So much discussion lately about websites that perform better if they’re ugly. I won’t post a big long spiel for once (hooray!), but just jot down a few of my own notes:
If you are an adsense focused website, making your site so unattractive and filled as much above the fold as possible with adsense works. Makes sense. Visitors are in such a mad scramble to get away, leave, run, scared, anywhere–as long as it’s off the bleeding eyeball site.
Do webmasters care? No. That’s why I despise adsense and the contextual ad game. It’s all about ugly, stuffing as much advertisement as possible above the fold and confused clicking to gain as many mad scramble click offs as possible. Nice addition to the net–not >(. There’s a reason why I find the phrase Adsense = Webmaster Welfare so appropriate.
Every time I’ve updated and upgraded the look of an affiliate site–my sales and bookmark rates rise.
The site I mentioned last week (Upgrading Affiliate Sites To WordPress) has made 6 sales from 214 unique visitors since the updated look: March 24th. Not too shabby. This forgotten about and left behind affiliate site had a record of 1 or 2 sales a month before the change.
Pretty is one thing, but distraction = no money
You don’t need nor want a jaw dropping beautiful site. If it’s too much, it can be distracting. Just a nice, clean, visually appealing site that’s easy for visitors to move around in and click off to merchants is all you need. None of my sites look sleek and professional, but some show a bit of personality and maybe even a bit fun.
Keep links, banners, distractions to a minimum.
If you’re selling hard cover books, just have links and product descriptions to hard cover books on that page. Maybe a coupon banner thrown in too. If you fill a page with too much ‘other’ stuff, you’re just distracting your visitor from the task at hand: buying a hard cover book.
For me what works best is just having product pictures, links and descriptions. Aside from the site navigation links–that’s all that needs to be on the page to get the job done.
And one final note:
Every click a visitor has to make to get to where they want is an opportunity for your site to get dumped by that visitor. Don’t make it hard for your shoppers to click off to merchants and get your cookies set. The less clicks for navigating – the better. Think of every link presented, every banner, every signup form, etc., as a choice or a decision your visitor has to make. Don’t poop them out :).
PS: I’m not a Super Affiliate. I don’t have 100,000 visitors per month per affiliate site nor hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of commissions a day. All I can do is base my opinion on my own experience and my own numbers. They tell me a clean, visually appealing site performs much better if you’re trying to sell products. Of course – your mileage may vary ;).