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On the subject of Design

Jan

April 19th, 2011.

Quick test idea to improve your conversion rate – site search result page test. Part 2

In the site search box test part 1, we discovered by analysing web analytics data that visitors using site search are 2-3 times more valuable than those that don’t use site search. Conversion rate difference was also by 168% higher when site search was used. Also, per visit value was 132% greater when site search was used.

In the second part I would like to talk about more advanced, more costly but probably more rewarding test – a site search result page test.


Who is this test for?
Any website where the site search result page doesn’t allow result filtering by category, price, brand etc… or simply looking to improve search functionality, stickiness, conversions and retention by using more robust, intelligent 3rd party site search.

Goal of the test
We would like to find out if using more sophisticated 3rd party ecommerce site search will help you to increase your conversion rate and whether the investment is worth the money.

Why should you test?
You read a case study that better search result pages convert more and that visitors who use site search convert 2 – 3 times better than those not using a site search. You get very excited and decide to approach a 3rd party search provider. However, you discover the investment into a new site search can be substantial (e.g. $25,000+ annually for Google ecommerce search) so you would like find out if you can justify the cost.

How should you test?
What you want to do is to test both site search engines at the same time, something like A/B test comparing 3rd party site search vs. yours. However, there is a caveat. A/B testing won’t work in this case, as the site search box, where it all starts, is on every single page on your site and you would like to capture any search query from any page on your site. So, for this reason we need to set up a site wide test using a multivariate test strategy, showing exactly the same site search box, but the results leading either to your current site search or to the 3rd party site search you are trying to evaluate.

How do you measure success?
By comparing number of sales and a conversion rate in your testing tool

How many visits with site search do I need?
At least 5,000-10,000 visits per month with site search. For fast and statistically valid result 20,000+.

Recommended solutions:
Nextopia – $950/year for 10,000 search queries, $2,495/year for 100,000 search queries
Sli-systems – price not known
Google – from $25,000/year

Contact Jan to see how we can help you with your  ecommerce site search testing, A/B or multivariate testing or to request your free consultation: jan@datadial.net or call 0208 6000 500 ext. 231

Jan

April 18th, 2011.

Quick test idea to improve your conversion rate – site search box test. Part 1

Even with all the buzz about conversion rate optimisation, there are still businesses which haven’t tried it yet. To get you started, I came up with a very simple and inexpensive idea every ecommerce store should test. Your site search box position & size test.

OK, so what’s so special about the site search and why should you give it a go?

1. Generally the conversion rate of visitors who used a site search is 2-3 times higher than those without, as is the per visit value. In our example below conversion rate difference is 168% higher when site search has been used. Also per visit value is 132% greater.

2. On average, around 8-20% of sites’ visitors use a site search, but they bring between 17-33% of overall revenue.

3. The test itself isn’t that difficult to implement and could be up and running in less than 8 hours, however this type of test and implementation will require a knowledgeable person to set up the test.

A little something about the site search box test: this type of tests falls under so called “site wide” tests. With site wide test implementation, the tested variations are going to be the same on every page on your website.

Speak to Jan for more information on A/B or multivariate testing or to request your free consultation: jan@datadial.net or call 0208 6000 500 ext. 231

Martina Martina

March 10th, 2011.

A few things companies should know about their website… ‘meta-speak’

The Meta Description Tag

The Meta-description tag is a excerpt of HTML code that belongs inside the ‘ <meta name=”Description” content=” description goes here /> section of a web page.

This tag can definitely come in handy in your overall SEO campaign but the keywords and phrases you use in your Meta description tag actually have no effect on your page’s ranking in search engine results.

What does this mean?

Well you might have thought that these tags help your pages rank highly for the words you use within them, or spruce up the description a little bit in terms of what is shown in the search engines when they are typed – well if you did – you were wrong. In actual fact, similar to the Meta keywords tag, the information you place in this tag really isn’t given any weight in Google’s ranking algorithms.

In other words, whether or not you use your most important keywords in your Meta description tag, it simply won’t affect the position of your page in the results. So essentially, you could leave a description out altogether!

It almost sounds like you don’t need these tags at all, should you bother with them then?

