Tchibo.de relaunched today yesterday. They reworked their design for the first time since 2002. To be precisely, the Dusseldorf based agency „argonauten360″ did the new look and feel, at least that what’s the legal notes say.
So, who cares?
Well, i do. Because it was my design from 2000 and 2002 when i was Art Director at SinnerSchrader. The design was in use for 6 years now. That’s a pretty long time in web terms, and it was a great success so far (does anyone have numbers from 2005?). So that is a good reason to take a closer look.
(For those who are not familiar with Tchibo – it’s an unique german concept – here is a good overview. Tchibo is brilliant in selling mediocre products to its mostly female – 70% as far as i know – customers by wrapping the goods in a visual theme that appears to be a real added value. Tchibo deliberately provides a narrow range of products to make choice easy. The weekly renewal of the collection of goods secure a constantly high awareness to customers. Tchibo is popular in Germany, i once read a statistics that 80% of germans own a piece of clothing from Tchibo.)
I knew that there was coming something, and i feared the worst. But at the first glance, the changes are not dramatic. The main layout – the area containing the „weekly world”, the thumbnails for selecting the „weeks” and the additional content bar on the right hand side – are still there.
What’s new: there is some new tab navigation on top of the thumbnails. I guess they invented it to get space to add more weekly themes, now there are 8. Before, there were 4. They seem to intend launching two new themes a week now in order to increase revenues. For me, it seems to be a logical step.
The layout has been stretched to a 1024 pixels width, the main content area gains space. Why this effort? I think the additional space does not help the presentation of the goods, they are just spread a little bit more horizontally. (Instead, why not making them bigger?) I still doubt that the 1024 pixel thing does make any sense at all. One the one hand, the gain of additional real estate is minor and it does not make contents more legible or prettier. On the other hand, web surfing might soon enter the living room on TV screens that are still low‐res unless it is a brand new HDTV model. At this point, the 1024 pixels layout might turn out to be a disadvantage.
Regarding visual design, they skipped the concept of having a „lightweight” frame (header and right hand coloumn) to separate them from the weekly theme which is usually colorful and heavy. The dark blue bar at the top now competes with the weekly theme – i think this is ugly and does not help.
Details: regardless of the additional screen width, some typeface decreased (!) instead of taking the opportunity and getting more legible. Look at the „Warenkorb” (basket) on the right hand side. It is 10 pixels Verdana now, before it was 11. Strange. What’s more, there are some new visual elements. Somebody came up with the brand new idea of doubled dotted lines below the teaser boxes. Great innovation in 2006.
The other pages of the site, especially the product detail page, the basket and the checkout, did not change as far as i can see by a quick click‐through. Unfortunately, the purpose of the relaunch seems just adding more weekly themes instead of improving the site at the same time.
To sum it up, i think Tchibo.de lost a lot of its uniqueness. Thats a pity, because for me the old Tchibo.de design was a proof that there can be other successful solutions for retail sites than constantly copying the boring amazon tab navigation. Anyway, i wish the Tchibo guys good luck with their new site!
The relaunch design 09/2006:
From 07/2002 to 08/2006:
The original design 08/2000: