Is your online form asking too much from your visitors?

These days, there are so many ways your company can interact with the outside world and while the variation in methods often depends on your company’s purpose as well as your business model, the online form is one used by many if not all. You may want users to create an Account, perhaps you have an eCommerce Pathway or maybe you’ve just got a simple Contact Form. But encouraging your visitors to Sign Up, Get In Touch or just generally Hand Over Contact Details can be tricky business.

Gaining contact information from your visitors has obvious marketing benefits. You can send them promotions you’re running and add value to their experience by offering discounts on products similar to those they’ve already purchased. Amazon do this regularly, as do EVENTIM:

Yeah we will

On an eCommerce site, Cookies work to enhance the customer experience by offering them other products and services inspired by their “recently viewed list”. By “listening” to them and adding to their satisfaction, they’re more likely to enjoy visiting your store and therefore become a loyal customer. Not only that, you’re gaining insight into what makes your target audience tick. You’re identifying your core market and so understanding what they want to see. Just like Google do!

Barwell's Howler

This was the tweet sent by a Conservative MP after he tried to expose Labour for making money off a ‘Date Arab Girls’ link. Unfortunately for him, it was actually a targeted advert based on his search history… #fail

A form is far more transparent. You are asking users to submit information they deem personal and you (as a business) deem imperative. With such a lot riding on it, surely it’s worth making the effort and creating a form that WORKS.

Consider how sensitive the information you’re asking for is, and then how sensitive your user could be. What I mean is, this level of privacy differs in different situations and between different individuals. For example, there are cultural differences you could take into account. According to Hofstede, Collectivist cultures (read more about that here) are more inclined to protect information that differentiates them from the wider group. Individualist countries (such as UK) are more inclined to share.

Ask the right things at the right time. Jarrett and Gaffney, in their book “Forms that Work” point out that asking for information at the wrong time can have a negative effect on conversion. When you walk into a shop on the high street, are you greeted by a shop assistant demanding your method of payment? Nope. But when you get to the counter with what you want to buy, you’ll happily supply the details – you hand your card over.

So HOW do I ask?


Be honest and explain WHY you want the information Gamberini, Petrucci, Spoto and Spagnolli found that if you tell your visitors you want to send them discount codes, promotional offers or event details that relate to products they’ve bought, services they’ve used or gigs they’ve been to, they’re more likely to give you their email address.


Only ask for the information you need. Tim Ash stresses that asking the absolute bare minimum will also help instill trust. If your user wants to download a .pdf from your site… do you really need their postal address?


Nathalie Nahai suggests using a subdued colour scheme on your forms as bright or garish palettes can look too sales-y or gimmicky and so do not instill trust. But don’t be afraid to use colour to make your form easier to use. Read about High Position’s tests on our own from. Also, assuring people that they won’t bombarded with third party promos means they’re less likely to think you’ll become irrelevant  or irritating.

It’s the little things

Incentivise conversions by offering users discount codes or gifts for signing up now. Make the process quick and easy by only asking things once - I hate when I have to enter my billing information AND THEN my delivery information. What’s wrong with one of these?

Ticky tick tick

Also, a stylised, friendly thank you page wouldn’t go amiss:

John Lewis have an attractive Thank You page, a promise to respond quickly and a Call to Action so I am encouraged to continue browsing.

So when you’re designing your form, keep conversion in mind. It sounds obvious but really think about WHY you need the information you’re asking for. And ask yourself: “Would it be a disaster if I didn’t have this information?” … if the answer’s “No”, then maybe you shouldn’t even be asking - TEST IT!

Don’t Waste Time With Confusing CRO Tests – Analyse Then Hypothesise

Step away from the fun stuff, roll your sleeves up and get down and dirty with Google Analytics. The hypotheses of CRO tests are often blurred and I put that down to either a lack of Analytics analysis or a lack of Analytics understanding. Get studying, get your GA qualification and get stuck in. My CRO Tip for 2013 is to be absolutely clear in the hypothesis of your tests and only ever test usability OR persuasion; never both in a single test.