Well, if you’re already happy with the excerpts of text that the search engines post from your page in any given search query, then there’s no reason to have a Meta description tag on your page(s). You might want to remember though, that the excerpt the engines use varies depending on what the searcher types into the engine.

Okay, so…?

In Google, if you search for a site by URL, the excerpts you see in the lists results returned are the first instance of text on that page. However on some pages an ‘image-alt’ tag that looks like this: <img> (the code that embeds an image in an HTML page), is the first instance of words on a page. In these cases, that is what would show up as part of the “excerpt” for your search.

For the most part the people searching with URLs are site owners checking whether or not their pages are indexed. So generally, you don’t need to worry about this.

What does this mean in layman’s terms?

Okay so a normal search wouldn’t usually involve a full URL. You would probably put in 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6) keywords describing what it is you were looking for (known as a long-tail keyword) – In this example let’s say you searched for “pink ballet shoes” – however if none of these keywords are used in the Meta description tags on any site that is returned in the search results or/and they aren’t on the landing page as a complete phrase in that order, then Google will simply gather a list of pages that contain any of the words ‘pink + ballet + shoes’ near each other and it will use any words surrounding these ones as the excerpts for those pages.

If “pink ballet shoes” were a product you were selling, then a great idea would be to adjust the page to include these words in the Meta description tags and also somewhere in the body of text on your page(s). Remember however, this isn’t in attempt to rank any higher but would simply be a way to make your site more search friendly when the user types these keywords into a search engine.

The Meta Title Tag

Completely unlike the description tag, the title tag will is and always will be one of the most important factors in achieving high search engine rankings.

Put simply – ensuring you have strong title tags on each of your pages can generate significant differences to your rankings. This is because the words in the title tag are what appear in the links on the results pages returned after a query is put in (the bold, blue underlined text on Google when you put in a query and press ‘enter’) – therefore these are this is your first chance to impress the user.
They can’t be THAT important, can they?

Yes they can! Title tags are one of the main elements given algorithmic weight by search engines – in fact, if not more so, they are equally as important as the visible text highlighting your pages.
So what information should go in the title tag?

The name of your business should be the main thing here. Whatever else you add is entirely up to you, this can range from taglines, to descriptions of what your business does, to location details (so using the example from before you might add something like “Smiths’ Ballet Retailers – Middlesbrough”).

So the main thing was…?

This is the first thing users will see! Don’t miss out on a huge opportunity by not including the name of your business here.

To Surmise…

  • Meta keyword tags/description tags are not related to how you are ranked in a search engine, but it would be silly to leave them out.
  • The Meta description tag summarises what’s on your page and the keyword tag supplies a summary list of the important words on your page. Both types of tag make the page more search engine friendly.

Good luck!

Rob

February 17th, 2011.

Time delay video of the Taylor Herring website build

We’re delighted to announce the launch of a new site for Taylor Herring PR consultancy.

We rebranded the company with a new logo and new identity.  We redesigned the website and developed it using Datadial’s content management system

If you have never had the pleasure of watching how a website is put together then now’s your chance.  Watch the video below.

Matt

October 28th, 2010.

Optimising Social Media Landing Pages

Maximising the benefit of social and viral traffic is frequently a concept that is misunderstood by site owners looking at huge traffic spikes in their analytics accounts.

Great, 50k visits, how many sales?

None? What a waste of time!

Many years ago when I used to work in sales a key to a successful appointment was sticking to the habit of asking yourself,

What is the minimum I’m going to expect from this call or meeting?

For many salespeople its the sale, which in most cases just isn’t realistic. The minimum an intelligent salesperson expects from a contact is an invite to get in-touch again. Its building on this relationship that creates long-lasting rewarding partnerships.

I have always approached social media with the same kind of mindset. For the vast majority of people that land on your pages, particularly on viral and linkbait type content its the first time that they have had any contact with your brand. – What is the minimum you’ll expect? A sale, or an invite to get in contact again?

I have mocked-up below a before and after of a typical blog landing page.

