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Portland Trail Blazers Increased Ticket Sales by 62.9% with A/B Testing

Proving your mettle in A/B testing is not easy if you’re a risk-averse person.

Not everyone has the heart to test huge changes.

Most people play it safe. They stick to conversion best practices, test buttons colors and refrain from making any major changes that might actually have a large effect on the bottom line.

But those who choose to hang around the shore will never know the exhilaration of finally discovering that idyllic place most people only see in their dreams. The reward is for the risk-takers, my friend.

How does 62.9% increase in revenue sound for the go-getter, Portland Trail Blazers, our daring star of the day?

About the Company

The Portland Trail Blazers are a NBA (National Basketball Association) team. They hired Sq1, a Portland-based digital marketing agency, to optimize their conversion funnel and escalate ticket sales from their online platform.

The Sq1 team decided to A/B test the Trail Blazers’ sitewide navigation menu.

This is the original menu design on the page:


A couple of reasons why the conversion team decided to challenge the navigation menu design:

  1. The semi-transparent background makes it somewhat hard for visitors to read category items listed on the menu.
  2. The horizontal layout required too much work for visitors to process since they had to carefully scan the entire menu, both vertically and horizontally, to find what they were looking for.
  3. The menu seemed confusing at best. The items were split into four columns and the 4 X 3 grid structure gave an impression that there is some sort of logical organization in the menu when there was none.
  4. Using the horizontal menu on mobile devices was specifically strenuous as the entire menu could not be seen at once. Visitors had to scroll to get a complete view of the menu items.

In short, there were multiple usability issues in the navigation menu.

Being present on almost all pages of the website, the navigation menu definitely had wider reach than most tests. The conversion team was well aware that even a small lift here will have a huge impact on revenue. They believed in their hypothesis and dared to revamp the entire menu design.

I especially want you to take note here that the Portland Trail Blazers site is a high-traffic site, and this navigation A/B test was performed in the middle of the season when tickets buying was the highest. A small change can go either way, be it profit or loss. The risk was huge. The key point here is that it was a calculated risk. They did have very valid usability issues that could easily be causing visitor frustration, swaying them away from the conversion funnel.

The Hypothesis

The hypothesis was that redesigning the entire menu to address these issues will reduce visitor confusion and send more traffic to the ‘Individual Tickets’ page and increase average revenue per visitor.

Here is the redesigned menu:

vertical navigation menu

As is evident, this menu was easier to read, easier to parse, and brought the emphasis back to the red highlighted “Individual Tickets” option. The new navigation menu design was tested site-wide on the VWO platform.


While I’m not at liberty to share the exact revenue numbers but the vertical navigation menu stood as a clear winner with 62.9% increase in revenue over the original.

Why the Vertical Navigation Design Won?

Here is what Kaena Miller of had to say about this win:

“We feel that the new vertical menu layout performed better because it honed visitors’ focus more toward the Individual Tickets option. We knew that most site visitors were interested in single game tickets, and any change to make that process as easy as possible would improve overall performance.”

If you notice carefully, the Individual Tickets option Kaena is talking about remained the same in both the versions.

Visitors’ attention was more scattered in the horizontal menu, taking their focus immediately away from the highlighted option. The vertical menu, on the other hand, seemed more structured and kept the focus on the primary highlighted option.

In addition, the solid white background of the new menu added more weight to the red highlight option.

Now visitors were better able to find what they were looking for, which most likely increased conversions for Portland Trail Blazers. And of course, it’s important to take into account that the new menu also solved the problem for tablet devices that form almost 15% of the Portland Trail Blazers website.

Why Do You Think the Vertical Version Won?

What’s your take? What other reasons can you think of for this huge win of the vertical menu over the horizontal one? Share with me in the comments section

Do you want to find out more ways to increase sales and revenue from your eCommerce store? Take a look at the webinar recording below.

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