Laura Phillips

Over 100 More Tips From Conversion Conference London 2012 (Day 2) #convconf

28th Nov 2012 Analytics, Analytics, Conversion Rate Optimisation 20 minutes to read

Today was day two of the Conversion Conference in London and it was another excellent line-up with great tips on user testing and gaining every last bit of value from a website. I’ve compiled my favourite take-aways below and it’s another epic list that shows the wealth of great advice on show.

Paving the way for your users: revolutionize the user experience with inclusive design with Artur Ortega

Design for Diversity – we have to cater for different users in different ways and give access to all of them and increase the amount of viewers coming in. We need to rethink about how we are going to deliver things.

Attitude makes the difference in inclusive design.

Design is a political act – Inclusive society needs an inclusive design. You decide what kind of aesthetics you provide for someone who prefers for example someone who is visual, or aural. For example visual aesthetics are no good for the blind but you could include them into your design in other ways for example by listening, touch, or description.

Design decisions include or exclude people. Web design has to be done with a broad perspective.

Awareness of disabled users – Search engines are blind and deaf. They cannot see what is in the image, you need to include a description. The same goes for content you can listen to, hard for Google to index without transcript. You Tube have a deaf employee helping them work on subtitles and accessibility to use translated subtitles.

SEO puts a disabled search engine into the centre of design. So it can find and understand the page, the title, content, links etc. This is only a small step as we only have the machine crawling our pages at the centre of our design for SEO. Inclusive design puts disabled users in the centre of design to show short comings.

Good design enables, bad design disables.

Don’t ask what your users can’t do, ask what they can do. For example can they listen, feel things, see things.

Inclusive design is:

  • Perceivable – make the beauty of your design presentable to users in ways they can perceive. For example an art gallery with an audio guide makes the art accessible and perceivable to the blind
  • Operable – Make the interaction with your design operable and easy to use. For example Stephen Hawing’s speech enabler
  • Understandable – Make the information and interaction with your design understandable. What is the purpose of the design? Lower the threshold so more/all people are able to perceive the design
  • Robust – Make the design robust enough that it can be interpreted and used reliably

Who denies inclusive design?

  • The bean counters
  • Quick fixers
  • Apologists
  • Deniers
  • Ostriches
  • Stereotypers

Examples of Inclusive Design:

  • Single head mixer tap – developed for the disabled and today is standard in many bathrooms and kitchens. Can specify temperature and pressure. Easy to use. Designed originally for people with reduced mobility.
  • OXO/good grips – The owner of OXO’s wife had arthritis and reduced mobility with her hands & found kitchen utensils had to use. He invented the solution.
  • Inclusive design of Apple’s touch interfaces :

– Finger works known for multi-touch keyboards for people with RSI – acquired by Apple in 2005
– Screen reader in every phone – you can switch the screen instantly, though most people don’t know that. A number of blind people are switching to iPhone for this
– Siri – Text-to-speech invented for blind users. Voice input developed for people who are hard of hearing
– Talking compass – also helpful, accessible & inclusive
– Navigation – someone who can’t use display can use nav to walk through a city.
– Money Reader – you can scan paper money through an app
– Optical charger recognition – software designed originally for the blind
– Talking tools – such as talking spirit level
– Accessible time tables – eg train times app

Use of smartphone increased by 400% with inclusion of Around Me feature which was initially created for the blind.

There are 10 million disabled people in the UK – that’s a lot of users who may be missing out due to shortfalls in design and accessibility.

Open source and legislation have increased accessibility massively in recent years. Drupal are working on a huge project to increase accessibility. HSBC last year changed system for internet banking card device. They did not expect many blind users to take up the device, which is now audible and were caught unaware by how popular it would be.

Inclusive deign – design process for built environment & all products which puts usability to the greatest extent into focus and to achieve an aesthetic result for everyone.


