Ecommerce bloopers you don't want to make but probably are... Michael Summer & Jim Hudson at Conversion Conference 2011

Posted by Mark Slocock on 01 December 2011

Michael Summers 

Worked globally on big brands. Watched over 1000 people over the last year, gave them £200 to spend online and used eye tracking system to video the results.

The most important lesson was that we think we have a good sense of what the average person does online – but this is wrong.  Only 1 in 4 adults have a college education.

The Bloopers

Home page

  • Teams don't view /create at consumer resolutions (1024x768)
  • Crappy Super-Menus 
  • Accidental deployment
  • Mis-deployed/angled mouse

Grid Pages

  • Crappy faceted Navigation (nordstrom do faceted /layered navigation well) 
    • How do users get started?
    • What is selected?
    • Are selections mutually exclusive?
    • How users clear filters?
  • Don't overengineer
  • Image sizes too small
  • Allow image foraging (users visiually scan category pages - don't get in their way)
  • The ultimate sin – the dreaded quicklook – don't do it
  • Show deal breakers (out of stock, in store only etc)

Product Page Bloopers

  • Users must see the product to make a commitment to buy
  • 6 static views is about right for apparel
  • Add to cart – quick add not so good


  • No extra options – don't force users to sign up for an account
  • Removing the registration for one merchant resulted in $2m increase in two months
What I can't show you is that Michael had lots of video examples showing these problems but they are not publically available.

Jim Hudson

A couple of principles that they use for thinking about conversion:

1. Time Perception

  • Humans are terrible at knowing how much time is passing
  • Time is recreated in the past – the feeling of being fast is what drives conversion
  • Smiling / Scrolling face for 60 secs (happy – 40sec) (angry – 120sec) what does this mean for website design
  • Watched Pot – one group watch the pot (longer), one group watch with tasks (felt shorter) so make sure users know the steps in any process (this will make it feel faster)

2. Interruption

  • Recent studies – group one pretend to process the emails, group two interrupted whilst processing the emails (same time felt more stressed). So don't create an account – this is an interruption – it interrupts the task of checkout.
  • But not all interruption is bad, took IBM execs and gave them blackberries which texted them questions -what are you doing, why etc... we tend to interrupt ourselves so there are good times to interrupt (good time is right before lunch)
  • Good example – two optional places to create an account (one on personal details page) the second on success page

3. Information Filtering

  • Guard example – find video cherry 1958
  • Our unconscious brain filters out a lot of information automatically
  • The brain will filter out things that don't stand out
  • The cocktail party effect – we listen for things that are highly relevant to us pop through the filter system
Next Talk: The Top Tool Kit of the Conversion Experts by Ben Jesson and Craig Sullivan


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