Although I did not attend the MX conference (being in San Fransisco) I came across a talk by Hotwire’s Melissa Matross, titled Better Revenue through UX: Bringing Down the Banners the Hotwire Way. It really spoke to the need for the practice of UX to hold a seat at the business table.
She takes us through her solution to a common problem for UX professionals, what to do with a feature that increases revenue but negatively effects your users’ experience?
Key points include:
– If you want to remove something that brings revenue, replace it.
– Understand the business’ metrics and learn how to use them (if this is to hard, find the people in the organisation who do and get them to help you).
– Know your customers.
Melissa Matross’ ‘bad revenue’ issue was meaningless banner ads that existed solely as a tacked-on income stream. Often distracting, flashing and ugly, she and the team had little to no control over what appeared in them.
Her solution was to take that screen real estate and allow shoppers to easily compare their prices with their competitors. Why was she sending their customers to competitor sites? Because customers where going there anyway. They knew that almost all of their customer were comparing anyway, so why not support this behaviour and make money through referral fees.
And it worked, it build brand confidence for Hotwire – as people felt that if they were supportive of comparison than they must be confident that their prices were the lowest. S
That might seem crazy, sending traffic to the competition, but her research had shown that users were comparing across multiple sites anyway, and wouldn’t it be better for Hotwire to get some money (through referral fees) rather than no money at all? The strategy paid off big — users were happier, and Hotwire had more revenue.