A User Experience Isn’t All Graphical

by Michael Hubbard on February 9, 2010

in Design

A few months back I was attending a Triangle AMA meeting in which Brooks Bell was speaking about e-mail marketing optimization efforts.  During the Q&A session, I asked her the following:  “If you only had enough money to hire one person, which would it be – a copywriter, or a designer?”   Before I tell you what she answered, let me tell you about a little test we just ran for a client.

We took over a new account in October, and have had nothing but great success since taking over the account.  Even though we were having success, we still had recommended doing some A/B testing of their landing pages to try to improve results even further.  Specifically, we wanted to give a friendly new look, but we also wanted to test their copy on the page as well.  Without changing too many variables, we settled on performing an A/B/C test.  The A would be the original, the B would be a design change and the C would be a design and copy change.

The change to the imagery resulted in a 7.4% increase in conversion rate.  It alone had paid for itself!  The landing page with design AND copy edits though showed an increase to the conversion rate by 43.4%.  The design alone is much more user friendly, but being allowed to test a copy change in conjunction with design has yielded results that are well worth every penny spent.

As for Brooks’ answer…  She said “definitely a copywriter,” and I would tend to agree…  But then again, I did put her on the spot and say she could only choose one, and obviously, having the resources of both design & copy is a huge benefit!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Morgan Siem February 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm

This is why A/B testing is so important! You can really see what works and what doesn’t. I think you’re right – rewriting the copy can make a page exponentially stronger.


Erica Smith February 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm

To truly test the design vs. copy aspect, shouldn’t C (or even D) have changed the copy, but not the design? This proved that a change in copy AND design was most effective, not just a copy change.


Michael Hubbard Michael Hubbard February 9, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Copy test is in the works – but unfortunately, there were some hangups that wouldn’t allow a simple copy test. Long story – but you’re absolutely correct, the ideal would have been an A/B/C/D test.


Ellie February 9, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Too often decisions are made for landing pages, calls to action, messaging and imagery in the board room by senior executives who live “in the bubble”.

A/B testing gets to the real answer to the question of What will work in the market. Good job! And points go to the client for seeing the true value in strategic experimentation.


Brandon Speaks February 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Hi Ellie, I liked your comment. Avinash Kaushik refers to this as the Hippo Syndrome. Hippo being the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion, which is usually driven by ego rather than insight. Always be testing – the market is happy to tell you what they want and there are so many cool tools out there these days there’s really no excuse not to.


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