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I Love You IKEA, But Why Is Your Website So…?

BY: Nguyen-Ngoan  |   Aug. 25, 2018
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IKEA, iconic Swedish brand and largest furniture retailer in the world, has an inspiring vision: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”

In many ways, this vision has been achieved with its numerous well-designed products at affordable prices. For a company that puts a premium on design — collaborating with the likes of Ilse Crawford — and clever solutions, one would come to expect that such focus and direction would flow in all areas of its business, such as IKEA’s online experience. Yet despite the impressive 2.1 billion online visitors, its website has remained bland and unintuitive. It simply needs a drastic makeover.


Iwas presented with the challenge of re-imagining IKEA Australia’s website and producing a prototype that matches the unique IKEA in-store customer experience.

Note: With IKEA Australia, online shopping and click and collect options are only offered to selected states and territories. Victoria, for instance, is excluded from these options. Being based in Melbourne, this iteration will be focused on the shopping experience in Victoria.


Following a human-centred design process, I began by conducting a qualitative research. I was seeking to understand:

  1. Customers’ goals, motivations, and expectations when researching for and purchasing IKEA products
  2. Customers’ in-store and online browsing and shopping experience

I visited the IKEA store in Richmond, where I observed the customers and conducted 2 informal interviews.

customers at IKEA Richmond assessing the products, touching and feeling the fabrics and cushions

customers at the planning table area, consulting with IKEA’s design staff to create customised products

Then, I conducted structured interviews. With a total of 12 interviews, I proceeded to synthesise the data gathered and identified trends and pain points by creating an affinity map.


The rich data that I gathered pointed to the following key insights:

I also conducted rounds of contextual inquiries and studied closely the current website to determine areas that need improvement. Here are some problems I identified:


After gathering rich data and analysing customer pain points and frustrations, I was able to define the problem:


With a problem in mind and solutions at hand, I began the design process by sketching wireframes on paper. We immediately conducted usability tests, testing the design on 4 people.

I was able to obtain rich insights from the tests. I discovered that some of the labels and wordings were confusing and ambiguous and that the categorisation on the product menu was too long and overwhelming.

I went back to the drawing board and this time created high-fidelity prototypes, taking into account the feedback from the tests. Here are some of the screens I created:


Looking at the current site’s home page, there are several changes that can be done to improve the site’s interface. The global navigation bar contains redundant menus that can be combined under a main one. There are tools or features in the site that will be helpful to customers who are undertaking major home projects like kitchen renovations or closet outfitting, yet these tools are placed in the site’s footer, where they are left unnoticed.

Based on data gathered, the three main activities that IKEA customers do in-store are shop for a product, browse through the showrooms to get ideas and inspiration, and some visit the store to plan and customise products with the help of an IKEA personnel (e.g. planning a wardrobe, customising kitchen cabinets, etc.).

As such, I focused on these main activities and used them as the menu items on my proposed global navigation bar: Shop, Plan & Customise, Get Inspired.

Company information is labeled ‘Our Story’ since the current label ‘This is IKEA’ is ambiguous. Although company information is an essential part of a website and a great marketing tool, it is not primary information that a customer immediately looks for in the site. Thus, it is moved up to the secondary navigation bar, together with Membership, Customer Service, Log In, and Shopping Cart.

The website’s goal is to highlight the products and inspire people and give them ideas to improve their space through the use of IKEA items. A clean and minimal design with beautiful, full-screen images, and simple, easy-to-read fonts greet the customers.

proposed home page


With IKEA’s multitude product offerings, users can feel overwhelmed by the task of searching or viewing a certain item. This is when excellent Information Architecture is most needed.

To help users find an item as quickly as possible, I’ve included four categories under the main menu ‘Shop’.

  1. Products: allows users to search for an item based on product category
  2. Rooms: items are categorised based on the type of room
  3. Collections: shows the different collections, themes, and series (e.g. Scandinavian collection, MALM series, etc.)
  4. New Lower Prices: shows items whose prices have been reduced

PRODUCTS is for users searching for a specific item based on use and category

ROOMS is for those looking for items and complementary products based on the room they will be used in


The ‘Plan & Customise’ menu contains the tools that would help a customer create customised furniture, such as selecting fabric for a sofa or handles for a drawer, and plan when outfitting a space with items that need to be measured like cabinetry for kitchen or shelves for a wardrobe.

