web design

Here are 3 conversion optimization examples of how to kill the “slider”.

This is not a post about how carousels kill conversions.  They can, but it’s not about that.

This post is about doing what’s best for the people who want to buy from you on your site.

Every CRO and savvy eCommerce manager I have ever met hates carousels.  In fact, we’ve never actually blogged about it because EVERYONE ELSE already did.  Bringing up carousel flaws would be akin to bringing up the Hindenburg’s.

What we at Inflow will do, however, is document the death of the carousel. But before we do, let’s talk about its birth.

Blame Yahoo! if you want

It seems like the carousel has been around forever, at least in Internet terms. Broad adoption started in the summer of 2009 after Yahoo introduced it on its homepage.

Blame Yahoo if you want

If your site still has a rotating carousel, perhaps you still have a Nokia phone?  You can check your email on it, you know!

From that point on, every website felt free to:

  • Whisk away copy while it was still being read
  • Randomly change calls to actions
  • Remove control from the user actions
  • Create “banner-blindness”
  • Periodically attract attention no matter how irrelevant to the viewer.
  • Slow page load time with multiple big images

So, for some, it might not be a surprise that there is a better way to structure an eCommerce homepage.

The death of the (unnecessary) carousel

In our 2018 Best in Class Comparative Matrix for eCommerce, we saw only 6 out of 10 sites still used the homepage hero carousel.  That number is less than half of what it was 2 years earlier.

The reason why is simple: it was never the best option for most of the sites that did it, and that statement is still pretty much true.

Optimization Away from Carousels

So, how does a site transform its homepage from having a carousel? Here are three conversion optimization examples for removing carousels.

Zappos.com

Before

A year ago, Zappos was sporting a left category nav, hero carousel and a couple of static promo areas to the right.  That made it jam-packed with options.

Zappos

After

Zappos simplified things by ditching the carousel, the left nav on the homepage and instead focusing the homepage on the things customers want most.  They are still testing this bad boy with over 5 major variants identified, so check back in February to see the winning combination. ;)

So apparently, Zappos.com never needed a slider. Note that they kept the slides, but moved 2 of them to the bottom of the site in favor of stuff users most want (a lot of which was not even on the homepage of this eCommerce behemoth just a year ago).

There’s a big lesson here for those willing to learn it and kill their carousel.

Zappos

UnderArmour.com

Before

Under Armour had a carousel last year, alternating between two and three slides.

Under Armour

After

Over the past year, they have MADE ONLY ONE CHANGE on their homepage.  That was to ditch the carousel.


Underarmour

Williams Sonoma

Before

Williams Sonoma made some minor navigation changes over the past year and added lazy-load to the homepage, which widened it a bit.

Williams Sonoma

After

For the most part, the only significant change to the homepage was REMOVING THE CAROUSEL.

Williams Sonoma

Take-Away

If you were to take the lead from these 3 best in class sites, you would blindly get rid of your eCommerce site’s carousel.  But wait!!!

You can see below that there are still 6 out of 20 Best-in-Class eCommerce sites that are standing by their carousel. You bet they have tested their homepage over the past year.

eCommerce sites carousel use

eCommerce sites carousel use

So Why?

The answer is that the carousel, as they have it, is right for them and their audience.  For now, at least, until something tests better.

This is why we test.

keith-haganAbout the author: Keith Hagan is an award-winning conversion optimization expert and Director of Conversion Services at Inflow. Keith’s insights have been featured in well-known publications, such as Moz, HuffPo, Forbes and more.

Sales and marketing have changed dramatically over the last few decades. Gone are the days when you need to go door to door to sell your products or services. Most startups these days don’t even have a phone sales team. With the Internet, it has all moved online.
However, just because the methods have changed, it doesn’t mean the underlying principles have. Penned in 1884, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini talks about persuasion as related to face-to-face sales.
The book has stood the test of time and is still one of the most accepted marketing documents ever produced. Even if you aren’t familiar with the book as a whole, you’ve likely seen or tested one or more Cialdini’s six principles in the past: scarcity, reciprocity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment and consistency.
While I fully recommend reading the book in its entirety, this post will serve as a brief update on how each of these principles are used now and what you can expect from trying one yourself.

1. Scarcity

We always want what we can’t have.
Scarcity is the idea that there is a limited number of items left to buy or time left in which to complete the conversion. When something is scarce, we tend to want it more, if only just to possess something that’s not readily available.
Scarcity works best on customers who already have a need for your product or service as opposed to those just browsing. If you find that customers are sitting on the fence and not converting, a little indication that your product is scarce might get them to buy sooner rather than later.
There are multiple ways to create scarcity on a site. Let’s take a look at three.

Stock Scarcity

With a bit of red text, Ctrip calls out the number of remaining tickets right next to the CTA.

With a bit of red text, Ctrip calls out the number of remaining tickets right next to the CTA.


The Chinese travel site Ctrip is constantly updating the number of tickets they have at a specific price point. Apart from making the text stand out against the blue and white theme, it also implies a sense of urgency.
As customers look at flights, the text immediately captures their attention, letting them know that if they don’t purchase it now they won’t get that flight at all.
It works great for booking sites like flights and hotels, and it can be used to good effect on regular commerce sites, too. By letting customers know that a certain product is low in stock without mentioning when you’ll restock, you can get them off the fence.
Monsoon, an online clothing and accessories retailer, used to have a regular product page that didn’t indicate if stocks for a product were low. They hypothesized that adding a message when stocks were low might urge their customers to buy faster.
Knowing that there's only one dress left increases our sense of urgency.

Knowing that there’s only one dress left increases our sense of urgency.

By adding a pointer if a certain item had 5 or fewer units left in stock, they were able to increase conversion rates by 10%!

Shipping Scarcity

Amazon's shipping countdown clock

Amazon’s shipping countdown clock


Oh Amazon, is there any conversion tactic you don’t use on your site? We’ve all seen the little shipping countdown they have for next-day delivery. It looks like a bit of innocent text, but to shoppers it means the difference between getting their product as soon as possible, versus waiting a few days. In this age of instant gratification, it’s enough to convince some people to buy right away.
Running a shipping countdown is a great idea for targeting impatient shoppers, and Which Test Won showed a 9% increase in conversions thanks to the introduction of a similar timer. Even if your shoppers aren’t impatient in general, you can take advantage of holiday shopping to offer priority shipping so they get their gifts in time.

Sale/Discount Scarcity

It's hard to miss this weekend sale on Threadless

It’s hard to miss this weekend sale on Threadless


Urban clothing retailer Threadless is always putting their sales front and center on their homepage. Doing so not only increases visibility, but also plays on the concept of Fear Of Missing Out where shoppers can’t stand to miss a deal since the sales are short-lived.
Again, we see red text playing a part as Threadless brings attention to their limited time sale. By saying it runs “this weekend only” it implies that customers will never see this kind of deal again. Deep down, we know that there will be more deals like this later, but the uncertainty coupled with the immediacy of this deal make us buy.
Be sure to mention the discount even on your product page. Corkscrew Wine had discounted one of their wines but initially they didn’t highlight that on the product page.
It's easy to miss that this wine is discounted.