Before (click for a larger version)

blog landing page

After (click for a larger version)

The key changes to the page include,

  • Adding easily visible subscribe options to a prominent area of the page, including the ability to subscribe by RSS or email.
  • Prominent social media voting buttons at both the top and bottom of a post. Many social media users are members of multiple sites. Many may arrive from Twitter for example and then wish to Digg a story. Make it as easy as possible for them to do this.
  • Twitter followers and Facebook fan pages can be as effective as email newsletter sign ups – make the most out of these if you use them and encourage people to sign up.
  • Experiment with adding related posts to the bottom of your articles, this can help with how ‘sticky’ your site is.
  • Encourage people to comment on your posts. Moderate spam and try to reply to people asking for help or advice.

Remember, its not always about converting a visitor into a sale, converting them into a user, reader, commenter, voter, advocate or sharer can be far more effective in the long-run.

Kolen

May 19th, 2010.

Best & Worst of FOWD Day 2


FOWD logo
Following on from my post after Day One

The Best

John Hicks giving his talk

John Hicks giving his talk (image from m-king)

My favourite today definitely has to be Aral Balkan‘s session. He really knows how to present and make learning fun! It was very inspiring and encouraging on how to make your designs that little bit better by adding an emotional element to your apps/sites. He got the longest applause I have heard at a conference!

But then the loveliest thing was when he acknowledged my tweet of thanks on twitter and his blog. What an awesome guy!

The Worst

umm…
ermmm….
ahhh…

Nope… I really can’t think of anything for The Worst… did I miss something?

Honestly, the whole thing was amazing. I’m really shattered now, but it’s a good tired because I’m also really excited to start doing so many of the things that were presented.

If you couldn’t make it to FOWD this year, I would definitely recommend buying the video pass. It would be really worth it. I’m looking forward to the videos myself because I wanted to go to both tracks so many times today… shame we can’t clone ourselves when the need arises!

In summary…

(I’ll add links to slideshows and downloads as I get them)

  1. Progressive CSS3 Design (Molly Holzschlag)

    Molly presented the plans and workings of the W3C and asked for any web designers who are keen to be voices to the W3C. What I found most exciting was her mention of IE9’s capabilities – it sounds like my optimism about CSS3 in IE9 may be closer to reality than I first hoped!

  2. What will Web Design Look Like in Two Years? (Simon Collison)

    According to Colly it’s going to evolve quite a bit, growing up and getting comfortable with the medium of being online. For example, no longer will we mimic tables with paper and coffee stains; but instead embrace the pixel, the grid and typography. Of course this does require a more mature understanding of grid systems and design fundamentals, but this will make the professionally designed sites stand out from the sea of online content.
    View Slides & Examples

  3. The Art of Emotional Design: A story of pleasure, joy, and delight. (Aral Balkan)

    As I mentioned above, the whole presentation was a pleasure, joy and delight. Aral showed us examaples of how he has made his apps come to life by adding in little emotional attachments, like his famous bird turning red and singing in Feathers.
    Read Keir Whitaker’s write up on Think Vitamin

  4. How to Build a HTML5 Website – Live Demo (Bruce Lawson)

    Up until today I haven’t dabbled too much into HTML5, but Bruce did a live demo which helped to demystify it all. HTML5 is definitely going to be mainstream, and soon. The capabilities of it are awesome, and it is so easy to still support older systems that don’t understand it. In particular I’m looking forward to the day where we can use the <video> tag without having to provide a Flash alternative for IE.
    http://www.brucelawson.co.uk/
    Another good introduction from Smashing Magazine

  5. Rethink Your Job (and Earn More Money). (Brett Welch)

    Everyone knows Web stuff is becoming increasingly commodised, but where the value remains is in expert knowledge, advice and helping your client’s goals. Brett also emphasised starting small, growing in iterations, and the importance of having a marketing plan in place following the site’s launch. We all really admired him for not actually plugging his product in the talk.

