Small Changes Lead to Big Numbers: A/B Tests to Run on Your Website’s Homepage

Consider your homepage the entryway to your online business. Here, you have the fleeting opportunity to impress upon your visitors… pretty much everything about your company. From the abstract (your brand personality and values) to the tangible (current promotions), every element on your homepage can stand to be optimized through A/B tests so that potential customers get the most out of their first visit.

In this post, we’ll guide you through some of the options worth implementing on your site’s homepage elements. Keep in mind that since the homepage is far on the sales funnel from the final purchase, the measure of success for a well-optimized homepage isn’t necessarily increased revenue, but lowered bounce rates, increased product page views, increased click-throughs, and so forth — essentially, any additional activity from the homepage onward indicates a win.

Starting From the Top

The header on your homepage is where you’ll find your logo and navigation. Run a few A/B tests on the placement of your logo. Will it go at the top right, center, or left? This may not seem like a change that will garner statistically significant results, but see if these variations make a difference in average time a user spends on your site.

Testing your search bar language is quick and easy so don’t ignore the opportunity to improve your site’s activity. Indicators of the success of this test can include increased product page views and increased average order value (AOV) due to the customer shopping for products that they hadn’t previously considered.

Take this example from Backcountry:

You’ll notice that the tabs go from what’s most profitable (new arrivals), onto serving customers who are looking for something specific (brands, then activities), then by broad categories for those who want to shop around (activities, women, men, kids), and then to the category of products that’s less desired and least profitable (sale).

What pages on your site do you want people to navigate to the most? Dedicate your header navigation to those pages and monitor the traffic you get on them. Based on the data in your findings, you can then move the tabs around to better serve your customers’ interests.

Also on Backcountry’s header is a search bar. If you’re planning to include a search bar in your header, think about the verbiage on it. What you say in your search bar could be the push that a customer needs to keep on shopping. In Backcountry’s case, their search bar language, “Search gear and clothing” tells the customer what type of products they sell thus serving a functional purpose.

However, search bar language can vary. Consider these alternatives:

  • Inspirational
  • Product Specific

    product specific search bar

    (this can be used as an opportunity to suggest some of your current best-sellers!)

Target uses a dropdown in its search bar to showcase its product selection:

A/B testing your search bar language is quick and easy so don’t ignore the opportunity to improve your site’s activity. Indicators of the success of this test can include increased product page views and increased average order value (AOV) due to the customer shopping for products that they hadn’t previously considered.

Above the Fold Content

“Above the fold” refers the space on a webpage that a visitor can see without having to scroll down. This is prime real estate for you to populate with captivating content.

In recent years, we’ve found rotating homepage sliders don’t work. They don’t garner more clicks, they either move too fast or too slow for the user to retain any valuable information, they aren’t compatible with or require too much loading for mobile (loading those huge images takes a lot of data!), or they’re even ignored by users due to their overabundance.

This website’s heat map shows its slider being left in the cold (heat maps show where clicks happen on a page):

So what does work? Run some A/B tests and find out. Take our website for example:

We use a short gif-like video as the background (but a still image works to the same effect) with a few lines of text that communicate our value, and two call-to-actions (CTA) that prompt the user to take the actions that we find most valuable at this point of the sales funnel: reading more about us and looking through our past work.

Test the image and language on your homepage header of your site. Will it be an aspirational image that acts as background to the words, or will it be more direct and promote current best selling products and promotions? Will it feature targeted content based on the customer’s demographic profile (yes, this can be done.)? When testing, reduced bounce rate means it’s working.

Furthermore, what will your call-to-action(s) be and where will it be placed? Test the possibilities to see what gets the most clicks.

You’ll also see that on our homepage, we didn’t devote the entire above-the-fold space to the hero image. Each of those squares underneath the hero image serves a functional purpose by further communicating what we do. They each link to their own page.

Apple cheekily does the same thing, using the space beneath the hero image to highlight their popular products:

If you’re going for a similar set-up, test out what works best occupying that sliver of space. Again, increased click-throughs indicate a win.

For all of these tests, install a heat map tool to see where users are clicking. You may think buttons are clear to find, but often they are not. This heat map is our favorite.

Below the Fold

How else are those boxes underneath the hero image handy? They encourage scrolling. That’s right, showing only the top of those boxes above the fold wasn’t without motive. They’re there to encourage you to scroll down and see what else the homepage has to offer.

Below the fold, test content that’s secondary in importance but still worthy of display. Retail stores often highlight current promotions or featured products.