These tools are the same ones that are available and used in-store and highlighting them in the site will give customers the option to do the planning and customising themselves, saving them the time and effort of visiting the store.

allows the users to plan and customise on their own


One of IKEA’s store features that customers like and look forward to seeing in the stores and the catalogues are the galleries of decorated spaces. People appreciate the ideas and inspirations obtained through these showrooms and photos. And IKEA takes pride in their role of bringing inspiration to people to beautify their space and make them feel good. Thus, ‘Inspiration’ is a key feature in the website.

The current site already contains rich and beautiful content. It includes tips, home tours, decorating articles, and D-I-Y projects. However, the categorisation is again in need of improvement. When you click on the menu, the opening page is already a gallery of articles without any grouping or categorisation. For someone who is looking for a specific topic, this layout can be overwhelming and frustrating. Even a search tool is not included on this page and the website’s main search tool only functions for searching products.

opening page of ‘Inspiration’ menu

The current website does include a small, inconspicuous filter tool on the upper left-hand corner. The filter presents numerous topics in categories shown in alphabetical order, which can still be frustrating for users as they need to go through the list one by one.

current site’s filtered categories under the ‘Inspiration’ menu

In my proposed site, clicking the ‘Get Inspired’ menu will feature a gallery of the latest articles. A navigation bar appears at the bottom of the global navigation bar where categories and sub-categories are presented for easy searching.


IKEA is known for its flat-packs. This way of product packaging has its advantages but it also brings its own challenges. Many customer frustrations stem from assembling large, complicated products. IKEA’s over simplified assembly instructions do very little in helping the customers.

To address this pain point, adding a well-produced instructional video will greatly help ease the frustration. Seeing a video will also help customers assess whether this is a task that they would like to tackle themselves or call for professional help instead (through IKEA’s assembly service or third party service provider).

Also, adding basic, important information on the site will greatly benefit customers. I found out during my research that many customers assume that all the tools are always included in the pack since the Allen key and screws are always provided. But many big furniture require other tools such as a power drill or screwdriver. Thus, my proposed site includes important information regarding the number of people needed to take on the assembly task and the tools needed that are excluded in the pack.

assembly video and key assembly requirements are added on the product page


Since IKEA online shopping and click and collect options are not available in Victoria, shoppers in this area have no choice but to visit the store to purchase items. There are only two stores in the entire state, so for many, IKEA’s location may be far from their residence or place of work. Visiting the store takes time, effort, and planning, thus it’s crucial to make the most of each visit.

Given this set up, the IKEA website for Victorian shoppers is mostly used to browse for products, get inspiration, and obtain stock level information. To make it even more useful, my goal is to add improvements that would support the customer’s in-store visit and make it a smooth, enjoyable, and efficient trip.

One website feature that could do this is the ‘Shopping List’. The current website already has a shopping list tool but again, its layout and design need improvement.

Based on my research, some information that are crucial to include on the list are the packages that a product, especially a large product, consist of and a more accurate stock level data. For instance, the MALM chest of drawer comes in 2 packages with a total weight of 55 kilograms with a length of 84 centimetres. For a customer who is planning to commute or has a small car, he/she would appreciate knowing the size and weight of the items he/she will be purchasing beforehand to be able to plan in advance his/her transportation options and if he/she needs to bring a companion along.

Another key information to include is the location of the items in the store given the huge floor area and bi-level set up of the store. My proposed site includes a map tailored to the user’s specific shopping list. The map will show the most efficient route and can be sorted according to the weight of the products on the list (heaviest to lightest or vice versa).

Both the shopping list and map can be printed out, emailed and shared, and accessed at IKEA’s in-store computer terminals.

To make shopping even easier, the list and map can be viewed on IKEA’s mobile app for easy accessibility. To take this idea further, IKEA’S stores and mobile app could be equipped with an indoor map GPS solution to allow a live map feature and make product searching and way-finding much easier for customers.


IKEA is a good brand that’s providing well-designed, reasonably priced products to people, inspiring them to a better quality of life. While they are successful as a brand and company in many ways, to be truly excellent, it has to take into consideration the end-to-end customer experience, from the start of a customer browsing online down to the experience of bringing home and assembling the product.

Even before or while launching Augmented Reality and other tools that are nice to have but not necessarily a need, IKEA must address the basic, key customer journey points (searching for products, accurate stock level information, delivery, assembly, etc.) and offer the best experience in these areas.

The designs and recommendations I made on my proposed website are simple tweaks and additions that IKEA can easily apply. This is the age where an innovative, seamless, and intuitive digital experience and presence of a brand will set it apart from being good to great.

Maria Rachelle Santos

I am a purpose-driven UX designer and I am most enthusiastic when I create products and features that make a positive impact on people's lives.


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