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Appliances Online has been making some improvements to its product pages recently, and has let me in on the process and the results, which includes a 9.5% jump in sales. 

With the help of videos showing users interacting with the product pages, the retailer was able to both identify improvements, and check that they had the desired effect. 

Appliances Online commissioned user testing videos from Whatusersdo (we have used its videos in some of our site reviews), 125 in all.

This is a lot of video, and meant a lot of work identifying potential improvements, but it did give the retailer a broad range of opinion to inform decision making. 

According to Matthew Lawson, Head of conversion at Appliances Online: 

I introduced user- centered design, but I had to get the business bought into it. So I did this by buying 125 videos from WhatUsersDo, where you set a task for a customer to go away onto your site and try and make a purchase.

This gave us 250 hours of footage, which was too much content to watch through. So I used crowd sourcing... We gave five videos to each senior manager including the CEO and this gave us insight into what we needed to change from our proposition, the size of the images to where we put the buy button and it actually gave our customers a voice which went directly to the managers.

The company used the videos in conjunction with other tools, such as Click Tale, which provided heatmaps showing which elements of product pages users were interacting with the most. 

Thanks to this insight, Appliances Online uncovered several issues with its product pages. For example, 70% said that pages were too busy, 17% said service information needed to be clearer, while 13% thought the video experience could be improved. 

Changes made to product pages

The buy button

Clear calls to action are important, and factors such as size, colour, and context on the page can make them more or less visible. 

In this case, the buy button was easily lost in the background of the page, as this tester explains. 

The “banners' were eliminated by combining the messages into the copy on the page, and the buy button was moved above the fold.

The colour was also changed, and the new green button now stands out more, while the text 'add to basket' is more descriptive. 

Video

The user experience when attempting to view a product review was another factor that could be improved.

The videos open in a pop-up screen and take too long to load, something which understandably annoyed this tester: 

The solution was to embed the video into the product pages, which was less interruptive, while consumers can also scan up and down the page looking at reviews and product specs, and the video stays still. A nice touch. 

Product descriptions

The auto-generated standard manufacturer product descriptions were unsatisfactory, and failed to really sell the features of products, as this user shows: 

To solve this problem, the retailer now uses creative copywriters to create unique product descriptions, setting out the USPs in a more human tone. 

In addition, this unique copy is much better from an SEO perspective. If other online retailers are just using the same standard product descriptions, then Appliances Online can stand out in search results. 

The results

The changes clearly worked, and the stats proved it. Appliances Online increased its sales by 9.5%, while 37% more visitors viewed the product videos. As viewers of these videos are 57% more likely to add items to the basket, this was a big improvement. 

In addition, the number of reviews left by customers increased by 11%, while there was a 33% reduction in calls about delivery, as the information was more clearly visible on the product page.

According to Online Development Consultant Nicole Prior, the process doesn't stop there:

User-centric design is a continual process. Now the journey has completed its first cycle, it’s time to re-test, re-design and re-optimise. 

Post project user videos are vital. Not just to confirm the changes you’ve made were the right decisions, but also to test the journey has not been damaged and to kick start the next round of analysis.

Graham Charlton

Published 29 September, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Ian Goodall

This just proves that user-centric design is the way forward for E-commerce sites. Giving people the things they want and expect when they shop online can only lead to higher conversions and a much more satisfactory online shopping experience.

almost 5 years ago

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Nicholas Jemetta

Great example of how cost effective user testing can have significant commercial impact. I would be interested to know whether this kind of technology can benefit B2B organisations who may be trying to sell more complex products/services with longer buying cycles and more specialist knowledge required...?

almost 5 years ago

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Adam Powell

It's amazing how many businesses still ignore usability. We've also been using whatusersdo.com to improve the Policy Expert website, and so far some of the findings have been really quite eye opening!

Whilst I don't think this sort of usability will replace one to one / face to face sessions, I do think it should play an important part of the 'usability toolkit'.

almost 5 years ago

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Ben Lang

A very shrewd move using internal crowd sourcing which happens to be the management team! Buy-in is almost guaranteed. I do conversion optimisation and dont particularly favour eye tracking as such. We've found when you take the opinion of the few and apply them via an MVT test or similar using the insight of the many the results are conflicting. I trust MVT all the way but an uplift is an uplift, so fair play. 125 videos sounds to me like an attempt to establish validation of qualitative testing through hinting at volume testing : )

almost 5 years ago

Steven Porthouse

Steven Porthouse, Director at WhatUsersDo

Nicholas your question about testing B2B sites is something we get asked a lot at WhatUsersDo. In short, the answer is yes you can test B2B sites using this type of testing....we do it all the time.

The key to making it truly successful is to test with your target audience. You can use your own customers for example or pre screen panelists to get as close as possible to your ideal user.

almost 5 years ago

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