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The $500 Million Button: ROI From User Experience Research

by Jan Panhoff , 14.03.2013

As user experience (UX) researchers in a volatile market, we often discuss return on investment (ROI) of UX research. A recent study showcased this ROI when a simple design recommendation led to substantial monetary gain for one leading e-commerce organization.

The e-commerce organization approached us about conducting UX research on their mobile site after experiencing significantly lower revenue from the site than expected. It was also performing poorly compared to their iPhone and Android apps. The goal of the research was to identify the user experience barriers of the mobile site that were impacting revenue.

Initial observations and research findings

At a first glance, it became obvious that the mobile site had not kept up with touch screen interaction. While scrolling pages was possible with gestures, the remaining functions were still catering to a five-way navigation model.By conducting a number of interviews with current users, we identified the core issue with the mobile site was that users could not locate the “Buy” button (translation: "Bieten") on the product detail page. The button itself was displayed on the top of the page embedded in a table layout that also contained other links. Ultimately, users expected the button to be located below the item picture.

Additionally, the button did not stand out as a clickable item. This resulted in participants scrolling past the button, considering it to be a decorative element. Those users who eventually discovered the button had a very hard time clicking it, since they had to click on the text of the button to begin the checkout process. Clicking the remainder of the field did not trigger an action.


A quick fix?

Upon analysis and review with the client, the team recommended adding an additional button below the item picture. This fix was quickly implemented by the organization. As a result, the minor design change is now estimated to generate an additional $500 million in revenue per year. Quite a difference a subtle design change can make.If you find yourself needing to justify the ROI of UX research, reflect on this study and think about how these concepts can be applied to other instances. You might find the “magic button” for your product or service.          


Jan Panhoff is a Senior User Experience Consultant at GfK SirValUse with an extensive background conducting global user research and employing qualitative research methods. With an interest in the e-commerce industry, he also specializes in user interface design and improving customer interactions with products and services.