Converting you to CRO: The post presentation discussion forum!

I feel a little like the F1 presenters now asking you to hit the red button for the post race forum! Not quite as glamorous but I’ll give it a shot…


For those of you that attended the recent New Media Breakfast with Kiril Bunin the other morning you will have been able to enjoy Kiril give his opinions on some websites.  As with all of these things there can always be a difference of opinion & as such I’ve laid out this blog post to capture some of these points & encourage an ongoing discussion.

I’ve enclosed Craig McGill’s comments that were on the original post – Presentation: Converting you to CRO – along with Kiril’s response to these individual points.

I’d encourage Craig & anyone else who would like to get involved to comment on this article below.

Craig’s Comments

“There’s some cracking points in there – and Kiril was a good presenter – but there were one or two wee things that I disagreed with:

The obvious one is that yes, some of these sites had ‘errors’ but it may be that they just didn’t have the budget or time to do everything that’s been highlighted. I’d love it – and I’m sure many others would too – if they could devote more cash to website development, but in a recession (and a country where many are still sceptical of web/2.0) it’s not always possible.

The first thing that stuck out for me was the comment about Macintyre’s. Kiril felt that it was a mistake not having small question marks next to many of the points – what kind of diamond, what kind of setting – and so on. I see his point (and agree to an extent) but it’s not as much of a deal breaker IMO as he made it out to be. Very few people casually turn up at an engagement ring site and buy. Normally, the lady has picked what she wants – or has strongly influenced the chap and he knows what she wants – it’s not a spontaneous purchase (normally) and people who are normally at the stage of buying an engagement ring have done their homework beforehand (in the case of girls, some have been doing it for years) so the ‘what is this setting?’ type information is (mostly) redundant as the core buying audience already come in armed with the information.

On NKD, I felt he showed a bit of a bias towards SEO instead of plan and simple attention-grabbing. Yes, as he points out, it is a tad brochure and magazine like, but there’s no offence in that as again, this is being aimed at a certain buyer – the person who buys clothes for a company. They want to see something eye-catching and the front-page does that. The first lines of the text explain what they do. It may not be 100% SEO great but I would sacrifice that for readable, eye-catching copy any day of the week.

(On that note though, the page has terrible punctuation and the meta-tagging is awful)

For that one, I thought Kiril was coming at it more from his viewpoint that thinking ‘who is this aimed at and does it work for them?’ but that’s perfectly valid.

On Gulp, I thought he was a tad harsh. Again, it’s individual preferences but I like the WordPress magazine-themed styled front page. I got what the site was about right away and had no issues with it.

With regards to the pages with items on them and no price, I can imagine the reasoning being a fear that if the prices were all on that one page, people may take fright at the costs and leave while if they are on individual pages, people may click backwards and forwards. (Note, I wouldn’t but I’ve seen people hide prices for this reason – and to increase time spent on sites.)

Anyway, just my tuppence. As I said upfront, would be a boring world if we all agreed all of the time!”

Kiril’s Response

“First of all would like to thank you for the time you put into it. I really appreciate you came up with a detailed response because, from my point of view, details are exactly what differentiates feedback from an opinion.

In order to keep the reply clear and understandable I will structure my response in the same order as you:

Regarding the MacIntyre’s Jewellery issues:

I have been asked a lot lately what is the most common conversion roadblock and you just helped me to formulate the optimal response – excuses. It can be limited budgets, ability to test or the recession, but website visitors are interested in their own wants and needs and I have not seen any case when a purchase would be made out of feeling pity for poor business owners’ needs rather their own.

Additionally, let’s not forget that we are talking about a website with a large average order value (AOV). How much would a normal developer charge for solving this issue: £100–£200? That’s half of the average ring price. An organisation should be able to invest half of an AOV into solving a serious issue affecting around 11.75% [based on Google Chrome Users on WikiMedia] of all website traffic.

Regarding scepticism of e-commerce/Web2.0, the UK e-commerce technology market is thought to be worth more than £600m at the end of 2010 so forward-thinking companies should seek to embrace it. The research from Econsultancy found that the sector will grow by 12% this year as companies seek to meet growing demand for online shopping and increased expectations around user experience.

