Fighting Feature Creep on the Product Page
October 28, 2010
It’s happened to us all - it starts out slowly with a feature here, a must-have script there and soon enough your product detail page is chock full of widgets, gadgets, apps, animations and more. Somewhere, deep in the there, you’ve still got a “Buy” button. Now if your customers could only find it.
No matter how hard we try, fighting the urge as marketers to resist, there is a constant demand to add more of everything and anything to the product page.
At some point, you’re going to realize there’s a problem. There’s simply too much... everything. The important pieces are getting lost and it’s time to step back and assess the situation. Here’s our quick plan to taking action and getting started with a reorganization.
Assessing What’s There
First, review and build out the list of elements on your product detail page. Leave out the shared elements like the standard web navigation and footer, we’re just talking about the guts of the product page. Chances are you’re list will start offer with “Title, Description, Product Image, Price, Add to Cart Button...” and lots more. Be as specific as you can with each element. If you’re descriptions are made up of 4 parts - list them separately.
For the second part of that list, add all the things that you’re thinking of adding (or waiting on the web developer to finish) to the product detail page. Go and grab your wish list - you know you’ve got one.
Lastly, there are likely to be a list of changes that you’ve already considered implementing to existing elements. They might include enlarging the size of the product images, adding a new font style within the description, changing the design of the “add to cart” button and more.
Prioritizing and Rebuilding
To begin the process, you need to assess what information is most critical to the process to the customer - which information is the most likely to help them make the decision to purchase.
For each of the three groups - go item by item through the list. Mark the most important elements with a “5”, less important with a “4” and so on, with “1” being assigned to the least important.
Start with a clean sheet of paper and start sketching out what a redesigned product page might look like. Strip everything out - include only the most essential pieces: Product name, description, price and an “Add to Cart” button.
Look at the list of items remaining from the three groups and start to construct a new product page. At this point, the prominence or placement each item might take on doesn’t matter. As you discuss the placement of the items, there should be several instances where you realize that you’re not sure how well something is performing and that you’ve been making assumptions that require a challenge.
While you might not be in a position to completely trash your existing product page design and start from scratch, the process will also you do the following:
- What do you need to test?
There are likely to be elements that have been added or included since the last redesign and you’re unsure of how they’re performing. Hopefully you made a note each time you thought “Well, I’d like to keep that, but I’m not really sure how well it performs or what impact it has”. Each time to thought that, you’ve added a potential test to this list.
- What needs to go?
With an improved sense of priority and understanding of the page, you can schedule the slow removal of certain elements within the product detail area. Think strategically when updating as many of the updates can be coordinated to cross several updates off the list through a single round of updates.
- What work needs to be done?
With the elements that need to be changed, updated and added you could set a priority and timeline for those changes based on the prioritization listing. However, it might work better to get some of the smaller (and less expensive) updates completed first in order to gain some momentum and see immediately impact.
- Use the results from testing and other data (customer service inquiries, analytics, etc.) to further edit and update the layout.
- Log your changes and/or annotate your results within your analytics provide.
- Create a rough schedule / timeframe when you have the time and budget to complete the initial round of changes.
Client Story: The SKU
We once worked with a client who had always included the product SKU on the product detail page. The small number string which made up the SKU always seemed to demand an overly important place on the page. The argument or assumption had always been that customers used the SKU as a reference point when placing orders and as a result, it needed to keep a prominent place on the page. After a short discussion, we made a call down to the customer service staff working in the building and responsible for working directly with customers and asked the question: “How do customers reference products when they call in?”. The answer was short and simple - they never used the SKU. Instead, they referenced the product by it’s name - directly.
The SKU was moved to another area on the page and made significantly less prominent - allowing promotional messaging more room.