Pay attention: Understanding how your customers’ brains work with Stephen Pavlovich & Gerben Langendijk

Stephen –

The temptation is little tricks that may work for everyone, but they may have short term value and not apply to all businesses.  We don’t want to become an industry of ‘fiddlers’ to try to answer all our conversion problems.

How can we turn this into a strategy?

Perception, intuition & reasoning can be manipulated (eg Derren Brown)

Gave example of iPhone on eBay where users bid to £598 plus £150 postage even though can be bought in store for £529.

Social Proof –

People have been persuading and this has been documented for thousands of years eg Plato.

So many articles have been sold with guarantees that guarantees have ceased to be impressive – Claude Hopkins (1923)!

Way too easy for us to think things have been overdone but this shows that these tactics can still work.

Persuasion applies to:

  • Product
  • Offer
  • Sales funnel: Biggest increase can come from removing steps & making site easier to use. Posterous have no set up and no sign up, you just email them.
  • Copy: Split test your copy
  • Images & interface elements: Eg travel insurance – split test two options – add travel insurance tick box/ add or ‘I do not need travel insurance’ radio button. Radio buttons led to 37% increase with 99% reliability.

Facebook – social proof is at the heart of everything they do. When they redesigned deactivation process and added images of friends with pre-existing text ‘your friends will not be able to keep in touch with you’ – it’s believed tens of millions of users have stayed due to this.

Apply persuasion strategically to your business, not just tact to individual elements.

Gerben –

Consumer Psychology  & Conversion

What do customers want? What are they thinking? visitor-booker cycle (unofficial) is Visitor > Search > Compare > Decision Making > Booker

…want people to keep repeating this process…

  • Searching – Watch for ‘attentional blindness’ or ‘not seeing the gorilla’ (look this up on you Tube). Just because you know where something is does not mean the consumer will, you need to test. Attentional set: having specific attributes & position of mind target
  • Comparing – Scarcity may be appealing or may not be believed. It does not continue to work as there are other options available. do not use this all the time as it can get annoying.
  • Decision making – There is a lot of choice for hotels in London, for example. Is a lot of choice a good thing or a bad thing? This probably depends on your business. Choice overload may occur depending on variables of choice, personality & context. So who does like a lot of choice and who do we need to help filter and subset so they are not overloaded?
  • Personalisation of results. Loyalty/Return Visit – Loyalty is a form of commitment:

–          Affective commitment: using the brand because I like it, I feel connected to it. Good, likely to recommend.

–          Continuance commitment: using the brand because I have to. No so good, may like to have more choice.

Get to understand your customer using multiple methods & create personalisation.


Don’t be evil! The slippery slope of black hat CRO, Dark Patterns and Manipulative Interface Design with Dr. Harry Brignull

Showed us the very hard to find place that the iPhone hides ad tracking (ask nicely and I’ll tell you J) this is ‘a classic dark pattern’, a term devised by Dr Harry himself. Take any usability principle and invert it, this is a dark pattern.

Imagine you’re an Operations Director for the NHS. Your boss says you have to cut waiting times to under 5 minutes per patient or you’re out, with no extra resources. Nurses started saying hello to patients, this counted as the patient being ‘seen’ and the KPIs were met.

This was an example of:

  • Single KPI
  • Aggressive targets
  • Blinkered non holistic view
  • Deception used to ‘game the system’

Join Our Mailing List tick box not very effective as users need to opt in, most do not notice it. Radio yes/no means they have to choose to continue. OR could use lack of noticing to our advantage and confuse user into opting in. For example the Post Office site says ‘tick if you DO NOT wish to receive’. This can tarnish brand reputation. Royal Mail have gone one further and have one set of ‘tick to opt out followed by one line of ‘tick to opt in’.

Another example, Santander section 9 of small print has teeny tiny box you can tick in teeny tiny writing to opt out of them selling a lot of your personal information.

Email Notification Dark Pattern – flipped the switch to all of their users receiving emails. Users were unhappy but gave a great apology and all was well.

