June 19, 2008, 12:00 AM

ShopPBS.com site redesign helps boost revenue by 25%

ShopPBS.com had a fundamental problem two years ago when shoppers couldn’t find products on the web site. An 18-month site redesign process improved orders and reduced page views by 4.7%, indicating that shoppers were finding items more quickly.

What’s one of the worst things that can happen on an e-commerce site? For ShopPBS.com it was a navigation process that stood between shoppers and products.

ShopPBS.com had a fundamental problem two years ago when shoppers couldn’t locate products on the web site. An 18-month site redesign process culminated last July with a 24.8% increase in revenue and 4.7% fewer page views, an indication that shoppers were finding items more quickly, says Andrea Downing, vice president of home entertainment and partnerships for Public Broadcasting Service.

Of that 18 months spent on the redesign, most of the time was spent on planning. “The execution went quickly,” Downing told attendees at the 2008 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago. She oversees video product distribution channels, including web, catalog, stores and education, for PBS, which is No. 380 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Because site design is really never complete, Downing recommends preparing a road map for specific redesign projects and being prepared to make tough choices. “You’re never done. As soon as you launch you should look at what’s coming down the road,” Downing says.

The redesign produced a 31.4% increase in orders and a 3.4% lift in checkouts, Downing says. Visitors to the site were up 9.5% last year.

One of the keys to PBS.com’s successful site redesign was improved taxonomy. Upgrades were built on three years of site traffic analysis, after which products were organized into more recognizable categories.

The new taxonomy uses parametric navigation, which enables sorting by such attributes as price and video content topic. The outcome: the time it takes for shoppers to find products was slashed by 50%.

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