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.