Brand relationships are like human relationships – they may do something to really annoy you but you will most likely forgive them and maintain the relationship.

Forced Continuity – negatively coercing the user into staying. **unverified example: is a big job board in the US. Their basic user process is:

Free membership sign up > job search > results > click on job > forced to upgrade to paid version to view the job > you pay > you view the job

Copy & paste is disabled, so cannot take the text and search elsewhere. About half the jobs appear to be free elsewhere on the web but they are trying to make it hard for you to find this. If you sign up for 1 month is most expensive & popular option but is automatically renewed and hard to switch off. You have to fill in every part of quite long form to cancel and give your reason which then has to be accepted. Terrible!

Just is $45 per month – terms of service explains you will be automatically enrolled when you buy an item. Now have class action law suit pending…

NEXT also do not play by the rules, surprisingly. Checkout page asks if you want free NEXT directory, pre-selected as yes. Then in small print says by proceeding you are consenting to credit check and having a credit account opened for you, plus you’ll be charged for subsequent directories. There are four a year at £3.75 each. Not good.

Roach Motel Effect – easy to get in, hard to leave. Banks are very good at this. Some sites designed to help you not fall foul of this they will notify you of bank cuts your rate and where you could go for a better offer. This really shouldn’t need to exist but there is a need.

Misdirection – say you search for low level technical keyword. It looks like you found a good result on Experts Exchange but you have been duped into subscribing while looking for the answer. Stack Overflow seems more ethical and won’t dupe you into subscribing. Short term gain but long term loss.

Dark patterns all look good on paper but are very blinkered and small minded creating cheaper nastier experience. Do you want user to just sue your brand? Brand needs to be liked or loved which can never happen by using dark patterns. If your boss wants to use dark patterns try user testing, especially video, which can make a compelling case to the powers that be.

Good design & business is about empathy with fellow humans. You need a human level of focus to understand true impact of your optimisations.


SEO & CRO – team up for maximum conversion with Richard Baxter

Can start building with press releases etc before the traffic has even hit the site.

Be persuasive, unique, remarkable.

Suggested mantra to use – ‘Learn. And Test.’ – just like CROs.

Our purpose should be to serve the best interests of our users. Forget poor quality infographics and shoddy links.

Optimise everything – not just the URL etc you want to rank for

Content – earn trust, credibility, gain authority

Asked visitors what the problems were with their own site, same as a CRO might if site wasn’t converting. Got back tons of data back to help improve the site then implemented into a mantra of ‘optimise everything’:

  • Not everyone will land on a blog post, are all the possible landing pages or pages visitors might want to see are optimised. Make each page unique and linkable
  • Produced an explainer video about them, what they do and who with as these were the things feedback said users were missing
  • Make the site beautiful – even their ‘What we Do’ page is getting shares now
  • Make the 404 interesting
  • Make tools pages explanatory
  • Get out there – now doing webinars, charity affiliation etc
  • Get guest bloggers already popular in their area and utilise their reach
  • Use a partners page, these partners will see it as a link
  • Create an API and platform people can use
  • Did all this because want to gain credibility, become an authority in their space

Formula To Succeed:

–          Get discovered
–          Win mentions
–          Earn trust
–          Make money

Content for SEO & Conversion

Justin Briggs wrote an article about users leaving Big Fish Games to find information when they get stuck in their games. Users were leaving and looking for forums looking for information because it was not on the site. They have now written a section for each level of the game to help keep users on the site.

Can use apps and other creations by others to help solve a problem for your users by linking to it.

Listen to what people are saying and look for a ‘need’.  Find ‘I’m looking for’ phrases on Twitter for example.


Rich Snippets – Conversion begins right at the start of the funnel. Tested a SERP with and without stars through SERP Turkey. With stars ranks 2nd, without ranks 4th.

How many of my top referring keywords from organic have rich snippets in their SERPs? Then compared with competing sites. In the instance used 91% were already using rich snippets so the addition made little difference so have to find another way.

