Increase online sales using 5 UX principles applied by the inventor of eCommerce


Lovehoney increased revenue 115% by giving its multi-device experience a hit of ...


Mrs Snowball never saw a computer… never. Mrs Snowball saw a television and her connection to the television was a TV remote with an additional button which said phone. What we did was to take a domestic television and turn it into a computer terminal. It was 1984 and you were doing online shopping...
— Michael Aldrich on deciding to test B2C online shopping in 1984

There was no market, no demand and no infrastructure. Perhaps it was all nuts. We had to get a reality check. Talk to real people. Get some feedback. Get some reaction.
— Michael Aldrich on deciding to test B2B online shopping in September 1979


“Does using your website come back to me intuitively, after some time has passed since I last did so?”



When Michael Aldrich invented eCommerce, he didn’t assume it would work in 1984 for B2C, just because it worked in 1979 for B2B. He made sure it would work regardless of time and context, by UX testing in both instances.

His approach illustrates a point that’s super-relevant to today’s online retailers – a change in time is often accompanied by a change in context.

If a user hops on your site during a morning train ride, then goes back to it in the evening, they’ll probably be using different devices each time.

Of course you need to make sure that your design is so easy to grasp, that even on the same device, people can return to it without straining to recall how it works. But most eCommerce sites seem to have that down.

Multi-device experience, however, is still an issue.

Especially because responsive design ≠ multi-device optimised. Shrinking your website makes sure everything fits – it doesn’t make sure things make sense.  


What can only users tell you about being “Time-defyin’”?

Thom Yorke of Radiohead knew what he was talking about when he sang “Everything in its right place”. It’s not just an existential plea – it’s the mantra for a good multi-device experience.

Space becomes incredibly valuable as screen sizes shrink and there’s no escaping that some things will have to move. But what can and should move from its original position?

Only your users can answer that. If you shuffle things in a way users don’t expect… they’ll have to relearn the rules of using your site.

Actually, they won’t – they’ll probably just leave.


Case study:

Lovehoney case study: just because it can move doesn’t mean it should move

Let’s use email newsletter signup boxes as an example here.

They’re very important to many businesses, who use them to deliver special offers, retargeting messages and other sales-related incentives.

They could appear as pop-ups, on the side, or at the top or bottom of web pages. They could appear anywhere. Where the hell should you put them on a responsive site?

Lovehoney took the best possible approach and asked its users – who gave a resounding answer.

Lovehoney increased conversion rate by 24%

Lovehoney is the UK’s largest online sex toy retailer. When Elton John asks, “Are you ready for love?” Lovehoney has thousands of products to help you answer, “Yes, I am.”

Most of the traffic to its site actually comes from mobile devices – as you can imagine, privacy is very important to its users.

Which means multi-device user experience is super-important to the good work being done at Lovehoney. So, they ran UX tests on their mobile site (among others) with WhatUsersDo.

Looking at the many insights uncovered during testing, we noticed that the newsletter signup box was one of the most recurrent topics.

Everything in its logical place vs everything in its right place

At the time of testing, this is where the newsletter signup box was placed on the Lovehoney desktop site – at the bottom of its web pages:




But when users tried to find the same box on their mobile site, here’s what happened:

And here’s another lad not having much luck finding the signup box. He scrolls to the bottom of the page, just like everyone else, but doesn’t find the signup box…

So, he eventually uses the search bar to find it:

Several users had the same problem but most didn’t bother using the search bar when they were unsuccessful. This wasn’t good because the email newsletter is a source of revenue and engagement for Lovehoney.

Remote user experience testing allowed Lovehoney to see not only that users had trouble finding the signup box, but also where they expected it to be.

How did Lovehoney solve this problem?

Go on Lovehoney’s mobile site now and you’ll notice that the signup box is at the bottom of its web pages, just like on the desktop site.

Users can return to the site after viewing on another device (at a different time) without becoming confused.

What were the results of user experience testing?

The insights Lovehoney uncovered during remote UX testing helped it maximise results from A/B testing and TV-advertising generated traffic.

This led to:

  • 24% increase in conversion rate
  • 115% increase in revenue

Powerful evidence that the foundation of any good relationship is communication. Ask your users the right questions and then listen.