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MariaThompson
11-09-2013, 03:50 PM
I thought some of you might find this interesting. We had a discussion elsewhere on WAHM about the often positive effects of amateurish-looking design on affiliate conversions. My stance is it depends on the niche: we're likely not going to buy a $2,500,000 house from an ineptly designed website; on the other hand, and for example, we're likely to trust a personal website that offers product recommendations if it doesn't look like said person blew $4,000 on web design. In this example, I think it boils down to this: the more money it looks like the person has spent on their site, the more likely I think it is that people will ask, "What's in it for them if I click the links?" And, further, if it looks like they have something to gain (or why else invest in web design?): "Can I really trust their recommendations?"

Edit: Just want to add to the above. I think the subject depends on a combination of target audience and product. For example, take Pro Blogger. Expertly-designed site. In this case it works because he's telling us how to make money (among other things, granted). If his design sucked, why would we believe he was worthy of giving advice? Most experienced bloggers would - we're familiar with him and his reputation and we've seen the Adwords checks - but would new readers? Perhaps not. I'd also like to add that CB product websites and squeeze pages (and I own a few of both) are a different breed to affiliate websites. I've found these do tend to benefit from two things: a white background and black text, and simple (not amateurish) design.

Anyway! This won't provide any definitive answers on the relationship between amateurish-looking web design and conversions (I'm not even split testing this niche; just making the one site), but I thought it might interest some of you. I'm putting it together over the next few days and then I'll report on any conversions generated - if any.

Edit number 2: I won't reveal the site itself. But, in order that this isn't a wasted exercise, I'll say as much as I can and answer any questions.


carlamae
11-09-2013, 10:07 PM
Keep me posted on this. You can PM me because I have a little experience in this area too. Because I have built a lot of websites and know how easy it is to make it look professional, with tools like wordpress, etc., that I personally am picky about how it looks. However, I do believe there is something to be said for plain and simple.
My temperature gauge for a sites reputability is the Alexa and PR rankings.

MariaThompson
11-10-2013, 06:15 AM
Keep me posted on this. You can PM me because I have a little experience in this area too. Because I have built a lot of websites and know how easy it is to make it look professional, with tools like wordpress, etc., that I personally am picky about how it looks. However, I do believe there is something to be said for plain and simple.
My temperature gauge for a sites reputability is the Alexa and PR rankings.

Hey carlamae (love that name!)

I began designing and programming for other people in the 90s; these days, I do it for myself and outsource to a real pro when I want things tightened up (or, in the case of apps or mobile sites, I'm just acting as an intermdiary). Always happy to PM, though. I love a good chat and I'm sure we'll learn heaps from each other.

Glad to keep you posted! It may take a little longer to put together (something cropped up this morning) but it'll get done, that's for sure.

:)


msuggitt
11-10-2013, 08:36 AM
I think you are right on target - never trust that the newest, the flashiest, the most 'corporate' looking, or polished sites or ads will yield the most profitable results.

I've had some very 'crude' looking ads net way more signups and/or profitable results against some of the newer slicker ads provided by various affiliate products/ programs.

that's why tracking is so important, I can't count the number of times I've been surprised by results in the past 30 years both on and offline when it comes to advertising. The only thing I can say for sure when it comes to consumers is that they are finicky, they change their minds often, and no one ever really knows what the hottest toy or electronic item will be at Christmas till AFTER Christmas - at least not in the past 100 years.

So if a cheap clipart or text ad or even a flyer on a bulletin board outsells a fancy banner or other fancy techniques than RUN with them no matter what the 'herd of sheep aka other people" are doing. Run all the way to the bank. For myself, marketing is ALL about the GAME - finding the perfect way to reach your customers

MariaThompson
11-10-2013, 02:51 PM
I think you are right on target - never trust that the newest, the flashiest, the most 'corporate' looking, or polished sites or ads will yield the most profitable results.

I've had some very 'crude' looking ads net way more signups and/or profitable results against some of the newer slicker ads provided by various affiliate products/ programs.

that's why tracking is so important, I can't count the number of times I've been surprised by results in the past 30 years both on and offline when it comes to advertising. The only thing I can say for sure when it comes to consumers is that they are finicky, they change their minds often, and no one ever really knows what the hottest toy or electronic item will be at Christmas till AFTER Christmas - at least not in the past 100 years.

So if a cheap clipart or text ad or even a flyer on a bulletin board outsells a fancy banner or other fancy techniques than RUN with them no matter what the 'herd of sheep aka other people" are doing. Run all the way to the bank. For myself, marketing is ALL about the GAME - finding the perfect way to reach your customers

I love your post. Thank you!

I haven't been at this as long as you - 20 years here - so I'll be tuning into your posts to upload info to the ole noggin. :)

An update for msuggitt and anyone else:

I spent the first part of my Sunday researching design for this project. (I'd already researched domains, keywords, aff. programs, products, and whatever else my frazzled brain is forgetting.) Overall, and as expected, all of the review sites - without exception - have taken the impersonal approach to design. I can't in all honesty say the competing designs are good (I found one that got a thumbs up from yours truly), but they do display what we'd expect: SEO writing, professional logos, mostly stock image elements, multiple pages, newsletter integration, often keyword domains, and so forth. In other words: your typical affiliate site. Not, in other words, a review site penned and designed by a persona.