  6. Icon Design (Jon Hicks)

    I don’t do icon design very often, so it was really valuable to hear these tips and guides for when I do need to. It’s also very exciting to hear about future abilities like using SVG for icons.
    http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk/

  7. Blending Usability Testing with Interface Design, Prototyping and Rapid Iteration (Dan Rubin)

    I always want to do more and more usability testing, and Dan’s excellent talk really got me excited about it even more. He talked us through a case study of how they had assessed a current site, found the good things and bad things about it, and came up with some suggested changes. He then detailed their technique for testing the changes and how they were able to accurately test them while keeping it in a format that was easy to change and adapt as they went (basically using image maps with an exported Photoshop comp). Definitely a great technique for getting the most value from a test.

Kolen

May 18th, 2010.

Best & Worst of FOWD London Day 1

FOWD logoThe Future of Web Design conference is amazing this year – here’s a quick update after Day One.

The Best

jQuery for Designers session

jQuery for Designers session

The format of this year’s conference is tons better than last year. The atmosphere of the Brewery is great, and the food (which is also outstanding) at the break times gives people a chance to talk to each other and network. It has been much easier this year to meet people and talk to other designers.

It’s really hard to choose a favourite speaker because they’re all so great! I think jQuery for Designers is probably going to have the most impact on my day to day work because it has encouraged me to take a new step into jQuery.

The design clinic time was great, and it was a wonderful opportunity to talk to designers you really respect. I got some great feedback from Mike Kus, who has to be one of my all time favourite web designers because of his original work.

The Worst

Definitely had to be font.com’s sponsor slot. Not only were they the ugliest slides of the day, the introduction was dated (we know about using @font-face already) and then followed by a whole sales pitch on why we should all buy their service. It was very amusing to see the tweets coming in during the talk!

Don’t get me wrong, their service is great and no doubt I’ll be using it soon, but the talk and presentation definitely  gets labelled the worst, after everything else was so amazing.

More to come tomorrow, but in summary…

(I’ll add links to slideshows and downloads as I get them)

  1. Play. Destroy. Create. from Brendan Dawes

    I loved his reference to maths and nature, and seeing how he had turned that into something new. It’s about observing things like the trend of technical stuff to non techy people. Some of the things he was showing was simply play to explore and provoke reactions. He encouraged us to play, have passion and love what we do!

  2. How to Get Started with CSS3 from Dan Cederholm

    After doing a lot of CSS3 work already, I wasn’t expecting to get much from this session, but was very pleasantly surprised. I now have a list of things I want to try, tools to use, and new ideas generated from this session. Definitely ideal for people new to CSS3, but still lots of great stuff in there for those of us who have already been using it.

  3. jQuery for Designers: All You Need to Code (Remy Sharp)

    Very inspiring stuff, and I’m now eager to take the plunge into jQuery!
    Download slideshow

    http://jqueryfordesigners.com

  4. Accessibility in Web Design Robin Christopherson

    I’ve seen Robin speak a few times, and each time he has something new and very informative. This time he encouraged mobile versions of websites, as the format of them is also much more accessible. He also encouraged the use of Text Captcha because it’s accessible, free and offers a comprehensive API. You Tube are now also providing automatic captioning on their videos!

  5. Learning to Love Humans: Emotional Interface Design (Aarron Walter)

    Making things usable is not enough – we should also make them enjoyable. Don’t compromise on the base needs for t»he user, but look for ways you can add that extra layer of emotive enjoyment – like the Mailchimp quotes!

  6. UX Masterclass with Web Standardistas Web Standardistas

    This flowed on really well from the Emotional Interface Design and looked at the secret for making something that is usable really great. The secret is YOU!

  7. Smart Tips for Wireframing Brad Haynes

    Wireframes help communication, focus and workflow. This session was a good practical reminder of why we should be using them and looked at which techniques to use where, including some good tools.

Also check out summary of Day 2 »

Kolen

March 24th, 2010.

Creating the new Datadial website

Our old home page

Our old home page

I always find that designing your own website is a much larger task than designing a site for someone else. You become the pickiest designer ever, striving for the tiniest details to be spot-on and investing a lot of energy, but then receiving a lot of energy back when the results work out just as you hoped.

