UIEtips: The $300 Million Button

Jared Spool

December 5th, 2011

Back in January 2009, we published an article that received quite a bit of attention, The $300 Million Button. This article quickly became our most popular article and was often found on other web sites. The interest was around how a major retailer dramatically increased their e-commerce site’s revenues with a couple of simple changes.

What’s really fascinating about this article is the back story. The client had hired us because they were concerned about checkout-process abandonment. Their analytics were showing a 13% drop off in sales, which, based on the average value of the abandoned shopping carts, was worth about $1.2 million a year in additional revenue.

Checkout-process abandonment is common in e-commerce sites and something that you can easily detect with your site’s usage logs. You just look at the number of people who get to the first screen and then the number of people who actually complete the transaction. Everyone who doesn’t make it is considered an abandoned cart.

When the team contacted us, they’d already pretty much decided what the problem was and how they were going to fix it, even though they had never watched any shoppers make purchases. And they were dead wrong. Not only was their fix not going to help, our research showed that it was going to increase abandonment.

Two weeks of usability testing on the live site (and on competitors’ sites), followed by two weeks of iterative paper prototype testing produced a streamlined checkout process, which, once implemented, showed a dramatic increase in revenues. It’s amazing what you’ll learn when you actually watch your users.

Today’s article talks about the bulk of that increase — how a simple change to a common screen produced $300,000,000 of additional revenue over the next year. I’m sure you’ll find it interesting.

You can also read more on the back story of the $300 Million Button on the Brain Sparks blog.

Have you seen results from changes to your forms? We’d love to hear your experiences. Share them with us below.

One Response to “UIEtips: The $300 Million Button”

  1. Johannes van Schalkwyk Says:

    My first experience with results from changing a form was in the late eighties.
    At that stage I still worked as an accountant. The general ledger was maintained on a system written in Basic running on a Wang 8bit system with a huge 96 Meg 4 platter drive and user terminals.
    In my section I had 3 ladies who capture the data received via courier from the regional centres.
    If I remember correctly the batch capture form stretched over three screens. The last screen had two fields on it which was never used and the button to process the batch.
    The layout was rearrange so that the fields that was completed most often appeared first. Also the button to action the processing of the batch was always available, i.e. the user did not have to go to the third screen just to indicate that the batch can be processed.
    As you can well imagine screen updating was not of the fastest in those days.
    This resulted in such an increase in productivity that when the one data-capturer resigned it was decided not to replace her. A substantial saving for a small company.
    I have used this example many times to highlight the importance of screen design – it must be logical and follow the workflow of the user.
    In 2013 I did some system testing. The user was presented with a service request from a client received via e-mail. It was a lengthy screen with lots of detail. The detail of the request from the client was at the bottom of the screen. The user first had to scroll to the bottom of the screen to see the detail of the request before doing anything.
    We are still getting it wrong.
    This is maybe why UXD resonates with me. I think it is important to raise awareness of the importance of a user centred design so that user experience requirements receive more attention. Before system functionality was everything. It may not add functionality but it makes the functionality more useable.

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