Posts Tagged ‘design’

Direct vs. Indirect Creative: Which ad is better?

April 20th, 2015 No comments

Most people spend their lives trying to avoid ads. Not me. This may make me a complete marketing nerd, but I actually enjoy reading ads. I have for some time now. I love studying the different approaches of persuasive communication. I love attempting to uncover the underlying value propositions under each ad. I love just seeing how other marketers are attempting to communicate value to their potential customers.

Recently, I was on a Delta flight to San Diego, and I began to sift through the different ads in the Delta Sky Magazine. The first ad that caught my attention was an ad from Little Caesars. Now, I am no Little Caesars expert by any means, but its brand real estate in my brain up to that point was simply this: We do cheap pizza.

This ad was trying to combat that perception in a decently creative way.


Ad #1: The creative (indirect) type

The ad was mostly made up of white space (or perhaps orange space). The first positive thing about this ad was that it stood out from the other pages. It also had one bold image in the middle — an industrial mixer. A single line of ALL CAPS text centered beneath the mixer simply stated, “Saving the commercial mixer from becoming extinct.”


Now, there are very few elements to this ad. Its creative is simple and elegant. Its creative also takes an indirect communication approach. David Ogilvy (widely hailed as “The Father of Advertising”) would be proud.

What are they trying to say by putting a big picture of a commercial mixer? What do you think the implied value proposition is? What is the message underneath the creative approach?

Read more…

How Design Impacts User Experience: Reducing anxiety by infusing your page with value

April 13th, 2015 5 comments

In the age of free content, how can you capture leads and foster a relationship with people that consume the articles, videos and updates on your site?

Site design and the quality of content you produce can strongly influence the way that people engage with your site.

Using an example from the Harvard Business Review, we can see an example of a layout infused with value for the user.

First, the Harvard Business Review lets users read up to five articles before asking for a commitment. This allows visitors to get a sense of the breadth and quality of content so they can ensure that they’re getting a valuable experience.

Let’s review the overall look, feel and strategy of its registration process and design as well as examine how it impacts the visitor throughout the registration process.


Paywall page

After reading the fifth article, the user is given two options: Register for free in exchange for more information, or subscribe to the all-access version.

Let’s take a look at how the page is laid out.


First, look at the white space.

Can you feel the fresh air?

S – p – a – c – e

The simplicity of the page creates a “no pressure” feeling and lets the visitor know that they aren’t seeing an ad or being urged to make a decision.

However, you can clearly see the two defined calls-to-action, separated by a thin gray line.

Both sides indicate some level of value. However, the paid option has an image and lists several more bullet points worth of advantages over the free option.

Read more…

Banner Design Tested: How a 35% decrease in clicks caused an 88% increase in conversion

September 9th, 2011 2 comments

Imagine for a second that you’re running a banner ad campaign on a website with a black background. Now, if you were going to choose a color for that banner to get more clicks, would you choose a dark shade of blue or bright yellow?

If you’re like me, you would have guessed yellow. Unfortunately for our marketing intuition, a recent test we ran with a Research Partner proves otherwise.

For this test, we ran two different versions of a banner offering a large financial institution’s branded version of a credit card, alongside a $50 gift card incentive. Essentially, if the visitor applied for the branded credit card (the same brand as the site on which the banner ad appeared), they could get a $50 gift card after making qualifying purchases. The test itself was an A/B sequential test. Read more…

Website Messaging: How clarity once again trumped persuasion to the tune of a 200% boost in conversion rate

May 23rd, 2011 No comments

“Clarity trumps persuasion.”
Dr. Flint McLaughlin, Managing Director (CEO), MECLABS

The above statement has become somewhat of a mantra around the MECLABS offices. Not only because it’s quotable, but also because of just how applicable it is across all facets of marketing. Whether discussing a simple print ad or a complex integrated campaign, at the end of the day our goal as marketers is clear – tell people what you offer and why they should buy from you. If you’re clear in your messaging, there’s no need for persuasive tactics that don’t directly support your value proposition.

Still, it’s somewhat ironic that simplifying a marketing message can be such a complicated process. In this post, we’ll be looking into a recent test conducted on the website of a large international financial services company, pointing out why even the most basic offerings were diluted by an overly complicated process and unclear calls-to-action. Read more…

Optimization and A/B Testing: Why words matter (for more than just SEO)

May 18th, 2011 3 comments

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;

William Shakespeare lived in what can only be defined as the pre-Google era. Sure, Juliet didn’t care what a rose was called. She wasn’t searching for rose vendors since she chose a guy from the other side of the tracks and would never have a proper wedding. And she certainly wasn’t selling roses online with a site that relied on organic traffic for two-thirds of its revenue.

