Magellan’s Redesigns Its Already-Thriving Website

Some marketers would have assumed that a 40% surge in online sales meant that their Website was fine the way it was. Not Magellan’s. Last year the Santa Barbara, CA-based cataloger of travel products decided a site redesign was in order.

The Internet accounted for 35% of Magellan’s sales last year, up from 24% in 2001. With its redesigned site, which launched in mid-June 2003, the company is expecting to reap even more online business.

One goal of the redesign was to make the Website more consistent with the print catalog, says manager of Web development Eric Petersen. The home page, which in the past emphasized nonselling editorial, now sells product as well. “In the past we did not want to look like a hard sell,” Petersen says. As a result, it was easy for visitors unfamiliar with Magellan’s to think that the site was primarily a source of travel information rather than a marketer of merchandise. Now, though, travel information and vacation promotions are located on the bottom of the home page, below the featured products.

In addition, the site uses no more than three type fonts. “We were using Times New Roman, Galiard, Helvetica, Arial, and Verdana,” Petersen says. “To compound matters, there were multiple versions of each typeface — such as bold, italic, strong, and condensed — and often the kerning, or spacing, between the letters was inconsistent as well.”

Magellan’s also reformatted all product shots to the same aspect ratio so that each is the same height and width. Before, every image was a different pixel height and width, creating an inconsistent look. This project took about two months, but the result is more visual balance on the site, says Petersen. “Once we came up with the new ‘master’ image, we created alternate versions according to the same aspect ratio, enabling us to batch-process hundreds of images at a time,” he explains. The company also added a “more views” functionality to show products from various angles and added sample swatches of items available in multiple colors and fabrics.

At the same time, Magellan’s decided to outsource the search engine optimization. Previously, the company relied on its three full-time Web employees to manage its optimization program and its affiliate program, says Petersen. But outsourcing “freed our Web team up to revamp our affiliate program.” The company now concentrates on its top 15 affiliates and has eliminated nonperformers. The combined effort doubled the site’s conversion rates of unique visitors from 1.5% to 3%.

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