User Interface – An Anecdote

Sometimes, the simplest thing can make a huge difference. This was the case with a project we've recently completed, and actively manage. A quick backstory (we'll cover the project as a whole some other time): we were hired to develop a new website for a national company that franchises pool builders. Their old website needed some style modernization, as well as better systems running it. We rebuilt the website from the ground up, and incorporated modern features such as mobile responsiveness, Google Analytics tracking, conversion tracking, and more.



But after the site was, by all accounts, better in every way, we still were noticing that the site was not generating more leads year over year versus the old site – the trends were flat. By analyzing page behavior and page visits,  we identified the problem. Not many visitors were finding the appropriate location page – they weren’t finding their local branch to contact.


Finding the right business branch location

When developing the site, we built a page that used the visitor’s location to identify the nearest office to them on a map. Imagine it being like when you use your phone to locate the nearest gas station – it was automatic. We also allowed the visitor to enter their zip code and have it identify their location. It seemed easy and intuitive. And it was… but it wasn’t.

User Interface Sometimes Relies on More Than Just Ease-Of-Use

The old site just listed all the cities we serviced, and visitors would select their city and be routed to the appropriate page. But what if their city wasn’t listed? If a location’s branch was in Sacramento, but the visitor lived in Roseville (essentially a suburb of Sacramento), they wouldn’t see their city listed. But, on the new site, if they entered their zip code on the map, it would direct them to the Sacramento office. This surely would make it even easier, and attract leads that would not have found their city before, right?

Unfortunately, we were wrong. There were two issues at play, both psychological: one, the old website listed every major city and its major outliers. So Roseville would be listed as well as Sacramento, even if both links directed to the same page. This allowed people more choice and to zero in on the city they associated with. And the second issue was one, we believe, of intrusion. The new system automatically detected a visitor’s location, and asked permission to use it. This can be seen as a turnoff by some people. If they already know where I am, what else do they already know? Web browsers will alert a user if their location is being used by a website.

So, we reverted the new site back to the old format – a long list of locations that a visitor could choose from. The map search is still available, but not as prominent, and it doesn’t automatically detect location any more. That simple change, which seemed unintuitive, resulted in an immediate increase in leads of about 5-10% on average, daily.

So, don’t always assume that because something is easier and sleeker, that it’s better.

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