However, names do matter if you’re searching for optimization or A/B testing vendors, or if you’re offering those services yourself. Even more important, words matter because they hint at the approach you’re taking to your marketing efforts. That’s why I was so intrigued by two marketing research charts in Boris Grinkot’s 2011 Landing Page Optimization Benchmark ReportRead more…

Homepage Optimization: How sharing ideas can lead to more diverse radical redesigns

April 29th, 2011 4 comments

It was time to get radical at Senior Optimization Manager, Adam Lapp’s optimization class, and once again I was there to document it all for your reading pleasure. Because I care, naturally.

Since my last post, the student body has grown, and we now have five new research analysts eager to learn. Due to our uneven number, Adam decided to pit all of the analysts against each other for his optimization competition, instead of taking the usual team approach. This time around, their challenge was to create the most effective radical redesign for the Arbor Day Foundation homepage (which was submitted for live optimization during our Homepage Web clinic).

But before I show you the original page, I’d like to add that this lesson not only sharpened our optimization skills, but also proved that great minds don’t always think alike. And, believe it or not that can be a really good thing.

Diagnosing the homepage

Now, let’s get to down the “nitty gritty”…here’s the audience submission:

Click to enlarge

Before being given the task to create radical wireframes for the original homepage, Adam and the class discussed the page’s main issues. Here is their analysis the key problems visitors might face:

  • The logo is too small. It gets lost in the page and also doesn’t help the visitor know exactly where they are
  • There’s not a clear focus on the page

o   It has a confusing top navigation

o   It has three equally weighted columns (Trees, Programs, Lend Your Support)

o   It also has confusing objectives (Where do I click, what can I do on this page?)

1. What is the difference between a membership, a donation and buying a tree?

  • Unclear call-to-action

o   The first and largest call-to-action a visitor sees is “Visit the tree nursery”

o   Makes the visitor ask, “What is a tree nursery? Is this a place to buy trees or a clever metaphor for a type of product or page?”

o   Visitors have unclear expectations of what the next page will be and are a little lost at this point.

Radical Solutions

After pointing out these issues, the analysts had to figure out how to tie in all these objectives together into one goal. And when it was time to present their radical wireframes, each analyst came up with a completely different design and goal in mind (remember the original page had several objectives).

Each submitted wireframe focused on one of the following goals:

Click to enlarge

-Directly pushing a membership

  • The headline is action oriented, specific and includes a membership incentive
  • It drives the visitor’s attention to a primary call-to-action (become a member)

Click to enlarge

-Getting visitors to donate and help the Arbor Day Foundation’s mission

  • Headline immediately says where you are
  • The options on left let visitors know what to do on the page (donate/help)

Click to enlarge

- Giving the gift of a tree or allowing visitors to pick 10 trees for themselves now

  • Page objective is simplified and the incentive of 10 free gifts with donation is emphasized
  • De-emphasized supporting column with core information about the foundation

Click to enlarge

-Engaging visitors with an interactive game

  • Headline tells visitors exactly where they are
  • Focuses on letting visitors interact and become familiar with the product through question game

Click to enlarge

-Pushing all objectives in a new navigation-focused design

  • Visitor can quickly choose a path from the easy to see, simple, and short left navigation on the top portion.
  • Has a rotating banner will draw the eye path to the four most important objectives, then presents four core values in a controllable (and testable) sequence

Five heads are better than one

These five separate takes on one Web page got us thinking about the brainstorming process and how important it is for marketers to create a blissful marriage between individual ideas and teamwork.

In a marketing team, not everyone is going to think the same way, but this doesn’t mean that these differing thoughts can’t turn into a great collaborative effort.

This reminds me of the weekly peer review meetings we have at out lab, where the research team gets together and reviews Web pages as a team. Usually, one person starts off the conversation and then another person bounces off an idea about that topic, sometimes agreeing or challenging the previous comment. The idea here is to brainstorm in the correct way, by being open to different ideas and avoiding groupthink. Of course, not every idea is a good idea, which is why you have to test.

This is exactly what happened during Adam’s class. Each analyst initially came in with a different idea for the homepage and after everyone’s thoughts were put on the table, each individual thought grew into one improved and cohesive approach to developing treatments.

“If one person in charge of this page only relied on their own ideas, we may not [be] able to achieve the highest level of success,” Adam said. Of course, this hypothetical collaborative effort would have to be tested to make sure it’s actually effective.

“There’s no such thing as expert marketers, only expert testers,” Adam said. “AND the best way to get diverse test ideas is to leverage other people with other ideas.”

Lesson learned

In the end, even though it started as a free-for-all competition, with the right guidance and frame of mind, it turned out to be a great team effort.

Now that we’ve learned that lesson, I would love to start a collaborative effort with the audience, and ask you to share your ideas to optimize this homepage. Feel free to use the comments section to get this brainstorming session rolling.

Related Resources

Homepage Optimization: Radical redesign ideas for multivariable testing

Homepage Optimization: Creating the best design to quickly meet multiple visitors’ needs

Informed Dissent: The best marketing campaigns come from the best ideas

Landing Page Optimization: What cyclical products can learn from CBS Sports