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Eight record stores that need responsive design, plus two that are brilliant

Anyway, the point of all this preamble is to set the scene for this Saturday morning, where I’ll be darting across London (in previous years the whole of the UK) to soak up the sounds of my favourite record shops and hopefully get my filthy paws on a super limited translucent green 10” of the Ghostbusters Theme.

Last year while stood in the queue for hours researching other record shops on my mobile phone, I was struck at how poor some of these sites look on mobile devices. Most of my favourite independent record stores run excellent and comprehensive desktop websites, but almost all of them have ignored the mobile user.

This is a huge oversight. I spend half of my life in actual record shops and the other half browsing images of vinyl online. Surely for independent record shops, a big part of defending themselves against the threat of MP3 download and streaming sites would be making their ecommerce sites entirely accessible on all devices.

The biggest portion of the record buying market will be out and about on the streets this Saturday. They may not be online but they will have their mobile phones with them and there will be a significant amount of time stood around waiting. This is time where customers (me) will be idly browsing other record stores on their phones. Why not make it a much more pleasant experience by offering a responsive or mobile optimised site that may even lead to a few sneaky conversions.

So here’s a list of record stores that I would love to have better access to on a mobile device:

Rough Trade

The biggest name in independent record stores, and where I spend far too much of my time, recently redesigned its entire website.

It’s a great looking site with gorgeous flat design, great navigation and powerful search functionality.

Unfortunately the mobile user has been completely ignored.

Product listings are even worse.


The slightly more dance & electronic London-based music specialist has an equally poor site.

Banquet Records

It’s a similar story at Kingston based Banquet Records.

Sister Ray

Just around the corner from our office, on Berwick Street is Sister Ray. A shop as intimidatingly dingy as it is in fact very helpful and terribly friendly.

Sister Ray doesn’t have a website. At all. 

In a way I admire its steadfast refusal to adopt any post 1990 technology but then again it does run a hugely prolific Twitter account full of information and engagement.

The rest of the UK

I spent many of my formative years scurrying around the following Leeds based indie record shops. Unfortunately neither Jumbo nor Crash has a decent mobile presence…


I don’t think this has actually been updated since I was in my early-20s.


Great staff, great stock, terrible website.


Resident Records in Brighton is one of my favourite record stores in the country and a brilliant desktop site, however…


Bristol doesn’t have it any better either…

However it’s not all bad. London does have one record shop with a mobile optimised site:

Sounds of the Universe

In between Phonica and Sister Ray, just on the corner and probably less than half the size of its neighbours is this specialist record shop that operates a fine mobile site.

I like the welcome message that states its case clearly. 

The navigation is clear and product images are large. Although price information would be handy on these listings.

The album product pages themselves are nicely detailed with clear calls-to-action.

There’s also a brilliant feature here where you can click on any track and it will stream the song for you immediately without opening a new window or app.

When purchasing a product, you can select in-store pick-up from the delivery options.

My only criticisms are that the search could be much improved. When I’m typing text it doesn’t bring up predicted results and auto-correct tends to take-over. Here is my search of ‘Todd Terje’.

Then when you come to pay for your goods, you’re taken through to a SagePay screen which makes it a nightmare to input your card details.

However, outshining Sounds of the Universe and all the other London record shops is Manchester based Piccadilly Records.

Piccadilly Records

This is a beautifully designed mobile site.

Brilliant navigation, tasteful calls-to-action, excellent search with predictive results…

Excellent product listings that prioritises purchase options, although album information is just a scroll away. You can stream the individual tracks directly from the screen.

Nice big text entry boxes for entering your details and payment information, which is all done on the same screen.

Then finally a click-to-call option for any enquiries or in-store reservations.

It’s an excellent example of a traditional indie record store embracing new technology and making it easier for its customers to access products and information wherever they may be. It should definitely be held up as a benchmark for others.

Have a fun Record Store Day. I’ll be the one pushing you to the ground to get the last David Bowie 7” picture disc.

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Lead Generation: Customers are looking for a solution to their problems

At Lead Gen Summit 2013, Jon Ciampi, Vice President of Marketing, Corporate Development, Business and Strategic Accounts, CRC Health, recounted his challenges with PPC ads. Watch this brief video excerpt from his presentation to learn more about how A/B split testing can aid your efforts to learn more about what appeals to your ideal customer. Continue reading

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Five UX Lessons Learned from Dropbox’s New App, Carousel

On April 9, Dropbox released its new photo gallery app, Carousel, for iOS and Android. Branding itself as a home for a lifetime of memories, the app allows users to view photos and videos from both their phone and their Dropbox … Read More Continue reading

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Why You Are a Complete Idiot If You Don’t Google Yourself

The other day, I read a story at Fast Company titled Why You Should Google Yourself And Not Feel Guilty About It. I agreed with the reasoning of the author, Lindsay Lavine (@lindsaylavine), but was slightly puzzled by the “guilty” part. The headline was underscored by the opening sentence, “Admit it. You’ve Googled yourself, and [...] Continue reading

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Designing Effective Experiences for Financial Services

April 16, 2014

In my last article, I talked about some of the reasons people have difficulty making good financial decisions. UX professionals who work in the financial services domain know it’s a challenge to design for successful financial decision-making on the part of their users.

Traditionally, these challenges have been addressed by trying to improve the presentation and delivery of information—by trying to help people better understand their options and the risks of not saving; by helping them learn to become better investors and savers. But as I mentioned in my first article, this approach has not offered the kind of breakthrough success rates that are needed.