Prioritising what to test can often be staring you straight in the face, but only if you know what you’re looking for. Like when you watch a quiz show and someone proclaims a question is ‘too easy’: it’s only easy if you know the answer!

What’s that, you have a landing page with a conversion below that of the site average? And you have high stock levels of these products? And your margins are good on these? Well there is your priority test. Wasn’t so difficult was it. OK, this is perhaps a simplistic, no-brainer, scenario, but my point is that analysing the data can reap big wins for your online business. It’s vital.

Once you know what page(s) you want to improve, the next part of the process is often misinterpreted and can become muddled. You need to be clear on what to test. Is the priority to test usability OR persuasion? I’ll repeat it again; only ever test one or the other. You must be decisive here and not get too busy.

I picked the brains of Bryan Eisenberg, co-author of the excellent Always Be Testing, The Complete Guide To Google Website Optimizer and Calls To Action Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results, and he feels the same way:

“The single biggest mistake I see people make with their tests is testing variations before understanding the variables,” he says. “A good test must start with a good hypothesis. Seriously, if not you’re simply throwing s*#t against the wall to see what sticks - that is called Testing at Random! You should never ask - what colour button is going to convert better? Ask instead - why would a visitor click on one button versus the other? Colour matters in a call- to-action button if there is not enough contrast from the rest of the page that the button doesn’t stand out if you were standing six feet away.

“Amazon, the poster child for A/B testing, performs over 200 concurrent tests at any given time. They have learned how to test for impact first and then test for variations.”

Let’s look at this example below to understand Amazon’s approach:


Hypothesis: Persuasion. Make product price and stock availability

more prominent and easier to scan = increase conversion rates?

Test Variation

  • Larger price
  • “In Stock” on own line and in larger green font
  • Orange title

Amazon ran a simple A/B test to learn if people who scan key information quicker are more likely to make a purchase. They didn’t test at random and you shouldn’t either.

Amazon Today

  • Notice that the product title, price and ‘In Stock’ message is now much more prominent following this simple A/B test

Keep the tests simple and always avoid getting ahead of yourself. CRO is kinda like therapy; analysis that will highlight necessary changes that will lead to improvement. This is a continuous process – you should test FOREVER, and so tests should be continually considered and never rushed. Analyse, then hypothesise, then test, then learn. Then do it all again. Over, and over, and over again.

I’ll leave the last word to The Grok: “Will you do Random Testing in 2013? Please don’t. Develop a great hypothesis; ask why and not what and you have greater success in all your tests.”

Glad tidings, and wish you all Happy Testing in 2013!

Form An Orderly Queue - Don’t Ignore Testing Web Forms In 2013

Web forms – let’s face it, they are generally a pain in the pants. We don’t have time, we’re impatient – especially us blokes as we simply cannot multi-task (bar drinking and watching sports at the same time) – we want answers this second. But they are still an extremely useful sales tool when executed with the user in mind. Even if you use IM chat software that is competently manned (or womanned (sic)) – forms are still required to increase the chances of capturing a business lead/conversion.

But the majority of websites don’t have the user in mind – they often plunk in a standard form and leave it to rot. My Top Tip for 2013 isn’t ground breaking, but many of you aren’t doing it – TEST YOUR FORMS!

Here at High Position we like to practice what we preach and we ran a successful Contact Form test on our old website (which we have since carried through to our new website and will continue to test), whereby we tested CTAs initially (persuasion) and we then tested the colour, layout and size, and button on the form (usability).

We also made the send/submit button bigger and improved the labelling CTA. Despite Luke Wroblewski’s excellent studies on web forms, I’ve never been a fan of ‘cancel’ ‘reset’ or ‘clear’ buttons on forms. I mean, it’s enough to get a user to actually fill the thing in, but it’s very rare that they’ll put in incorrect details then realise this during the process and crave for a ‘reset’ button. They’re a hindrance to conversion in my opinion.

