Web Design: Macy’s 1997 to 2010
1858 was the year that Rowland Hussey Macy opened R. H. Macy and Co. on Sixth Avenue in New York City. Fast-forward almost 150 years later and the dry-goods store that Macy opened has become one of the largest U.S. department store companies with 512 retail stores all over the United States. Just as Macy’s expanded and developed into the retail chain that we are very familiar with today, their website has also expanded and developed into something truly reflective of the impact this company has over Americans everywhere. Macy’s is the place to go shopping for almost anything and everything, from clothes to appliances to perfumes and makeup to mattresses. The earliest snapshot of Macys.com is from 1996. In this article, we will be exploring the website from two periods of time, the first from 1997 and the other from 2010. Each snapshot analyzed was obtained through the Wayback Machine.
The 1997 version of the Macy’s website was essentially a virtual advertisement of a selection of products curated by Macy’s executives or their marketing department. It also seems like there was no personalization of that curated list for their users, due to the fact that there was no indication of user interactivity in the sense of having users with personalized profiles and the ability to log into the website. Just like much of the rest of the internet at the time, Macy’s.com was more like a list of hyperlinks to more details about the services they provided, as well as store locations you could visit, and a small selection of featured items they were showcasing on the website.
Judging from the 1997 snapshot, Macy’s main feature was to show a small selection of products that the general public may be interested in, as well as describe their Macy’s By Appointment feature, a personal shopping service that catered to customers’ personal tastes. However, the website could not handle any form of online shopping or ordering and instead referred users to phone numbers and email addresses so they could shop by phone or email.
A quick glance at the 2010 version and one can tell that the website is so much more interactive than how it used to be. There is a search feature by keyword, you can browse from categories and sub-categories of products and apparel, and most importantly, there is personalization added through functional elements like a shopping cart and sign-in/accessing account information. There are pictures featuring people dressed in ensembles of clothing looking happy and enjoying life, which can entice people to shop. At the bottom of the screen, users can navigate to bill paying and order tracking. This version of the Macy’s website is truly the 2.0 version due to how interactive it is and how it can completely replace the need to visit an in-person store in order to purchase Macy’s goods.
So how does Macy’s 2010 website compare to the version from 1997? It is interesting to see how the width of the website is drastically smaller from the 2010 or current version, which is a testament to how computers have increased in screen size over the years. It is also interesting to note that in the main page of the 1997 version, the website refers to four buttons that the user can click when in actuality, there is actually five. If one compares the five main hyperlinks or pages the user could visit in 1997 to the scores and scores of different pages the user can pull up from the 2010 version, it is clear that the more modern version of the website was built for online shopping and browsing whereas the old version showcased services and a small selection of seasonal items. Not only that, but the modern version has built-in user interactivity features like log-in functionality and adding/purchasing items to/from the shopping cart. Thus, the website currently can function as a stand-alone virtual store where users do not need to step a foot inside the store in order to be a customer. In the 1997 version, the website could not function as a standalone store. Regardless of whether you visited the site or not, you still had to shop at an in-person location or speak to someone over the phone or by email.
However, despite the many differences between both versions of the website, there are still a few visible similarities. For example, both websites had a banner at the bottom of the webpage about bridal-related services. And even though they look completely different and the modern version looks more simplified, both versions had title banners at the top of the webpage.
In conclusion, the Macy’s website has improved by leaps and bounds from what it was in 1997 to how it operates as an online store in modern day. The selection has increased drastically, as well as the interactive components of the newer website. Not only that, but the cohesive simplistic design of the second version puts the emphasis on the items they are selling, opposed to the dated design from the 1997 version which distracts the user from the actual content on the page. From hypertext to hyper-focused user personalization, Macy’s has not only increased in store locations but in site reliability and functionality over the years.