Usability, Something My Maid Does Not Understand – Conversion Wednesday

By Nik


My wife and I both have supersized full-time jobs and a dog whose own supersized full-time job is shedding throughout every square inch of our house. Needless to say, hiring a maid was a must. So as “maid day” comes around the corner after a few weeks, I really look forward to it and when I return home that evening, I know that our place is going to look, feel and smell… perfect. But there is something that bothers me and I know I’ll have to resolve it the next day. It’s sort of a game that I’m forced to play against my maid and it all boils down to her lack of usability skills. One day it hit me – this is so similar to conversion management, so I though I’d cover it.

To understand the game, we first have to discuss the pieces. There’s a bathroom – this is like the game board if you will. It has 3 shelves. #1 is the easiest to access. #2 and #3 have a lot of space on them though and should be utilized effectively. Now, I also have a mix of products in my bathroom – probably too many actually. They range from my normal mix of shampoo, conditioner, etc. to a few alternate brands to change things up once and a while, and finally, a few back-up bottles that are nearly empty, but are around for emergency purposes.

Now, the day after “maid day”, I enter the bathroom and though it usually looks beautiful, I typically find that all my bath products are lined up in a mix-matched way to all face me as if some sort of early morning saluting ritual. Now I need to comb through everything on the shelf, trying to distinguish between my normal mix products and their look-alikes from the nearly empty section. At the same time, I need to remember which brands are my normal brands and which ones I typically use at alternates.

This vexes me terribly.

Now comes my move. I painstakingly spend my morning-after-maid-day re-creating the usability aspects of my bathroom.

I move my normal mix, the most important bunch, to shelf number 1 – up-front-and-center. This provides the most accessibility while delivering the least bit of confusion. My next move is to reserve shelf #2 for the select group of alternate brands, while shelf #3 plays the part of the island of misfits, housing nothing more than the nearly empty bottles. Recently though, I relegated my nearly empty bottles to the bathroom closet, where they patiently wait in rotation towards the waste basket.

So what does this have to do with usability on websites? Everything.

If you’ve been following, then I hope this transition of thought helps open your eyes to the usability and merchandising opportunities on your website. Watch. My bathroom is like a category page on e-commerce websites. My top shelf is not dissimilar to the above-the-fold real estate that a visitor sees immediately. Here’s where you want to showcase your store’s equivalent of my favorite bath products – namely your top selling products. Items that people are drawn to and are popularity interested in. The main body section then is the perfect place to put the alternative products and brands that are less popular, like I did with my shelf #3.

Finally, instead of interspersing out-of-stock products amongst your in stock inventory, separate them to something like a drop-down: “browse our out of stock inventory”. If you don’t intend on refilling your inventory on a product, then like the nearly empty bottles in my trash bucket, you can now get rid of your “no-longer-important” merchandise and remove it from your site: for the sake of your users.

Now – if I could only teach this to my maid.

We help improve usability and merchandising for our clients through conversion booster, a managed conversion testing service that allows us to make some great assumptions about the best next step to improve user experience on your site, like I did for my bathroom; then test those assumptions to ensure they result in more conversions and customers that had a better experience shopping on your site.

We perform free audits for qualified prospects – please give us a call at 800-504-4324 for more info!