February 10, 2011, 12:13 PM

How WineoftheMonthClub.com scored an A+ on web tests

A series of usability tests revealed surprises, says a design conference speaker.

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An e-retailer may think it knows what its customers want, but take heed: Customers will almost always surprise you. Luckily, WineoftheMonthClub.com didn’t only follow its gut instinct when it came to redesigning key pages on its web site. It decided to test page layouts, imagery and copy and let the results guide the changes.

Tom Funk, a web design veteran who is currently senior manager of e-commerce for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, will present WineoftheMonthClub.com’s tests in an exciting and interactive session titled “Web design smackdown: How good is your design instinct vs. testing?” at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability 2011 Conference. Funk helped WineoftheMonthClub.com with its tests while he was vice president of Timberline Interactive, a web design, marketing and consulting firm.

“You can definitely get test results that disprove your assumptions,” Funk says.

Funk will walk the audience through the tests WineoftheMonthClub.com ran to determine which options would drive the highest rates of desired actions on the site, such as which home page design elements caused consumers to stay on the site longer and move through the buying process.

With each pair of designs presented, Funk will run an informal A/B test with the audience, asking attendees which design they think proved more effective for the e-retailer. Audience members will use their mobile phones to vote.

Presented design scenarios will include WineoftheMonthClub.com’s home page, checkout page and account registration page.

“These are the killer pages to test on any site,” Funk says.

Alternate versions of a promotional e-mail, each featuring different subject lines and body copy, also may disprove attendees’ assumptions about what resounds with consumers—with two good options to choose from, the winning e-mail had a click-through rate 53% greater than the losing option, and drove a significantly larger revenue lift.

“E-mail campaigns are ideal entry points for testing because you have surgical precision with them,” he says. “Is it offer A or offer B that gets you to your goal?”

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