Print publishing pioneer Pan Macmillan dominates digital using UX testing

PanMac Books

About James Luscombe and Pan Macmillan


James Luscombe is Marketing Technology Director at Pan Macmillan, which is part of the Macmillan Group. 
The group is the original publisher of much-loved and award-winning books such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Jungle Book

James Luscombe, Marketing Technology Director, Pan Macmillan

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Increase in click-through rate to retailers

Accurate user profiles built using UX testing

Why did Pan Macmillan start running remote UX tests?

The Pan Macmillan site was originally built as a kind of online catalogue for retailers to find technical information, like book ISBNs. However, James and his team began noticing a steady increase in the amount of site traffic coming from everyday readers via organic search. 
Eventually, Pan Macmillan was faced with a question it had never before needed to answer: “How do we make our site more useful to consumers?” Publishing was going from a B2B model to more D2C, and the voice of customers needed to be involved in that cultural shift.
So, James began running remote UX tests to help the company find out who its online users are and what they want from the site
This user laments the absence of book reviews

How did Pan Macmillan use remote UX testing?

Because of the nature of Pan Macmillan’s business – it publishes everything from gift books to political history – there’s no single audience, nor are there “typical” audience types. 
James ran a suite of complementary tests – including user journey and multi-device tests, as well as competitor benchmarking – to build accurate user profiles. This revealed the goals different kinds of users hoped to achieve on its site. 
James also found videos of users on the site a valuable tool in assessing the validity of internal opinions. Changes that had been made before testing were looked at again and plans for future developments were driven by insights revealed during UX testing.

What did Pan Macmillan achieve from remote UX testing?

By changing its website and culture based on insights from users, Pan Macmillan followed a strategy that could not fail.

• Addition of a "Buy" button linking to popular retailers increased click-through rate by 400%
Goodreads ratings and reviews were added to the site following validation by users that this was essential
• Formatting styles that persistently confused users, and could only have been discovered through UX testing, were identified and easily fixed

Pan Macmillan was also able to begin changing its internal decision-making process by sharing videos of users across the company.
The editors, who shaped much of the content on the site, now had a valuable compass to guide them.

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“Where is my basket?” This user repeats to herself

 Tips for driving organisational change using remote UX testing

Use conflicting internal voices as an opportunity to launch remote UX testing – suggest that the voice of users will provide decisive and productive direction
Once you’ve run a few remote UX tests, share clips of key moments in the user journey and analyses of user behaviour with as many of your colleagues as possible
Once you’ve made changes based on insights from remote UX testing, measure their impact on your performance and share the results with absolutely everyone
Use remote UX tests to understand your customers and create user personas/profiles, which should be stuck on walls around the office
Every time the highest paid person or loudest voice tries to have their way, remind everyone how cheap, fast and profitable testing with users is

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