October 03, 2006

Homepage Design and Net Sales Follow-Up

A few topics surfaced from yesterday's post on homepage design. Let's address the issues.

Question #1: Do any of the three homepage presentations (selling, hybrid, branding) drive enough traffic to offset shortcomings in conversion and average order size?
  • This is a good question. Among the larger companies, the selling strategy drives the most traffic, followed by the branding strategy. In fact, the selling strategy drives enough traffic to offset lower productivity.
  • Of course, the vast majority of businesses aren't big enough to be in this category. Among companies ranked 126-300, the selling strategy drives 10% more traffic than the hybrid strategy. The hybrid strategy drives 10% more traffic than the branding strategy.
  • After multiplying visitors by net sales per visitor, the hybrid strategy is still more productive than the selling strategy. The branding strategy performs even worse when evaluating traffic.
Question #2: Why do the branding sites have a lower average order size?
  • Part of the reason for this is that the computer-related sites are almost always selling or hybrid sites. I ran a scenario where I removed the sites that had the highest and lowest average order sizes, and highest/lowest conversion rates. After doing this, the branding sites had lower average order sizes, all other sites had significantly lower average order sizes. However, the change was not enough to offset lower conversion rates. It does seem like the branding sites fail to maximize the potential sales of each order.
Question #3: Can you illustrate top performing sites in each segment (selling, hybrid, branding)?
  • Here's the top three in each category. You will see some sites that really sit on the fence. I struggled with classifying Sony Style (could have been in branding), and CDW (could have been in the hybrid strategy), for example.
The evaluation of sites is subjective. If ten of us tried to classify sites into branding, hybrid or selling strategy, we would probably agree on two-thirds of the sites, and disagree on the others. Based on my evaluation of the data, the differences in classification would not make much difference in the overall outcome.

I hope the information was useful. I think we demonstrated that website design does make a difference in generating profitable sales. All strategies (selling, hybrid, branding) have the potential to work well. The hybrid strategy appears to have the best chance to be productive.


  1. Kevin, I noticed that the Sony Style link above goes to Blue Nile, instead. I'm guessing this was an error (obviously!) but I'm wondering... was it an error that Sony Style was miss-linked or that Blue Nile was mis-labeled? Not a huge distinction, but I was curious, nonetheless.

    Great posting, by the way. It's great to have this kind of data to support the work web designers/creators are out there doing. Design matters!

  2. Problem fixed, Jim. You now know which site came in 4th place in the hybrid strategy category!


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