Really Targeted Outreach

How do we get our products in front of the right people?

Create realistic personas based on real people.

Use Tweet Archivist and Followerwonk.

What are your target audience seeing? What are they sharing simultaneously? What are their influencers sharing? What time of day are they looking at your kind of content? Are they following similar people?

Look for keywords in Twitter bios that may be useful.

SEO Tools for Excel will unshorten URLs too in SEO tools to show full link and find the source of what they were sharing.

Find a place and time where the influencers are and be there.


Are Your Visitors Losing The Will To Live? (How to make millions from user testing) with Dr Karl Blanks

He tests usability on his mother quite often – not great at using the web and very honest!

As a marketer we don’t see the other side, people in despair at our design or errors. When users can’t operate something they tend to blame themselves, and the designers blame the user too. The most profitable mind-set such as that from Apple is not to develop complicated system, instead if the user can’t use the product it is the designer’s fault. Look at it again.

Why should you run user tests?

Genchi Genbutsu – Go And See…this is Toyota’s ethos. Don’t sit in the boardroom discussing the problem, go and see it.

Who Should Test Your Site?

You, firstly. Use Camtasia Studio for PCs ScreenFlow for Mac to video yourself to see where you got stuck and how you reacted.

Become the customer and follow the whole sales process through.

Next, anyone you can find! You’ll be amazed at what people will see that you didn’t, or get stuck on.

Then move on to anyone qualified to find more sophisticated opinion and problems. For example Vodafone travel phone, went to airport to speak to people and get opinion.

Next, your visitors. Use Ethnio which creates opinion request pop up. Easy to modify, turn on and off in Ethnio interface. You only pay if you interview the user.

Then, your customers. These people are qualified – could put Ethnio on thank you page as you know they are qualified and ask them what they thought.


Usabilla – When you produce a wireframe can run several types of test and ask users any question, for example:

“which of these you would be most likely to click on if…”

“where would you be mostly likely to click if you were looking for…”

Optimal Sort – Helps with informational architecture with user testing. Drag cards into categories to allow them to create the structure for you. Then produces table which suggest how you should organise your site.

Treejack -Allow users to test your existing navigation.

User – Tell them what type of visitor you want and they send you back video of users doing whatever it is you want them to test.

What Users Do – Same as above but UK based.

Join Go To – Do it yourself, screen-share and phone someone.

Doodle – Helps you schedule these calls and creates appointments.

Notable (another version called Bounce) – upload screen shot then others can leave comments


Scripts – Steve Krug & Ethnio, takes the thinking out and keeps things uniform

Best user tests leave you in tears, be prepared for these!

It’s impossible to get it right first time

Be Louis Theroux – gets people to be themselves in interview, be humble, you almost want them to be cocky because then they will speak their mind

Keep quiet and ask later – tempting to help them when they are getting lost, let them struggle until point where they are going nowhere. When people are speaking their thoughts out loud they start behaving more rationally. You are interfering with the process by speaking too early on.

Collaborate and listen – moderated usability tests. Where they get stuck as then what they think you should have written etc, or offer solutions like drop downs etc and see what they think.

Things you see during user testing

User making silly mistakes (actually means silly design).

The ‘house visitor’ effect – you suddenly start noticing things as the test begins that you hadn’t noticed before or had forgotten about.

Not scrolling – painful when it happens.

If it looks like one thing people will treat it like it – people do not read instructions, they become blind to them.

Not reading at all – some users will only read headlines and images. Almost act as if they cannot read headlines so have to do a lot of work and text has to be very clear.

Completely missing the point.

Hitting a sticking point – if one or two get stuck in the same place you need to fix this.

Lack of trust/confusion/not convinced you are better than competition/still researching – ask them what would help or use Ethnio etc.

Usability is important, not glamorous but can be agile and done without altering your work flow. Quick, actionable insights like no other process.


