You may remember that LEGO recently ran a survey to test out their new website design (see: Test Out the New Online LEGO Shop!), and many of our readers, as well as members of other LEGO fan sites, have given their feedback. If you have visited the Online LEGO Shop in the last couple of days, you have seen that the new design is now live. Such drastic changes can be both interesting and jarring for both the website owners and visitors, and LEGO will likely get a lot of feedback as they work out the various errors and glitches. I have been playing around with the updated website to get familiar with it, and thought to discuss the changes here as well, so we can help each other out with navigating this new maze. 🙂
Releasing a major design change on a website always has its backlash. People get into a familiar routine of how to navigate around and get things done, and they don’t like to have everything changed up on them. It’s like one day you come home, and your entire house has been reorganized; you can’t find the bathroom, your bed is facing a different direction and is in a completely different room, and your favorite coffee mug is gone. In confusing situations like this, we often shut down, throw our hands up in the air, and threaten to leave and never come back.
Ideally, website updates should be done in small doses, so people can get used to changes in a gradual way. However when a site needs a major overhaul, and/or is transferred to a new platform, there is no way around it; you have to jump in the deep end, and brace yourself for lots of angry customers and damage control. For LEGO the major change was to make the site responsive with a fluid design that can adapt to whatever device you are using to access it. You can try this now; see how the website looks on your desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet. If you only have a desktop, you can just resize your browser window to make it smaller, and watch how the site adapts to different screen sizes.
The current trend in web-design is to primarily focus on mobile devices, and don’t pay much attention to how the site looks on a desktop or laptop. So while modern websites are able to seamlessly adapt to small screens, they look out of proportion on full screen sizes. Huge images that take up the entire screen and jump around, text that is either too big or too small, and lots of unused white-space is what desktop and laptop users are tortured with, plus the need for lots and lots of scrolling and clicking. I really hope that in the not-too-far future web-design will balance out between something that looks good on both large and small devices – but that’s a topic for another discussion…
So, when you visit the new Online LEGO Shop, you will be faced with either some very big banners if you are on a desktop, or with a more proportionate layout on a small device. LEGO did take into consideration some of the feedback, and the banners on the homepage and the white space around sets are actually now smaller, but this is still clearly a mobile-first site. However, while it might not be obvious at first, there is some useful information on the homepage beside the shockingly big banners. Under the first banner, you will see a button Official LEGO Shop Guarantee. If you click on this, you will find five icons: Largest Selection, Free Delivery, VIP Rewards, Dedicated Experts, and Missing Pieces. It doesn’t matter which one you click on, they will all take you to the same page, where each of those headers are explained in more detail.
The VIP Rewards link is particularly useful because it will show you visually how many points you have, if you have any rewards available, or how many more points you need to get a reward. There are also two buttons; My Profile and VIP Transactions – the second of which will show you all your previous purchases and the points you earned on them.
The Dedicated Experts link will take you to customer service, where you can email, call, or access various help topics. The Order Missing Pieces section will take you to Bricks & Pieces, where you can either get a replacement of missing parts (this is a free service), or order extra loose pieces (this is a paid service).
Going back to the homepage, there are two other pictures under the banners, one that will take you to the same VIP page, and the other is to take you to Pick-A-Brick (which is similar to, but also different, than Bricks & Pieces – a topic I will write about separately). There are also some other useful links on the homepage; Subscribe to LEGO Shop Emails, Check Order Status, Find a LEGO Store near you, etc.
Returning to the top of the homepage is where you will see the main navigation buttons to actually do your shopping. On mobile devices this shows up as a dropdown menu under the Shop button, and on desktops it appears as a horizontal banner. You can look at Sets, Exclusives, Bricks, Extras, and Discover. You can click on any of these to reveal a sub-menu. I’m not going to go through all of them as most are self-explanatory, but I wanted to point out a few features that you may be looking for from the old site.
The Seasonal items section is now gone, and you will have to search for each set by name or set number. LEGO has been getting a lot of negative feedback on this, so hopefully, they will bring the category back. If you are looking for the previously very useful New and Sales & Deals sections, you can access them under the Sets tab. The Exclusives tab does pretty much the same thing as before, but now new exclusives are separated out with a sub-tab. The Bricks tab includes a mishmash of sub-tabs, including another way to access Pick-A-Brick and Sales & Deals, LEGO Classic sets, other sets with individual pieces (like LEGO Serious Play), and various Brick Accessories (i.e baseplates, train tracks, etc.). I don’t think I will ever use this section as it is too confusing.
The Extras tab includes various items like Apparel & Accessories, Books, Storage, Video Games, etc. The last tab on the homepage banner is called Discover, with a single sub-tab for Retired Products. My guess is that LEGO may be developing this section more in the future, because right now it doesn’t make much sense.
Okay, so you are ready to buy something. If it is a set, you can select a sub-category from the various themes under the Sets tab on the homepage. Let’s say you are itching for some LEGO City sets. You can open that sub-category and look at all the sets currently available. This section works much the same way as before. You can sort the results by Newest, Price: Low to High, Price: High to Low, and Rating. By default 18 sets are shown on the first page in three columns (or one column on mobile devices). If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can click View All to see all sets at once.
There is also a left-hand column, which you can use for filtering results (this appears as a tab on top of the page on mobile devices). The filters work much the same way as before, and especially in large themes with lots of sets they can be very useful.
Pages for individual items look nice. I especially like how viewing the set pictures works. You can blow them up really big to look at all the details. Everything else is there from the previous website; set description, reviews, link to building instructions, recommendations, etc.
Besides each set there is a gray heart, which you should be able to click on to add the set to your Wish List. Unfortunately, for me this feature doesn’t work at all on any browser, however others reported it works for them. If you are ready to purchase, you can just use the Add to Bag button below the set. The checkout page also looks pretty much the same as before, so there is not much to address there.
While most areas of the website seem to work, there is one section that got a lot worse since the previous website design: Pick-A-Brick. There are almost a hundred categories to choose from, all lined up in one column, with the Apply button all the way at the bottom. So if you want to see what’s within a category, you have to first scroll down to it, select it, then scroll down all the way to the bottom to hit Apply, then scroll all the way back up to see the results. You have to go through the entire process again and again with every choice you make. And as it turns out, most of the categories are completely empty. The mobile version of the site is slightly better, as it has an Apply button both at the top and the bottom, so you can hit whichever is closer, but you still have to scroll through all those meaningless categories to select anything. I really hope this will be fixed soon, as right now you can’t really place Pick-A-Brick orders without losing your mind…
So that’s pretty much it, as far as the new site. I have also included a short video above from LEGO, introducing the updated website. After the initial shock, I think it mostly looks and works fine. There are definitely areas that need fixing (like the Pick-A-Brick section, Wish List, more intuitive navigation, bringing back the Seasonal items category, etc.), but overall I’m warming up to the facelift. The site especially looks good on mobile devices, and on my laptop I just have to zoom out a bit to be able to see things better. I should mention that the first day I used the site it gave me a lot of error messages and pictures were all out of whack. I think this has to do with my browser history not being cleared. By the next day everything looked fine. So if you run into any glitches, try clearing your browser history and cookies.
If you are ready for an adventure, head over to the updated Online LEGO Shop and look around. Then come back and let us know what you think, what interesting things you find, and what features you discover. Is the new site working better or worse for you? What do you like? What you don’t like? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below! 😉
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