It’s easy to miss that this wine is discounted.


To emphasize the discount, they added a big 15 percent off sticker and mentioned the discount in the title too.

To emphasize the discount, they added a big 15% off sticker and mentioned the discount in the title too.


Calling attention to the fact that the wine was on sale, even though the price was the same in both cases, gave them a massive 150% increase in conversion rates!

2. Reciprocity

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
The idea plays on the notion that humans are naturally inclined to pay back a favor, typically manifested on a website in two ways.

Free Offers

Conversion Sciences offers a free short course in exchange for your email address

Conversion Sciences offers a free short course in exchange for your email address.


You’ve probably already got pop-ups and email subscription forms offering your visitors a free resource in exchange for their email address. This is content marketing 101 and draws in leads that may later convert to customers.
But those email addresses would be useless if it weren’t for the principle of reciprocity. By getting something for free your visitors are now inclined to pay you back in some way, by either buying your product or telling their friends about you.
The more valuable the free offer, the stronger this effect is. In the example above, Conversion Sciences offers nine free articles on increasing website sales. On its own, it’s a pretty valuable offer.
But they take it a step further and offer a website review on top of that! Getting an expert to point out where you’re going wrong on your site is the kind of immense value that makes visitors want to pay for more.
If you think your one page report is enough to bring in sales, think again. While it may get you email addresses, it’s probably not valuable enough to get you more. Go big with your free offer and watch sales roll in.

Loyalty Programs

Gamification is a new term in the conversion world and a concept that I find really cool. Completing actions like purchases or filling out a form allows you to earn points that can be redeemed later for discounts and other perks.

Credit card companies have been doing this for a while, but other industries are just catching on that it’s a great way to promote loyalty and engagement.

Credit card companies have been doing this for a while, but other industries are just catching on that it’s a great way to promote loyalty and engagement.


The concept is simple. You reward your customers for actions that they take. The rewards reinforce repeated behavior and entice them to take more actions. The result is a cycle of loyal, repeat customers doing things you want them to do because they know they’ll be rewarded for it.
Starbucks is a great example of this. They boosted revenue by 11% by implementing a reward points program. For every dollar spent using a Starbucks Card, you get rewards. In fact, new card activations and reloads went up by 32% just because of that!
Gamifying your site doesn’t have to be as complicated as the Starbucks system. Even simple action-reward sequences, like getting a 10% discount for tweeting a product, work.

3. Liking

Users are more inclined to buy if they like the person selling or marketing the product.
Have you ever wondered why advertisements always have movie actors or sports stars in them? It’s because they are playing on the popularity and likeability of the celebrity.
It goes beyond just sticking a smiling face on every page of your site. You need to take both your ideal customer and product into consideration.

Testimonials

Testimonials can help your site create the trust you need to win over new visitors. Everything from the written praise on your homepage to the retweets by industry influencers can help you stand out to users who might be on the fence about converting.
In the example above from Buzzsumo, a content marketing tool, we see three testimonials from popular marketers. You probably recognize these faces yourself and you may have come across Noah’s blog or Rand’s whiteboard videos. Those testimonials are perfectly targeted at the software’s customer base, and their likeability plays a huge part in conversions.
In fact, testimonials are so powerful that they can increase conversions even without the name-dropping. WikiJobs, a graduate jobs website in the UK, wanted more people to sign up for their practice tests. Initially, their page had no testimonials.
For the test, all they did was add three testimonials in, without names or faces.
Boom! Those three lines, which could very well have been made up, increased their conversions by a whopping 34%!

4. Authority

Just like with using celebrities, many advertisers also use authority figures like doctors. This is especially common when it comes to health and hygiene products like toothpaste or soap. The doctors are probably just actors, but the fact that they are wearing a white lab coat is enough to influence many people.
Introducing the principle of authority into your site means coming across as an industry expert and therefore increasing the trust a user has for your brand.
For example, Kaya Skin Clinic, a retailer of complex skin products, wanted to increase the consultations made through their site. Their initial page mentioned their expert dermatologists, but the call to action was booking a consultation.
To further emphasize their authority and expertise, they tested asking visitors to sign up for an expert opinion instead.
That small change outperformed the control by 138% and increased sales by 22%! By simply implying authority their visitors were more likely to convert.
I personally think there is a bit of overlap when it comes to authority, liking, and social proof, but here are a few examples of sites taking their authority to the next level:
It doesn’t get much more obvious than this. This legal site did almost the same thing as Kaya and added the word ‘expert’ wherever it fit. For businesses in industries like Law, Medicine, Healthcare and so on, it’s important to establish expertise even if it means adding the word ‘expert’ to your site.
Of course, there are more ways to display authority and expertise on your site. USAA does a great job of using images to convey a sense of professionalism and knowledge regarding investments. Both the stock ticker and app screenshots imply that they know what they are doing when it comes to managing your money, especially if you don’t know the first thing about it.
When it comes to your site, a combination of professional design, authoritative copy and images of experts can go a long way in building trust and increasing conversions.

5. Social Proof

Monkey see, monkey do.
If there was any doubt that we evolved from apes, this principle should clear it.
Social proof is all about leveraging the fact that we are more comfortable performing a certain action, like buying your product, if we see that others have done it before. It’s a great way to reassure nervous users that your company is legitimate and others have purchased your product or service.
Most people know the impact that adding reviews can have on your conversion rate, but there are a few other ways to leverage social proof.

Social Stats

Got a big following on social media? Try including it in your header like Sneakerwatch to increase your credibility. They have almost a million followers if you add all those numbers up. That’s like saying there are a million people who love the company so much they want to stay connected on social media.
Going back to the Kaya case study, they tried to go one step further with their CTA and added their Facebook follower count.
Again, the act of adding social proof helped even more and increased conversion rates by a further 70%.
Beware though, if you have really low social media numbers, this might backfire on you. Taloon.com, an ecommerce store that sells plumbing, electrical and gardening suppliers, used to have social media buttons on every product page. However, their share numbers weren’t very flattering and it actually lead to negative social proof that lowered their conversions by 12%.

Show Off Your Accomplishments

Have you won an award or been recognized somewhere? Sing it from the (figurative) rafters by putting it on your homepage to help reinforce your offers in the eyes of your users.
This example from World Nomads combines social proof, authority and liking by adding logos of well-liked and trustworthy brands that use their insurance. The implied question is, if these brands can trust World Nomads, why shouldn’t you?

