The $300,000,000 Fix

It’s hard to imagine a simpler form: two fields, two buttons, and one link. Yet, it turns out this form was preventing customers from purchasing products from a major e-commerce site to the value of $300,000,000 a year. 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.

The Logic

The team saw the form as follows: it would allow returning customers to purchase faster, and first-time purchasers wouldn’t mind the extra steps, because, after all, they will probably return for more and appreciate the saved time on the second round. Great thinking… no?

Well no… It turns out that this “well intending, well thought out” piece of UX was actually impeding conversions on a mass scale.

Not good for the goose or the gander. 

When usability tests were run, it turns out that neither the once-off or return users were winning from these 2 small fields. The once-off user, viewed it as a barrier, and some sort of “marketing ploy” which would lead to a stream of unwanted communications. The return users as well were not as excited about it as originally hoped. They often stumbled over forgotten usernames and passwords. As much as 45% of all customers had multiple registrations in the system, some as many as 10.

The results of this one (and I emphasise one) example are astounding and again prove the importance of

1. Understanding existing UX principles (learning from others)
2. Planning your UX before starting,
3. Learning from your own site’s analytics,
4. Never underestimating the

As we learn more about user behaviour, the web becomes a more focused, structured, predictable place and good UX planning becomes increasingly essential for the success of any project.

Click here to get your next project started on the right foot.