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Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007 at 12:18 pm

A Simple A/B Test Suggestion for

By Peter Lee
November 8th, 2007

While searching for new sneakers, I decided on a pair of Pumas. I love their style and color options, and they always have the newest selections. The same goes for their website. It’s chock full of flash — literally. I normally don’t mind the extra attention to design — in fact I appreciate a beautifully designed website — but has made it difficult to find any products.

Landing on the homepage, I was hypnotized by the Flash and interactive design, which must have taken months to program. It showed. (I was on slow connection and had to endure an excruciating load time.) Finally, I was shown one measly, dull-gray shoe. I gave it the benefit of the doubt and clicked on the shoe, expecting to be presented with more colors and styles to choose from. Instead, a new window popped up with no sneaker or link to the online store in sight. They’d sent me to Mongolian Shoe BBQ; a micro-site for a campaign I was unaware of. And although I noticed a trace of copy next to the gray show (after going back to the homepage to figure out what happened), it still felt like the e-tail equivalent of Outer Mongolia.

I started to wonder about Puma’s online business strategy. (Did they even want me to purchase anything? Where the heck are the sneakers or online store? Where am I supposed to go now?) What did they want visitors to get out of their website? As a retail company, the obvious goal of the site would be both branding and e-commerce. In other words, to get visitors excited about their products and brand and, eventually, make a sale. I was ready to purchase, but there were too many usability issues that forced me to browse aimlessly.

A major roadblock for com is that it’s top-heavy with (beautiful) design. It’s very image and Flash-oriented and, despite the demand of would-be customers in search of Puma’s sneaker-line, the visitors’ eyes are immediately drawn to the center Flash animation, then to the bottom icons. The small red bag representing the online store is lost amid all the colors and commotion, and the link to the online store in the left navigation is effectively hidden because it’s surrounded by colorful banners. The small, light-gray text — although cool-looking — makes it difficult for visitors to shop.

Current Homepage:


So, what can do to be a more effective e-commerce site? They need to provide a clearer driving point (define) to their online store. A simple A/B test on the homepage will have a big impact. How simple? Well, Google makes it free for all and the only thing you’ll lose is time spent learning a valuable advantage over competitors and opportunity cost of course. To be most effective when making changes to a website, proper A/B testing on Google Website Optimizer is recommended.

My Test Page Suggestion:


Which page do you think would convert better?

Add Your Comments

Comments (5)

  1. Good post.

    Its just another (one of many) example of marketers, promoters or advertisers that absolutely do not understand the media, its capabilities & its oppurtunities.

    They have a very complex experience in mind for the user & the user has no say in what this experience is.

    I don’t thnk the Mongolian Shoe BBQ is the only micro-site. Every link or piece of the navigation seems to link to send you to a microsite or subsite or area that is otherwise removed conceptually from the homepage.

    I think this is similar to a common (more common in the past) ecommerce problem. They have all this content that thay want to display to their users and they want users to drill down to it.

    I came to puma – I am intersted in running – ‘learn more about puma running’ – I am interested in ‘mens shoes’ – ‘lightweight’ – walla! I find my shoe. Almost as an afterthought they have a ‘store locator’. Something for me to do when I have found my shoe and read the stingy 19 words of carefully thought out copy. The whole process, assumming users grasp the concept of this drill down (something users continously prove that they don’t grasp or appreciate) takes about 3-10 min with an above average connection made up mostly of waiting for something (you have no idea what or why) to load and standing around going huh?!.

    To top it off, its an absolute drill down, you are not accomodated at all if you lost your way. Something that is almost bound to happen considering that the navigation does not tell you that you are going to a diffferent site/site-area, or what you can expect to find there.

    Even ignoring the potential hurdles such a flash heavy/conceptually complex site places on anyone thinking about SEO, PPC, analytics, testting, etc., (like a lot of flash heavy sites) operates completely in a vacume. No thought is put into how a search engine, friendly site, email, etc. might link to anything but the homepage in a ‘this-is-the-puma-home page fashion. If you (the search engine, webmaster,etc.)are refering to something contained within the site, such as a product or promotion its going to be very difficult for you to refer to the information unless this is something predefined by puma as a ‘topic’ such as ‘puma women’ or ‘Mongolian Shoe BBQ’ and has its own micro-site.

  2. Wow, it still amazes me how many large corporations still don’t have a clue when it comes to online marketing. I just can’t figure out why that is? Is the internet really still in its infancy?

  3. I prefer your version if the point is to sell online, but i am not sure this is the final point for Puma…
    Currently in the french version they change shop online to locate a store, and shop online comes next.
    Anyway, i prefer the way you present the driving point :)

  4. I agree with what you have said above.Sometimes, I want to buy something online. I have experienced such a time. I wanted to buy a bag on a website. A shop caught my attention at once. Frankly speaking, that image makes me totally crazily fond of. However, due to too much links, I do not know where I was and where my bag was. I gave up. Maybe I can find it by another try. No matter what, I did not. I do not know whether puma did not so well online. But if that was true, it will be a way for them loosing customers indeed. Best wishes for puma.

  5. I think the test page provides accessibility for the customers to find the sneakers.The button at the left cornor is obvious.

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