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I’d Test That: Bringing our A/B Testing Game to Hewlett Packard

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If you think that big, successful companies are beyond the need for site optimization and testing, think again. Often, the larger the company, the more testing opportunities there are.

Though A/B split testing can take many forms, we often start out with small, measurable element changes in order to determine what is pushing the needle and what isn’t. But in some cases, it’s necessary to take the control and test it against something vastly different. And in the case of Hewlett Packard’s site, we are all in favor of this tactic.

This is a perfect example of a successful company with a strong need for optimization. Sure, their brand is well known, but that’s not all you need to get conversions online. So we chose one specific point of conversion that we feel needs to be completely overhauled and tested.

HP offers an option on their site called “Help me choose,” a wizard designed to determine exactly which computer(s) match up to your needs. We went with the laptop path, because it needs a lot of help. When two creative directors look at a site’s conversion path and come away totally confused and frustrated, that’s a good sign that things need to change—completely.

Overcomplicating choices earns you a lot of drop-off. Starting from this HP Laptop page, we’re already thrown into decision paralysis. The “Shop by” left nav offers some specific laptop features to search with, but we’re taking a look at that wizard, which is pretty buried on this page.

To start off, we’d pare down the choices. Instead of offering the three choices of Shop by Category, Screen Size and Help me Choose, just give them one strong path. We’d have this entire module focusing on the “choose” aspect, and give it a sexier, more aspirational feel. The idea is to get the customer excited about this laptop, and to feel like they have found the one that best matches their needs. And, most importantly, to get them to buy it. To do that, you should empower them a bit and let them have a hand in the process. Different message testing could be good here, e.g., “Find Your HP Laptop” vs. “Which Laptop is Right for You?”

Now, onto the path of the recommendation wizard.

Matt and I agreed that this first step needs to be eliminated altogether:

Why the cut? Because it doesn’t really serve the customer. What if all three of these things apply to the person shopping for a laptop? It’s a frustrating experience, and having an option that says “None: not a concern” doesn’t help.

By the time we got to steps 2 and 3, we were completely frustrated with the process. There are enough opportunities for optimization that this blog post could turn into a novel. Here are some of the issues:

  • As an overarching UX comment for the entire path, we don’t see a need for the unwieldy progress bar on the left side.
  • Aesthetically, this page seems off-brand and has an affiliate look to it.
  • The messaging at the top of the page needs to be stronger, and it doesn’t need to wrap. Why are we going through a “Help me choose” wizard, yet being told to call and speak with a specialist? That should be a secondary message on a sidebar, maybe with a live chat option.
  • Having an ever changing “Our recommendations” module on the right takes away the entire relevance of having the wizard. The reveal should be shown after all questions have been answered.
  • The price point jumps immediately to $800+ if you select “Multitasking” or “Entertainment” from step 1. Yet if you select “Basic” it gives you one computer at a $500 price range. And if you select “None,” which doesn’t make a lot of sense to us, you get a huge range.
  • The selection process doesn’t take into account the fact that this laptop could be needed for multiple reasons, therefore making it difficult to choose just one option.
  • Options become greyed out as you progress through the wizard, even though they might apply to your laptop needs.
  • Visually speaking, the final recommendations all look alike, with no real motivator to click through. With no context, we don’t really know if these laptops are what we’re looking for.
  • The legal is taking up over 1/3 of the page, and it looks a bit intimidating.

So, what would we do?

Since we assessed this path and decided that it needs to be completely overhauled, here’s a few things we’d do if we ran an A/B test:

  • Put all the questions on one page. There’s no reason to make someone run through a convoluted wizard. Keep it simple.
  • Ask the right questions. We came at this as consumers, and realized that if we really needed help finding the right laptop, then we needed questions that were relevant. Also, instead of pigeonholing us into a narrow channel, we want to be able to check multiple things. Here’s the four questions we think should be on the HP wizard:
    1. What is your budget? (Offer four price ranges to select from)
    2. What size screen do you want?
    3. How will you be using this laptop? (This is where, instead of asking what describes you, we suggest categories like “Everyday use,” “Work,” “Family,” etc. Multiple categories can be checked, because this might be a laptop used for a family, for instance.
    4. Which features do you need on your laptop? This would replace the step 3 “activities” page, as these are really not activities, but preferences. In a sense, the customer is building their ideal machine.
  • Save the reveal for last, and make it impactful. After answering the questions, a large CTA button should prompt the user to get their recommendations. And instead of being faced with a block of identical thumbnails of laptops, we think HP would be smart to use an already existing design. When you click on those aforementioned search links in the left nav of the Laptop landing page, you get much nicer search results. So, look at the difference between what you currently see in recommendations, on the left, and what we suggest, on the right:

 

  • Stay on brand. We’d incorporate a sleeker, cleaner design that incorporates some of the stronger branding elements on HP’s site. This would alleviate potential friction and add to the “excited to buy” potential of the wizard.
  • Test, test and test again. There’s a wealth of testing opportunity on this site, and this conversion path could go through many iterations, all geared to move the needle on conversions.

We can’t help ourselves when we see a really cool company doing things the not-so-easy way. HP offers great products and has a solid reputation, so they’re already in a good place. Putting their site through some smart testing would benefit them and their revenue immensely.

This conversion path is just the tip of the testing iceberg for HP. And that’s the exciting thing about establishing a strong testing culture. It opens up the door to constant optimization and measurable results. Take a critical look at your conversion paths. Could they use an overhaul?

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