6. Commitment and Consistency

When I started playing poker, I’d make a very common mistake. If I had bet money pre-flop, I’d continue to bet even if the flop was terrible. After all, I’d already made a commitment, so I might as well continue staying in the hand. Needless to say, I lost a lot of money!
You see, people like to stay consistent. If they make a commitment, they try to keep it. So instead of going for the big sale right away, try starting with a smaller commitment and then increasing the ask later.
For example, if you’ve ever applied for a loan, financed a car, or mortgaged a home, you know that the process of actually getting approved can be daunting. You are often faced with pages of forms that seem to drag on forever. In order to make this easier to manage, sites like to begin with a small commitment that is followed by small and consistent steps.
Take this booking form for an airport parking service in Edinburgh. Just looking at the page makes me want to run away. There are so many form fields!
Thankfully they realized this and split it into a multi-step form. Sure, it’s the same number of fields eventually, but by breaking it up, it doesn’t look so daunting.
This resulted in a 35% increase in form completions. By making the user enters some personal information, they are ensuring the user is committed to the process of providing more information and completing the application. These initial steps help weed out users who aren’t serious and provide higher quality leads.
When customers hit the ‘Continue’ button, they are taken to the next step. Since they’ve already made a bit of a time commitment, they’re more likely to stay consistent and continue filling the form.
Many software companies use this concept when they offer free trials. By entering an email address, you can get started using the product immediately, and each step in the onboarding sequence builds your commitment.
Ecommerce companies, on the other hand, tap into this concept when they up-sell customers. They start off with an expensive base product, like a phone or computer, and then upsell customers on accessories. Having already paid a big sum for the main product, customers are likely to pay a comparatively insignificant amount to further enhance it.
Finally, info-marketers flip the script and sell customers cheap products first before upselling to higher priced courses. Again, the commitment principle is at work here, taking advantage of people’s tendency to stay consistent.

Harness the Power of Persuasion

With the exception of adding social stats to your home page, all of these tips are going to be more complicated than changing the color or copy of your CTA. Consequently, make sure you take the time to plan out each change while considering your audience and goals.
Be warned, though! It would be easy to misuse one of these tactics and do more harm than good. If you go back to the WikiJob case study, you’ll see that the testimonials were just plain-text quotes with no attribution. Of course, those were real quotes, but it’s not hard to ‘cheat’ a bit and make up your own.
Similarly, it’s easy to fake social proof numbers or mislead customers into thinking that your stock is running out. The problem with this is, apart from being entirely unethical if you get caught it could be disastrous for your business.
Recently, JC Penney had to settle a class-action lawsuit for creating fake sales and discounts. In many cases they would double a product’s price and then put it on ‘sale’ for 50% for a limited time. As we’ve already seen, a discount scarcity tactic like this can increase sales, as it did for JC Penney, but when the truth came out it hurt them financially and eroded customer trust.
So if you’re going to try any of this out, make sure you do it the right way. Don’t create scarcity if there isn’t any, don’t manufacture testimonials, and don’t artificially inflate your social proof. Harness the power of persuasion while maintaining your customers’ trust.

What has the Conversion Scientist been reading lately?

AdExchanger: Why Do Mobile Users Not Buy On Mobile?

We believe that mobile traffic is every bit as important as desktop traffic. Many businesses walk away from their mobile traffic because it doesn’t convert well. This is a mistake.
Two points found in this article drive the point home:

  • App and Mobile Functionality (sucks)
  • Mobile Represents a Different Type of user

Spend some time on your mobile site. Don’t just create a responsive version of your desktop website.
Read more.

Marketizator: 25+ Tools That Conversion Rate Optimization Pros Can’t Ignore

I often say we’re living in a golden age of marketing, in which we can find data to answer almost any question we have. And these tools aren’t expensive. Every marketer can benefit from these tools with a little curiosity and patience.
[sitepromo]

Nielsen Norman Group: Long-Term Exposure to Flat Design: How the Trend Slowly Decreases User Efficiency

I reviewed 47 wordpress templates for a competition earlier this year. 98% of them used a “flat” design approach. Of course, we’re seeing this style of design pervade websites.
Is this a good thing? Nielsen Norman Group says we can use flat designs if we follow some smart guidelines.
Read more.
Got suggestions for what we should be reading? Share them with us!
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The Mobile Web is still in its infancy.  Today, alleged “mobile best-practices” are nothing more than successful desktop strategies scaled to a smaller screen.  But people behave differently on small-screen devices than they do when they are sitting at a computer.

Conversion Sciences has begun to see what Mobile Web 2.0 will look like. Having completed dozens of mobile design split tests, key trends have begun to show themselves. Much of what we have learned flies in the face of conventional beliefs.

This is why we test.

Some of our customers now have higher converting mobile sites than desktop sites.

Our approach to mobile design is controversial because, as scientists, we can’t just accept traditional wisdom at face value.  We need evidence.

Joel Harvey will be reveals the results of dozens of tests we’ve completed.  Insights are based on real tests. No gut instinct here.  Watch Mobile 2.0: Judgment Day to learn what he has discovered. He shares:

  • Can mobile websites can convert better than the desktop?
  • How to increase mobile conversion rates.
  • What is poison to your mobile conversion rate.
  • How iPhone and Android visitors act differently.

Watch the replay on demand in its glorious entirety.

Don’t ignore your mobile traffic. It can be a real revenue generator sooner than you think.

The Threat: Mobilegeddon, Google’s search algorithm change that would penalize mobile websites that weren’t “mobile friendly”.
There is little as scary to an online business as having your source of traffic threatened. However, Google put some resources in place and is making recommendations to businesses to help them become mobile-friendly.

The recommendations will not help you become mobile-friendly. They will make you Google-friendly. Google calls something “mobile-friendly” if a website fits into a small screen, if the fonts are large and if the content remains largely in tact. We call a site “mobile-friendly” if it entices more visitors to buy, call or fill out a form.

The two often aren’t the same.

Google’s Webmaster’s Mobile Guide recommends responsive web design, or RWD. We don’t believe that RWD is the right answer. In my new column Is Google Using Mobilegeddon to Scare Website Owners into Bad Decisions? I explain why responsive web design is a poor strategy for mobile websites.

Conversion-Scientist-Podcast-Logo-1400x1400


Here’s a simple example. I was invited to attend a webinar. It had a great slate of speakers and a topic I was keenly interested in. I got the email on my cell phone, as many of us do. The registration page was responsive. It morphed to fit my mobile screen, resizing images, stacking secitons… and then this.

This form required two screen shots to capture all of the sixteen fields.

This form required two screen shots to capture all of the sixteen fields.

It’s hard to fill out forms on a mobile device. Despite my excitement about the topic, “Advanced Conversion Strategies for Mobile Search,” I didn’t register. I intended to go back and register from my laptop, but had forgotten all about it within 30 seconds.
The punchline is that a webinar discussing great mobile experiences essentially asks mobile visitors to go away, and a LOT of desktop visitors, too. Workcast.com, the host of this monstrous form, thinks their job is to host webinars. Those of us that do webinars know that their job is to generate leads.

