January 29th, 2009 at 12:08 pm
We want to share this usability story with you via the excellent Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering. It’s about a login form, a big ole e-commerce site, and a $300,000,000 usability “tweak”.
How Changing a Button Increased a Site’s Annual Revenues by $300 Million
The form was simple. The fields were Email Address and Password. The buttons were Login and Register. The link was Forgot Password. It was the login form for the site. It’s a form users encounter all the time. How could they have problems with it?
The problem wasn’t as much about the form’s layout as it was where the form lived. Users would encounter it after they filled their shopping cart with products they wanted to purchase and pressed the Checkout button. It came before they could actually enter the information to pay for the product.
The team saw the form as enabling repeat customers to purchase faster. First-time purchasers wouldn’t mind the extra effort of registering because, after all, they will come back for more and they’ll appreciate the expediency in subsequent purchases. Everybody wins, right?
User tests proved otherwise. Here’s how they fixed it.
The designers fixed the problem simply. They took away the Register button. In its place, they put a Continue button with a simple message: “You do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout. To make your future purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout.”
The results: The number of customers purchasing went up by 45%. The extra purchases resulted in an extra $15 million the first month. For the first year, the site saw an additional $300,000,000.
That’s a spicy meatball. When it comes to path to purchase design, we at ENTERMEDIA advocate collecting as little information as necessary and never interfering with the end goal of completing a transaction. People really don’t like filling out forms much, and associate this with signing up for marketing spam that clogs up their inbox (and wastes their time). They will only put up with giving out personal information if they are confident they’ll be getting something good out of it…not just the purchased goods themselves but the convenience of buying online...and so you better make sure they find the transaction process on your e-commerce site easy and straightforward. Don’t get in the way of what the user needs with what you think they want.