Free People was founded in 1984 and joined the ecommerce marketplace with the launch of www.freepeople.com 20 years later, in 2004. The brand had developed a strong and loyal customer base over the years in their stores across the nation, and expanding to the ecommerce realm was a natural and beneficial jump for this exciting brand.
One of the first things that becomes apparent is that the customer in the brick-and-mortar Free People store and the customer on the website are welcomed by the very same whimsical, bohemian aesthetics that are so central to the Free People brand itself. The continuity between the physical stores and the ecommerce site is essential to not only retaining loyal customers who shop in-store, but also to recruiting new customers in the often-oversaturated online fashion marketplace. While Free People did a fantastic job of creating a website that speaks to its brand, we believe there are functional aspects of the user experience that could be improved upon, such as the navigation bar.
While the navigation bar has an ideal location, above the fold and centered on the web page, adding drop-down menus for subcategories would be a smart addition to make it easier for the user to navigate the site.
Moving further into the site, the product pages are overall extremely informative with reviews, descriptions, and sizing information. However, some of the products have lifestyle photos as the only product images. While that is certainly a great view to offer, still including more basic shots of the product from different angles would help the customer get a better look at what they are buying and perhaps increase conversion rates.
Free People does a good job of incentivizing new customers to make their first purchase by providing free shipping on your first order if you sign up for their email list. This is a strong incentive because it not only lets a customer try out the brand without paying a crazy shipping fee, but it also benefits the brand by establishing a way to follow up with that customer in the future.
Moving from user experience to SEO, there is a lot of room for improvement on Free People’s site. Starting with their homepage, it could use more text—text that would contain keywords to help FreePeople.com show up in relevant searches by potential customers.
On the topic of keywords, Free People has taken a great first step towards making sure they are ranking by having a blog, however, they’ve made it too difficult to actually find the blog on the site. Since they are taking the time to create fresh content, they should showcase it by placing the link in the navigation bar or enlarging the current button that links to the blog. Similarly, it’s great that the site has a site map, but it should also list pages, and their H1s should not be the site’s logo.
Free People has a strong “social voice,” which is a great branding tool and makes them fun to follow. They should use that strong social voice to engage with their fans and followers. In order to grow their following and supplement the engagement they should make their social buttons on their homepage larger so that visitors can connect with them more easily. It’s great that they have their social buttons on the product pages, but adding them to the home page would provide a stronger social call-out.