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I was asked to show 4 items in a featured products list which would be below the hero image in the site.

The client recommended showing the most expensive items last suggesting that people might get shocked when they see something so expensive right up front but I disagreed that people might be more convinced to buy something as they scan from left to right as they would see items in decreasing order and might tempted to buy them.

Is there is any research on whether a specific ordering of items helps in enhanced conversion.

A\B testing would be the way to go but right now the site is live and we cant go for it (if there is a way to do live A\B testing with a live site, please respond too)

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I don't think AB testing would be ideal, to be honest. You need a specific measurable outcome to monitor to test the AB variant success, and 'overall conversion of everything' is a bit too wide a scope for AB testing. –  JonW Dec 3 '12 at 9:30
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Anchoring (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchoring) seems to indicate that you are indeed right - not necessarily for conversion, but for accepting a higher price. –  peterchen Dec 3 '12 at 9:34
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How is this related to user experience/usability? It sounds more like marketing to me? –  Marjan Venema Dec 3 '12 at 11:45
    
I agree with @MarjanVenema. Even though this is an interesting question, it is more something for Webmasters.SE –  JohnGB Dec 3 '12 at 11:56
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Slightly amused that we are drawing such a strict line between Marketing and UX. User experience and determination of user behavioral patterns are aspects which are dealt by both UX and Marketing and I believe this question belongs in both domains. –  Mervin Johnsingh Dec 3 '12 at 19:14
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The best decision in this case is to put the option you want your customers to purchase in the middle. That option is the one that maximizes your margin and/or the customer's utility.

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In the book Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely describes that users make buying decisions in context. Read the abbreviated version here.

To go one step further, buy your client this book for the holidays and say something like, "While this may not be my area of expertise, I'm always looking for new ways to help my clients. I found this book extremely helpful as it relates to our ongoing debate about how to order the items on the home page. I thought you would enjoy Chapter 1."

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