The following excerpt, from the article At the National Geographic Store, careful testing has made a big impact, was written by Jennifer Overstreet and published on the NRF'S Shop.org Blog. Overstreet offers important insight into the importance of testing and updating your e-commerce site continually. View the full article for a list of universal truths she learned about websites in the process.
No matter how much you have worked to optimize your website, your work is never done. Why? Because seasons change. Campaigns change. Products change. That was the lesson from National Geographic Store Director for Merchandising and Marketing Jill Dvorak, who shared case studies from National Geographic’s website optimization campaigns at Shop.org’s Online Merchandising Workshop earlier this week.
The company started multi-variable site testing at the end of 2012 on several scenarios, from the checkout funnel to a specialized microsite for a high-end genographic project studying human genetic roots to the mobile site. To make matters even more complex, the site was undergoing a redesign, so after Dvorak applied the lessons learned from the first set of tests – improved layouts, changed button colors, etc. – she did the same round of tests on the site with the new design. And that’s when it all started to come together – or rather, come apart.
Take the buy button, for example. While changing the buy button to blue on the old site resulted in a 22 percent increase in revenue per customer, blue had a negative impact on revenue on the new site. Gold was the answer. A new color scheme and design required a new solution. The lesson that the old findings didn’t form hard-and-fast rules was proven again and again, as variables that won on the old site “tanked” on the new site. But it’s no reason to get discouraged, Dvorak said. That is precisely why you test.
“We found something that’s negative, but we found a variable that’s sensitive enough that if we tweak it, we can influence behavior,” Dvorak said.
Dvorak learned that on her site, no finding is universal because it’s influenced by a complex range of factors from the design of the page, customer demographics, time of year and everything in between.
Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that changing the smallest thing – couple of words, the color of button, font size, the color of a form field – can create a big impact. But you’ll never know until you test. And never stop testing.