Our aims for the new site are to make it much more visually appealing, demonstrating our design work within the site itself. The structure was changed entirely to give ultimate focus on the full-service aspect of our business – that clients can use all of our services or just the particular ones they need.  We researched what our clients thought of us, and wanted to bring the website in line with the recurring aspects of the feedback:  we embark on a journey with our clients (we don’t just launch a site and leave it), our work yields results, we’re proactive and push expectations, clients talk directly to the people working on their site, and we’re a close knit team of specialists.

I think we’ve achieved all of this in the new design. Here are the main aspects that went into it:

Fonts – the Big Decision

Our font choice for the new design

Our font choice for the new design

The font choice underlies everything else in the design.  We wanted to move away from the Georgia look of the previous design, and needed something that communicated high-tech modernism and intelligence more effectively.  I also really wanted to take advantage of the @font-face CSS property so that we could just our chosen font in a wider variety of situations. (sIFR tends to restrict you to using the non-standard font only for headings – unless you want multiple headaches.)

@font-face technology is moving very quickly thanks to sites like Typekit, however there is still a long way to go.  The choices of fonts available are still relatively small, especially when it comes to fonts that have been engineered specifically for screen use.  Ideally, we also wanted to choose a font that could be rolled out in our printed documentation for consistency.

After a bit of research I found Graublau Web.  It is a lovely font that communicates all of the values we wanted to capture.  It is produced by a quality foundry; there is a specific screen/web version; it’s licensed for @font-face implementation; and is part of a wider print-based family that we can purchase for our hard copy material.  Tim Brown’s demo page meant that we could check out how the font behaved in different browsers before implementing it.

I was chuffed to say the least!

The Grid

Underlying grid of the design. Each line shown here is 12px apart.

Underlying grid of the design. Each line shown here is 12px apart.

The site adheres to a 12px grid to give it comfortable vertical-rhythm.  All of the font sizes, line heights and margins on headings and paragraphs are multiples of 6, which means the eye can easily jump from one item to the next down the page without any jarring of irregular spacing.

Consistency of design and uniqueness of pages

With such strong underlying consistencies through the design, we could then branch out and have a bit of fun with other elements such as the background colour of the page.  With dark backgrounds and the bright orange of the Datadial brand, we had to be very careful that content on the page was not being swallowed by the strong contrasting colours.  Having the ability to change the background colour on the page released us from that.

We developed a base colour scheme to avoid any clashing choices arising in the future. But I didn’t want to hinder our creativity with brand guidelines that are too restrictive, so we also allowed pages to have individual CSS files on the site. This means we can really branch out if the content warrants it. This will be an ongoing task, but 2 examples are Sexy Panties and Naughty Knickers and exemplifying the stunning Hope and Greenwood brand.

Transparency

I’ve always been one for subtle design effects. I believe the details add up to a sense of a good experience, even if the visitor isn’t fully aware of the individual details.

The site uses CSS3 transparency throughout it to give a different impression on individual pages.  By setting the content area to white with 90% opacity, each page has a slightly different tone: the equivalent of setting the page area to #ECEBEA, #EBEBEB, #EDECEB.  The navigation, social links and footer use the same effect with a black base.

What about Internet Explorer?

Our browser stats

Our browser stats

Thankfully, our site has a relatively low (and hopefully ever-decreasing) number of visitors using Internet Explorer.  This allows us to fully take advantage of CSS3 and provide Internet Explorer users a suitable fall back without compromising the majority of our visitors.  So instead of subtle transparency there is a normal solid colour background (always #EEE), instead of text shadows the text sits on the page as normal, and Javascript takes care of the text columns.

Internet Explorer 8 compared to Google Chrome

Internet Explorer 8 compared to Google Chrome

It may not look quite as pretty, but with the majority of our visitors able to see my full intentions without having to wait for Javascript to load, I feel the use of CSS3 pays itself off.  I also try to remain optimistic – hoping that IE9 will look just as good as Chrome or Firefox does right now, and therefore future-proofing the design.

Kolen

December 10th, 2009.

Inspiration: Typography

A beautiful type print by Douglas Wilson

One of Douglas Wilson's beautiful prints

I’m about half way through The Elements of Typographic Style and thoroughly enjoying it.  I really wish there was a way you could read a book and ride a bicycle so I could get more reading time in while commuting, but I’ll just have to take my time reading it instead!