Take a look at the test:



The most obvious changes were the size of the form and the coloured fields (usability). These we tested separately over time. They improved conversion. We also added a short sentence to negate any user anxieties (persuasion): ‘No fields are compulsory’ (implying you don’t ‘have’ to leave a number AND email address, thus making it quick and easy to fill in) and ‘We will never share your information’ (to negate any data protection concerns).

And here are the results - 117% Improvement!

Tool Cool For School

“When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me” – Oscar Wilde

Of course, prior to testing you have to analyse. The whole point of CRO / UX is to find out how the most important people to your business use your website – that’s right, the users. I urge you all to use the many excellent UX tools available. An excellent tool for web forms is click tale, which encompasses Form Analytics, perfect for spying on your users.

These tools are like that Chevy 57 the cool kid rolled up to High School in (more like a Golf GTI in Essex); they help to increase your popularity. If you use them well, they will improve your chances of getting laid… err I mean your web traffic converting.

Listen, Test, Learn. Listen, Test Learn…

High Position tracked down (well, tweeted) Form Guru, Caroline Jarrett, co-author of the excellent Forms that Work: Designing web forms for usability (2008):

“Above all, it’s vital to do usability testing of your form in the right context with the right audience,” she says. “It’s vital. You’ve got to watch quietly while someone tries to fill it in – and then make changes to make it better. And then test again with the new version. Repeat that test/change cycle until they don’t even notice they’ve filled in the form because it was so easy.”

Sound advice, which reminds me of the famous Baudelaire quote (paraphrased by Kevin Spacey’s Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects) “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist.” Like all UX, keep it simple, make it natural. If users have to think, they’ll bail.

As Steve Krug fans (or ‘Krugites’ as I like to call us) will testify to, the simpler usability is the more likely it is that the user will perform your desired actions, i.e. convert. So in 2013 make sure you test your web forms with the user in mind. Keep it simple, but don’t use guess work. Analyse then sympathise; simplify then exemplify.

Don’t You Know I’m CRO Loco - Engage With The Brain

Having recently read The Web Psych’s “Webs Of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion”, I was interested to learn more about the developing new field of Neuroesthetics which essentially seeks to understand how beauty stimulates the brain and how the brain responds to different components of a piece of artwork.

Since CRO/UX experts are constantly looking for unique, effective ways of attracting users’ attention online, I was interested to read how the latest research in Neuroesthetics can be quite suitably applied to the layout of a web page. For example, in the book it’s explained how humans have an innate tendency to subconsciously respond to the tilt of another person’s head or the direction of someone’s gaze, and that this principle can be used as a way of directing users’ attention to specific areas of a landing page to add extra emphasis.

For a CRO geek like me, the notion that our brains are hard-wired to respond to visual stimuli in a certain way is pretty damn fascinating. To continue this theme I wanted to highlight a couple of additional examples of how our brains automatically respond to visual cues and how we might be able to apply these to the design of a web page.


Firstly, the human brain is remarkably good at detecting movement: the visual cortex comprises hundreds of cells specifically tuned to the direction and speed of moving stimuli which are activated without conscious awareness. This makes it virtually impossible for us to ignore the presence of movement in our surroundings since there is little we can do to override such an instantaneous response. Ever been so captivated by the tweets running along the bottom of the TV screen that you ended up completely ignoring the programme you were watching?

The fact we can identify the presence of movement so readily is likely to have evolved from an early survival technique i.e. recognising another member of the same species. Even short sighted individuals - such as myself - have the ability to recognise someone familiar from a distance simply by the way that they walk/move. This is pretty impressive given that I can barely read the words on the screen in front of me without my glasses.

Homepage sliders often serve little or no purpose except for wasting valuable time on site, leading to frustration and, ‘uh oh they’ve hit the back button’.

So, if you want to draw attention to a specific area of a web page try adding movement. However, make sure animation is subtle and short lived to ensure that it does not become distracting. And there has to be a purpose – often sliders can be found on a homepage, just because it’s trendy. They often serve little or no purpose except for wasting valuable time on site, leading to frustration and, uh oh they’ve hit the back button.