Touching on your point that the website does not require any knowledge base/supportive information, I agree that jewellery is no doubt a high-involvement product requiring  in-depth research and in the region of at least 3 visits before purchase but where do you think they are going to do the research? And why would they not buy from the same resource that provided them the information for research? We can ignore the case of a product exclusive to the store as this is obviously a slightly different circumstance.

You are proposing that “We’ll close the sale but we don’t care about educating you, others can do that”. From my experience users convert at sites that can fulfil their needs, including research. The best example would be Blue Nile – the European leader in online jewellery sales.

Regarding NKD:

The only focus of my presentation was CRO and user experience; SEO was not my concern and I don’t believe was mentioned at all.

My comment about the first line was exactly about it not “grabbing attention”. You mentioned yourself “This website is for the person who buys clothes for a company” and this busy person would be in the same boat as any user – how would they notice 4 tiny words inside large paragraphs of text being the only place it mentions “Corporate clothing & staff uniforms” on the entire homepage?

Regarding The Gulp:

I’m afraid I don’t know about “magazine-themed styled front pages” as, again, my focus was not at all on design but user experience, and my live 5-second test truly proved that the user experience is broken. Hardly even 10% of audience got the actual specification of the site and none of them even thought about where to start. I’m glad you did, but CRO is about optimising for the masses and basing serious decisions on a single opinions would be a mistake.

Finally about not showing prices on category pages:

This is another common point I don’t understand – why do you think somebody who will get frightened of prices on the category page would suddenly lose that fear on a product page? It can be seen as dishonest, and according to a recent report “Pricing/shipping information is clearly stated as the issue bothering 95% of e-shoppers” ( Visitors are humans and if a website wants to increase conversion rate then satisfying their needs should be the primary goal, not ‘tricking’ them into staying on site.

Thanks again for your feedback. Believe me I very often disagree with majority of opinions as well (ask attacats) and completely agree that the world is much more interesting place when we can freely say what we think. Healthy discussion never harms anybody!”


Let the debating commence!

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4 thoughts on “Converting you to CRO: The post presentation discussion forum!”

  1. Attacat Joel says:

    Wowzer, some really great points here. I have to say (not toeing the company line) that I do agree with Kiril. I wasn’t at the NMB, but from a professional and CRO point-of-view my first impressions of the sites were pretty similar to his (particularly with Gulp u2013 I had no idea where I was going on the site and would have gone somewhere else). nnI’ve also had similar personal and professional experiences with sites not showing prices until the last minute (incredibly annoying and pointless in the end), and finally do agree that ‘making excuses’ is something we all do when confronted with a harsh truth but CRO is about thinking about the user u2013 no excuses!

  2. Gordon White says:

    I’m not going to spend too much time replying to theses points because Kiril has already provided first class responses that more than cover Craig’s comments however, I would note the following:nnI think Craig’s comments about MacIntyres are completely wrong – buyers want information about products and I can’t think of any product where information is not only relevant, but essential than when buying a diamond. I don’t know anyone who would buy a diamond without knowing the quality of the diamond. I have just confirmed this with Gaynor Turner at MacIntyres – she currently has a 1ct diamond at u00a37000 and another 1ct diamond at u00a3300 – the difference is in the clarity and the colour.nnSo, in the interest of sharing knowledge and building trust, why not provide details that explain the vast variance in price. Yes, the woman may know the setting and the style but there will be massive differences in what, to the uninitiated look the same thing. So, a jewellery site that provides information and explanations that assist the buyer is surely better than one that simply assumes the buyer already knows intricacies of diamonds? I think this is the point that Kiril is making about sites that fulfil the buyers needs.nnI do however commend Craig for his bravery in making such broad generalisations about the habits of women!nnWith regard to the NKD Clothing comments; it is my distinct recollection that Kiril suggested the copy changes to make it less formal – at no point did he mention these changes were for SEO purposes but rather to make it feel more welcoming and personal. Perhaps any one of 60+ other attendees could take a minute confirm this. nn nn