Some thoughts so far…

“With type as with philosophy, music and food, it is better to have a little of the best than to be swamped with the derivative, the careless, the routine.” (Page 117)

I think this is true of all design.  In a time where you can get free website templates anywhere or make a website yourself so easily, the designs that have a lot of thought, care and expertise behind them really stand out from the crowd.

Shaping the page

Example of a page layout based on the Golden Section

Example of a page layout based on the Golden Section

Although the book focuses on print, the principles found in the chapter Shaping the Page can be applied to web design also.  It is a great reminder to me of design school, especially the theories of the Golden Section and Fibonacci series.  Using ratios based around π are useful for arriving at a design that is easy on the eye and feels comfortable to use.

Visiting Switzerland

Coffee cup in Zürich

Coffee cup in Zürich

What you read opens your eyes to things around you; I have been noticing nicely designed type everywhere! Recently we spent a weekend in Zürich – I love it how clean, thoughtful design surrounds you in that beautiful country.

Kolen

September 29th, 2009.

The differences between Helvetica and Arial

Thank you to Steff for passing on this lovely graphic illustrating the differences between Helvetica and Arial.

Rob

September 13th, 2009.

Avoid expensive rebuild costs and improve your existing site conversions

At business school I was taught the way to make money was to make our assets sweat. I think they meant to get the most out of everything you owned and to make sure it was being worked night and day to maximum effect.  And so at Datadial we try to do the same for our clients’ websites by making sure that they are focused on developing websites that maximise sales levels by being search engine friendly and that convert users in to buyers.

The usual reaction in squeezing more out of a website is to rush into a redevelopment exercise.  Redeveloping a website is expensive that is often undertaken on a whim and without real research into what is working and what is not on the current website. Indeed it’s often the case that the current site is perfectly capable of delivering many more sales and that it just needs refining to improve the user experience.

This doesn’t need to be an expensive exercise. The key to successful marketing is to consistently test and measure everything that you do. Delivering fantastic conversion figures is within reach for us all, no matter how small the budget.

Here are four ways that we have carried out for some of our clients to help increase their onsite conversions at virtually no cost.

1) Online surveys

What better way to really understand your customers than to ask them for direct feedback?  What is it that makes them want to buy from you rather than your competitors?  How did they hear about you?

Carrying out market research will enable you to build on what you’re doing well and make any necessary adjustments and help you to grow.  You will be surprised by how many people are willing to take the time to reply to surveys.

We recently did a survey for one of our clients Design911.co.uk which gave vital insight into user behaviour.  Coupled with Click Tracking report (see below) Design911 have been able to fine tune their website to respond to users’ expectations and behaviour.

Below is a sample of the survey results  that were produced.

des-2

des1-jpgdes3

2) Mouse tracking

Why do other sites make it so difficult to buy anything from them?  We’ve all experienced a confusing website at one point or another.  But could your site also be suffering from usability issues?  Find out where the sticking points are with Mouse tracking.

You may also find that users are trying to click on things on your site that are not designed to be clicked on.  We found this with Design911:

With design 911 we found that that very few people clicked on the middle of the page and that lots of users tried clicking on ads on the right handside of the page which were not actually clickable.  We found too that the search box was being under used as it was below the page fold and that users were taking at least 60 seconds to make a click on key navigation items.

des-click1des-click2

3) Study your analytics

It’s all too tempting to gloss over your analytics reports – these reports contain vital information which reveal where users are getting stuck, turned on or turned off.  Seems obvious to say it but unless you take the time to check what is going on on your site you will never be able to intelligently amend your site and measure the effect of your changes.

There is a mass of information to look at but here are 3 basic things to do

Check Bounce Rates: Bounce rates tell you if a visitor who has been directed to your site via a search engine or Adwords likes what they have found.  If they leave the site immediately this is called a bounce.  If this happens you need to question if you are showing the right products for the keyword search  and if you could provide better information, or if they had come via  Adwords, are your Adwords set up correctly.

Funnels: You can set up funnels to determine where people are dropping off over a series of pages (typically the shopping cart process).  Different funnels can be set up for different goals.

