December 1, 2011, 8:54 AM

Superior site design begins and ends with superior testing

An IRWD speaker says better testing can take design to another dimension.

Lead Photo

Nathan Decker

For online retailers that want to take their e-commerce site design from good to great, the secret to success is testing and doing lots of homework, says Nathan Decker, director of e-commerce at

Decker will speak Feb. 14 at 11: 45 a.m. at the 2012 Internet Retailer Web Site Design and Usability Conference in Orlando in a session entitled “Beyond Best Practices: Using Innovation to Take Your Design to the Next Level." He says frequent usability testing makes a big difference in turning great ideas into better e-commerce site design.

“Frequent usability testing shows you where customers are getting hung up and what needs to be fixed,” says Decker. “Also don’t be afraid of using lots of historical data to see what shoppers really want your site to do.”

In his session, Decker will use examples of how, which sells sporting gear such as skis, snowboards and skateboards online, used testing and archived customer data to build sophisticated new features and functions. In the past year has used customer feedback, web analytics data and frequent usability testing to build a comparison shopping tool.

The key to building a superior web site is testing usability about every 30 days, says Decker. Doing enough usability testing also gives consumers and programmers a chance to spot and fix potential problems before a new design or major feature goes live. “If you don’t go back and frequently test what you have designed and want to update, you may be missing the boat on what your customers think about what you are doing,” says Decker.

Regular testing and closely analyzing customer data and other e-commerce metrics have helped in the last 18 months to roll out a better social media program, customer reviews and improved site search. With a better site brought about by better testing, annual web sales increased about 20% for last year to around $20 million. “Put customer data and usability testing to work the right way and you will achieve a superior design,” says Decker.

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Decker to speak because he is involved in all aspects of online marketing, virtual merchandising and web site functionality at outdoor gear retailer An original member of the Evo crew, he has helped Evo grow from a three-man eBay operation out of a garage in Seattle to a multichannel Top 500 Internet Retailer.


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