I would have offered an autofill via linked into get the form started. I would have removed the address fields on mobile. I would have removed Industry, Company Size and a description of the company. Make the sales people do a little research for crying out loud.

The point is this: Mobile visitors expect a mobile experience. Responsive design delivers a smaller desktop experience. No thanks, Google.

Read my entire rant on Marketing Land.

How a B2B eCommerce company used a stepwise strategy for their website redesign and got 250% more leads before they were done.

We recently began the split-testing process for a B2B eCommerce company. This is only remarkable because we signed this deal over a year ago. What happened to delay testing so long?

A website redesign.

The four-month redesign turned into a six month redesign and then into a 14-month redesign. This is not unusual in our experience. The new design has launched and, after all this time, the conversion rate and revenue per visit remained about the same.

We see this as good news. Too often, redesigns actually decrease site performance for a period after launch. There are storied website redesign disasters, such as FinishLine and Marks&Spencer.

Nonetheless, the conversion optimization testing was delayed. They can never recover the revenue or the lost testing time. Let’s see then how this website redesign got 250% more leads before it was finished. Step by step.

How to Make More Money During Your Website Redesign

Conversion Scientists look at websites quite differently. You may see a valuable online revenue engine. We see a laboratory for growing sales in petri dishes, and then scaling that to business-changing proportions.

When Wasp Barcode came to us, our vision fell on the ears of a brave and daring team. The approach allowed them to grow the number of live demos by more than 200% in just a few months.

We started with our Conversion Catalyst, a six-month process designed to grow revenue quickly and permanently. We started by getting Wasp setup for website optimization. This included setting up the digital lab, a set of tools that includes analytics, click-tracking, session recording and split testing.

Download and Read the entire case study: This Website Redesign Got 250% More Leads Before it Was Finished-Wasp Barcode

Then, we went to work in a very unusual way.

Wasp Barcode sells inventory and asset tracking solutions. Their most profitable offering is a complete inventory- or asset-management system that may include software, scanners, and labelers for the things businesses need to track. The most effective way to help their prospects choose the right system is with a live demo. During this demo, a sales person will walk the visitor through their software and answer any questions they have.

Our main goal was to increase the number of visitors filling out a form to request a live demo.

We did a stepwise redesign, in which all of the assumptions about the new design were tested to ensure that they had a positive or at least neutral impact on demos. Our approach was this:

Step One: Test Things that Can Be Used in the Website Redesign

Our first step was to find the calls to action that would move more visitors to request a demo. This was a series of tests to find out what language should be placed on buttons. For example, we learned that language offering “Free Live Demo” or “Free Consultation” generated more clicks to the demo landing page and more completed demos.

Step Two: Test the New Page Design on a Portion of the Site

Their design team integrated what we learned into a redesign for one of the site’s product category pages. We tested this new design against the existing category page, the control.

Our tests showed that the new design did a great job of getting more visitors to the Demo Request page. By driving more visitors to this page, we had more resources to test lower in the funnel.

Step Three: Optimize the Demo Landing Page

We then went to work on the Demo Request Page, a page on which the prospect can complete a form requesting a Live Demo.

Our tests here revealed that removing video and adding a product shot increased form completions significantly.

This key landing page went through several tested iterations to reach a high-converting design.

This key landing page went through several tested iterations to reach a high-converting design.

The redesign was just getting started, and we had already begun generating significantly more demo requests for the business.

Step Four: Move to Another Section of the Site and Repeat

The Wasp design team designed another category page for the next section of the site. They integrated elements that visitors were clicking on frequently, such as feature lists.

While the visitors in this section of the site behaved somewhat differently, we saw a positive lift in visits to the Demo Request page. This page was optimized, and delivered more demo requests to the sales team.

The step-by-step Wasp Barcode website redesign sped up.

The step-by-step Wasp Barcode website redesign sped up.

The Wasp design team then took what we had learned and redesigned the home page. This drove a significant increase in visits to the high-converting Demo Request page.

250% Increase in Demos over Six Months

Most website redesigns would still be sitting on a staging server. Wasp has enjoyed significant increases in demos during their first six months. Together, we rolled their redesign out step by step, testing along the way to ensure each change had a positive or neutral impact.

 

Breaking the Rules of Website Redesign

Designers and UX people may be rolling their eyes. It is an old truism that a visitor should have a consistent experience across a site, or they will feel lost.

During our stepwise rollout, we violated this rule. But when we have completed the process, providing this consistent experience, we can expect another increase in demos.

This approach also allowed us to change the design for different sections of the site. Those visitors looking for Inventory Management solutions are fundamentally different from those looking at Asset Management tools. One design would not have worked well for both.

Not everything we tried increased the conversion rate, and the Wasp team made adjustments accordingly.

Let Us Guide Your Site Redesign

Your website redesign doesn’t need to be an “all in” gamble. Find out if your website would benefit from a stepwise redesign with a free consultation.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What to look for in a high-converting landing page template.

A friend of mine recently offered me an expensive Giant brand road bike that he wasn’t using in exchange for some help on his website.

He runs a local carpet cleaning service in San Marcos, Texas just south of the Conversion Capital of the World. He hadn’t spent much time on his website, and wanted to update it. While we don’t necessarily recommend redesigns, I felt this one needed a face lift.

Certified Carpet Cleaners Bubble Animation

Sometimes, you just need to start over.

I love the bubbles, but I doubt they are helping conversion rates. I haven’t seen animations like this since the 1990s. The background image slows load time and confuses the eye. The graduated fill on the buttons makes them all but unreadable.
Don’t laugh at my friends design. Here is a WordPress theme I recently reviewed. Check out the stars.

VPropos Theme with Stars in Background

These stars don’t move the value proposition forward. Maybe it works for NASA.

Then there’s this:

Nativoo Parallax Navigation Animation

Animation for animations sake is not helpful for scanners. Note the slow loading of the background image.

My friend needed a new theme for his WordPress site.

Fortunately, I had been asked to be a judge in the ThemeForest PageWiz template contest. More specifically, my task was to pick the themes that would make the best landing page templates.

I’ll tell you how I ranked these themes based on my experience, based on tests we’ve conducted here at Conversion Sciences, and based on my work as an online marketer who uses WordPress in my business.

47 Landing Page Templates, One Winner

The typical "Banded Sales Page" delivers the value proposition for a page in separate sections, or bands.

The typical “Banded Sales Page” delivers the value proposition for a page in separate sections, or bands.

I reviewed 47 different PageWiz landing page templates created by designers. I was tasked with picking one I felt embodied the best practices in conversion-centric landing page design.

The goal of a landing page is to:

1) Keep the promise of an ad, email or link.
2) Get the visitor to take some action, to convert.

