Services utilized

  • Primary User and Audience Research
  • Product Strategy
  • Web Analytics
  • Usability Testing
  • Interaction Design
  • Search Optimizaiton and Search Marketing
  • Visual Design
  • User Personas and Scenarios
  • Kiosk and Digital Installation
  • Quality Assurcance

15,000 articles

Are included in IKEA’s product range, all of which HUGE fit into their new Internet-specific product categorization and tagging system.

See how HUGE’s careful planning and design has made looking for your favorite IKEA products an easy and intuitive experience.

A retail phenomenon

IKEA stores are designed to offer shoppers not just with products and prices, but also with knowledge, inspiration, and the joy of discovery. The IKEA brand is about improving consumer lives at home with prices everyone can afford. Our mandate was to live up to this powerful standard in defining the IKEA online experience.

A comprehensive planning process

Our story begins in 2000, when IKEA asked HUGE to develop a long-term strategic blueprint for its retail websites. HUGE was involved in the project from its inception, which allowed us to deploy our full research and design methodology. This included strategic planning, competitive usability testing, persona and user scenario development, interaction design, visual design, prototyping, production and tracking analytics.

Customer-driven insights

Over the years, consumers have developed their own personal ways of negotiating the range of IKEA products and the way products are organized in the catalogue and store. So before we could develop a system for successfully navigating such a large number of products through a digital interface, our first task was to understand the customer's mental model of the information space. A customized card sorting exercise was conducted in New York and Munich to discover patterns inherent in how customers dealt with IKEA’s massive product range and carried out tasks such as configuring their choices. This ultimately led to the creation of a brand new Internet-specific product categorization and tagging system within IKEA — a significant undertaking considering that the IKEA product range contains over 15,000 articles.


Complex road map challenges

IKEA was not quite ready to roll out full-scale e-commerce in all markets around the world. In cases where capabilities were limited, our job as designers was to inform the customer in a direct and usable way about the level of e-commerce they could expect. The design solution had to be configurable locally to support a substantial number of permutations.

Our overall creative approach centered on “Goal Directed Inspiration. ”How do you design a page that stops a rushed web user in their tracks and tells them about inspiring new products, design ideas, services and solutions? How do you do this without compromising on usability or perceived convenience? HUGE developed an exacting methodology for testing the placement of new messages, knowledge, content and other forms of data into the core product browsing experience.

Measures of success

How do you maintain a focus on the approved strategy throughout a long project lifecycle? With focused, highly specific Measures of Success that are often more effective than strategic briefs and other planning artifacts that can be open to interpretation.

The Measures of Success HUGE developed for IKEA were effective because they were clear, specific, and concise. Our deep experience with major tracking and analytics packages means we can tease out reliable metrics based not just on page views and conversions, but on meaningful customer click streams and scenarios.

Stronger collaboration via functional porotypes


From a maintenance perspective, the vision was to build a single solution that could support IKEA’s aggressive international expansion plans. HUGE helped IKEA define a single system of flexible templates that could be produced and localized annually in several alphabets, catering to the specialized needs of local IKEA markets from Beijing to Seattle.

For a project of this scale rolling out in so many markets and languages, it was essential to create tight interdisciplinary teams including designers, engineers and many other stakeholders. Everyone needed to have a close understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the various technical platforms. To control quality and communicate the evolving design solutions, particularly in the tricky areas of product configuration and sorting, HUGE developed functional prototypes to allow quick user testing and improvements. By the end of the project, the entire team (both client and agency) developed an aggressive, results-driven approach to assessing the value of proposed features and enhancements—both to the IKEA business and to its customer.

A customer service breakthrough

IKEA has a proud history of ignoring trends and fearlessly presenting customers with unconventional approaches to retail that works. We began working with IKEA on an idea for allowing customers to ask questions with natural language queries. After a few months of experimentation and user research, "Ask Anna" was born.

“Anna,” the IKEA Help Center assistant, is an animated character that engages IKEA customers in conversation and answers their support and furnishings questions. Anna has enabled a more convenient shopping experience and led to significant reductions in customer service costs for each market in which she has been deployed. In a review of automated support tools, the Wall Street Journal called her “the closest to speaking to an actual human.”

Designing for growth

Over the years, we’ve partnered to create a singular site experience where a large percentage of site visitors actively interact with inspirational rich content modules that showcase the products and with planning tools that allow visitors to customize IKEA solutions. It’s no secret. The biggest opportunity for IKEA, by far, is to better prepare customers for their store visits. Since HUGE’s partnership with IKEA, time spent preparing online is strongly correlated with higher checkout tickets at IKEA stores.

We know that visitors that interact with the rich content modules have significantly higher conversion and engagement rates than visitors that don’t; they have longer site visits, view more products and prepare longer shopping lists for in-store visits. In addition to an overhauled product presentation system centered on all the rooms of the house, our work included a way to check stock, a shopping list, and the integration of local store pricing and promotions into the product browsing path.

To engage with IKEA’s high value lifetime customers, HUGE developed a suite of downloadable room planning tools prior to scheduling an appointment with a room expert in the store. The planning tools not only increased the number of fixtures sold, but they also reduced the average length of in-store consultations with IKEA experts.

The results

As IKEA’s ongoing digital partner, we’ve significantly driven IKEA’s business to the point where is now the #1 customer touchpoint in the world for the company, and digital efforts significantly drive in-store sales. Engagement with and other digital platforms has more than tripled since our 2007 redesign, and in-store sales are over 50 percent higher for individuals who have visited the website prior to going to the store.

HUGE has subsequently had the privilege of handling several other IKEA projects, including the retailer’s Corporate and Franchisor websites. And, we continue to work with IKEA on an ongoing basis to continually improve the IKEA online experience.