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Avoiding strips

Prior to June 2021, these guidelines said that hero images may contain a coloured strip with a few keywords in it, as shown in the examples opposite.

In June 2021, this guidance was changed to say that strips should not be used.

This page provides further details on this issue, including the reasons for this change and how to adjust for it.

On this page:

What were the previous guidelines on strips?

Prior to June 2021, these guidelines allowed hero images to contain a coloured strip under certain conditions.

In order to help understand why the guidelines were changed to prevent the use of strips, the previous guidance is summarised below:

  • Strips were only allowed if there was no other viable way of communicating the 4Ws within the image tile in a manner that passed the visual clarity test.
  • Strips were only allowed to contain text that communicated one of the ‘4Ws’.
  • Strips were required to be vertical for portrait products and horizontal for landscape products.
  • Strips were required to follow the template style for the strip and the text inside it.

The reasons for changing these guidelines are described in the next panel.

Why were strips removed from these guidelines?

In June 2021, strips were removed from these guidelines because the number of retailers accepting strips had recently declined. Furthermore, within the retailers that were still accepting strips, many live images were using strips that did not fully match the guidelines (described above).

In particular, many images used strips:

  • When they were not necessary, because the information in the strip was already clear from the digital pack.
  • To communicate marketing information.
  • In a variety of graphical styles that did not meet the specifications recommended by these guidelines, resulting in a lack of visual consistency.

All of these factors meant that, in practice, strips were probably making the shopping experience worse, rather than better.

In June 2021, this issue was covered within the Cambridge MRHI discussion group, and it was unanimously agreed that strips should be removed from these guidelines.

How can suppliers change their hero images to work without strips?

For most hero images that contain strips, suppliers will have already created an alternative version that doesn’t have the strip, in order to satisfy retailers that did not accept strips. This alternative version should now be used for all retailers.

If suppliers need to create a new hero image that doesn’t have a strip, then in most cases, the strip can simply be removed from the hero image. However, it is important to check whether removing the strip causes one or more of the 4Ws to fail the visual clarity test. If so, suppliers are encouraged to:

If it is still not possible to communicate the 4Ws in a manner that passes the visual clarity test, then suppliers should prioritise the messages that shoppers will find most helpful in order to identify the product they are looking for. Shoppers will have to rely on the ‘product title’ to determine any missing information.

Future solution possibilities

It remains possible that the shopping experience for tall and thin products can be improved by strips (or other similar ideas). However, in order to be useful, they would need to be implemented in a consistent and responsible manner across competing suppliers.

Automating the process of adding strips into images might solve many of the issues with strips.

If you are interested in further exploring future solution possibilities, please contact us at


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