Most of the themes I reviewed followed a common pattern, one I call a “banded sales page.”

These are designed to unfold like a sales letter: Big promise at the top, and an unfolding story, or value proposition, as you scroll. Key parts of the story are separated into sections, often with bands of color or images to identify them.

The support for the value proposition is like that found in an old-style sales letter: claims, features and proof. Trust builders, such as testimonials and client logos are also an important part of the this style.

Most themes chose big images for background filler. This is an unfortunate choice, because slow load times mean lower conversion rates. It looks cool, but you know what’s cooler? More sales.

This style of page templates doesn’t provide a significant amount of space for copy, and this may be to their detriment. Instead, they provide bite-sized information to build the value proposition, perfect for scanning the page. These bite-sized sections are most commonly presented in bands of different background colors.

For example, the Landing Page Elements Theme (view) wastes a lot of valuable space for a rather irrelevant image.

Landing page templates with large images take a long time to load and often don't move the value proposition forward.

Large images take a long time to load and often don’t move the value proposition forward.

Some of the themes used parallax scrolling features, which we have not tested, but which may actually add friction to the experience, reducing conversions.

The Theme Should Serve Your Market

The landing page really needs to serve it’s audience. I found the highest scoring templates to be those that were for specific kinds of businesses: fitness, real estate, conferences, travel.

My pick is the Avira Homes template because of its creative calls to action and excellent mobile experience. It suffers from big images and almost fell out of the running.

Mobile Friendly is a Must

I’ll get this out of the way now. No responsive design made my list of top templates. I know it’s an easy way to get a mobile site, but mobile is different than desktop. Design a separate template for mobile.

Look for landing page templates that supports a separate mobile experience.

Look for a landing page template that supports a separate mobile experience.

The Knights Theme (view) offers a mobile theme separate from their desktop implementation.

Mobile Visitors Want Different Content

I made mobile support an important part of the criteria, because it is a growing traffic source for almost any industry. Most themes relied on responsive designs. Others had dedicated mobile templates. Many themes actually break when displayed on phone-sized screens.

We favor designs with dedicated mobile designs, as responsive designs have myriad problems for landing pages. Responsive designs often don’t make sense as desktop content is stacked in non-intuitive ways. These mobile sites also tend to load slower than their dedicated mobile cousins.

Most desktop themes won’t offer a map on their home page or landing pages. For mobile visitors, where we are is important. Maps are a great addition to your mobile experience.

Mobile-oriented content like maps are often lost in responsive designs.

Mobile-oriented content like maps are often lost in responsive designs.

Mobile visitors also want bigger buttons, click-to-call functionality and mobile-focused calls to action. Notice how the Avira site (my winner) offers click to call as the first-screen call to action in their mobile theme. Their desktop site offers a form and the “Contact Me” button.

Avira's separate mobile app is designed for the mobile experience.

Avira’s separate mobile app is designed for a uniquely mobile experience.

The Avira Real Estate Theme (view) was my choice for overall winner.

The Page Should Load Fast

I was happy to see that none of these pages had scrolling hero images, called sliders. These slow load times and can distract readers from the information on the page.

The slow load time of the VPropos theme (view)left us with nothing to watch.

The slow load time of this theme left us with nothing to watch.

The slow load time of this theme left us with nothing to watch.

The Theme Should Make Good Use of the First Screen

It is important that a landing page communicate that the visitor can take action on the page. It should be done early. There is a segment of your visitors that are looking to take action. They don’t want to read, they want to put things in motion.

The FlatVault  theme makes good use of the top of the page using calls to action.

The FlatVault theme makes good use of the top of the page using calls to action.

In contrast to the landing page templates with large images, I felt that FlatVaulth (view) did a good job of utilizing the top portion of the page, with not one but two calls to action.

The Copy Should Be Easy to Read

I favor designs with dark text on light backgrounds for readability. Knockout text is hard for eyes over 40 to read. Pages that are mostly dark cause our pupils to widen. This larger aperture makes focusing more difficult. That’s why we squint when we are trying to read small text. It makes our aperture smaller.

Light text on a dark background is more difficult for older eyes that have trouble focusing.

Light text on a dark background is more difficult for older eyes that have trouble focusing.

The App Cast Theme may be best for young eyes (view).

A good designer uses color to guide the eye. The use of the same color makes it harder to locate the information that is important. For example, pricing tables job is to help us choose. In this pricing table, it’s clear that the center offering is more important, but the color choices make it hard to compare across offerings.

The poor color choices make it hard to compare options.

The poor color choices make it hard to compare options.

The Landing Elements Vol 2 Theme (view) make poor color choices.

Contrast is your friend, especially when your presenting headlines and calls to action.

The headline and call to action are difficult to read here because of a low contrast between background and text.

The headline and call to action are difficult to read here because of a low contrast between background and text.

The green and red backgrounds offer a low contrast background for the headline and form’s call to action in the Brom theme (view).

Make Good Use of Images and Video

If a theme didn’t explicitly support video, I didn’t hold it against theme. Several did. Video is all over the map in terms of whether it works or not. It is a powerful medium that can work for you or against you.

Images are powerful ways to move the value proposition of the site forward. Unfortunately, designers often punt, using filler stock images instead of well-thought out pictures. Unfortunately, theme builders really can’t offer one image that communicates well for all of the possible sites their theme may ride on.

The Cube Consulting Theme (view) makes good use of image placement here.

This image is in the right place, but is clearly a stock image. The human eye knows when it sees what we call business porn.

This image is in the right place, but is clearly a stock image. The human eye knows when it sees what we call business porn.

The man in this theme is what we call “business porn.” It is a stock image, not someone who works at the company or is a customer. The placement of this image is smart. It anchors the call to action form visually which partly covers the image.

A better image would have been looking down at the form, or to the value proposition at the left. We tend to linger on faces, especially when they are looking right at us. If we’re looking at a face, we’re not reading the offer text or the calls to action.

Be careful of images that work against you.

The dot-matrix background and gratuitous keyboard image only work to make the text hard to read in this image.

The dot-matrix background and gratuitous keyboard image only work to make the text hard to read in this image.

The Expo Theme (view) uses a dot-matrix background that messes with the eyes and makes the text harder to read. Why is there a keyboard in the background?

This background image conflicts with the call to action, confusing the eye.

This background image conflicts with the call to action, confusing the eye.

One problem of our winning theme, Avira (view), is the poor choice of a background image. This image conflicts with the call to action form.

Shapes

The shape of your images can have impact as well. After viewing over 40 different themes with the banded designs, I found these curved images refreshing.

The shape of your images can draw the eye to important page components.

The shape of your images can draw the eye to important page components.

The Dyxalot Theme (view) curved hero image draws the eye to the center where the key messages are.

Avoid Useless Images

If I have to find a large, high-resloution image that’s relevant to my visitor and figure out how to not screen it back, that’s a theme that is too much work.

