Now that the groundwork has been laid, it’s time to dive in to the guts of Refining Design for Business, the actionable walk-through of Michael Krypel’s integration methodology. From major corporations to startups, nonprofits to content-driven platforms, Michael has integrated his iterative optimization system at virtually every level of every corner of commerce, and his how-tos and subsequent case studies reflect the breadth and depth of his groundbreaking work.

In this example—leading pet care wellness site PetCareRx—Michael presents a host of highly intuitive examples as well as more conceptually challenging situations. The takeaway? You’ll only know if new designs are effective by rolling out the telltale tests. PetCareRx did and the results are staggering.

The Walk-Through: PetCareRx

Before diving into the impact of his methodology with case studies from Adobe, Obama for America, American Express, LinkedIn, and more, Michael’s book walks through a comprehensive integration methodology for PetCareRx. The company sought to improve the impact and efficacy of its homepage, the “cash cow” of the site that generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue annually. A boost to this page could potentially lead to a substantial lift in sales. So how could the site design and functionality be improved to make that a reality?

Step 1: The first step was developing an optimization roadmap, which led to the examination of analytics data. PetCareRx observed that 70 percent of visitors came through the homepage, with the majority being new users, so this was likely their first exposure to the brand. The most common action taken after landing on this high-value page? Leave. Not good—and no doubt the first page of the site needed attention. Beyond that, the team observed five additional pages that should be reviewed and tested: shopping cart, product pages, search results, checkout, and category pages.

Michael’s analysis pulled from both quantitative and qualitative research, and a number of critical factors immediately bubbled to the surface:

  • If users didn’t leave, they were most likely to click on one of 12 product tiles in the main area of the homepage. Virtually no one clicked on the right-hand column.
  • More dog owners use the site than cat owners.
  • The top-performing categories were flea & tick and heartworm remedies.
  • Not all customers were aware that PetCareRx provided deep discounts on store-brand products, a main market differentiator for the company.

Step 2: Based on the data, Michael and the PetCareRx team brainstormed and prioritized homepage test ideas and challenge levels, along with the value of each specific test. For example, enhancing the value proposition through A/B testing was fairly low on the difficulty scale, but the value to the brand was deemed high. On the other side, trying competitors’ layouts was seen as more difficult, with a low payoff.

Step 3: The optimization plan was ready to be set in motion and the tests would roll out as follows:

  • Test emphasizing top-selling products and their prices, presenting the brand’s clear competitive edge
  • Test emphasizing the top product categories
  • Test emphasizing products for dogs over cats
  • Test de-emphasizing the low-traffic right side of the page

The overall goal? Increase click-through traffic and revenue per visitor (RPV). PetCareRx hypothesized that by including subnavigation and prominent price messaging, they would increase customer engagement and, likewise, RPV. To get there, testing would involve assessing different product presentations specifically in the main area of the homepage, where the majority of that page’s engagement happened.

All homepage visitors would be included in the two-week A/B test that, ultimately, consisted of six recipes, including a default.

Step 4: From here, PetCareRx could develop wireframes. What resulted were two unique layouts. The first—Recipe B—prominently featured the top three products row by row with multiple purchase options (3-, 6-, or 12-month supplies) along with a snapshot of the value presented. The second—Recipe C—split the section into three columns, enabling the 12 top products to be displayed, with a focus on the two top-selling categories—flea & tick and heartworm. Recipe A was the existing default page.

Three additional wireframes—Recipes D, E, and F—were built out, more specific to the top-performing categories as well as the consumer preference for dog products over cat products. From here, design comps were constructed, updated, and prepared for rollouts.

Step 5: Next up was the optimization launch phase, which encompassed setting up the test, checking setups, and verifying key performance indicators (KPIs) and their measurability. Then onto the design tests!

Step 6: The optimization results that followed provided a clear snapshot of the design performance:

  • Recipe B, focusing on the three top products, was flat to the default/control page.
  • Recipe C, with 12 products surrounding top-sellers, experienced a 7 percent lift in RPV.
  • Recipe D, which featured dogs on the left and cats on the right, saw a 12 percent lift.
  • Recipe E, with exclusively flea & tick and heartworm on the homepage, was also flat.
  • Recipe F, with a vertical play on Recipe D, was the highest performer, up 23 percent.

The winning recipe split the page into dogs and cats, providing a clear delineation between the two categories. With more room on the page, Recipe F could also better tout top sellers as well as the competitive pricing proposition. Going forward, all traffic would be pushed to that layout which, if conversions held, could result in tens of millions of dollars in incremental sales thanks to customers being able to achieve their objectives more readily.

Michael will be a major voice on this blog in the coming weeks and months, diving into more tactical walk-throughs like these as well as case studies for prominent brands and ways businesses of all sizes and scopes can integrate his iterative optimization methodology in their day-to-day. I’m eager to have his unique viewpoint and revolutionary methods in this space, and will be sharing more on the personalization and relevance story as it relates to iterative optimization in tandem with his posts.

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