Shimano Fishing’s New Website a Leap Forward in Design

[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]t’s been a few days since Shimano released a major update to their fishing website. Now that it’s had some time to marinate, FTR has delved into the pros and cons of their new look.

Shimano is one of the most visible names in fishing. They’re also one of the most prominent manufacturers of components for other outdoor activities—notably, cycling in North America. Chances are, if you own fishing tackle or a bicycle you’ve got a Shimano product in your arsenal. Each division of the Osaka-based company is massive. Each division creates hundreds of products, so translating that into a uniform website is a challenge.

In previous iterations of Shimano’s website, users could feel the challenge before them. Product info was available, but finding it never felt like a natural process. However, the new platform does a great job of reducing the scale of Shimano’s massive product lines. Information here is much easier to digest.

When users first visit the new fish.shimano.com, they find an easy-to-grasp layout. A maze of product information from their old website has transformed into a simple image slider (presumably of whatever Shimano is promoting right now) and a panel of four large icons. It’s an intuitive approach to information distribution that shares a feel with the much more complicated Yahoo! homepage. And while Yahoo!’s homepage isn’t going to win any awards for simplicity, Shimano has taken the most frequently used component of that page, simplified it and translated it to their own website in a way that Yahoo! would do well to replicate.

shimanowebsite

Want to find tutorial videos on their latest product? They are right at your fingertips. Looking for entry forms into a contest? That’s covered, too. For retailers, the new look for Shimano provides a simple resource for customers to learn more about what they’re buying. It’s easy to imagine this site loaded up on a tablet above your reel or rod displays. Mostly, that’s due to the very app-like design of the website’s homepage.

But it’s not all glitter and gold for Shimano here. Yes, we love the new site. But for all of its app-like appearance, it seems strange that the website doesn’t automatically adjust for mobile devices. Above the main menu, smartphone users will recognize cleanly-styled visual buttons for shifting gears between fishing, cycling and rowing divisions. They look like they belong on a touchscreen. The four-button slider underneath Shimano’s splash image also seems particularly well-designed for mobile uses; but it doesn’t adjust for smaller screens.

Thanks to the website’s clean layout, the design still works fine on tablets (so if you’re thinking about displaying it on your in-store kiosks, go for it) but it does force the phone-based user to slide and scale around the page to navigate. With web traffic trending increasingly mobile, we encourage all businesses to provide responsive or mobile-specific destinations for users.

Otherwise, retailers and consumers alike will find the new Shimano platform a pleasure to navigate.

Product specs are just one click away from the homepage. Generally speaking, any information within three clicks is considered easily accessible (a takeaway from the original iPod design, where users could locate any song in their library in just three clicks). The extra thought that went into a one-click approach to finding product specs is evident here.

One of the greatest challenges of web design is simplification—it’s an art form, and it’s been done well here.

Shimano has also thrown retailers a bone here by including a prominent email and print widget that floats on the right sidebar of the website. This is particularly handy for desktop users, and perhaps that’s who Shimano was gunning for with the new layout. On a desktop point-of-sale system, the website shines. A cashier could find and print the spec sheet for a customer’s purchase here in a matter of seconds. For consumers doing pre-purchase research, Shimano has embedded YouTube videos into their product spec pages—it’s an innovative way of integrating social media and video into the buying process.

The Verdict

Shimano’s new website will be a home run for retailers and consumers doing research on desktop systems. If you’re on the run and your only option is to do that research on a phone, the layout will require a bit of extra work; but the benefits built-in for desktop users may ultimately outweigh that.

It should be noted that some publication websites are sticking to their guns on desktop usability, despite a trend towards overall higher rates of mobile internet traffic. Time will tell, but Shimano may be onto something here.

Either way, this new website is a leap forward for the manufacturing giant—and it’s a leap retailers would be wise to familiarize themselves with.