This design is typical of the designs that waste precious real estate at the top of the page with nothing relevant.

A lot of space was dedicated to red buildings in this theme.

A lot of space was dedicated to red buildings in this theme. What’s the message?

The Mobis Theme (view) wastes a lot of space with a background picture of buildings. Unecessarily large images push your value proposition and calls to action down on the page, where they are less likely to be seen.

Make Images Clickable

Make images clickable, even if there’s a button below. These are not.

Clicking on the buttons works, but the images are not clickable. Don't get in your visitors' way.

Clicking on the buttons works, but the images are not clickable. Don’t get in your visitors’ way.

The MyCourse Theme (view) should make their images clickable.

Calls to Action

Calls to action should be the most visually prominent items on the page.

The use of arrows and button colors that clash with the other colors on the page signal that the call to action should be addressed by the visitor.

High contrast buttons and arrows signal to the visitor that they should address the call to action.

High contrast buttons and arrows signal to the visitor that they should address the call to action.

The My Earth Non-profit Theme (view) enhances the visibility of the call to action.

More Calls to Action

For long banded pages, they should be frequent. You never know when your visitor is seeing the content that pushes them to take action in a long-scrolling landing page.

Our winning theme, Avira (view), offered a variety of calls to action, from the ability to inquire about specific properties to general inquiries. It invited visitors to call and offered lead generation forms at the top and bottom of the page.

Landing page templates should support frequent calls to action.

You never know when copy or an image is going to incite a visitor to act. Use frequent calls to action.

Your Forms Should Behave

Form behavior should make completion intuitive and natural. When someone hits tab in your form, they should be taken to the next field, not another part of the page.

The form for the Urane Theme (view) looks like this:

Be careful if you use the tab button here (and most of us do).

Be careful if you use the tab button here (and most of us do).

When I type my name and click Tab, it jumps to a random part of the page.

Surprise behaviors will kill your conversion rates.

Surprise behaviors will kill your conversion rates.

Use a Dripping Pan

If someone reads your page to the bottom, this is a pretty good sign that they are interested. Themes should repeate the call to action at the bottom of the page. We call this a dripping pan because it catches the juices to make gravy.

Landing page templates should repeat the call to action at the bottom of the page.

This form appears at the bottom of the page. It’s a dripping pan.

The dripping pan for the MyPro Affiliate Theme (view) offers a complete form and call to action.

App Store Buttons

If you’re doing a theme for an app download, the call to action is to visit an app store. I recommend that you not redesign these buttons. They should be recognizable as clicks to the Google Play store and iTunes app store.

The most recognizable app store button designs are used across the Web.

The most recognizable app store button designs are used across the Web.

The Dyxalot Theme (view) makes this call to action almost invisible.

These download calls to action are almost invisible

These download calls to action are almost invisible

The App Cast Mobile Theme (view) offers company logos, not app store logos.

Are these company logos or app store download buttons?

Are these company logos or app store download buttons?

The Volax Theme (view) offers more clues that this is an app download, but this is not a fimiliar image for the app stores.

The addition of  download counts adds social proof, but what am I downloading exactly?

The addition of download counts adds social proof, but what am I downloading exactly?

Plan for Proof and Trust

Presenting proof is very important, and several themes offered interesting ways to present proof. Claims made in your copy must be supported by a benefit and proof.

The Expo theme presents a place for proof points

The Expo theme presents a place for proof points

The Expo theme presents a place for proof points (view).
Websites can “borrow” trust from other brands by showing logos, seals and badges. Client logos, partner logos, and even the logos of credit cards all conspire to build trust with visitors. Themes that support this were ranked higher in my judging.

Choose landing page templates that support trust symbols.

Websites can “borrow” trust from clients, partners and media outlets by displaying their logos

Unfortunately, the MyPro Theme made a poor choice for the background of these trust building logos (view).

Induce Scrolling

One of the concerns with banded pages like those in this competition is that every scroll can look like the bottom of the page. Visitors may never scroll further to see the persuasive content lower on the page.
Themes that induced scrolling were ranked higher on my list.
The Upfold Theme (view) provides several scrolling queues. The v-shaped header image invites visitors to scroll down.

A simple arrow-shaped image can induce scrolling, making your copy more effective.

A simple arrow-shaped image can induce scrolling, making your copy more effective.

Connective lines between sections signal visitors that there is more to see. This keeps people scrolling.

Subtle connective lines signal that there is more information to follow as the visitor scrolls.

Subtle connective lines signal that there is more information to follow as the visitor scrolls.

Consider Introducing Scarcity

If your offer has a deadline, you can use countdown timers to introduce “scarcity.” This communicates that an offer is about to expire and that the visitor should take action immediately.
Countdown timers are effective, and several themes incorporated them into their pages.

Count down timers can introduce scarcity into the visitor's decision making process.

Count down timers can introduce scarcity into the visitor’s decision making process.

The Pagewiz Event Conference Meetup Theme (view) places a countdown timer in the body of the page.

Scarcity is a natural fit for events.

Scarcity is a natural fit for events.

Elect! Political Charity Conference Theme (view) places a countdown timer right below the hero image.

Social Distraction

The most common distraction I see on landing pages is social media icons. Traffic is never free. Even search traffic requires you to optimize and develop content. If you’ve paid for a visitor to come to your site, why send them off to Mark Zuckerberg? He’s god enough traffic.

The social icons are muted, but shouldn’t be at the top of the page competing with the call to action.

The social icons are muted here, but save them for the thank you page.

The social icons are muted here, but save them for the thank you page.

The social icons on the FlatBox Theme (view) are the most visible (and thus the most important) items above the fold.

The social media icons really pop on this dark background. The message is that these are the most important things on the page.

The social media icons really pop on this dark background. The message is that these are the most important things on the page.

Only use if social media is a great source of visitors for your site. Instead of a dripping pan at the bottom of the page, FlatBox offers a smorgasbord of distractions.

Most businesses aren't good at turning likes and follows into business. Save these buttons for the thank you page.

Most businesses aren’t good at turning likes and follows into business. Save these buttons for the thank you page.

The best use of social media I saw was the RealGym Theme (view), my runner up. This use of social media turns gym trainers into social sales people

Here the social icons support the business model directly by turning trainers into social salespeople.

Here the social icons support the business model directly by turning trainers into social salespeople.

Help Me Choose a Plan

If you offer multiple levels of service or product tiers, the job of your pricing matrix is to, Help Me Choose. Your landing page template should highlight one price package to help my visitors choose.
The Mobis Multipurpose Landing Page Theme (view) offers three colors, none of which is more prominent than any other.

Which of these is most popular? Which should I choose? It's hard to tell.

Which of these is most popular? Which should I choose? It’s hard to tell.

The Urane Theme (view) offers a highlighted choice.