Given that we use considerable cognitive resources during instant detection of movement, too much animation can become cognitively demanding and may distract the user from other key areas. Take a look at the Ben & Jerry’s homepage for a good example of a site that utilises animation to highlight areas of importance in a fun and smart way.


As well as having cells in our brains dedicated to the detection of movement in our visual field, it has also been demonstrated that we have cells which respond more forcefully to contrasting colours than smooth gradients of luminance. In a Nobel Prize winning experiment, Hubel and Weisel identified the presence of orientation-specific brain cells (or, simple cells) which are scattered throughout the many layers of the visual cortex and respond only to the presence of a vertical edge.

Whilst it seems strange to waste the limited neural space in our brains with cells which are so choosy in terms of what they re-act to, these cells are likely to have evolved as a way to quickly identify areas of significance (or in other words, predators). Ultimately, our brains have evolved to detect areas of importance as quickly as possible. In doing this we pick out areas of high contrast (edges) and discard more ambiguous information.

Whether we like it or not, the regions of contrast in our visual field require more attention from our brains than areas of softer, blended colours. Therefore, if you want to highlight something on a page, use contrasting colours such as red and green, blue and yellow, or black and white, together with strong lines to grab the users’ attention. The nature of these colours will mean that the viewer will be forced to use more brain cells and they won’t be able to help but notice! However, like with movement, make sure your use of clashing colours is very subtle. Keep in mind that such techniques should only be used to gently direct viewers’ attention to certain information on the page and that if used erroneously may actually take emphasis away from other vital areas that lead to a conversion.

* Anyone confused by the reference in this blog post title need listen to this

Conversion Conference Day One Digest

This week I had the pleasure of attending the first day of the Conversion Conference at The Business Design Centre in Islington. Experts in the fields of online conversion shared their knowledge and experiences, providing insights into improving website conversion rates.

Professor Wolfgang Henseler (founder and managing creative director of Sensory Minds) kicked off the day with a look into how user experience has changed over the years from the first home computers through to laptops, smartphones and onto the future with Project Glass. There’s no doubt that the way in which we use digital technology is changing but Prof. Henseler encourages us to consider the way in which user expectations have changed and will continue to change.  Customer-focussed services - or smart services - look for simplicity and utility. They bow down to our every need and bring us closer to the world of sci-fi.

It’s one thing taking on conversion optimisation for your site, it’s quite another to test (meaningfully) and analyse or interpret your data in order to establish what to do with it next. Vicky Brock broke down the best way to do this:

Hypothesis: We have to create a meaningful case for testing in the first place including what the predictions for outcome are. Else, why bother

Intervention: This comes in the form of different methods of testing such as A/B, User, Multivariate etc

Validation: Consider the significance of your Statistical Significance and any unanticipated consequences. The golden rule here is to use a control group. If you’ve nothing to measure against, you’ll struggle to validate any of your results.

Extrapolation: Explain how this research can be applied and why this research is valuable.

By segmenting and measuring only the users you are interested in, the ones performing the actions that matter and completing key goals, your results are always relevant and therefore easier to roll out.

Combining science and art, Dr Karl Blanks (Chairman at Conversion Rate Experts and a real-life rocket scientist) introduced us to proven strategies in successful, persuasive copywriting. By imagining your website is a robot salesman (which I guess would look something like this) you understand that it operates as an extension of a “real” salesperson but can never better the value of face to face interaction. Similarly, bearing this in mind, the most persuasive or believable copy should mirror what you’d say if you were selling your product in real life. That is, use as many words as you normally would, but remember to remain concise: “The act of writing turns many a genius into a moron”. By becoming the customer yourself and analysing your own purchase process, you can use evidence to weave proof into everything you write.

