Pronto introduces new brands


 

Long time I hadn’t visited Pronto.com. Since my last visit (mid-08?), the look&feel of the homepage has not changed that much, but surprise, the category pages have a brand new layout. Also, the site structure has completely changed, Pronto.com being now split into 4 different brands. This change has been introduced in June 09 according to this press release:

Pronto is excited to announce the launch of three unique new brands under the Pronto umbrella. On June 18th, ProntoHome.com, ProntoTech.com and ProntoStyle.com will be introduced to the over 14 million consumers shopping on Pronto.com today.

What does this mean to your Pronto Merchant Solutions program? Initially, the launch of these new brands is predominantly a change to the look and feel of existing categories on Pronto. The underlying search functionality and data will not be changing. As a result, you should not expect any material changes in your click volume or click quality. Over time, however, we hope that the more tailored consumer experience will significantly increase the qualified traffic Pronto drives to retailers like you.

Some details below…

New layout for categories

I must say, I love it!

  • Clean product display. Big images, limited number of data in default view with good information hierarchy. Rolling over the product image brings a “see details” button allowing to display a pop-up with more data (i.e: product description, social features like “add to list” or user ratings). Clicking elsewhere on the image leads to the product page. The only drawback I see with this mechanism: it took me time to realize that clicking on the “see details” button would perform a different action than clicking on the product image; a timer to show the pop-up may have been better…
  • No grid view vs list view – Grid view is by default. Must have been a tough decision, but make sense in the end to reduce clutter.
  • Faceted navigation. Very simple display of facets and options displayed as simple text (no bullet points, gradients or various images…). Selected filters appears in a dedicated box above filters and are also added in the breadcrumb. I don’t really get the multi-selection mechanism: on digital cameras, after having selected the “canon” brand value, the “brand” facet is still available, letting me choose another option. Seems counter-intuitive for me: checkboxes à-la Kayak seems the best way for me to handle multi-selection, but it also makes the navigation more complex…

In fact, seeing and interacting with this new design makes me think of this article “web design is 95% typography” where the author explains “95% of the information on the web is written language […] A great web designer knows how to work with text not just as content, he treats text as a user interface”, mentioning Google, craiglist, flickr… as examples. I think Pronto has greatly applied this idea of “text as a user interface” in this redesign.

2009-07-05_2037 by you.

New site structure

The pronto.com site is the starting point of the Pronto experience, but quite quickly you are redirected to one of the following domains:

Those three sites sport a similar but slighty different design, an approach that has been retained by the new AOL Shopping launched in April, and that I find really interesting as those universes target different kind of people.

I don’t know what to think about having new site domains. I imagine it has been driven by SEO considerations (restart indexation from scratch to clean up Google index? link building between domains? get reasonable number of URLs per domain?), but it is not neutral from a branding perspective and also for the search experience…

Each site acts as a silo in terms of search index. Searching for “ipod” on ProntoTech logically brings all the Apple products, while performing the same search on ProntoHome brings Ipod accessories related to home stuff (i.e: desk lamp with Ipod dock) but no link to ProntoTech. Doing the “ipod” search on the main Pronto.com site redirects to ProntoTech.

There are also some weirdies: searching for “levis 501” on the main Pronto.com site redirects to the ProntoStyle universe, while searching for “red sneakers” brings a search result page with the “classic” Pronto style. Also, some categories that don’t fit in the new universes are still hosted on the main Pronto site (i.e: baby categories). Quite confusing, but hopefully, those issues will be fixed in the near future…

Overall, a lot of interesting ideas in those changes :)

2009-07-05_2038 by you.