This design says,"I should pay attention to the middle one, and not just choose the cheapest."

This design says,”I should pay attention to the middle one, and not just choose the cheapest.”

Pricing tables that make it easy to compare features will improve conversion rates.

The Landing Elements Vol 1 Theme (view) offers banding to help guide the eye across features.

Alternating colors help guide the eye and aid in comparing features.

Alternating colors help guide the eye and aid in comparing features.

Pricing tables should not attempt to sell features. You should only select a few criteria–three or four–to be placed in the pricing table. Let the copy do the rest of the selling.

Use helpful names as well.

Choose the descriptive names for your feature levels.

Choose the descriptive names for your feature levels.

The Flat Vault Theme (view) suggests “Basic”, “Pro” and “Elite” levels. These generic names are translated as “Cheap”, “Expensive” and “Only for big companies”. Be more clear in your naming. Choose names that convey relevant value.

No Template is Going to Have It All

This is a lot to consider when picking a theme. None of the landing page templates I reviewed scored perfect on all counts.

Your business may have special needs. If building trust is important, focus on themes that support trust and proof. If you serve mobile visitors, be sure to use a separate theme for your mobile site.

For almost any site, Readability, Calls to action, and Load Time are going to be critical.

Any theme you produce will need to be optimized for your unique visitors. Contact Conversion Sciences for a free consultation on your site.

Now I can ride my new bike and know that I selected the best template for my carpet-cleaning friend.

Here’s the dripping pan.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Brian Massey

Online retailer iNature Skincare® sponsored a video that turned into a phenomenon.

Released on October 29, 2014, the Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question video had garnered over 4 million views within two weeks.

iNature Skincare had sponsored a viral hit.

Unfortunately, sales did not rise as much as one would think. Why not? It is not uncommon for viral videos to fail as buy-ral videos.

We took a look at their site and felt that they hadn’t mapped the visitors journey appropriately.

The Visitor’s Journey

In this case the visitor’s journey starts with being moved by the video. It should then move to becoming aware of the brand, to understanding why the brand sponsored this video, to considering their products, and then to purchase.

I feel good. I want to feel good some more.

After viewing the video, we feel pretty good. Or sad. Or nostalgic. These feelings aren’t typical when considering skin care products.

As viewers, our first response is to get more of this feeling. The most common way to extend the feeling is to share with others. This is clearly happening.

However, iNature Skincare should be enabling this next step. I would have liked to know why iNature sponsored this video.

How does my feeling relate to the sponsor?

iNature Skincare’s viral video is benefiting other brands, brands not nearly as closely aligned with it.

For me, PS Print is getting the love from this video because they are advertising here. This is most likely a retargeted ad. I think iNature Skincare should be here.

Other advertisers are getting the benefit of this viral video through advertising.

Other advertisers are getting the benefit of this viral video through advertising.

My recommendation was that iNature Skincare should ask the producer to add an overlay or advertise on the video with a message that says, “Why did iNature Skincare asked 50 people this question? Our story.” This would run before the filmmaker, Jubilee Project had a chance to make their pitch at the end.

This ad would allow visitors to take the next step in the journey. If you were producing such a video, you would want to use the end of the video to bring the viewers to the next step.

The sponsor shares my values.

The ad would need to bring the visitor to a page that answered the question posed.

Every ad should bring the visitor to a page that continues the journey. Home pages are notoriously bad at that.

The page should communicate that there was a reason for the effort, and tie the message to it’s products. We really don’t have to work too hard to do this. The message, in words and pictures would be:

We chose to sponsor this video because one of the people interviewed was clearly impacted as a child by acne and eczema. Our products could have helped. We’re still working on the Mermaid Tail.

If I have skin problems, my next question should be, “Really? How?”

The sponsor can solve a problem I have.

iNature Skincare has strong proof of the effectiveness of its products. It has an award-winning package design that lends it credibility. But we must honor the visitor’s journey.

Now is the time to begin building out the company’s value proposition in words and images.

I felt that the compelling proof found in a study was their most powerful statement of the power of the product. This study was small. Eight babies were treated with their product and the results measured on two scales. The before and after pictures are available on the site.

This page offers compelling evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the products. Click for full image.

This page offers compelling evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the products. Click for full image.

The results on this page are unclear, but the pictures are powerful. The product is effective and save enough for babies.

What product did this? Unfortunately, iNature Skincare leaves the visitor hanging on this page. This is an ideal time to introduce the product that had such an impact and offer more information. This could be done in the right sidebar area of the page.

A mockup of the Consumer Study page with a next step for the visitor.

A mockup of the Consumer Study page with a next step for the visitor.

I would also add products at the bottom of this page.

I can afford the product that solves my problem.

The visitor now needs to do a cost/benefit calculation. It’s time to introduce the product and complete the value building process. For iNature Skincare, the product page does a good job.

I recommended putting a picture of the product used and a link to learn more about the product. The page that featured the product was imperfect, but provided a good deal of information.

The iNature Skincare product page.

The iNature Skincare product page.

This was a good next step because after providing the product information and the price, the presented the next step in the visitor’s journey.

Should I buy now? Can I delay?

The next step in the journey is the choice. So far, the question in the visitor’s mind – “Should I go on?” – has been an easy one to answer. Each click offered more relevant information in the journey.

Visitors that don’t have skin problems have fallen away. Now we are talking to those who need our product.

It’s time to bring them to choice.

This is the job of the call-to-action button. For most ecommerce sites, “Add to Cart” tests well as the call to action. It is presented here in bold read.

This is the traditional next step in the buyer's journey for ecommerce sites.

This is the traditional next step in the buyer’s journey for ecommerce sites.

The button is very wide, and almost doesn’t look like a clickable button. It also lies well down the page. It could be missed. Nonetheless, it offers a natural next step in the visitor’s journey, an important final step.

If, at this point, the visitor does not purchase, then we can assume that

a) they just weren’t ready

b) we didn’t do a good enough job of building value

Price is rarely the issue. When I tell you that your product is too expensive, they mean that you didn’t do a good enough job explaining the value to me.

Could iNature Skincare entice more of these lost visitors to buy?

The Complete Journey

We’ve mapped out a journey from first exposure through to purchase.

  1. A good feeling from branded content
  2. Discovering a brand that shares my values
  3. The realization that the brand solves a problem I have
  4. Understanding the product’s value proposition
  5. The decision to buy
  6. Finalizing the transaction

Each point along the way holds an opportunity for optimization. Here are some opportunities for iNature Skincare to improve these waypoints.

Let Your Visitors Find Their Own Journey

For many visitors, we will not know where their journey started. So, we have to make it easy for them to create their own journey.

iNature Skincare as a non-standard design. The navigation bar is in a sticky band along the bottom, instead of along the top as is expected by most visitors.

This cuts 110 pixels off of the page height, space which could be used to further the value proposition.

