Techknow: State of the art - Safeway

Techknow: State of the art - Safeway - Some enrol in the 'keep it simple' school of web design (which is laudable) and never graduate (which is not). Such is Safeway, the pioneering food merchant justly admired for its in-store tests of next-generation cu

by HUNTER MADSEN
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Some enrol in the 'keep it simple' school of web design (which is laudable) and never graduate (which is not). Such is Safeway, the pioneering food merchant justly admired for its in-store tests of next-generation customer technology, such as giving shoppers digital shopping lists, portable scanners to reduce checkout time and the like.

From this retailer, one would expect a cutting-edge web site (www.safeway.co.uk).

Although the true future of groceries - online ordering and home delivery - is nowhere in evidence here, Safeway's home page makes some deft moves.

In keeping with the brand's theme of 'Lightening the Load' for busy parents, Safeway provides a clever recipe finder tool, a gallery of games to keep kids happily distracted, a meaty factsheet on foods for allergies and pregnancy, and a list of Safeway's top 10 product promotions of the moment.

The rub is that this content is submerged within a severely oversimplified site layout that refuses to put too many hyperlinks on any given page.

This forces visitors to click through superfluous screens before they arrive at the good stuff. (Just try reaching 'About Safeway'.) More annoying are the huge, merely decorative graphics of winsome tots, which slow the download of the most extraneous pages.

Safeway, let form follow function: lighten the load.

Hunter Madsen hmadsen@improvenet.com.

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