Is IKEA Hong Kong A Real IKEA?

I am not familiar how the entire IKEA organization is structured but if you look at how its websites are built, it seems that its Hong Kong branch is not part of the group. Or maybe a forgotten part of the group. It is easy to tell from a mere visit to various other sites, and to Hong Kong’s.

IKEA United Arab Emirates

IKEA France

IKEA Sweden

IKEA Singapore

These pages are alike in layout and may have adopted a type of template to reuse, tweak and refine based on local preferences. For example, menus on US and Canadian sites are geared towards consumers while Singapore’s is more corporate. Nonetheless, these three share the same layout that is easy to navigate around.

The main point of this blog is not the difference in that IKEA Hong Kong has from other IKEA sites. It is the unavoidable comparison that makes IKEA Hong Kong website look really ugly.

IKEA Hong Kong

  • Animated text is so 1999. I can’t imagine a website still uses this old-fashioned design. Not that IKEA HK website hasn’t been updated for years; its footer shows it’s 2009 now. Unless it uses JavaScript to detect the current year and displays it. Animated GIF is excusable, animated text isn’t
  • Paste-a-large-JPEG are ideal for lazy people. IKEA HK doesn’t seem to care about the real purpose of a website. Is it an extension of a newspaper page? Is it supposed to be just a brochure page that provides convenience to people who want to browse products?
  • ikea-hk2

  • Search engines can’t see what’s an image is all about. As a corollary to the previous point, using large graphic in a page not only requires significant amount of time to load (for slower connections), but it also prevents search engines from crawling content embedded in the image. Heck, the text content in the graphic isn’t even legible enough.
  • Signing up for updates looks like an exam paper to me. “Register to receive on our latest promotions” is attractive enough for someone looking for new arrivals, product features or bargain offers. However, following the link leads to an off-putting 15 sets of questions! Unless you will not send me updates on products meant for a thousand square feet household, when I fill up the form and tell you I live in a shoebox, that list is an awful lot of questions. Mind you, all fields are required
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    All fields are required. You might qualify for a raffle draw when you complete the form.

  • Going back to homepage from inside pages can be a painful experience. Try going to the IKEA Services page and return to homepage without using your browser’s back button. Typically we see “Home” in the navigation window, but it’s not there. Typically we can click on the logo on the top left corner to go to the homepage, but it’s not a link. Good thing there’s a breadcrumb navigation that leads us back to the homepage. However, to those who are not used to this, a simple task can get complicated.
  • Search engines can’t believe in “a picture paints a thousand words”. I just thought that since homepage navigation menu is so small, it has to be replicated in the middle of the page. For example, tips & ideas are both accessible in the menu and at center of the homepage, adorned with a blinking light bulb. IKEA often makes use of images to embed text content so that there very little amount of text that search engines can crawl.

Let’s illustrate a few personas who might end up going to the IKEA Hong Kong website:

  1. Newly-married couples. Needs to know what are new sofa models. Would find a website helpful if individual sofa models have easy to find catalog of products complete with description, measurements, price and stock availability.
  2. New parents with babies or growing up kids. They need information on child safety on newly-purchased children’s room accessories. They need safety tips and other useful information so they can sleep properly while children are on their own.
  3. Inexperienced buyers. IKEA prides itself as a company that encourages customers to assemble their furniture. That’s a good thing but not necessarily to everybody. There are those who want to do it on their own but want guidance. Sometimes paper manuals are even hard to follow. They need videos on unpacking and assembling their new possessions.

Are the necessary information being supplied by the current IKEA website? Let the people representing these personas answer the question. Or to expedite things up, IKEA can check on what might its customers and the general public to know more about IKEA. By doing so, IKEA can better connect to its customers and search engines by adding such content on the web. One of the ways this can be accomplished is by looking at the other IKEA websites as reference.

Maybe IKEA is just so accessible that a call or a visit is just more practical than surfing online. But let’s not forget its role; its web presence is supposed to complement — not replace — what already exists (posters, TV ads, email messages and in-store promotional materials). Providing more avenues to learn more about IKEA and its products could potentially translate to a windfall of customers.

The question on IKEA HK being truly a part of the rest of IKEAs in the world has already been answered. Yes it is. So I hope IKEA HK revamp this ugly website and think more about its customers before it comes up with designs.