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  1. #1
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    How critical is site design to Affiliate success?
    Hi Everyone,

    Been reading a lot and checking out a number of sites in the review section. I'm curious to know from our experienced affiliates how much the site design and usability plays into success with affiliate offers and conversions?

    Obviously traffic plays a critical role, as does content, but how perfectionist do you get over the site design and usability?

    I've spent the last year overhauling the default software setup for my sites, and am almost ready to relaunch things. I've been driving myself hard to create the end user experience, custom writing a number of sections in php to make this happen.

    My partner keeps telling me to just launch and go back and refactor - but I have this paranoid fear of making a bad first impression - LOL.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this? Is there a direct link between the site design and conversions / sales?

  2. #2
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    THIS is one of my personal pet peeves.

    Site design and UI are one thing - an important thing. "Make Pretty" is a totally different story.

    We have a service where we create drop ship stores. We offer very simple yet explicit instructions on what to do to optimize their stores for the search engines. Customers that listen make thousands a month - those that do not are lucky to get a sale.

    But what has that got to do with site design and UI? Nothing. Our site designs are proven. They are simple and work. However, "Make Pretty" is what EVERY NEW customer wants to focus on. We even start out by telling them "DO NOT FOCUS ON MAKING YOUR STORE PRETTY". These are people who are new to ecommerce - they have to be guided or they will fail. Period. We lose 2 customers for every 3 new ones we get. Because they don't listen - they only want to "Make Pretty".

    We tell them "If you focus only on 'Make Pretty' the only person who will ever see your website is you."

    Check out your competitors for site design and UI ideas. If there are heavy weights in your niche then it is a good possibility they have done their homework. Perfect example is Chipotle and Qdoba. Qdoba didn't have the money that Chipotle had to spend on demographics. What did Qdoba do? They waited until Chipotle found a location and moved in down the street. Copying or getting ideas from your competitor is not a bad idea.

    I have seen some butt-ugly affiliate sites from some good sized, long-time affiliates. I used to wonder all the time how in the heck they can make any money with such an ugly site. Bottom line is the content and functionality of the site is what works...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  4. #3
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    This is a rare occasion when I will agree with Convergence

    Having what the customer is looking for is THE most important thing; "Here it is! You want it? We've got it!". Of course it doesn't hurt for your site to "look nice", but that doesn't matter very much as long as it's not a mess.
    CUSTOM BANNERS by GRAPHICS CANDY ~ Banner Sets and Website Graphics ~ Professional design, reasonable rates
    DESIGNER DOG CHECKS ~ We double-dog dare ya to write one!

  5. #4
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    Thank you - exactly what I needed to hear. I did check out my primary competition, and looked at both the good and the bad they did. I have one usability thing I hate, which is my registration being outside the submission flow - but I'm limited by software and can't fix unless I switch software with a complete redesign. I'm currently not willing to do that, as I just need to get the sites relaunched.

    Definitely spent time on the functional aspects, SEO tags, layout for search engine happiness, etc. Made that mistake before - LOL.

    As always, love the feedback I get up here. Thanks again!

  6. #5
    Manager - Affiliate Marketing Patrick Vesperman's Avatar
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    Great input above. There is also a balance. You said you spent a year doing this! That's a year you have waited to increase conversion/sales/etc. Sometimes getting good product to market, that you can improve, sooner is better than getting an excellent product to market much slower.

    Just another thing to keep in mind! Good Luck!

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  8. #6
    Member soda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    I have seen some butt-ugly affiliate sites from some good sized, long-time affiliates. I used to wonder all the time how in the heck they can make any money with such an ugly site. Bottom line is the content and functionality of the site is what works...
    I must disagree with such definition of bottom line. I don't argue about content. But I would start with asking about who is your demographic, how advanced of internet users are they and what design they can live with. You are not going to sell Louis Vuitton in Old Navy style store. Same with your web site. Know your demographic and your product.

    Also, what a lot of web sites disregard but what has high importance for users is speed. On my current project we spent 6 months to re-code web site inside and out to make load time faster. And it did mean re-programming back end, making DOM smaller, using less external files, using CDN for static files etc.

  9. #7
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    soda, your comments are more fitting to a merchant site. I have to agree with Convergence that many of my most successful affiliate have vanilla sites. By the mere fact that they focus on the content and avoid bells and whistles their navigation is text based. All things being equal content is king.

  10. #8
    Member soda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    soda, your comments are more fitting to a merchant site. I have to agree with Convergence that many of my most successful affiliate have vanilla sites. By the mere fact that they focus on the content and avoid bells and whistles their navigation is text based. All things being equal content is king.
    Believe me, I am a #1 fan of text based links and simple UI without unnecessary visual attractions. I am just saying that given same content, a more tasteful and faster loading site wins.

  11. #9
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    How critical is site design to Affiliate success?
    Ask Craig Newmark...



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  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boom or Bust View Post
    Ask Craig Newmark...
    LOL - You just had to make me go and search to see who Craig Newmark is, a good example though.

  14. #11
    Newbie dave2011aks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    I have seen some butt-ugly affiliate sites from some good sized, long-time affiliates. I used to wonder all the time how in the heck they can make any money with such an ugly site. Bottom line is the content and functionality of the site is what works...
    While the above quote holds true, I am a bit confused.
    Is there any website with good content and functionality but really looking ugly? If the word "ugly" meant NOT pretty, the original question made me more confuse. Is it about looking pretty or a good page design?

  15. #12
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    I have seen unattractive sites where I would question the page design - However, they are still powerhouses. Their content reigns supreme...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  16. #13
    Newbie dave2011aks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    Site design and UI are one thing - an important thing. "Make Pretty" is a totally different story.
    Reading this quote, and if the website in question is fulfilled with this important requirement (Site design and UI), I hope it's ready to launch. I am sure the site is still looking good. Making pretty is just a small part of web design - can be done later.

  17. #14
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave2011aks View Post
    Is there any website with good content and functionality but really looking ugly? If the word "ugly" meant NOT pretty, the original question made me more confuse. Is it about looking pretty or a good page design?
    Did you read my post above, "Ask Craig Newmark..."? Perhaps that was a little too cryptic. The really ugly site inferred is Craigslist. Very functional, provides a great service, is extraordinarily successful, but is ugly. Of course, ugly is subjective, but IMO, within the realm of website design, may mean lack of 'prettiness'. Text only to me is ugly. Web users have come to expect eye candy. But the bottom line is that quality content (including proper grammar, correct spelling, useful subject matter), functionality (with intuitive navigation), and availability, in that order are the highest priorities... then prettiness.



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  19. #15
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    I know someone who runs a VERY successful publishing site (ad-based revenue).. he has minimal web design skills, so the site is basic HTML and mostly text.

    When we've chatted about the lack of design elements on the site, he said he wants to keep it looking amateur/home-grown. He figures it fools the competition, which I'm guessing it does.. he's not viewed as a player in the niche, and it's quite the opposite. Crazy amount of traffic daily.

    On the other hand, there are plenty of datafeed sites out there that are beautifully designed, but get zero placement in the SERPs.. because they have no original content, or add value.

    So it's possible to have a very successful site without a nice looking design.. and it's also possible to go nowhere with a beautiful site.

    I think the objective would be to look at the existing site, analyze where sales come... and do more of that. Then apply some nice design elements.

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