The Next Generation of Visual Website Optimizer is launching in April 2014 See What's Coming

Usability is not dead: how left navigation menu increased conversions by 34% for an eCommerce website

Posted in A/B Split Testing, Case Studies on November 30th, 2010

Many people believe that A/B testing goes against the basic sentiment behind usability. After all, a usable website should have high conversion rate and so you don’t require A/B testing? Well, answer to that question is both yes and no. Every highly converting website should be usable, but every usable website need not be highly converting. That is because the same website can be made usable in multiple different ways each of which may have different conversion rate. Finding what set of usability techniques work best for the website or landing page is what you need A/B split testing for.

Case Study

In this particular case study (also featured in WhichTestWon), you will see how following a usability “best-practice” (of having a navigation menu) increased conversions by 34% for Slideshop.com, an eCommerce website selling powerpoint templates. This test was conducted by our certified partner agency Optimeria. They specialize in using Visual Website Optimizer for conversion rate optimization with a tight focus on analysis of browsing behavior and psychology of customers v/s non-customers.

The goal of this A/B test was to create increase user engagement (on site), and also create a better flow from categories to subcategories and between main categories. In original version of Slideshop.com, all pages had a promotional bar on the right which had special offer, customer testimonials, etc. See how original version looked like:

Original design of Slideshop.com

Hypothesis

As is true for all successful A/B tests, Optimeria didn’t randomly come up with variations to test. In fact, they analyzed the browsing behaviour of the visitors, and saw that they weren’t as committed to staying within a category or subcategory, and heatmap and clickflow analysis of multiple key pages indicated that visitors did not sufficiently engage the top menu – specifically subcategories. This let to the thesis that by improving engagement we would see more activity in the more focused subcategories. The aim was to also improve usability on the site, and see how it affects clickflow patterns.

Variation

Optimeria decided to test a version with better usability. They replaced the promotional right sidebar by a left navigation bar that did not have the heavy focus on single visual elements (VWO team helped them setup this test, see details of how left v/s right A/B test was setup). See below how variation with left navigation menu bar looked like:

Navigation menu on the left: 34% increase in Add to Cart clicks

Note that all subcategory pages are neatly displayed in left navigation bar and it is much more intuitive to browse around different pages on the ecommerce store.

Results

The variation design for Slideshop saw 8.9% lift in user engagement and a staggering 34% lift in people adding products to cart. Besides that a lot of key patterns emerged when looking at the new clickflow patterns. They were impressed with the engagement lift, as Slidshop already had a good engagement rate, but they was very surprised about the lift in adding to cart (as it was not expected – they simply added a navigation bar, why should clicks on add to cart increase?).

Role of A/B testing tool

The increase in conversion rate, of course, made Optimeria and Slideshop.com very happy. Karsten (of Optimeria) gives a lot of credit for that success to tool used for testing:

What I like the most about Visual Website Optimizer is specially the fact it saves me a lot of time in the actual execution of the test -phase, so that I can focus a lot more on the hard analysis, thesis and reporting phase. My clients don’t necessarily see the difference, but they get much more learning value from me using VWO because I can focus on what I do best.

Also when I am dealing with a client that has an overstressed IT department (Slideshop does not, but it happens more often than not) it’s great that I can plan, setup and execute tests and deliver results for decision makers without having to rely on a sometimes slow and tough IT process.
Decision makers often like the fact they can get feasible results before they need to involve IT department in doing changes to the website.

Lesson Learnt: usability is a must for better conversions

When asked for the lessons learnt, Karsten Lund (CEO of Optimeria) said:

One should try to minimize browsing obstacles for visitors. Sometimes more clicks are better as long as they indicate a move forward in the conversion funnel. Better usability creates more motivated visitors.

The counter-intuitive idea of “more clicks may lead to higher conversion rate” was also proved in another A/B testing case study where it was found out that removing a signup form on landing page actually increased signups by 60%.

Seems like A/B testing usability techniques is an important part of conversion rate optimization!

Paras Chopra

CEO and Founder of Wingify by the day, startups, marketing and analytics enthusiast by the afternoon, and a nihilist philosopher/writer by the evening!

The Complete A/B Testing Guide

Know all that you need to get started:

  • What is A/B Testing?
  • Is it compatible with SEO?
  • How to start your first A/B test?
Show Me The Guide


7 Comments
Kyle Henderson
December 2, 2010

In your interest in usability I thought you would be interested in my service that will be launching soon. It is titled YouEye and it is focused on affordable online user testing with webcam eye tracking. YouEye makes it easy to create tasks on any website and to review screen capture videos and audio of any test subject. Check it out at YouEye.com to learn more. Thanks.

Paras Chopra
December 2, 2010

@Kyle, YouEye looks like a great service. Good luck with it.

[...] wondered if your left hand navigation has an impact on customers adding items to cart? One online retailer tested it and found a 34% increase in add to cart [...]

[...] of interactive buttons on e-commerce websites (such as add-to-cart buttons). For example, a study conducted on an e-commerce site showed a 34% increase in conversions simply by relocating the [...]

[...] the usability of your site. Following a usability “best-practice” (of having a navigation menu) increased conversions by 34% for [...]

tvorba web stránok
May 24, 2012

nice redesign and changes inside the new site, I also checked todays version, it has other new changes. what is great is the quality of the diagrams + call to action for free stuff.

Leave a comment
Required
Required - not published


× 1 = nine

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

I ♥ Split Testing Blog


Stay up to date

Recent Posts

Write for this blog!

We accept high quality articles related to A/B testing and online marketing. Send your proposals to contribute@wingify.com