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The UX/UI Series - UAE E-Commerce kings

The UX/UI Series – UAE E-Commerce kings

Last week we introduced our new UX/UI series to you and the response was fantastic.  Just to recap, or if you missed the article, UI covers a websites physical interface whilst UX explores the users emotional experience.  They are complementary functions with equal importance for delivering maximum value and dominating user attention.

In today’s market, all companies know that they must have an online presence.  Some are making the realisation reluctantly but the best are grabbing the challenge with enthusiasm and embracing the opportunity to have a virtual, ‘bricks and mortar’ space.  A shop front that can travel with their customer and avoid the overheads of a traditional store.  Such a selling channel was the stuff of dreams only 10 years ago, but now it’s the most direct route to customers in their busy lives.

The Brand Lounge team can’t get enough of these developments, but we understand with such a plethora of information, it can be a little overwhelming.  So we thought we would start our UI/UX discovery series with a 2016 review of who’s championing UI and UX in the UAE.

We believe there are five key trends to pay close attention to this year including, responsive web design, storytelling websites, hidden menus, large typography and hero images.  Let’s see who’s succeeding.


The Dubai born mega airline is iconic for its elite quality and overall service excellence.  It continues to be the most valuable airline brand with a valuation of $7.7billion, ranked 171st out of 500 global brands, and has been winning prestigious awards for the last two decades. Adding another accolade to the trophy cabinet in 2016, Emirates took the top spot for having the Middle East’s Leading Airline Website.

Their website has nearly as much traffic as the Emirates Airlines hub, Dubai Airport!  The layout is crisp and clean, with full functionality to book flights, research destinations, check-in, connect to the Emirates social media channels and join their Emirates Skywards air miles.

What’s most impressive with the Emirates UX is the ability for passengers to research their destination, book, pay, check-in, select their seat and receive their boarding card so smoothly across multiple devices.  It is a function we can easily take for granted, but definitely deserves more recognition.  The full Emirates story of excellence plays out across the platforms with award winning multi-media and tailored messages.  Sleek and simple.

Jumeirah Group

A member of Dubai Holding, the Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts are regarded among the most luxurious and innovative in the world.  They won the award for the World’s Leading Luxury Hotel Brand Website at the World Travel Awards in 2015 and from a quick look at their 360-degree exploration function, we can see why.

You can view each of their properties, including a sneak-peek inside the Burj Al Arab, with a full 360-degree view, inclusive of clickable icons for more information about particular features. What is most stunning is the sites simplicity, and with the size of the Jumeirah groups growing portfolio, that is not an easy task.

Landmark Shops

The retail sector accounts for 23 per cent of foreign direct investment into the UAE and 11 per cent of the UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP).   Dubai’s retail market alone was worth an estimated $35.4bn in 2015, with brick and mortar stores resilient to the rise of digital e-commerce platforms. Perhaps due to the large number of tourists with ample time to shop, or because frequenting malls is an innate part of the culture, retailers are not seeing a complete shift to e-commerce.  Instead retailers believe online infrastructure and store expansion must grow together, each accessible to the consumer, depending on the occasion., the online arm of Dubai-based Landmark Group, expects to boost sales by 400 per cent between July 2015 and June 2016, according to Savitar Jagtiani, its E-commerce head.  Currently home to five of the groups nine retail brands, like Splash, Babyshop, Emax, Lifestyle and Max, the site, they credit much of their success to their Omni-Channel approach that better integrates the physical store experience and their e-commerce operations across all devices for greater customer convenience.  Pay & Collect allows their customers to purchase items online and collect them in-store as quickly as 2 hours after placing an order.

The Landmark Group is also one of the few organisations in the region to successfully sustain their extensive Shukran Loyalty programme, which now has 10 million members across the GCC, Jordan and Egypt.  They report 47% of users access the platform via mobile compared to 45% via desktop and 8% on tablets.

The Edge, Dubai

The Edge is an exclusive 100,000 sq.ft office building located in Dubai Internet City, offering numerous facilities and retail options.  Designed and built as a bespoke solution for discerning tenants, it targets both investors and tenants.

The interactive and responsive site allows you to find useful information of the ‘Edge of Dubai’, see 3D visuals and play around with the floor plans.  The most recently received an honourable mention from the AWWARDS that recognize the talent and effort of the best designers in the world.

The Edge’s site comes at the end of our list because, although their ingenuity should be and has been awarded, we think the developers may have taken the sites digitalization one step too far.  This is a critical challenge faced by all website designers.

There is a very fine line between wowing users with cutting edge technological ability and eventually losing functionality.  The Edge website has icons scattered all over its homepage and the cursor experience to select them is jerky. It quickly turns from exciting to frustrating.

We always recommend to clients to taker their time when designing their company’s online experience and go through numerous rounds of testing with various consumer groups to establish a solid UI/UX success story.

Emirates Airline, The Jumeirah Group and The Landmark Group may not have websites with graphics leaping out of multiple layers of the interface or music blasting out on different pages, but we don’t believe they should.  We mark them as the top three winners for delivering the services their customers need, as an extension of their off-line offering.

Online experiential worlds and virtual reality are being developed at a rapid speed, that is when e-commerce will really come into its own.  Imagine being able to step into a digital shop and speak with a shop assistant.  You won’t have to wait long.

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