“The act of writing turns many a genius into a moron”
- Dr Karl Blanks, Conversion Rate Experts

Mary D’Alatri of Ion Interactive looked at the anatomy of a conversion optimisation programme by deconstructing the essential components needed in creating a programme that converts. She highlighted the importance of the right landing page for your user, whether this be a specific landing page or a highly tailored microsite. But it isn’t always about the conversion win: by testing your landing page, you can use your findings to learn which sources of traffic drive converting visitors; which offers work best, when they work best, and for whom they work best. You can identify what does and doesn’t work and then roll it out to the rest of your site.

Learning from his experiences on The ApprenticeNick Holzherr, (co-founder of Whisk), explained why keeping it simple could’ve been the key to his success on the show.

Nick stressed that it was important to get the balance between simplicity and choice just right: “By increasing simplicity by 20%, the user is 86% more likely to purchase and 115% more likely to recommend”. Because of this, successful landing pages are becoming simpler and are tailoring the information shown to visitors. By using complex tools “behind the scene”, Whisk presents a simple interface for its users.

Opening with some bad karaoke a Johnny Depp quotePaul Rouke introduced us to persuasive design techniques. When combining different techniques, we can influence the behaviour of users. Indicating limited availability (Scarcity) encourages users to assume something is more valuable. Similarly, by putting a limit on response time, users are encouraged to act now in case they miss out. Michel Fortin puts it best: “Never pressure people to push them into purchasing. Instead, use pressure to prevent them from procrastinating”.

Also, we tend to follow the behaviour patterns of others in unfamiliar situations - social proof draws on this idea. Recency & Transparency evoke trust in people and users respond to this online. provides great examples of, well, a lot of these techniques.

Following on from this perfectly, Dr Maurits Kaptein introduced us to the Persuasion Profiling technique. This involves learning how users respond to persuasion techniques and then implementing the best strategy when they arrive at your site. This method has been successfully implemented at Jaludo where they built profiles based on the six principles of persuasion. Dr Kaptein’s research showed that, for example, 30% of users are “turned off” by Social Proof and so these profiles mean visitors to the Julado site are shown only the most suitable techniques to encourage conversion.  New users with no history are shown the technique which is favoured on average, but the learning begins immediately.

Finally, before a delightful reception (where I definitely partook in a sociable glass of red – thank you Conversion Conference, Nathalie Nahai, aka The Web Psychologist presented her book Web Psychology: The Future Of Online Influence. When it comes to the way our online environment interacts with real life, one size does not fit all. Coca Cola is a great example of this as they have developed a different appearance for their site depending on country. Japan focuses on the visual with very little copy. Whereas in South Africa visitors are informed of the company’s efforts to stay Green. Of course, this isn’t just a cultural discussion; studies show that generally women are more sceptical about the information they read online and perceive online shopping as riskier than men. Women like a clean, clear site and men tend to prefer sites designed by other men. Ultimately, these factors all contribute to the “lack of trust” people still battle with when online and any steps we can take to make websites appear authoritative, function well and provide customer service should lead to increased conversion.

I think the key take away from Day One of the Conversion Conference was that CRO / UX is an ongoing and ever-developing aspect of website maintenance. We’ll never know it all, but by testing, analysing and re-testing your site at every opportunity, you stand a good chance of owning a successful, engaging site.

The Unofficial HP Top 10 CRO / UX Tips Chart PART 2

Following on from last week’s post, Libby delivers Part 2 of the Unofficial HP Top 10 CRO/ UX Tips Chart. If you’re not already sick of it, please feel free to re-play the soundtrack.

“Straight in at number 5…”

5. Help your users look forward to the finish

Studies show that we are more motivated to continue or complete a task when looking at what is left to do, rather than what we have already done. Consider bounce rate or exit levels from your site. Why do so many visitors to your site abandon their cart during the checkout process? By introducing a visual representation of progress, you can help users understand how many more steps there are before they achieve their goal. Even better, it clearly shows the end is in sight for a sprint-finish!

