Megan Leigh McDonald
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'Don't make me think.' Steve Krug

Megan Leigh McDonald’s 700% Click-thru Increase

I was just reading over a PDF that I downloaded from Omniture. It’s a case study for this travel company which I follow a bit in the news. The two guys who started that company have also started one of my favorite travel social networking companies — – Where Are You Now?

So this PDF, available for download off of the Omniture website, lays out the business problems that was experiencing. Their problems were overarching big picture problems like trying to figure out what the steps were that customers took between typing in keywords and booking trips, not to mention the customers that dropped off in between these steps.

They used a term I’m not familiar with — ‘look to book’ — I like that. It really describes the kind of user role that would be a ‘browser’ essentially. This really brings me back to graduate school and the persuasive theories in my ‘User Experience Communication’ course. I used this one particular bell curve in a paper I published about CyberHate websites. Basically on one end of the bell curve you have a certain percentage of people who are never going to subscribe to ‘hate sites’ or buy your product. Then on the other side is, for the sake of this example, an equitable percentage of people who will absolutely buy your product. That being said, it’s the large grey area in between those two groups that comprise the biggest opportunities in terms of convincing a person to convert from a ‘maybe’ to a purchaser.

I digress though.

To get back to’s case study, they did an A/B test through SiteCatalyst and discovered that the horizontal menu bar was more successful than a vertical one. After implementing the horizontal navigation, they increased their click through rate from the top navigation menu by 700% which is so insanely successful I can’t imagine what the UE and PM teams must have felt when they crunched the numbers and saw that kind of jump. It must have been an ‘awesome’ moment of triumph.

The other interesting angle to this is the SEM side of things. They were able to analyze how particular keywords performed by tracking the drop off rates on landing pages. When they identified high fallout rates, they looked at the keywords and the content of the page to determine how well they matched. In many cases, they weren’t EXACTLY what the customer was looking for and they were able to improve the experience and reduce the fallout rates.

It definitely makes me think about how to relate this to work. I already have an idea and can’t wait to whip it off to the appropriate person(s).