After my research, and some consideration, I decided to relent a little on my initial impulse to create something crude-looking and go, instead, with a compromise. I'm a third of the way into the design and the overall goal is to create something that looks as if a woman with some artistic talent may have created it - in other words, not a web designer or affiliate marketer - and, therefore, someone who's opinion on the products under reveiew you're more liable to trust. I'm adding elements I would never usually include (standard email links, for instance, instead of contact forms) and, likewise, leaving out some elements I always include (like that contact form).

I'm using a theme I designed last year to save time; just needing to monkey around with the CSS a little here and there. These things are complete: layout, color scheme, background layers, logo, 50% of the graphic elements, some text. I'd like to get it finished tomorrow, but I have a full day ahead, so I'll be leaving this for the evening -- assuming I have any energy left.

To make this a more useful exercise, I'd really like to post links and give more detailed info, but I'll either get my butt deleted by the Powers That Be or I'll find myself with heaps more competition.

We'll see how this goes, though. Might be helpful!

writepro
11-10-2013, 10:36 PM
I find that WordPress allows you to create a professional looking site easily and quickly, without going overboard on the flashiness factor.

In fact, I find it important to keep the site uncluttered and focused on content, rather than ads and design features all over the place that crowd out the content.

As far as sign-up pages goes, I've found that some of the simplest ones perform just as well as the more elaborate ones, at least in some niches. Of course, it's always a good idea to test what works best.

There's a cool site called Which Test Won DOT com that tests different designs and approaches. They have a newsletter that'll send you a test result (and you get to guess which one won) each week. It's pretty cool, and often eye-opening.

Just be sure to check your emails with the tests quickly, because each week, once the new one comes out, the old ones goes into the archive and you can only access it if you sign up for their paid plan.

MariaThompson
11-11-2013, 02:18 PM
I find that WordPress allows you to create a professional looking site easily and quickly, without going overboard on the flashiness factor.

In fact, I find it important to keep the site uncluttered and focused on content, rather than ads and design features all over the place that crowd out the content.

As far as sign-up pages goes, I've found that some of the simplest ones perform just as well as the more elaborate ones, at least in some niches. Of course, it's always a good idea to test what works best.

There's a cool site called Which Test Won DOT com that tests different designs and approaches. They have a newsletter that'll send you a test result (and you get to guess which one won) each week. It's pretty cool, and often eye-opening.

Just be sure to check your emails with the tests quickly, because each week, once the new one comes out, the old ones goes into the archive and you can only access it if you sign up for their paid plan.


Hi writepro,

Thanks for the site suggestion! I've never come across it before, and so useful!

I agree with all your points. I run many different sites - everything from simple squeeze pages and one-product review affiliate sites to CB products, eCommerce, mini-niche, authority, forums, and whatever my tired melon is forgetting - and simple, user-oriented design is key. "Make it simple" should be a motto for all web designers or web entrepreneurs!

Thanks again for your input and I hope you'll keep following.

MariaThompson
11-11-2013, 02:30 PM
Update.

Site is ready. (Not complete because, by their nature, sites rarely ever find themselves in a self-actualized place of completeness. Poor things!)

I should really change the title of this thread from "Amateurish" to a more appropriate adjective. Those of you who've read through this little episode will note that my initial impulse was to create something, well, not to varnish things . . . something rather crappy-looking. I've tried all manner of designs in the past and avoided this variety. In suggesting crappy, I didn't mean to imply poor design - merely the illusion of an amateur. I hoped that this kind of web presence would convince readers of the truth: specifically, that I do actually use the products and think more highly of them than others in their category. By employing a professional web designer, or dedicating a week of my own time, I figured the site would look like it was less than honest - like I had something to gain. Most sites I own look like this, but I wanted to experiment with something new. I never recommend a product unless I actually love it. To do otherwise would be feel dirty and I'm soon come to hate what I do. So, from the outset, I wanted to go out of my way to really show the reader this is me and, yup, this is me recommending products I love.

Of course, when I finally approached the design, I chickened out somewhat.

Instead, what I've tried to do is inject a lot of myself into the design. In other words, instead of your typical review site, an entity created by a seemingly faceless entity, I've done what's very common in many niches - especially the one we all find ourselves in on this forum, the "make money" sector - and added a strong persona to the design. It helps that I actually adore the products under review, too. I've also designed the site myself in approximately 7 hours and concentrated on clean aesthetics and simple navigation.

In order to make any of this remotely useful to someone (and I'm not sure it will be, ever), I won't be using my usual traffic channels. Since you don't have them, it's pretty pointless me using them, right? I'll give it 1 month without them and then simply dip into this thread whenever anyone has questions, but at this point the site would be finished and wouldn't be developed any further here.

So, I'll be using traffic channels available to everyone here. More about traffic another time!

MariaThompson
11-12-2013, 03:47 AM
Update: Starting to build traffic today. Will be talking a little about the methods later.



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