Annihilating revenue with an aesthetic assumption
These days, almost anyone can make changes to a website. But those changes can have a massive impact on revenue and company business goals, for better or worse.
In this example an aesthetic design decision was made to hide buying options, placing them neatly behind a button. The objective was to reduce scrolling and to promote visibility for other site content. While the pages seemed to improve visually, the affect on conversion was immediately clear.
Hiding the buying options halved conversion rate
It’s crucial to monitor interface changes and measure their success, or failure. For this change, it was immediately clear that we needed to rollback the changes and test more options.
What you see is all there is
Over the last 10 years we have learnt a lot about usability and UX design. Through reading, training and testing we’ve seen trends and design patterns come and go.
A good recent example of this is the introduction of the hamburger icon for mobile websites which has been used to hide site navigation on mobile. The hamburger icon makes it much harder for users to identify what navigation is available on a webpage. It was met with mixed response and plenty of usability failures since it was introduced to mobile websites over the last decade. And it was only last year (in 2017) that Google started using the hamburger icon on Google.com for additional functionality. (It’s also important to note that the functionality Google hides behind the icon is still secondary to the main search product offering.)
Hiding things hinders understanding of the available options.
To underline this even further Daniel Kahneman’s explanation of What You See Is All There Is (WYSIATI) can scientifically prove what others already knew from usability testing: Hiding things hinders understanding of the available options. We only see what we are shown. What you see is all there is.
How we brought it back. And pushed it further
In the week that followed we looked at three key elements on the page.
- We brought the buying options back in to view
- Updated the copy-writing, explaining the sites revenue model
- Tested new text labels
Goal completions after changes
The results were remarkable. These small changes increased the click through rate (CTR) by over 300%, which effectively doubled revenue. It’s a simple lesson that changing interfaces based on aesthetics can have very adverse effects. But also, that by paying careful attention to the data (and the science) that it can be turned around.
Acknowledging additional changes: The button label text and copy-writing were well-timed additional experiments that pushed performance.
Take a look at another case study about how a mobile design pattern increased revenue by 99%