A Great Performance
In its first 12 years, Under Armour — a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of branded performance apparel, footwear and accessories — has become a formidable competitor to Nike and Reebok. Here I review the company’s e-commerce Web site, UnderArmour.com.
UnderArmour.com does a great job of carrying its strong brand to the Web. Many have seen its commercials or been exposed to the brand through sporting event sponsorships or eye-catching billboards. Its logo, slogans and imagery always have reflected the kind of hip, sports-oriented company it is and the kind of consumers to which it’s trying to appeal. The Web site holds up to that standard.
The product pages on UnderArmour.com are particularly informative and easy to use. They do a great job of highlighting Under Armour’s products, presenting sharp, large images that browsers can zoom in on to see even more detail. The site's also clear on the options customers need to choose from to add products to their carts: color, size and quantity- — the big three when it comes to online clothes shopping.
The one-column layout of the product page further enhances the product being viewed. By taking the focus off the main navigation and other common site elements, it frees browsers up to focus on the products at hand. This not only makes for a better user experience, but also increases the likelihood of conversion. Overall, UnderArmour.com scores high on product page design, usability and conversion.
Search engine friendliness
That’s not to say this is a perfect effort. On-page search engine optimization on UnderArmour.com needs improvement. Though the site is aesthetically pleasing, even scoring high in terms of usability, essential SEO factors are missing. The page title, usually considered one of the most important SEO factors, is ignored on several pages I stumbled upon. Under “Boys Golf Bags” or “Boys Caps,” for example, the page title simply reads “Under Armour.” That’s not very helpful in allowing search engines to define the theme of the page or which terms it should rank in the results pages.
The defined page titles all begin with “Under Armour” before the product or category name. From a user and search engine perspective, they should begin with the particulars of what’s on the page and then the brand.
Though there’s a fair amount of content on UnderArmour.com, it isn’t defined in a way that maximizes search engine visibility and top rankings. On the category pages, the names of the categories and subcategories show up as text on the page, but aren’t in the appropriate h1 or h2 header tags. Search engines regularly tell Webmasters to use these header tags within their sites, and they've always been regarded as essential elements of SEO. The product pages on UnderArmour.com show the same thing — the names of the products are present, but they’re not inside the appropriate tags that help the individual page rank higher in the SERPs.
After clicking on the prominent “add to cart” button, a mini shopping cart drops down from the top of the page, displaying the contents of the cart, and stays visible for about five seconds. Then it retreats back to a small button that simply says, “view cart.” I’m a big fan of using a mini shopping cart as opposed to forcing the customer to check out right away, so I can’t criticize this too much.
The one thing I’ll point out, however, is the "view cart" button isn’t very prominent and doesn’t exactly scream, “Click me when you’re ready to check out.” The dark color matches the rest of the site, making it look like just another button and not the most important button on the page.
When I make my way to the shopping cart, my first step is to either sign in, register for a new account or continue as a guest. These are the three most popular options at this point in the checkout process, and the ones I like to see. When I continue as a guest, I’m taken to the next step where I’m asked to fill in my billing and shipping information. The forms are clear and easy to read, and after I fill in my billing information, there’s a check box to make my shipping address the same as my billing — a nice time-saver. Next, I must select my shipping method and enter my payment information.
This final step is where my one problem with UnderArmour.com’s checkout process pops up: The “optional” steps are way too prominent. After I choose a shipping method, I come upon an option to enter a promotion code, followed by an option to redeem a gift card. While these are two important elements to include somewhere in the checkout, their prominence is distracting from a purchase.
While Under Armour has done a great job with its Web site’s branding, product presentation and usability, I still see a tremendous opportunity for growth. For more organic traffic and an increased conversion rate, UnderArmour.com needs to take a look at its on-page SEO and checkout process. By spending time optimizing the on-page SEO elements discussed and testing new designs or layouts in its checkout process, I bet Under Armour would be pleased with the results.