Hillsdale College

How the friction added with website navigation affects conversion rate

Experiment ID: #991

Hillsdale College

Founded in 1844, Hillsdale College is an independent liberal arts college with a student body of about 1,400. Hillsdale’s educational mission rests upon two principles: academic excellence and institutional independence. The College does not accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies for any of its operations.

Experiment Summary

Timeframe: 03/02/2015 - 03/17/2015

Hillsdale College offers a free, online training series named Constitution 101.  After initially enrolling, participants are sent to a contextualized donation opportunity where we ask for a gift to help support the efforts of Hillsdale.

There had been complaints recently that the contextualized donation page gave the impression that the course was not free.  We wanted to alleviate those concerns while not reducing the revenue or conversion rate of the page.

Research Question

Does adding the standard website header and navigation to the landing page ease the concerns of visitors about the cost of the course while not affecting or increasing conversion rate?


C: No Navigation
T1: With Navigation


 Treatment NameConv. RateRelative DifferenceConfidenceAverage Gift
C: No Navigation 5.4%$73.68
T1: With Navigation 4.3%-20.2% 95.6%$71.56

This experiment has a required sample size of 2,986 in order to be valid. Since the experiment had a total sample size of 6,307, and the level of confidence is above 95% the experiment results are valid.

Flux Metrics Affected

The Flux Metrics analyze the three primary metrics that affect revenue (traffic, conversion rate, and average gift). This experiment produced the following results:

    0% increase in traffic
× 20.2% decrease in conversion rate
× 2.9% decrease in average gift
22.5% decrease in revenue

Key Learnings

The addition of navigation decreased conversion rate by 17%. Whenever we offer donors the opportunity to explore more areas of the website, we are increasing the likelihood that they will.  While we were trying to decrease anxiety, we inadvertently increased the friction associated with making the gift.

Experiment Documented by NextAfter

Question about experiment #991

If you have any questions about this experiment or would like additional details not discussed above, please feel free to contact them directly.