4. Be your users’ friend

Here you’re applying the rules of social interaction to online interaction. If you turned up at your friend’s house party, you’d probably knock on the door, greet them with a smile and then maybe go in for a high five. If they took ages to answer the door, didn’t look at you when they finally got there and then (gasp!) left you hanging, you’d probably feel uncomfortable and start to regret bothering to bring that token bottle of wine. Similarly, if a site is slow to load or doesn’t remember all your information when you sign in, it’s like an old friend forgetting you’ve ever met. And it hurts.

3. Happy people try new things

Marieke De Vries (2010) concluded that in times of sadness or fear, we gravitate towards the familiar. Going with what we know makes us feel safe: we trust what is familiar as we know what to expect and we know how it will make us feel. If we’re feeling happy, however, we are far more likely to take a risk and try something new. If you consider this in terms of branding, perhaps if a person feels low, they will buy what they know? They will be more inclined to purchase familiar products rather than have a go at something new? Having said that, brands that introduce happy images and encourage positive feelings could persuade users to try the product for the first time - check out the little smiler apple’s using:

2. Pobody’s Nerfect

People make mistakes: inevitably, errors will occur when people are visiting your site. The trick is to anticipate these errors or identify them during user testing. Mistakes with negative consequences - such as a user disabling their account after trying to log in using an email address rather than a username - can frustrate or anger a user. E.g. many sites ask for a username rather than an email address, whereas some users may prefer to enter their email address rather than have to remember a multitude of usernames and passwords. Depending on the circumstances, they could then go on to look for a competitor, hoping to find an improved experience. Other mistakes, like clicking the wrong link and having to “go back”, have no real consequence and cause little to no inconvenience at all. In this instance, it’s likely the user will continue without frustration.

1. Users want to make informed decisions, or at least they think they do

We’ve all heard the phrase “knowledge is power”. Knowing we have a choice, knowing what our choices are and knowing we must make a choice encourages the feeling of being in control. Offering a user alternate paths when completing a task gives the illusion of choice, despite the actual goal being the same, allowing them to enjoy the feeling of being in control. By providing customer reviews and expert ratings, you give the user more information, (more knowledge, more power) while subtly persuading them to take a certain path. Everyone is subconsciously affected by the opinions of others, though they will vehemently deny it.




The Unofficial HP Top 10 CRO / UX Tips Chart

As we wish a Happy 60th Birthday to The Official UK Top 40 Singles Chart this week, Libby counts down The Unofficial HP Top 10 CRO / UX Tips Chart. This post will be more effective when accompanied by this jingle!

“And in at No.10…”

10. Tell your user how you want them to see

Our brain processes millions of bits of sensory information every second. In order to cope, it identifies patterns and creates short cuts based on prior knowledge, which means we interpret what we’re experiencing within milliseconds. If your homepage uses established visual cues to communicate the meaning of the page, users will engage more quickly and with less effort. For example, arranging text and images in close proximity implies the two are related whereas putting space between the two can help imply separate topics on the same page.

9. Help your users read

For a long time (since the late 1800s) it has been assumed that uppercase letters are more difficult to read than lowercase… However, this isn’t actually the case. A study by Keith Rayner in 1998 (which, ironically, is also ages ago) revealed we read by recognising and anticipating letters before recognising and then reading a word. While it’s evident that some fonts are easier to read than others - and it’s no surprise that larger text is often easier to read - as users find reading a computer screen more difficult than reading a page – it’s worth choosing a font with a large x-size so smaller fonts actually appear larger, therefore reducing eye strain. Again, the University of Essex website is a good example of this:

8. Forgetting leads to frustration

Our short-term memory has a limited capacity. Remember being the newbie at work and trying to get everyone’s tea/coffee requests right on your first day? “… two teas, both with milk, one with sugar,  four coffees, all with milk, one with two sugars… oh and one hot water so Kerry can have her herbal tea… herbal tea?.. Hmm… I wonder what that’s like?.. Wait, how many sugars in that tea?” Before you know it, sensory input’s ruined your rehearsing of the crucial tea/coffee info and all your new colleagues think you’re incapable of a simple hot-drink-run. Do your users a favour and don’t ask them to remember information from one page to another. Give them the ability to compare the specifications of multiple products - especially ones with a lot of specifications - John Lewis earn top marks for their efforts!

