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What I would test and how: eBay’s UX language

I use eBay often, both the website and the Android app. They’re different, and it takes me a moment to adjust to which version is in front of me in this respect:

I usually use eBay to look for used items rather than new. On the website the new/used option is under “Condition,” while on the app it’s under “Item condition,” and I miss it almost every time I look for it.

eBay item filter graphic

I open the panel of filters and scan the long list of options for the capital “C” in Condition, but I scan past it without finding it. When I remember it’s called “Item condition” and that I should be scanning for a capital “I” I sometimes say “Darn it!” or the like.

What I wonder:

  1. Should UX language match on both platforms?
  2. Is the word “Item” necessary for any of the options? I suspect “Condition” (singular) would be understood in context and easier to scan.
  3. Why is “item” necessary for some filters and not all?  Item price, Item location, Item gender, Item shape, etc?
  4. Is this a problem for people with more experience on the website who have since adopted the app, is it a problem for all users irrespective of platform, or is it a problem for just me?

Studies show the human eye scans across the top of the screen and then travels down the left side. I believe the user scans for the initial letter of the option they want, and prefacing that with “Item” interferes with this.

What I would test and how:

I would test whether frequent website users have more trouble finding the condition option in the app than users who mostly or entirely use the app. Using tracking data from these groups, I would see which group takes longer between opening the side panel and selecting “Item Condition” when that’s the option they select. With a big enough sample, this could indicate the user scrolling up and down scanning for “Condition” when it’s hidden under “Item Condition.”

I would A/B test all users, half seeing “Condition” and half seeing “Item Condition.” I would compare which group takes less time between opening the side panel and finding the condition option when that’s the option they select. I would also collect data for who backed out of the option without making a selection, suggesting it wasn’t what they were expecting.

UX Language

The rule of thumb for UX language is to use the smallest amount of verbiage that is meaningful; studies have shown that’s what usually performs best. But if the data tells a different story then go with the data.

I would like to see what the data says about eBay’s choice of UX language.