How tunes into customers

January 12, 2012 04:06 PM

After noticing too many visitors leaving without placing an order on, the e-retailer ran a test and found shoppers would respond better to a simpler navigation bar with fewer choices.

Running a test through of how site visitors responded to two navigation bars—one busy with several click options, the other simpler with only four options—Headsets, No. 710 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide, found that the simpler one resulted in a 10% higher visitor-to-purchase conversion rate, says Matt Burnaford, vice president of marketing.

The retailer also learned that many of its customers, even those who had purchased from Headsets before, didn’t know enough about the many types of headsets to steer their way through site search and navigation.

The older navigation bar presented shoppers with five buttons to click among several types of headsets, including Wireless Office Headsets, Corded Office Headsets and Best Sellers. The navigation bar also offered several other links, including Headset Wizard, Benefits of Headsets and Staff Recommendations.

But the retailer learned that many customers responded better to a navigation bar that let them simply choose the type of device they planned to use a headset on, rather than having to first choose among headset categories like wireless, corded or best sellers.

After Headsets ran the test through, its new winning navigation bar now appears with only four link buttons: Office Headsets, Home Headsets, PC Headsets and Cell Headsets. The only other information in the new navigation bar is the retailer’s 800 number, its hours of customer service, and a shopping cart icon with the number of carted items.

“The other navigation clearly wasn’t working, but the leaner, simpler look produced the increase in conversion rates,” Burnaford says.

He adds that running the test was a simple matter of filling out a form on to get test results within about one hour. To run a test, a retailer gives the URL of the page to be tested, describes a task for site visitors (such as “Buy a headset”), and indicates the type of consumer by demographics (including gender, age and income group) from’s available panel of consumer testers from throughout the United States.

The participating testers then video-record themselves using the client retailer’s site; once the test is completed, the retailer receives a copy of each tester’s video so the merchant can view and listen to the recorded session. Retailers also receive a written summary from testers on any problems they encountered in using the site, and retailers can follow up to ask testers questions after each test. UserTesting charges $39 per tester.

Burnaford didn’t say how many testers Headsets used in the navigation bar test, but notes that Headsets will use anywhere from one to 10 testers for any one test. Jim Schuett, marketing director for, says most clients run tests with either five testers or 10-12 testers. 




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