Target’s immediate “below-the-fold” content is seasonally geared:


As you scroll further down, they gear content towards your demographic information:

On our site, we expand on your business’ value.

Evernote alternates the placement of its copy and image from left to right to encourage movement of the eye and scrolling down the page.

evernote 2

In each case, Target, ATAK, and Evernote didn’t miss the opportunity to include a call to action at the bottom of their “below the fold” content and neither should you. “The fold” doesn’t mean that no one sees what’s beneath it. As long as you keep the content interesting, everyone scrolls. If the content is interesting enough, they’ll click.

Here are some other examples of what you can put below the fold:




Social Media Feed.


Content in the footer stays pretty uniform between different websites. The standard features are an email sign-up, contact information including address, social links, site directory, and “fine print” information like privacy and/or store policy information, and copyright.

Other ideas to put in the footer:

  • Security logo for extra reassurance.
  • Awards your company received.
  • Any associations or affiliations that you’re a part of.

Think from the perspective of someone who can’t find what they’re looking for. The footer should have sufficient information to point them in the right direction. If you’re curious about how far down your visitors scroll on your site, an effective heat map will give you some perspective — the numbers may be greater than you think!

Be sure to add one last call to action in the footer to see what works and what doesn’t.

Remember, first impressions matter and thus, a lot of emphases is placed on the look, feel, and function of your homepage. These A/B test ideas can add up to a whole lot of value for your business. For more guidance on crafting the perfect homepage, contact us for a free website audit.



Modules for Magento Ecommerce Conversion Optimization

We’ve covered effective SEO practices for driving up the number of potential customers to your site (Article 1, Article 2, Article 3). However, getting them there is only step 1. The ecommerce sales funnel begins with the initial site visit and ends when the customer makes their final payment.

Along the way, keeping your customers engaged and yourself from being subject to the dreaded “shopping cart abandonment” becomes an increasingly difficult task.

Each stage of the ecommerce sales funnel is either an opportunity for a customer to say goodbye to your site, or an opportunity for you to further captivate their interest and move them further along to completing checkout.

In our work in building Magento ecommerce sites, we’ve found a handful of Magento extensions that are particularly effective in making each stage of the sales funnel a valuable, sales-encouraging experience.


As soon as a potential customer lands on your site, greet them with product offerings that are tailored towards them. Customer Specific Products is a Magento extension that allows you to control what a customer sees. You can choose to hide or display certain product categories, as well as set custom pricing for specific customer segments. Customizing your store’s product offerings so that only the most relevant ones at the most attractive price are displayed takes away the distracting and unnecessary clutter that often lead to abandonment at this stage.

If you’d rather not limit your product offerings to any of your visitors, it would benefit you then, to make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. Many customers will come to your website with a specific goal in mind—these people know exactly what they want and they’ll head to the search functionality on your site to find it. In fact, search users account for 30% of your customers and are more likely to convert.

Elastic Search provides a faster and more a valuable search experience than Magento’s default search function. Autocomplete, autocorrect, and did-you-mean features make it easier for a customer to find what they’re looking for or point them to similar products. Best of all, the extension delivers fast search results, but works with other pages of your site so that those pages load faster.

To take product search one step step further, consider installing live chat on your site in order to personally assist your shoppers find what they’re looking for.

Category Browsing

Now let’s consider those who are still looking. Perhaps these customers don’t know exactly what they want but it helps to have the tools available for them to narrow down their choices. The 2 Layered Navigation extension allows customers to filter products by certain attributes such as size, style, color, and so on. The extension also comes with a handy price slider with which your customers can narrow down these options to those that fall within a desired price range. All of this happens instantly thanks to Ajax Loading.

Enticing Product Pages

By now, your customers have found something that they consider purchasing and thus, are on an individual product page. Here, you can up the item’s appeal by equipping its page with extensions that really show off its awesomeness.

If you’ve got videos that highlight the special features of your products, Magento Product Video helps integrate them onto the product page. The extension supports both YouTube and Vimeo, as well as allows you to upload videos directly.

Magic Zoom Plus, gives you the sought-after zoom feature for your products images, giving the discerning customers a literal closer look at the details of your products. “Hover over to zoom” and “click to enlarge” both come with this extension. Best of all, it’s compatible on all major browsers as well as mobile devices and tablets.

If your product offerings come in a variety of colors or patterns, Color Swatch lets your customers to visualize each one in their varying colors, designs, textures, and patterns.

