graphical user interface, website

spreadshirt_logoWebsite redesigns can be complex because there are many moving parts, opinions, and interests at play. For custom design and apparel marketplace, Spreadshirt, their recent complete site makeover was an exercise in data-driven redesign.

In January 2013, Spreadshirt welcomed a new Creative Director, Do Kil, to spearhead a complete rebrand of Her objective was to design a new site that would operate well in many different languages, maintain engagement with current customers and attract new customers.

Spreadshirt is no newcomer to testing. The company was founded in 2001 and has always been driven by data, highly focused on website optimization. A total redesign was more complex than running a one off A/B test, but because they had data from past tests to draw from and a clear business goals, the team had a solid starting point to start coming up with ideas for a new look and feel.

Taking a quick glance at the original homepage, there are a innumerable test ideas. Where does one start? The best place to start any A/B test is off the page entirely—start with your business goals. What one or two actions are most important to your business?


Spreadshirt’s original homepage on left and the new, highly tested, high converting redesign on the right.

For Spreadshirt, the answer is sellers—acquiring new sellers is a top business driver because sellers are the lifeblood of their business model. The marketplace grows larger as more people sign up to upload new designs, and Spreadshirt—and the seller—makes commission on each sale. So, turning visitors into sellers or and getting them to upload designs is a major conversion goal. Kil hypothesized that optimizing the path for visitors to become sellers was one of the lowest hanging fruits for the redesign.

With the goal set, the next step in setting up a test is deciding the specific page (or pages) with the most impact on completing the goal. Visitors first have the opportunity to become sellers on a section of the homepage. As the main entry point and most trafficked page on the site, she decided to experiment with how the “Start Selling” CTA section appeared here.

Now for the design decisions and variaitons. The original section, pictured below, is text and graphic heavy and includes multiple calls-to-action. Kil and team hypothesized that the section was too cluttered, distracting from the main CTA. They designed a significantly pared down variation to test. The team focused on making the CTA and value proposition as clear and prominent as possible.


The original “Start Selling” section (left) and the redesigned section (right). was text and graphic heavy, and included multiple calls-to-action.

With Optimizely, Kil’s team built a redirect from Spreadshirt’s original homepage and tested the new CTA as well as a slew of other new design changes to see how each would perform before deploying live changes. (Check out this article to learn how to do a redirect with Optimizely.)

On the start selling experiment, they measured clicks on the CTA to gauge success.

The variation start selling area outperformed the original by a staggering 606%, clearly confirming the team’s hypothesis that less is more—simplifying high impact areas of the homepage can increase  both conversions and engagement.

This test is one of many that Spreadshirt ran in the redesign process. Thus far, their redesigned site has increased purchases by 11.2%, and they are still testing! looks different today than when we talked with Kil about the redesign: the main site navigation is new. But that big win from the new Start Selling CTA still remains now in multiple places all over the site.