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

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