Another fine example of ‘ugly sells’ : http://www.mrgreen.am/affiliate-marketing/the-ugly-truth/
This is what i’m talking about:
How an ugly page with misspellings can be lucrative
Andrew’s note: This section came from our conversation about testing.
Lisa’s example: I did a little bit of consulting work with Eben Pagan, who some people know as David DeAngelo. It was for landing pages and he was actually the merchant in this example. But I looked at these landing pages and I am like, “This is horrendous. This is just the worst looking landing page I have ever seen. You have got misspellings on here.” I was like, “This is crap!”
He was said, “Yeah OK. Every single person who ever comes from the Internet marketing space comes in and tells me the exact same thing.” He says, “But you know what? I have years, and years, and years of testing and I am telling you right now that this is the highest converting page.”
And he says, “And it knocks the socks off of the beautiful, awesome, creative, high-level marketing, branding approach.”
And I really got a huge lesson in that.
From Lisa Riolo’s interview with Eben Pagan at http://mixergy.com/the-woman-who-paid-me-1-million-in-affiliate-revenue-teaches-you-about-affiliate-programs-with-lisa-riolo/
Crappy websites, the ones coded by monkeys for adsense revenue, are the real “uglies [sic]” of the internet. They might look web 2.0, they might look like a Kindergartener had a fit and mashed keys, but they all share one thing in common. They serve no purpose. Consider a slick site with adsense garble, or a site coded by someone with a half-year education in being a human being. There are also the great examples of sites written randomly on mashed keyboards, and then spellchecked and thrown online, without any care or thought. The horrible grammar, the misspelled words, the asinine and insipid information, makes these sorts of sites the worst on the net. Many of them, are scarily, web 1.9 (meaning they look like 2.0, but were designed by random chance or bots). We don’t need more of this excrement from whatever darkest bowels of the internet to be made, and we certainly are not talking about them. Those sites need to be taken out back and put out of their misery by an eight gauge shotgun. It’s also scary how many of these MFAs (Made for Adsense) sites sell for enough to earn a living off of, and how little worth they are. Written for keywords, and for show, not for content and for a purpose! What is the point of having a website with a ton of articles that exhibit their keywords, and not their content? To make money off of ads! Less people will read these insipid entries though, as more people will be interested in real information and real content. They will return to those sites – not the ones made from cow pies.
The content, the actual meat, the very thing anyone goes to a site for, is and always will be king. If they cannot read it, they will not come. If they cannot navigate it, they will not click. If they cannot see it, they will not follow. If they cannot understand it, they will burn it. What is on the site, the very part that users want access to, whether it is services, manuals, ordering forms, articles, or other users, is certainly more important than anything else. If they cannot read it, they will not come. If they cannot order it, they will go elsewhere. If they cannot access it, they won’t buy. If they cannot understand it, they will not join. If they cannot print it, they will burn it. But if you build a site based on the principals of making it easy to see, use, navigate, and function, they will come. Of course you would need to take the steps to advertise it, but if your focus is on a niche that caters to anyone not born after 1990, drop the gloss and get the glue.
Ugly sites, they’re actually not that ugly when they start to beat out the shine, gloss, and glitter of the 2.0 revolution. They’re not that ugly when people go to them to buy or order services, and they certainly are not that ugly when they’re easy to read. It is not really ugly that “sells” you see, it is the services, the content, the ease, and the trust that you are dealing with a human that does.
The principal of keeping it simple is an old one. KISS, being, Keep It Simple, Stupid is a very easy acronym to remember. If you have a web 2.0 site that is complex, slick, shiny, but hard as heck to navigate because of small menus and buttons – you will lose out pretty quickly to Grandma’s Antiques store site that has massive buttons. Understanding your market demographic is just as important as letting folks navigate your site without a PHD in puzzles. If you’re selling goods or even if it’s a free membership site, and you cannot navigate it, you’re not likely to get many folks. Google is a good example of how simplicity wins out, when compared to the other big engines of search. They all focus on many things rather than searching – and have in the past compromised that exact function to focus on offering a huge complex array of other services. It is true that Google is also offering a bunch of tools – but when you go to Google, you still get greeted by that big ugly simple page that says “GOOGLE” and has a search bar. Go to Yahoo or MSN, and you get greeted with ever greater amounts of information – when all you may want to do is search the internet for something simple.
The foundation of a good website is what it is going to be used for, and what information and services it is going to give you. An ugly site that is plain text, has some cheap images, but offers every service, is easy to understand, and can actually do what it says well will always beat the slick glossy site that becomes difficult to navigate. Big fonts, giant buttons, and such, may look terrible, really awful, but they are easy to read and use. I have seen many sites with small fonts, and tiny little grayed out fonts with slick buttons. I get headaches when I see a page filled with size 9 font and I actually have to read the darn thing (I know of this zoom function – but are people really going to waste time to zoom in when they could go to a different site for what they are looking for?). Then, we come to the site for a home run company, built seemingly by someone with little taste or skill. The fonts are massive, size 16 and above in MS word. True, they can be too big, but usually they are around that 16-22 size. Ugly, awful, horrible looking – but you know what? Anyone can read it – including older users of the web who might want that service.
You’ve seen ugly sites before, you know, the ones that have the contrasting parts, the unsmoothed graphics, the poorly created templates that still work. Now, I’m not talking about half-coded piles of garbage, no indeed that is not what I mean. Nor am I discussing spam sites with a billion word variations that are completely out of whack. I am talking about basic websites that are created for no other purpose than to get their point across. But why would they be able to sell their products and services, or even just sell themselves, better than a Web 2.0 glassy glossy gooey site? Because they’re not a glassy glossy or gooey looking site! It is precisely the way they focus on things that makes them stand out and become a better seller than the alternatives which are slick and well defined in how they look – but muddled in what they really are. You could have a site designed so well that anyone who sees it says “Wow, that is awesome looking!” and they might stay around for a while and check it out. Yet, later on, you find that they don’t come back or seem interested. “Why is that?” you might ask. The answer is usually because although the site looks really great, it may not actually be that great.
Now, it is all well and good to have information and forms presented easily along with the basic functions that the sites are trying to fulfill. The trappings (the shingles on the roof if you will) on many Web 2.0 sites seems to be the content (rather than it being the core) or if they do a good job on the content they decide to slick up the site. This can muddle navigation, and also put users off. Who are you going to trust with your money, services, or membership on the internet anyways? Are you going to trust a website that looks like a MegaCorp built it, and it is designed to suck your wallet until it slowly shrivels up and dies? Or are you going to trust the site that looks like an amateur webmaster with better things to do (like running a brick and mortar business that you could actually go to) designed over the course of a few classes in 1998 – and has remained nearly unchanged in styles since? Personally, since most of these home-grown sites also have real business locations I would be inclined to set up shipping or dealings with them. In the case of sites that are functionally set up for memberships like forums or social networks, a simpler site more focused on the purpose of the community always does better than a slickened forum or site that has way too many graphics, gradients, and goo. MySpace might be the bane of existence for many, but because it lets the users make their themes it is popular. The basic MySpace blue page is simple to understand, and the site is easy to learn.