The web-only apparel retailer recently tested changes to its checkout process and learned it needed to tweak site navigation.

Revolve Clothing updates its e-commerce site on a regular basis with a tweak here and an adjustment there, and user testing is part of the process from the start as well as a separate, ongoing process.

A recent test aimed at smoothing the web-only retailer’s checkout process revealed an issue with product category navigation, says Grace Hong, vice president of product and design. The e-retailer carries many clothing styles, with dresses being a popular category. Shoppers wanted to be able to dive deeper into the expansive dress section, sort by kinds of dresses and be able to narrow choices. “We had redesigned the category navigation in mobile and thought it was so clear how we did it. Then we were doing the checkout testing and we found out from watching those videos that shoppers completely bypassed [navigation] we thought was so clear and simple to use,” she says.

Revolve had added a small icon in the header that opened up more category options for shoppers, but “unfortunately, it wasn’t obvious enough for our users,” says Alex Park, the retailer’s product manager for mobile and optimization. “We’re working on incorporating the menu into our standard ‘refine’ options, as that seems to be where users look first to narrow their search.”

Revolve, No. 162 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, has incorporated mobile usability testing in the past year, though not as part of a redesign, Hong says. The web-only apparel retailer’s e-commerce sites—desktop and mobile are separate sites—were last overhauled about two years ago, and they are in a constant state of updating. “User testing is done earlier now in the process. Sometimes even before we have the designs for a new feature on the sites, we’ll get feedback and that learning shapes our strategy,” she says.

In addition to testing its own sites, Revolve observes how testers interact with competitors’ sites and can use that information as a benchmark, Park says. Revolve, which has an annual contract with, uses five testers in each usability session and reviews the screen captures and video and audio results, he says.


“We will submit a request for a test and get results within a day,” Hong says. “It’s invaluable and easy to add into our process.”

A standard test from testing service UserTesting Inc. takes about an hour and can be done remotely, says Michael Mace, vice president of mobile. Companies can buy individual tests for $50 per respondent if they want to try out a tool and gauge reaction. “Most of our customers buy annual service bundles that include tests, research-planning services and interpretation of results—basically we do all the work, and you get the results,” he says. The price for such plans is in the thousands of dollars and up, depending on the volume of testing, and remote testing with fast turnaround is included.

About 90% of retailers who use do extensive usability testing on desktops, but only a handful of retailers devote as much energy to mobile usability, Mace says. Mobile testing at UserTesting started to increase about three years ago and now accounts for one-third of its research, he says. panelists who agree to test sites can load an app when they are ready to do a test and follow the instructions to, for example, shop for boots on a retailer’s site. The app records the user’s smartphone screen and records audio as she goes through the process. Blue dots will illustrate how the user swipes and touches the site on a smartphone. compiles and analyzes the data, or it can go straight to the retailer for analysis, Mace says.

At Revolve, Park says he receives the information and often compiles snippets into a highlight reel to share with designers and other mobile team members so they can see and hear user experience firsthand.


“We’ve seen some good incremental growth through making data-driven decisions, so looking at numbers and analytics is very valuable to us,” he says.