The floating navigation bar at the bottom of the takes up precious space.

The floating navigation bar at the bottom of the takes up precious space.

Every page on the site needs to offer a next step toward evaluating the products. There are no next steps on the Our Story, About, Dry Skin or Before and After pages.

Every page should answer a question and continue the journey.

If you are stuck on designing your buyer journey, I recommend you buy Buyer Legends from Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg. They outline a process for laying out powerful stories that marketers can actually implement.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

My partner Joel Harvey is fond of saying, “My favorite part of a design is the money.” He’s been part of many a web design project. His perspective comes in response to the number of times he’s heard things like:

“I want the design to pop!”

“I want my site’s design to be groundbreaking like nothing else out there!”

“Let’s turn it up a notch on the design.”

“I want the site’s design to reflect the high value of our product.”

In and of themselves, none of the above statements are unworthy pursuits. But if your goal is to increase online sales conversion and fill your coffers to the brim, you will fall woefully short if you believe that web design alone can do the heavy lifting of convincing your visitors to take action. If increasing sales is your goal, the most important person on your split testing team is the accountant.

Designers Don’t Design for the Accountant

A while back, a client sent us a couple of different mocks of some new designs they were entertaining. They ask which one I liked. The first thing I said is I like the one that makes you the most money. Up until that time their team was arguing over color palettes, white space,and rounded edges.
When I reminded them about the bigger goal, their conversation evolved. In a clock tick, we were all discussing the quality of content on the pages rather than the design elements. When their offer and call to action were right, everyone seemed to forget about the trivia of the actual design.

Designing For Your Ego

Another client brought to us a new landing page campaign they had just launched and were baffled and disappointed by the early results. They went on to explain that they thought this was the best designed landing page they had ever done. They had just hired a new graphic designer that ‘got it’, and even the CEO was impressed with his work. One problem, their paying customers didn’t seem to agree. No doubt, the design was gorgeous. Rich colors, curvy rectangles, sexy images, even the header and body fonts were crisp and clean.
So why wasn’t this campaign working? We had them show us their most recent successful campaign. The design was a tad dated, and compared to the new landing page it looked like a high school hobbyist in the company basement eating Cheetos and suckling energy drinks.
Still, by comparing we immediately saw the problem with the new landing page. The copy on the old page was much better. The headers screamed the product’s value proposition and benefits. The body copy answered relevant questions, and helped the reader imagine themselves buying the product. The call to action button was big, bold, and in your face. The new page looked stunningly attractive but said very little.
To add insult, the hot shot designer was a minimalist and had an aversion to big gawky buttons, so his primary call to action was tiny button that blended in with the hero image, and , by design, was easy to ignore. We instructed them to use the old page copy on the new design (they had to make a few adjustments to make it all fit), and we asked the designer to create a bigger and bolder call to action button. They obliged us and that new design finally beat the old landing page.

How Much Time Are You Spending With Your Designer vs. Your Banker?

So my lesson is this. Beautiful, eye-popping design and effective, profitable web design are two different things. And it always seems easier to mistake those eye-popping designs for profitable ones. Split testing will always lead you in the right direction.
Some companies spend more on design than they do on organic SEO, and almost all companies spend more on design than on Conversion Rate Optimization. Search engine spiders don’t evaluate site design, only content and links. And I have yet to see a company design their way into a better conversion rate and better RO.
Some companies spend way more time going back and forth about a design element than they do actually testing it. Makes you wonder how far ahead of your competitors you could get if you spent more time and resources on conversion optimization and testing.
So when considering a redesign of your entire site, of a successful landing page, or even a banner ad, do the following:

  • List the things about the page experience (not just he design) work. Keep those in the new design.
  • What about the experience doesn’t work?
  • Why do we want to change this (especially if it is working)?
  • Before you launch a radically new design, test what you believe is NOT working about the current design.

Above all, use web designers that deeply understand the web and principles of conversion. Otherwise they are just an artist, and the value of an artists works usually increases only after their demise. Can you wait that long?

Today, let’s rejoice in a persuasive gift that brightens any landing page, and has started so many new relationships between a visitor and a business. The big red button.

Ode to the Big Red Button.

Ode to the Big Red Button. Image Courtesy: www.sxc.hu/profile/Ambrozjo

Valentine’s Day is an emotional time, even for a Conversion Scientist. It is a time in which we, like so many people in love, celebrate beautiful relationships. It’s a time to stop seeing our visitors as “traffic,” “visits,” “bounces,” or “conversions.” We dispense with talk of hypotheses and statistical significance and turn instead to those things we share as cohabitants of a website.

You may feel that I’m fickle, but I grow teary-eyed just thinking about the person visiting my website, whoever they are at this moment. I love you.

I also feel my heart race when the shoe is on the other foot and you help me solve a problem on your website. It makes me feel like the prettiest girl at the ball.

You Convert Me. Ode to the Big Red Button.

So I’ve written you a poem, my fleeting visitor or humble host. With it I hope to celebrate something we can share, something we both will love: the big red button.

Technically, it is “a high-contrast element containing a compelling call to action that draws a visitor’s eye and clearly communicates how a visitor can complete the next step in their conversion process.”

But you and I know it is so much more.

It is seductive, calling like a siren. It is even a bit sensual to click on such a thing. For this Valentine’s Day, let’s put aside our arguments about headlines, copy, images, and offers. Today, let’s rejoice in a persuasive gift that brightens any landing page, and has started so many new relationships between a visitor and a business.

Ode to the Big Red Button

It is a gift both wise and sage

The big red button on my page

It calls, it beckons without retort

“Join,” “Add to cart,” “Get that free report”

Yes, I think a link is fine

So blue and bright and underlined

It’s not for me, your clicks will sink!

That’s why it’s called an “anchor” link

But when my eyes grace a page

And I desire to spend my wage

I want to buy! I am a glutton!

So serve me up a big red button

Designers cry, “There is a catch!”

“The site and button have to match!”

But if they do, then I do fear

Your call to action will disappear

And what of rainbow’s other gifts?

Of blue and green and amethyst

Try them, test them, this is smart

But big and red is where I’d start

It won’t be hard to understand

What I should do when I land

The button tells me everything

It doesn’t have to dance or sing

I will not suffer a gray “Submit”

Big and red is where I click

It will not let me hesitate

‘Cause if I bounce it’ll be too late

A happy couple, it’s the norm

To wed the button with a form

And though my fields are all complete

There still remains that final feat

If you will charge my credit card

That final click can seem so hard

The big red button makes it fun

Isn’t that true for everyone?

So tell me this my brillig friend,

What do you want in the end?

To abandon you before I’m done?

Or click big red with abandon?

Won’t you be my Valentine?

I think you’ll find the terms sublime

I’ll convert, there’ll be no friction

If you feed my big red addiction

By Brian Massey, The Love Scientist