In my efforts to help businesses improve the conversion rates on their websites, I hear objections ALL the time. Behind the objections, I have observed fear (about how the changes will perform), offense (because they think I’m implying their work isn’t up to snuff) and procrastination (because they want to avoid the scary world of testing).
A few factors that I’ve seen contribute to this include:
- Stakeholder’s opinions about what will work best for a particular site or page within a site are usually strongly held, whether it’s because it’s what they like themselves or what they believe as a professional.
- Stakeholders are emotionally attached to their work.
- There’s a lot at stake for everyone when it comes to the performance of the website.
The resulting situation can get messy. It typically involves arguments over opinions about what to do with the site in an attempt at improvement. But this kind of activity can be damaging to your team’s relationships.
The root of the problem
In my current reading selection called Don’t Make Me Think, author Steve Krug gives his take on this situation:
I usually call these endless discussions “religious debates,” because they have a lot in common with most discussions of religion and politics…besides wasting time, these arguments create tension and erode respect among team members, and can often prevent the team from making critical decisions.
Sound like any current governing body you can think of?
Just like in any type of human interaction, people have different perspectives. They see the world in different ways. They also tend to believe that the way they see is the right way. Then all the way at the extreme, they believe that most other people see things the same as they do.
Nobody’s perspective is right or wrong
When it comes to websites, the truth is that all of us have personal and professional “glasses” on our eyes through which the world is filtered. The designer sees and values the design (while blocking out functionality). The developer sees and values features and functionality (while blocking out design). The marketer sees and values the results (while blocking out everything about the site)—and so on.
And just like in most human interactions, nobody is necessarily right or wrong. What I mean is, a designer may love big flash presentations on homepages that they can watch like a slideshow to get an overall sense of what a site is promoting at a particular point in time. A marketer on the other hand, may hate them because they feel like they just get in the way of completing the task they came to complete on the site. Neither of them is wrong. It’s just what they prefer.
Start with tendencies, then test
When it comes to improving conversion rates, there are no rights and wrongs. There are only opinions. Now…are there general tendencies that seem to work better no matter what website you’re talking about? Sure. But that doesn’t mean those tendencies are the best solution for your site. Can and should they be used as starting points for finding what works best in each specific situation? Absolutely. But after that, all you can do to find the best solution is test.
You can’t argue over opinions because no one is right or wrong. But you can find out what works and doesn’t work, which is the goal, isn’t it?