A few weeks ago I held a quick and dirty Website Optimization contest for one page of Crutchfield’s check-out process. And great things came from that, as Crutchfield kicked in a $75 dollar gift certificate to the winner, and Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg also donated some signed copies of their books.

But even better than all of that, I had some really sharp readers suggest great changes and even produce a few mock-ups of those changes/alternative page designs. Best of all, I left sorting through those suggestions up to Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg, who volunteered to act as judges for the contest.  So here’s their judgement:

The overall design winner is Alex Fisken of UX Associates.

Here’s the design Alex came up with (w/ analysis of good and bad aspects to follow):


So the good parts of this design are all up at the top of the page:

  1. It’s clear that the user has entered into part of the check-out process, because the various checkout stages are clearly labeled at the top of the page and the current stage — that of selecting accessories — is appropriately highlighted
  2. It’s perfectly, explicitly clear that the item has been added to cart.
  3. The two buttons for continue to cart and keep shopping are easily distinguished based on color, size, and shape
  4. The arrow pointing down to “Choose recommended accessories makes it abundantly clear that the user is being offered a chance to select accessories for his already-added-to-cart TV

And now for the not so good parts:

  • The “continue” of “continue onto shopping cart” might be easily confused as a “continue shopping” since that is very common wording for a lot of checkout processes. Might be better to weak that to “proceed to shopping cart” (or to at least test it).
  • The wording on “Choose recommended accessories” is liable to damage the very point of the page — to sell more accessories. Seeing that phrase causes readers to ask, “On what basis are these accessories being recommended?  And why are you pushing these cross-sells on me?” Might be better to weak or test this wording to something more appropriate

Kevin McCaffrey’s Awesome Accessory Section

And that last point brings us to our Runner Up, Kevin McCaffrey of Conversion Rate Services, who recommended much better wording for this section of the page, as seen in his mock-up:


First, the “Do you need” formatting of the question is both more direct and more appropriate as it is framed from the buyers point of view (“I need to make sure I have everything I need” vs. “Don’t you want to buy something else from us?”) and designed to solicit a response. We’re all hardwired to answer questions, so this phrasing is harder to ignore than “Chose recommended accessories.”

I also like the option to click “no thanks,” as well as the button to “see more wall mount brackets.” Great stuff.

Now, some might be wondering, but doesn’t the offer have to be generic to all kinds of accessories, rather than specific to Flat Screen TVs?

Answer: No. Not anymore and not if you are a big boy e-commerce player like Crutchfield. They can easily use a service like Monetate to customize that call-out to the product, and, frankly, if they’re not doing that, they should be.

My Franken-page Mock-up

And knowing that the top half of Alex’s design needed the bottom half of Kevin’s design, I couldn’t help but frankenstein them together to come up with this:


And that there is the conclusion of the contest. Congratulations both to Alex and Kevin and a hearty thank you to all who participated. The winners may collect their prizes by e-mailing me their addresses and contact info.

P.S. A special thanks to both Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg and Crutchfield for helping out with this.


  1. Jeff on 03.07.2011

    One thing I realized that Alex’s version had that Kevin’s accessory version didn’t was the inclusion of customer ratings for the showcased accessories. That also should be baked into or tested on the final version of the page.

  2. Alex on 03.08.2011


    Exactly! One of the main concerns I had was how they introduce some FUDs by presenting three like products with similar price points. This would likely take a user off task to research them and possibly lead to abandonment of the primary purchase. By listing star ratings and the “top rated” message, it would help combat this. If they are wedded to displaying similar products, a good/better/best paradigm could be used. Another major issue, but not in this product example, is that the display prices in their accessory widget do not include any discounts even though they are on sale and eventually display in the cart (much too late). I would recommend that they use slash-through pricing to incentivize purchases at this step of the process.

  3. Kevin McCaffrey on 03.08.2011

    Congratulations to Alex on winning the competition. I knew as soon as I seen his entry that I’d been blown away. But delighted to have come runner up.

    It was great to see the comments from other participants in the original post also. It’s nice to see how your peers tackle a problem page.

    Thanks Jeff for running this competition and to Bryan and Jeffrey for judging, it was great fun.

  4. Todd Cabell on 03.10.2011

    Alex, congratulations on the winning design! I will follow up with you on the gift card.

    I also want to thank Kevin for his design, Jeffrey and Brian Eisenberg for judging, and Jeff Sexton for hosting the contest.

    Most of all, thanks for the great ideas on ways to improve this area of our web site. I do plan to schedule in some testing of this page, so don’t be surprised if you see some of these ideas on our site in the coming months.

    Todd Cabell
    Sr. Manager Web Strategy