Proceed to Checkout

Now, we’re at the home stretch of the purchasing process. This is where 46% of cart abandonment occurs. To combat that, make your check out process simple and distraction-free.

Extensions like One Step Checkout, Magecheckout, and Checkout Suite can help do away with the extra steps of check out by:

  • Condensing the traditional six-step check out process into one page.
  • Auto-completing address fields with information from Google Places.
  • Dynamically updating the total price whenever the customer changes the order quantity and/or shipping method.

The checkout page is also where you can tackle the issue of shipping. Unexpected shipping cost is the primary reason for 25% of shopping cart abandonment occurrences. Magento’s default functionality only allows you to calculate the weight of the entire order to send to your shipping provider and we know that shipping an entire order in one package is rarely the case for businesses.

Here’s where Dimensional Shipping comes in. This extension allows you to break the order down based on how you actually package them. At checkout, Dimensional Shipping calculates the dimensions and weight of the package(s) based on your rules on how certain products will be packaged. This information is sent to your chosen carrier and your customers get more accurate live shipping rates for their order. Dimensional shipping is compatible with FedEx, UPS, and USPS live rates.

Almost there…

Congrats! Your customer has successfully placed an order thanks to a well-oiled sales funnel. But even after the final purchase, steps can be taken to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty. Here are a few more modules we love that put the cherry on top of a successful transaction:

Need some more help in your ecommerce efforts? Contact us for a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of your website and we help do away with those abandoned shopping cart blues.


Web Design for Multi-location Businesses


As ecommerce continues to grow, users are now flooded with results when they search for a particular product or activity. In response, searches are becoming more geo-specific. A 2015 Google report found that searches containing the words “near me” have increased 34 times since 2011. We’ve talked before about local search now being the name of the game when it comes to Google search results. In short, local search is way for search engines to further narrow down the now endless options that a customer can come upon by indexing a website’s geographic information and giving priority to those that are more local to the searcher.


No matter how large or reputable the business, winning in local search means putting in the work so that each location has its own unique, individual, localized webpage. “What are these so very coveted aspects of a localized webpage?” you ask. Let’s take a look at some of the components that’ll make your business feel closer to home—to your customers, and to search engines.


Location Based URLs


If your business operates multiple locations, it would behoove you to give each location its own page with a unique, location-specific URL. As in the example of our client We Rock the Spectrum, they operate more than 60 locations worldwide! Follow their URL convention for every location they operate, From the URL itself, it’s clear that you operate a branch of your business in that particular area. Location-based URL’s makes it easy for search engines to funnel local users right to that page.




A mistake that you wouldn’t think would happen as often as it does is a business not providing simple, consistent, readily available contact information on their site. The absence of contact information makes it impossible for both customers and search engines to know whether or not you’re within their reach. Make it your first priority to have your business’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) prominently displayed. It’s best to have it on the immediate landing page, as well as on a footer that runs throughout your entire website.

Not only does NAP information makes it easier for customers to find you, it also gives search engines the geographical information they need to display your business first to your geographically relevant customers. Bonus, not-so-obvious tip: make sure your address and phone number stay the same throughout your site—inconsistencies happens more often than you think.


Geographically Targeted Content


1. Once you’ve got your customers to your page, keep things familiar with these bits of localized content:Your Story. Let your customers in on who you are. Share the history of your business, its mission, and how it’s servicing the community.

Hanz de Fuko

2. An integrated map and directions. Placing a map of your business location on the page is a quick and easy solution that allows for potential customers to visualize where you are and how to get there.

Woodland Hills Pharmacy


3. Testimonials. Does Karen from Sunnyvale love your business? Ask for a testimonial and display it on your webpage! This provides for a local connection between you and the community.

Pin-up Golf


4. Media Gallery. Photos of your staff, a live Instagram feed, an events calendar are all great for building a credible reputation for your business. Maybe you’ve attended or sponsored some local events in the past. Let it be known. You could take it a step further with video interviews of the staff and the company’s leaders.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 8.41.23 AM
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym


5. News. If your business has been featured in local news outlets or received an awesome award from the town or the industry, show it off. Again, this builds trust and a credible reputation.

Joan’s on Third


Keeping things local isn’t just for cool points anymore. Locality now plays a big role in adding to your company’s value—both to customers and to search engines. In a competitive environment where you’re constantly looking for a new means to stand out, gearing your webpages to your local audience with location-relevant content is one more way to give your business that extra edge.