Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why Web Designers and Conversion Scientists Butt Heads

This is a hilarious riff on the bad decisions business managers make when they do their own Web design (or let their Web developer do it). It starts off funny enough. Make My Logo Bigger Cream

The first product advertised is "Make My Logo Bigger Cream." Spray it on any Web site or ad and your Logo becomes the major visible feature -- instantly!

On the Web, business managers apply this same concept to copy. The result is Web sites that talk about the company and its solutions with no recognition for the PROBLEMS that their visitors are trying to solve.

This satires a battle that both designers and Conversion Scientists fight often. But, then the video goes to far.

In space, no one can hear you persuade.

image The next product "advertised" is  "Whitespace Eliminator". Here's where action-oriented Conversion Scientists diverge from emotion-oriented designers. To the Conversion Scientist, whitespace is only helpful if it helps to guide the eye along a page to relevant information. To the designer it might be used to communicate openness, freedom, simplicity or any other host of emotions. On the Web, it's the expansive page headers that push the messages down "below the fold" that will jack your bounce rate through the roof. Often, people just want to see what you have to say and have no interest in openness, freedom, or simplicity.

Give them what they want.

The video even gives us a great example of what Agency Fusion (the video's copyright holder) might recommend, complete with what the Eisenbergs call "Wee-Wee" copy:

image Take a Load Off.
"Dotbiznet develops and licenses Internet based products which help make personal computers easier to use and maintain by large and small business users and individual consumers."

Using so much space to say so little is anathema to our work as Conversion Scientists. All that space basically says "Dotbiznet does something with PCs and we do it in a field." Huh? I'm sure the folks at Agency Fusion are actually poking fun at themselves with this... aren't they?

So, I think the Whitespace Eliminator is actually a helpful product here.

Emphasize the relevant information.

The video then moves on to the next product featured in this video series: "Starburst Dust"

Don't look up. Tell me the cost of these offers from the ad at the top of this post. You probably new because of the Starburst with $29.99 in it, right? (Please comment below to confirm). Drawing your readers' eyes to relevant information, like price is what good conversion design does. Now, I've never recommended a Starburst, but I do recommend colored boxes that stand out AND placement near the top of the page.

So, here again, I think I have to disagree with the designers' sarcasm.

Use color to serve your visitors, not your ego.

Next up is the Fluoresce Sizer spray. Just spray it on and your Web site becomes a rainbow of fluorescent colors. This is extreme, but designers can get a little inflexible with their color palette. Conversion Scientists want certain things to stand out. Good designers are our best resource for using color to our advantage.

But, bad designers also do things like make link text almost the same color as the rest of the text (until you mouse over it). Not helpful to the reader or the business manager. Blue underlined links may not match the palette, but everyone knows what they mean. So change the palette.

Finally -- and all for just $29.99 -- there's Emotionator. By rubbing Emotionator creme on your marketing or inserting the "patented" Emotionator USB device into your computer, you can add heart-rending images to your marketing, such as American flags, puppies and baby seals. There are plenty of designers who will laugh at this bit of satire, and then turn around and put stock images of starched business people on a business Web site.

Images are powerful. Choose them well based on your conversion profiles. Remember this: a picture is NOT worth a thousand words. Words create more powerful images than pixels.

Treat your designers well.

So, I've spent far to much time taking a satirical video seriously. I've been tough on designers before, so I better fess up: I'm not in any way equipped, trained or talented enough to do what decent designers do. I've tried. Just look at my blog. If a designer does their homework, they should nail it. If they don't do their homework, they should copy their Conversion Scientist's homework.

imageThe REAL gem of the video is THE LOOK. As a Conversion Scientist, you will see this look from your designers. You can even "see" this look over the phone. I don't need to explain it, but be prepared.


Make My Logo Bigger Cream

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