Fat Brain Toys chooses a ‘fat’ screen for its site redesign

November 24, 2015 06:00 PM

Fat Brain Toys fattened up its website during a redesign launched just last month. The redesign marked its first wholesale upgrade in five years.

A larger website page opened up space for larger images, repositioned key functions and highlights its own toy designs. The educational toy company’s president and co-founder Mark Carson knew was past due for a revamp.

“Our internal clock said it was time to change the style and design,” Carson says. “We had made technology changes and incorporated them along the way, but there were a couple of things missing.”

The first step was shifting to a wider page format, from 1024 pixels wide to 1280.That enabled Fat Brain to leverage the new real estate by including its enhanced search filter near the top of the page. “We had faceted search capability, probably for four years, but left it out due to space limits,” Carson says. “Now there’s a lot more usage of that and it’s allowing shoppers to slice and dice more. They get to a product listing faster and are doing a lot of browsing, such as by age and gender.”

The past site layout featured a static left-hand navigation bar, and that fixed element was an obstacle to adding other tools, Carson says.

Other elements added in recent years got more conspicuous positions on the new site, such as the gifting recommendation tool, called the Gift Bot, which uses sliders to sort 500 products by age, price, gender and country of origin. The tool, previously squeezed into the navigation field, is now up top, next to the search bar.

The Invented Here tab also is now at the top of the homepage, next to Gift Bot. That’s important to Carson because Fat Brain has been developing its own toys and games for the past eight years. He emphasizes these aren’t just private-label products upon which Fat Brain slaps a label. “We are selling and wholesaling our products to others and a lot of consumers didn’t realize we did that. We wanted to get the message across that we are not just sellers, but inventors.”

Fat Brain’s in-house line numbers about 60 products and it has about 1,200 active retailer and wholesaler accounts, Carson says, ranging from smaller independent retailers, including museum and specialty gift shops, on up to Barnes & Noble.

The redesign is also the first step toward a responsive website that automatically determines the size of the device a visitor is using and renders the page accordingly, Carson says. Fat Brain has a mobile-optimized site, but a responsive website is on his mind. That’s because about 40% of Fat Brain’s traffic is from mobile devices, although mobile orders lag far behind. Mobile probably won’t ever match desktop conversion rate, Carson says, but it’s important. “We’re thinking mobile, not first, but thinking about it,” Carson says. “In 2016 we will probably go full responsive.”

The new also positioned an upgraded gift registry tool atop the home page. The registry existed for about a year, but the expanded screen gave Carson “the opportunity to incorporate it the right way. We’re still tweaking it and making it perfect,” he says.

The redesign was conducted entirely by in-house staff, led by Carson. He declined to disclose the cost of the redesign but noted that plans were unfolding for 18 months and once the upgrade commenced in July, it took only about three months until relaunch. Carson estimates this is the fourth complete facelift of the 13-year-old company’s website.

Fat Brain Toys, which has two stores—one in Omaha, Neb., and one in Overland Park, Kan.— is No. 501 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Second 500.





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