Compare to previous periods: There are a number of trends such as time on site, the number of keywords that you are being found for, the number of pages per visit that are good to compare from onen time period to another so that you detect trends.

4) A/B Testing

Having pawed over your analytics you can then start making intelligent changes to your site.  How will you make more people fill in your enquiry form?  How can you get them to add one more thing to their basket.  Take a look at the forms below and guess which one had the higher conversion rate.

lovefilm1

lovefilm2

This company carried out A/B testing on their sign up form and increased their conversion rate by 10%.

This is called A/B testing or Multivariate testing which we use to determine which images, copy and design most appeal to your customers and which version increases conversion.  You can have as many or as few variables as you like when creating your A/B testing.  Ideally you would set it up to automatically serve different versions of the page to alternate users but to save money you can do it on a week on/week off basis.

We helped Conference Genie increase conversions on their site by altering the sign up process.  Interestingly we did it by making their site more complicated.

Weirdly the problem on this site was that it was too easy to use.  Users could not believe that they could just dial a default number, punch in a code and start a conference call.  So we made the site appear to generate a specific telephone number and a unique code for them.  Turning a one step process into a two step process actually increased conversions.

conferencegenie2

Making small changes instead of wholesale changes was also recently backed by Peter Fitzgerald, who leads Google UK’s retail industry division.  He said that the whole area of analytics – that’s technical jargon for examining the ways that people navigate websites when they shop online – has taken on new importance to retailers.

Simple changes can make the world of difference, particularly since statistics show that 50.1% of online shoppers who place items in their shopping carts still do not buy them.

By subtly altering a website’s layout based on how people use it, websites can increase sales significantly.

“There is often a lot of unimportant information on the top of a web page. If you move this information out of the way it can make a huge difference,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

For example when Comet, the electricals retailer owned by Kesa, the listed stores group, removed two bits of text from the top of its web page (saying ‘top checkout tips’ and ‘you’re safe with us’ respectively), its conversion rates increased by 6.7pc.  “Online retailers are spending more time on analytics to see where things are going wrong,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

Department store group Debenhams recently tested the message and positioning of an online sign-up form for its Beauty Club.  Improvements to it increased the number of customers the chain signed up by over 89pc.  Little such tweaks are being made by online retailers as a means of gaining incremental sales. Experts say that the results of the small changes can be seen almost immediately.

Google’s Mr Brittin said: “By interpreting analytics data and continually testing their sites, retailers can really understand what consumers are looking for online. Often very small and seemingly obvious tweaks can boost sales significantly.”

All of the above exercises can be implemented fairly quickly and inexpensively.  However, don’t underestimate the time you need to truly get to grips with your findings.

By constantly analysing the results and carrying out appropriate changes you will be able to squeeze every last conversion out of your site without incurring expensive redevelopment costs.

Matt

June 9th, 2009.

Website FAIL – 30 Web Designs That Will Hurt Your Eyes

Decent web design doesn’t cost too much these days. With the advent of WordPress and a plethora of free web templates it’s not that difficult to knock together a site that most web designers would be happy to call their own. For some reason there are those that strive to be different, difficult, or deluded.

Here are 30 of the worst sites bandwidth can buy.

Warning, be prepared to regret clicking this link! Seriously, epileptics beware! I’m not quite sure what was going though their minds when they thought this was a good idea.

http://www.paperrad.org/

11

I’m actually a fan of MIA, but this site seems to have been designed by the same guy as the site above, though possibly while drunk, asleep, or both.
http://www.miauk.com/

21

Evangel Cathedral is a church site that is in dire need of ADD medication – this site is buzzing, literally.
http://www.evangelcathedral.net/welcome.htm

31

You may need to take motion sickness medication to view the next site. I kept asking myself “Is THIS what Jesus would do?”
http://www.dokimos.org/ajff/

41

This site is actually amazing, there are no other words for it. Why procrastinate over going for a two or three column layout when you can go for five. It’s okay though we’ll make things simply by having 9 forms of navigation.
http://www.havenworks.com/

51

Sometimes I wonder if people are even looking at what they publish online?
http://home.texoma.net/~jimg/welcome.html