  3. Gintaras Jovaisas says:

    I’m not going to say much about MacIntyreu2019s Jewellery and NKD, because I agree on most what’s already been said, however I feel you left out one quite important thing that applies to all 3 websites: Design should never say, u201cLook at me.u201d It should always say, u201cLook at this.u201dnnIMHO, NKD website fails to deliver the message and here’s why: first thing you see when you go on a NKD is a girl (gives you an idea that NKD is something to do with fashion); then your eyes goes down to the slogan (you realize that they’re different); after that you notice navigation menu (doesn’t give you much info as well, does it?) and finally you see that welcome text – but font is too small and you feel it’s too much text there so decide to click a link on the nav menu instead. After all, texts labeled “welcome” – with signature at the end – most of the time don’t display any important information.nnSo to sum up, average Internet Joe who visits NKD for a first time with no previous knowledge of the business, spends 3 seconds looking at the home page and goes on to the next page to find what does NKD do. And even if John Doe decides to read that welcome text – it’s going to be more than 5 seconds in total till he notices “corporate clothing & staff uniforms”.nnI might be completely wrong, but in IMO, it should not take THAT long to figure out what the website is about. nnOk, moving on to GULP.nnDon’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be rude or offend anyone, but IMO is one great example of a bad small business website. nnHere’s why:nn1) It’s done by someone who read a few tutorials online in the evening and next morning suddenly realized that he is a web designer. gulp is done on joomla using theme called phoenix from yootheme(dot)com. Using premade templates is not the case here, everyone’s doing this, I just cannot understand why one would invested so much time ruining the theme… nnIt takes someone with years and years of experience or someone with no experience at all to develop something like this. 🙂 I don’t thing there’s any need to go into more details here.nn2) ok, so there are some design issues… But what’s the purpose of the website? Is it an e-shop, brochure site or a news portal? What they want me (customer) to do here? I’m 100% with Kiril on this one – user experience is indeed broken.nn3) We have a poorly designed website with no actual specification, so how can you expect prices on category pages? I’m 95% sure, that this was done for only one reason: “designer” didn’t know how to put prices there. If you need prove please visit the theme’s website.. (There are no prices on category pages as well)nn4) Finally, product pages. Selling things for u00a3150+ and having no description and poor images is disrespectful. No paypal? Why do I have to register if I want to by something? Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy is blank. And most importantly there’s no legal/contact information.nnTo sum up, I’d say you can’t do anything about CRO, until website feel’s right. I’m pretty sure that there are almost no sales on a website and hardly any traffic. No traffic – why waist time talking about CRO.nnThank you for reading… 😀

  4. Tim Barlow says:

    There are some really fantastic contributions and opinions here from all who have commented so far. Craig – thank you. You’ve kicked off a fantastic discussion.nnOne thing we should all bear in mind is that it is much much easier to critique something that someone else has put together than it is to build a site from scratch. It’s also a lot easier to spot problems than come up with solutions.nnLet’s try to avoid use of words like “amateurs”. I suspect that the companies behind the websites are very professional and offer very good value for money. The simple fact is that the web is evolving at an incredible pace and not even the most expensive website companies in the world know it all and even those that are close to it will not get everything right. Good CRO assumes that there is no such thing as a perfect website (certainly the Attacat website is anything but perfect!). nnCRO also assumes that suggested changes are opinions to be tested and only considered good once the numbers prove it. As such Craig’s view that the jewellery site might not benefit from having more explanation added is no more or less valid than Kiril’s assertion that it would. Indeed I’m sure Kiril would be the first to say that the ideas he has put forward are suggestions based only on past experience – not as a result of having followed a stringent CRO process that would inevitably reveal many other and often bigger issues to overcome. nnThose who were brave in putting their sites forward for critique deserve to hear about things they could do to improve their sites so let’s try to keep the focus on that and be sensitive to how the site owners and their designers may feel. Not least because these individuals have taken the most important first step of realising that there is value in evolving their websites.nnCraig made a very valid point: “some of these sites had u2018errorsu2019 but it may be that they just didnu2019t have the budget or time to do everything thatu2019s been highlighted”. Certainly I have a to do list as long as my arm for this website. One of the nice things about CRO though is it highlights the problems in greatest need of attention and thus assists in prioritising change. I suspect that a mistake that is being made by all three of these sites is viewing the launch of a site as job done rather than the release of a first draft that needs to be invested in continuously. This investment need not be huge as Kiril demonstrated during his presentation. nnA further question we should always ask is are resources being prioritised appropriately. Many companies will have large sales forces yet still think spending a few thousand on their website as expensive. Thankfully this is changing slowly but surely.

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