Conversion Optimisation on a Global Scale – Cultural Design Matters Case Study with Jack Lockyer & Joe Doveton

Cultural conversion testing – use different concepts when testing.

High context cultures vs low context culture. For example Japan is high context – influenced by the way words are said, intonation etc. In digital surround you are presenting with competitions etc. Germany is low-context so site is more simplistic with fewer distractions around the object.

Look into any other research that can be done on other influences such as colour, religion etc.

Compare brand or vendor with product offering to see how they sell the same thing different ways. Example John Lewis contrasted with supermarket, same item but sold very differently.

Templates provide economies of scale:

  • Present a ‘one size fits all’ attitude
  • Different cultures respond in different ways
  • Be as flexible as possible around brand assets

Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture:

  • Masculinity vs Femininity
  • Power Distance – how close a group of people in a society feel to/involved with the power process of that culture
  • Individualistic vs Collectivistic for example culture of the USA vs India
  • Uncertainty Avoidance – presenting data to people so there can be no possible misinterpretation
  • Long Term vs Short Term Orientation – compare the ideas from the USA vs Japan

Case Study:

Main objective was driving more web based enquiries for the sales team worldwide. Company uses the web to funnel visitors through product specific pages then request a quote. The brokers deal with it from there.

Global Maxer carried out a usability audit. Carried out heat map testing, on page linguistics, design etc.

Tested a number of variations and saw uplifts in each case. They implemented recommended changes. Some were minor and they varied in different countries. For example ‘request a quote’ worked best in China, whereas ‘free quote’ worked best in Australia.

Next they tested colours. In China red worked best, Germany hated red but loved silver.

Business from website has increased 500% since April where they have only had one for 2 years and only started pushing it in the last 8-10 months.

Changes don’t have to be radical, a few little changes can make a big difference.

Buy-in from global staff is important.


Eliminating roadblocks: Common testing mistakes and how to avoid them with Tim Jespersgaard & Steen Rasmussen

Don’t do it because you can, do it because it makes sense!

Common hurdles to testing :

Technology and data quality – if this isn’t working we cannot do testing, this is also where we see most problems. We don’t live in a protected environment, we can do 80% of a test then something changes and we get pushed back to square one.

  • Not enough resources and management buy-in

–  Know where your HIPPO shoes hurt (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion)
–  Keep your HIPPO up to date
–  Explain with facts and ROI
–  Get accepted for stakeholder resources
–  Don’t ask – show you are at the rudder
–  Don’t use the word ‘testing’, you want to make variations
–  Have a plan you can stick to
–  know your goals and objectives
–  know your message
–  know your segment
–  know your audience
–  know your time frame & budget
–  don’t fear a bad test, learn from the results

Start with the framework. Need to know:

  • Goals
  • Traffic
  • Business values
  • Segment
  • Audience
  • Message

… and build a long term strategy.

Long Term Strategy

Goals vary depending on where in the funnel customer is. In research phase conversion can be a download or finding out more information, not necessarily a sale.

Define manageable goals. Set specific objectives for…

  • your message
  • your definition of success
  • your traffic source segment

Know your traffic…

  • Map the good customers & improve path for them
  • Map bad customers and identify what is missing
  • Understand why your customers might prefer competitors

Build segments to know your customers…

  • Map Ad campaign & traffic sources
  • Identify customer needs and motives

Make organisation aware that your ‘wins’ will get harder to maintain as time goes by, do not promote the easy wins or it may bite you later.

Other problems you may face are:

  • No business driven direction
  • Not understanding the mix of goals and segments
  • Expecting to win
  • Too much ambition – too little traffic. Be realistic with your numbers
  • Acting too fast- lack of validity
  • Adhoc testing

The final speaker was Rob Jackson who shared some really useful tools.  You can view his slides here to find out all about them.

A big thank you to all the speakers across both days and the organisers. If you have any questions or comments on these notes then please leave them below:

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