5

Bad site, but great product! Inflatable churches, shame it’s a whole six months to my next birthday.
http://www.inflatablechurch.com/

62

You’re looking forward to your big day as a bride. Who do you choose to take care of the outfits for your big day? The site that looks like it was designed by borderline crazy person of course. Missing plugins? I must be missing the one that makes this site readable.
http://yvettesbridalformal.com/

bride

Bright colours hurt the eyes, and godawful design that scares small children. I had to highlight the text just to read it. Under construction apparently, maybe the best option would be to knock it down and start again. If I were a part of Princeton Consultants, I think I’d consider litigation.
http://home.comcast.net/~dmaneyapanda/zugorific/personal2.html

8

Broken links, and I’m not even sure what that is in the background. This site does partially redeem itself however by allowing the viewer to chose music, or not. Not I think.
http://ronoslund.com/

9

Lets see how many tables we can fit on a page. Oh look, that many.
http://www.huntgraphic.com/moto.htm

10

Perhaps not as offensive as the previous sites, this site definitely has been beaten with the ugly stick. I can’t believe they have the nerve to offer free backgrounds. That’s like Gordon Brown offering free PR advice.
http://members.tripod.com/fuzzymartian/

111

A big fat obnoxious site, with a monotonic robot voice. This page must have been designed by a former, disgruntled employee. Scrolling, flashing text and graphics actually made me have to take a break from researching this post.
http://www.esupersoft.com/lips/

12

If the appearance of this site means all officers are on the street protecting the citizens of West Virginia, rather than taking web design lessons, then it has my blessing.
http://www.martinsburgpd.org/

13

Never let so called ‘web conversion experts’ tell you that you shouldn’t put all of your products on one page. Why bother with layout, or indeed logic.
http://www.arngren.net/

gadgets

Possibly not the worst site on the list, but hell, these guys are supposed to repair computers, not infect them with awful designs.
http://home.comcast.net/~computerphysicians/

physicians

This eyesore of a site at least has a nice dog picture- dogs win, web design loses.
http://frnz.de/

16

Jackson of Piccadilly does not fit in the ugly, flashy, boring or eye-popping categories. In fact, it is rather pretty. It has a lovely face, but no substance. Navigating this site made me want to reach for a coffee. I don’t even like coffee.
http://www.jacksonsofpiccadilly.co.uk/main.htm

17

As well as the wacky misspelling of the word “wizard” in the site’s name, this is a pretty gruesome site! Not the sort of design that would convince me that they’re the best people to stick a needle in my arm.
http://www.wizzardstattoo.com/

18

This guy actually does web design. In that case I’m a brain surgeon.
http://www.webking.com/computer-services/index.html

webking

Does anyone have any idea what this site is even about? I really am at a loss.
http://bremen.weltregierung.org/abstraktindex.html

20

Someone thought that using a colour scheme based on a wounded zebra would be attractive.
http://www.izzza.com/

211

Maybe not typical of German efficiency and ingenuity, unless you count efficient as putting as many elements on the page as possible. Actually, maybe those crazy Germans have stumbled on something…….
http://www.ingenfeld.de/

22

A site of very few words. I guess they’re letting the pictures speak for themselves. I’m not sure why, but I feel a bit uncomfortable looking at this site. Maybe it’s becacuse I feel like I’m about to get run-over by those trucks.
http://www.mccormickrecovery.co.uk/

mccormick

Yes, more frames, tables, bright colours, marquees, and flashing graphics – you’re spoiling us!
http://www.fabricland.co.uk/

fl

This is actually Aaron Wall’s first site. I guess we all started off like this, myself included, mine just isn’t online anymore :)
http://www.newnavy.us/

navy

The sparse wasteland of this site is perhaps only rivalled by the grusome design of their building, which they seem to be very proud of for some reason.
http://cbm-eureka.com/

cbm

Does this chiropractic site instill trust? I think a good rule to live by is if someone can’t sort out text justification then you probably shouldn’t let them play with your spine.
http://www.proactivechiropractic.org/

26

With thanks to…..

Good Web Practices
Blogstorm

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