Usability lessons from spring breaking

The good folks at web-usage tracker Crazy Egg asked five conversion experts to critique a PPC ad and the Universal Orlando landing page it led to. It was a massacre. There were comments about bait-and-switch techniques, bad colors, questionable layout choices.

All of them were true. But what Brian Massey at the Custom Creation Equation wrote resonates far deeper than just this page when it comes to web design and frequently made mistakes:

Test showing, not saying. This is an “EXCLUSIVE!” offer, but it doesn’t say to whom it is exclusive. Is it exclusive to previous visitors? Is it exclusive to people who have computers?

Try, “For our previous guests ONLY: A chance to come back and get your 4th night free.” If you can fly on a broom, show me. Don’t tell me.

Let’s get a copywriter in here. Is JK Rowling available? For example, what is the best thing about “Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks™”? It’s “one per person.” That’s as persuasive as lawyers get.

Get Voldemort in to do the layout. He doesn’t beat around the bush. Drop the navigation, the side bar, the trip planning video, and at least one of the three logo treatments on the page.

Get your call to action right. Is it “Book Your Trip?” or “Search?”

How would Hermoine translate “Need Assistance?” She would read it as “Are you lame?” Try “Call one of our knowledgeable Guest Consultants.”

Overall, this page is like Professor Snape: You can’t prove he’s bad, but you just can’t trust him.”

Setting aside the Harry Potter theme (the landing page was for a Harry Potter special), there are some excellent points here:

“Test showing, not saying” is brilliant and is a natural extension of the old editor saying “Show, don’t tell.”  Just saying something is “exclusive” or “low-fat” isn’t as effective a strategy as saying “for Harry Potter fans only” or “has 1/3 the calories of regular ranch dressing.”

Massey’s point about the graphic treatment on the page — it’s buried in a Voldemort reference — is dead-on. The page is busy and ugly and … overwhelming. It reeks of design-by-committee and a visit from the Good Idea Fairy.

The bottom line on this page is that there is too much there in there. And  it makes it harder for the consumer to make a sales decision than it should be .

Full article is here.