Websites At First Glance; More On Hiding Conversion Info


August 9, 2006

I got e-consultancy’s newsletter this morning, complete with a new blog by Tom Stewart. The post was “Why asking why is never a stupid question.” I really wanted to reply to the post, but when I went to comment, it said that I had to be logged in. Well okay, I though, I have an email address and password but when I entered them, the site told me that that email address was used to register for their newsletter (true enough) and that I had to do a different kind of registration to be able to comment on Tom’s post. So I though, sure, and I clicked on the Register Now button. In order to be able to comment on Tom’s post, I had to give them my firstname, lastname, company name, phone number, country, etc. And then there were a whole other set of fields (who am I, an agency? A vendor? etc.)

I won’t be fair and say, “In fairness to eConsultancy, some of these fields were optional.” Some were optional, but I didn’t notice that until I went back to the site to write my post. I just knew that it was early in the morning, I was plowing through my email, I wanted to comment, and I didn’t want to spend 120 seconds filling out information. (And I was told that this is only page one out of two pages that you fill out to register.) I have this conversation with customers all the time. “Make it optional,” they say about extraneous info fields, not realizing that the more you ask for, the more you turn people off, even if it is optional.

If I had been allowed to comment, my question would have been, “If this is your blog, why don’t you have a feed?” In fact, Tom’s blog does have a feed (again, I learned when I went back to write this post), but you don’t see it on the permalink and it is not even in the address bar when I look at the permalink in my Firefox.

All of which proves, what you see at a glance really matters. Maybe only 5 fields were required in that form but it felt, at a glance, like 15. As far as the feed goes – I really looked for it and didn’t see it because it isn’t even there — at least not on the permalink page. (This reminds me of a post I did about not hiding conversion information. You want them to call? Put your phone number on every page. You want them to subscribe? Get your orange icon on every page….)

I hope the folks from eConsultancy comment. Maybe they will tell us that by having a long registration, they successfully weed out tirekickers from interested prospects (always an issue in lead generation.)

Robbin Steif