guide. Every detail has been carefully thought through. There are not mistakes here (that I found ;-)

Nordstrom's does a great job of tying in social media including comments from customers, voting options, and questions from customers. To go even deeper, I'd like to see Nordstrom's provide for comments on the brands and individual items. I'd also like to see Nordstrom experiment with sharing some of their customers' mix-and-match recommendations as well as thinking on what to wear based on situations and events. That would personalize the site experience by reflecting the real Nordstrom's in-store experience. 

Before you embark on your own site design or redesign, check out www.nordstrom.com for some great ideas. 

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Mike Wittenstein
Mike Wittenstein, founder of Storyminers, is a practicing customer experience consultant and speaker with over two decades of experience. His work has taken him to more than 25 countries and he has helped over 400 companies with his expertise in using customer experience design as a strategy for increasing sales and profit.
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