Selecting similar products for comparison takes you to a clearly laid out page to easily evaluate which product fits your requirements without having to open up multiple tabs to compare. Clear, simple, effective:

7. Think about what users are thinking about

Going back to the idea that our brains receive a lot of information at once, some pieces, inevitably, are not going to make it through. Bombarding a user with too much information all at once means that stuff is going to get missed. In her book “100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People”, Susan M. Weinschenk  refers to Keller‘s idea of “progressive disclosure”, suggesting that information is best served in stages and that further information should only be introduced when the first lot has been processed. Most ecommerce sites itemise their product, but clicking on them gives you more information. HOWEVER: this only works if you know what information users are going to need and when they’re going to need it. This takes knowledge, research and yes, USER TESTING.

6. Beware the multitasking myth

Ever tried reading the paper in a bustling coffee shop? Or listening to the service announcements at the train station during rush hour? How about trying to finish a blog post knowing Jimmy Page is on Jools Holland right now? It can be pretty difficult to filter out the distractions. And even if we do manage to focus, our unconscious is constantly working and looking out for other messages about danger, food or music legends. Multitasking is incredibly rare (how about bumping into someone on the street while talking on your mobile?) and in reality we switch quickly back and forth between tasks, shifting our attention. If a user is browsing your website and not really focussing on any one goal, you can grab their attention with a big, bright “20% off all Led Zepplin t-shirts” ad. Alternatively, as show with their checkout process, you can help users concentrate when filling in their billing details by completely removing these kinds of distractions - although I would make the Account Details form simpler - with less fields - as this may be a checkout anxiety for some users. Of course, this would need to be tested against the control.

Our Unofficial HP Top 10 CRO / UX Tips Chart Countdown continues after these messages (In other words, next week)

Don’t Play On Words, Test Them

A misconception of conversion rate optimisation and user experience testing is that it is mainly a design based process – let’s look at improving that button; remove that idle slider; change the navigation this second! These may all be extremely relevant starting points for a/b and multivariate testing, but often are rushed into consideration when there are more glaring issues that need fixing.

One of the most overlooked facets of CRO / UX is content. Even when marketers and web editors realise the need to improve user experience, many will choose to focus on improving buttons, contact forms, product layouts et al, which is all fine and dandy, but not when the blindingly obvious is hindering performance.

It’s imperative that you get your message across as soon as a user enters your site: What does your business do? Why should users buy/do business with you? These are two simple questions that need answering as soon as a user hits the homepage. Displaying a succinct, easy to understand opening tagline/header is arguably the most important aspect of a homepage that needs to be nailed.

SnapEngage is a good example of letting the user know in no uncertain terms exactly what they do:

SEO content – and optimised content for AdWords Quality Scores – is a vital facet of your online marketing blend, yet testing CTAs and clear USPs should never be overlooked. Users react to clear instructions, so be clear and concise, but always test it.

The golden rule of CRO – aside from keeping things simple of course – is to either test usability OR persuasion. Very often a test can become convoluted due to a lack of patience, or as I call it: ‘getting busy’. For want of a better cliché, don’t run before you can walk as this will result in mixed messages received from the data. Getting busy is akin to chasing the fairer sex – it’ll be far more productive if your movements are measured, if you know what I mean… Don’t be too keen, time it right, then listen. Always listen.

And don’t be dissuaded by impatient clients either - you’re the expert, believe in your analysis and stick to your guns unless you’re absolutely sure that a test is running its course with little chance of improving.

Keep it simple, and keep the end goal clear: what do you want to learn? Don’t go looking to improve usability if the persuasive message is not visible: you will waste your time, and as we know all too well, time is of the essence when working online.