When testing websites to find the most “user-friendly” designs, it’s best to just accept what users do on the site as the answer to whatever the question, even if you can’t explain their behavior. But this web experiment, just begs for an explanation.

The ConversionXL Institute, a web design and performance consultancy, presented users with a catalog-type page showing larger and smaller images of a shirt for sale and larger and smaller images of a hard drive for sale. Researchers asked users questions designed to make them put a value on each item: “At what price is this product a bargain?” and “At what price is this product too expensive to consider?”

And it turned out that users thought:

  1. The shirt was more valuable when shown in a smaller size with more white space around it.
  2. The hard drive was more valuable when shown in the larger size.

Now, you would think that:

  1. An item that’s hard to assess online like a shirt would be perceived as more valuable if the user got a better look at it in a larger image.
  2. And for an item like a hard drive that’s easy to assess online because it’s all about specs and not looks wouldn’t gain in value if you could see it better.

In the true spirit of web testing, ConversionXL didn’t offer an explanation of user behavior, just results.