Conversion Rate Experts - The tricks of the trade

Following on from my previous conversion rate posts, I’ve been checking out the suggestions made by our friends The Conversion Rate Experts - who always have good advice for turning visitors into paying customers.

They have recently redesigned their website, and - from this designer’s point of view - it’s looking great. The website is certainly very easy to navigate, the text is large and the generous leading (line height) makes it even easier to read. The use of lime green for the elements they really want the visitor to pay attention to works well too. Aside from all the usual optimised design elements they also have a large number of squirrel images, which I think is especially nice. We have often used hand drawn images for the distilled website to add a little fun, my personal favourite is the comically out of proportion illustration of Will on the contact form page.

squirrel illustration

An example of one of the many Conversion Rate Experts squirrel illustrations.

will- illustration

Will, as featured on our contact form!

To find out more about the less obvious tricks they have used, I have been reading their review of Google’s Website Optimiser, which boasts 108 ways to improve a website’s profits. Conversion Rate Experts were one of the first companies to use the tool, so it will be interesting to see what they have discovered.

I found the ‘Having a kick-ass layout’ section the most interesting.

In particular, I can relate to point 38, which mentions the importance of a company’s tagline and how it positions you in the marketplace. A tag line should be found quickly: the grey rule that is adjacent to the Distilled tag line helps to lead the eye to this important text, making it easily recognisable in a subtle way, see below:

tag line

As point 42 advises, our reputation monitor tool has varying levels of service: Individual, professional and agency levels helping to cater for everyone’s needs consequently widening our target audience and ensuring there is a service for everyone’s budget.

Also point 57 – (putting the best stuff above the fold) is a point that we have fully adhered to here at Distilled, the top elements just below the menu are all bold ‘call to actions’ helping visitors locate the sector they want to learn more about with minimal effort.

above the fold

One point that initially excited me about the Google website Optimiser specifically is the way the tool manages to speed up the often time consuming A/B split test, by testing more than one item at a time. So you can effectively test two entirely different pages; for example - testing which colour button works best, and any number of other elements on the page. Each visitor will see a different selection of the tested elements.

My one concern with this process is the dramatic change customers must witness if they visit on a regular basis, surely many elements changing even over a short period of time must be disorientating to the regular visitor? Perhaps an alternative method of multivariate testing is less disruptive.

People in general don’t like change, so could this rapid testing process have a negative affect causing a higher bounce rate? An example of when just a small change caused much controversy was Google’s recent introduction of their lower case ‘g’ favicon as apposed to the more widely recognised capital letter ‘G’. This small 16px change certainly annoyed me. Why on earth should the simplest expression of a logo form be a character that is found half way through the word Goo’g’le? The capital ‘G’ certainly made a lot more sense to me.

google's favicon change

Google’s new favicon

One way to get feedback on any number of changes to your website is to install Kampyle. This tool basically makes the process of giving website feedback more accessible and perhaps even fun! It enables you to track your customers thoughts, so you can find out why people aren’t converting (or if they hate the new favicon). Kampyle is probably so successful because of the ease with which visitors can use it. Firstly, visitors can rate the website in general by choosing from a series of smiley faces, and then select a category for their feedback. In as little as 30 seconds the user has sent their feedback via Kamplye, and it doesn’t feel like a chore at all. An example of the interface is below:

kampyle - form

Looks appealing right?

It is definitely worth visiting the Conversion Rate Experts website for a look yourself at what Google Website Optimizer has to offer, and indeed signing up to Kamplye.

Leonie Wharton

Leonie Wharton

Leonie is one of the longest standing members at Distilled and was here when the company was just 5 members. Her time is split evenly over client and internal work. Client work focuses on linkbait projects for our clients, working closely with the...   read more

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  1. Hi Leonie,

    Great post, very informative and thoughtful – thanks! Toward your concern over regular website customers witnessing page changes that become disorientating and disruptive, there are alternative multivariate testing techniques out there.

    Take SiteSpect in Boston (full disclosure--I work there), which offers a number of ways to target test campaigns to users who meet a variety of criteria relating to previous visits to the site, so they don’t get confusing content. For example: 1) previous assignment to other test campaigns; 2) a “next test wait time” function; and 3) recency and/or frequency of visits.

    Another thing to consider is segmentation. This feature allows customers to analyze the performance of variations that are tested relative to segments of visitors. With that, you can discover the impact -- both positive and negative -- that variations have on users – and stop serving them negatively performing content. Anyway, thanks for sharing your keen insight in this field. Much appreciated.

    Jason O’Keefe

    reply >
  2. Hi Leonie,

    Thanks for the kinds words.

    You make a good point about how changes to a website could disorient visitors. Fortunately, multivariate testing software (such as Google Website Optimizer) cookies the visitors, so a visitor will always see the same version of a page, at least during a particular test.

    However, if you're running a different test every month, regular visitors will see changes, and it's worth bearing this in mind, like you say.

    There's a great story here ( about how Ebay received complaints when they changed their website's background from yellow to white. So what did they do? They went into stealth mode: "Over a period of several months, they modified the background color one shade of yellow at a time, until, finally, all the yellow was gone, leaving only white."

    Good, eh?

    I've heard the same technique can be used to make your lawn larger (and your neighbours' smaller), by moving the garden fence a few inches per year.

    Maybe we should add that as Tip 109.


    reply >
  3. Thanks for your comments, they're much appreciated.

    Karl thanks for the link; that is a great article and it's especially interesting how full redesigns are now considered a thing of the past - I fully agree that an evolutionary process is the way forward.

    Yes definitely add 'stealth mode' as tip 109!

    reply >

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