“As a person with autism, it is easy for me to understand how animals think because my thinking processes are like an animal’s” — Temple Grandin
Because Temple Grandin is spooked by the same things animals are spooked by, she’s ideally suited for optimizing environments and handling systems for them. For her, great design is all about eliminating anything that will cause anxiety or doubt in the minds of the animals.
I often think of Web Optimization in the same terms. As a semi-luddite working in the technology field, I find myself spooked by the same things normal customers are spooked by. Things that are intuitive to tech nerds and coders are distinctively NOT intuitive to me. And this makes me really, really good at optimizing Websites for normal folk.
- Eliminate my doubts by letting me know what each action, click, form, button will do before I’m asked to take that action.
- Don’t just answer my explicit questions, ensure you also address my unarticulated concerns.
- If you want me to click it, make it look clickable. Let me know what the button will do. Make it explicit and unambiguous.
- And yes, words matter when it comes to usability — not just the freakin’ button color!
In other words, design your Website so that there’s never any room for doubt.
Crutchfield Goons It up — Here’s Why…
And that brings me to a recent shopping experience with Crutchfield. Now, Crutchfield does a lot of things right, including some rather rigorous optimization and split testing. But I really think they got at least part of this check-out process wrong. Here’s what happened…
I clicked the buy/add to cart button for a new LCD TV, and was shown this screen:
Now, first of all, great job on trying to sell me on accessories I might need for my new TV. Nice cross-sell. But, um, lousy job on execution and design — you’re spooking your customers, Crutchfield! Here’s why:
1) The green box around the TV and the button makes that part of the screen look like a banner add, which almost made me scroll right past the darn thing because I’ve been trained to ignore banner ads.
2) When I do scroll down, I’m presented with a bunch of wall mounts and a button that says: “add selected items to cart,” but I don’t see my TV as part of the add items, and I wonder whether or not the TV has been added to cart.
3) I scroll back up and read a statement that the TV Has been added to cart, but I’m then presented with the option to “Skip This Step” — but I don’t want to skip adding the TV to my cart. Grrr!
4) After a moment’s thought and a glance up at my cart icon I realize that the button and the statement are NOT associated with one another, even though they are grouped together by that darn green box, causing me to assume that they were somehow connected. Once I realize that, it becomes clear that the “step” I’m being offered to skip is the cross-sell opportunity and not the already accomplished step of adding my TV to my cart.
Think of this as a combined design/copywriting screw-up, where the design miscommunicated the association between the message and the button, and the copy on the button helped foster that miscommunication by communicating a salesman’s point of view rather than a buyer’s point of view. See in the minds of salesmen, cross selling is a “step” in the sales process, but in the minds of buyers, there is no logical connection between buying something and being cross-sold. It may be a reminder or opportunity, but it’s not a “step.”
5) What exactly is the difference between a wall mount and a low profile wall mount? You’d think it refers to how close to the wall the TV mounts. But then what does “super slim” mean? Wouldn’t a super slim wall mount BE low profile? Why don’t they have pictures? Well, I guess I could click on the item, but… don’t want to be taken away from this page, especially if I’m not totally sure the TV has been added to my cart and will follow me.
As it turns out, clicking on the link doesn’t take me away from the page — it just pops up a picture of the product, but really, I had no freakin’ way of knowing that, so I neither clicked the link, nor did I bother selecting a wall mount. Nor in fact, did I end up buying anything.
How Would YOU Fix It?
Ok, so now that I’ve given you all the ways that my semi-luddite mind was spooked by this ungainly design/copywriting combination, it’s YOUR turn to tell me how you’d fix it:
- What changes would you test first?
- What’s perhaps the ideal fix, and what represents the most easily implemented fix that’ll still get the job done?
- How much will you rely on design and how much on copy?
- Descriptions are great, but hyperlinks to mock-ups are even better. Use yFrog or something.
I’ll have Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg judge the designs and we’ll pronounce a winner with some cool, to-be-determined award.
Give it your best shot in the comments!
P.S. Yes, dear reader, design and copy have to work together for best results. Each influences the other. In fact, Jeffrey Eisenberg and I will be teaching a newly revised version of Persuasive Online Copywriting in order to address exactly these challenges — how design and copy work together; how video and copy work together; how Social Media and content marketing and micro-copy work together. It’s a hands on workshop and it’s in Austin on April 30th and 31st. You should come!