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How one website improvement increased sales by €15.8 million

18 August, 2011

Redesigns are fun. They involve big budgets and senior management buy-in. Continuous improvements and  tweaking of a website are considered “boring”, yet ultimately prove to be more successful.

Our most recent continuous improvement to the website is valued at €15.8 million (124 million NOK). Here is our success story.

Simplify and eliminate bad complexity

In 2008, Forrester Research released a report titled “Small web site investments that pay off”. The report summarized what web professionals around the world consider to be low-cost web activities that have a strong positive impact on the bottom line. 

In a post published on the 10th March titled “Key functionality on front page drives online sales” we wanted to launch key functionality onto the website in order to increase online sale. Launched in February, we saw an immediate impact, which resulted in a 68% traffic increase into the booking engine.


Since launching the functionality, we have taken one step further by raising the searchbox above the fold and in plain view. This was summarized in a post published on the 6th June titled “Why not increase Hurtigruten online sales some more? “.

“In order to use the search box, the customer needs to scroll down on the page. Out 10 people in the UK usability tests, only 2 (!) saw the search box feature!”

Below you will see how the home page looked before the improvement and after.


Successful websites focus on continuous improvement, not redesign

  • Earlier this year, Gawker, a news website launched a redesign of their website. The result was a 54% loss in direct web traffic.
  • Breeze media clients report that sales dropped as much as 40% when using a web design company to redesign their website
  • Usability expert Jared Spool once shared a story of a big-box retailer that spent $100 Million on a redesign which lead to sales dropping 20% after its roll-out, and it took 3.5 years to recover from it.

People don’t like change and immediate reactions are negative but small tweaks and improvements are met with praise and can be measured using Google Analytics. We have successfully combined an improvement to our website and increased online sales.

Improve web usability and increase online sales

Internet folklore insists that BestBuy increased online sales by $300 million within the first year of launching the “Checkout as guest” button. I first heard of this story in 2008 and just like web managers around the world, I have since been looking for the one improvement that doubles online sales.

The search box had an immediate impact to Hurtigruten online sales. With sales per week increasing from 2.2 million NOK to 4.6 million NOK, Hurtigruten have found its answer. Have you found yours?

The impact of the world’s longest live TV documentary

The general opinion formed around the €15.8 million improvement could be based on the NRK broadcast, which was held between June 16 and June 23 this year. However, the success of the broadcast lead to the removal of the searchbox for several days during peak booking hours as price and availability searches were taking as long as two minutes.

Having reviewed June 2010 and June 2011, consumer sales increased by 200% year on year but if we review February to July 2010 with the same period in 2011, sales have increased by 121%. The searchbox is key to this increase, as we have made it easy for web visitors to complete their task.

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