March 4, 2004, 12:00 AM

Sometimes it just takes a perceptive staffer to find performance problems

Restoration Hardware Inc. knew it had a problem with site search when web staffers who were searching for a product they knew was on the site got a No Results Found message or found the specific product buried in the search results.

Understanding a web site’s performance doesn’t always come from deploying sophisticated technology. Restoration Hardware Inc. knew it had a problem with site search when web staffers who were searching for a product they knew was on the site got a No Results Found message or found the specific product buried in the search results.

“We didn’t have to pull any metrics,” says Stephanie Garcia, vice president of e-commerce for Corte Madera, CA-based Restoration Hardware. “We knew in searching on the site that it was a problem.”

Restoration Hardware installed out-of-the-box search technology from iPhrase Technologies Inc. and doubled the conversion rate of customers who use site search, Garcia reports. It replaced the search functionality that came with Restoration Hardware`s e-commerce software.

50% of customers who come to RestorationHardware.com use the site search before they use any other features, Garcia says. While the company has no metrics as to how many former users did not get good results from search, today only 1% of users get No Results Found, Garcia says.

Restoration Hardware, which has only 3.5 people working on its web site, doesn’t rely solely on human perception in measuring site performance. It uses Coremetrics Inc. for web site analytics.

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