In that article, I outlined a number of reasons that make it difficult for…read more
By Colleen Roller


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Your Eloqua Data Can Make Your Website Smarter

Join Get Smart Content & Eloqua during the month of April, as we demonstrate how marketers can push Eloqua digital body language data to Get Smart Content to serve personalized web content to prospects and customers in real time based on where they are in the buying process Continue reading

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Get the Most From Your Money – Optimizing your PPC

As marketing success continues to grow dependent on a digital track, truly understanding pay-per-click (PPC) makes a big difference in your business’s ad profits. When correctly managed, almost any company reaps the benefits from PPC optimization. To get the most from your PPC campaign, consider these optimization strategies: Keyword Bidding Image via Flickr by oh.tinkerer […] Continue reading

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Using Neuroscience to Design a Better Blog

The science behind good design has made leaps and bounds over the last 10 years. Over the years, combinations of brain scans, eye tracking studies and surveys have been used to study how humans browse the Web. So, how can you harness this knowledge to your advantage? Let’s look at some of the most notable […] Continue reading

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You Need More Than Just Google Analytics To Succeed Online

If you want your online business and campaigns to succeed, Google Analytics will not meet all of your measurement needs. That may seem like crazy thinking because GA has a huge array of capabilities. However, there are many areas where we have better tools for understanding visitor behavior such as interaction, user sentiment and impact […] Continue reading

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The User Interface: How to Create a Buying Environment on Your Website

This is the third article in a five part series on website conversion. Be sure to check out Part 1, Performance Tuning, and Part 2, Logic and Direction, if you missed them. Website designers often overlook the importance of providing a pleasant environment for their visitors. They succumb to the tendency to take a best [...]

The post The User Interface: How to Create a Buying Environment on Your Website appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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What Is Your Content Marketing Aiming For? 5 Goals To Consider

As the online content marketing trend continues to rise, businesses are spending increasing levels of time and money on it. A third of B2B marketing budgets already are spent on content marketing, and more than half of B2B marketers say they plan to ra… Continue reading

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Why Phishing Scammers are More Persuasive Than You Are

Hundreds if not thousands of marketing messages inundate us each day—each one fighting to grab your attention. And this swarm of shouting people and brands extend into our email boxes, too. We all have developed strategies for dealing with the deluge, and mine is simple: I quickly delete the unimportant, overly promotional, or unsolicited emails before […]

The post Why Phishing Scammers are More Persuasive Than You Are appeared first on Brooks Bell.

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The Why And How of Creating ‘Snackable’ Content

 ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’ When you Google ‘Future of content marketing’, you’re bombarded with tips and tricks that claim to change the world of content, but it takes just a quick scan to relegate it to junk. Rarely, you come across a priceless gem, like this quote, that makes you stop and think. I’ll be honest here – I worship long content. A well written, informative blog, with meaty takeaways is the perfect recipe [...]

The post The Why And How of Creating ‘Snackable’ Content appeared first on Visual Website Optimizer Blog.

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Session Preview: Optimizing for the Entire Customer Experience with Melissa Burdon Cameron

Image credit: Mike Licht via Flickr If you’ve been paying attention to the biggest trends in digital marketing, then you know that your job as a marketer just got tougher. In the age of the mobile, social media, and multi-screening, optimizing your website or emails for visitors on desktop is no longer enough. Today you [...] Continue reading

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How could Harvey Nichols have made its site more luxurious?

What do you think of the new site? 

Stephen Croome, Founder at

I think the new site is a perfectly functional ecommerce site, but does not deliver on luxury in any way. It is just a standard Magento site like many others. Just because it works on a tablet or mobile phone, doesn’t make it luxury. 

What is luxury about this? Its just a product feed with standard product information, like anyone else in the world can do. The site does not demonstrate or convey luxury.

Compare their homepage to the Orient Express or Maserati. You immediately see the difference in sense of style, quality of imagery and their history as luxury powerhouses.

Albie Attias, Ecommerce Director at King of Servers:

The word that immediately springs to mind is functional.

There are no fundamental errors or glaring omissions but for me the site feels a bit vanilla and lacks the luxury feel and exclusivity you’d associate with the high street stores and falls some way short of delivering “the ultimate fashion experience”.

On the flip side, the new site is a lot easier to use and navigate than previous versions and the information architecture has been well thought out.

A couple of nice touches include the ability to view key product information and alternative images on category pages. This saves browsers from having to dive in and out of product pages.

I also like the Fashion Emergency feature allowing you to seek advice from a Style Advisor although sadly when I tried it (during normal opening hours) nobody was on hand to help.

Mike Upton, Ecommerce Manager: 

In essence the new site is perfectly usable, fairly well laid out and is a good starting point to improve upon.

If the brand wasn’t considered to be a luxury brand then people would likely be happy to commend the site as a whole.

Therein lies the problem though, Harvey Nichols is indeed a luxury brand and with that tag comes a unique set of expectations that users will judge against.

This is where the site appears to be falling short for many but the elements that make websites and brands feel luxurious can be quite challenging to pin down.

The decision to shun responsive design in favour of the site adapting to different devices is one that will likely divide opinion but there is no single solution that perfectly suits every business and so each company has to make the decision that suits their customers and their market best. 

Dan Barker, ecommerce consultant: 

I don’t think it’s as bad as others seem to. I think it’s a nice platform for growth, but is not necessarily ‘the finished product’.

Here’s my breakdown of what I’d choose as five aims if I was in charge of the site, and my notes on whether I think the site achieves each:

What should/could Harvey Nichols have done better? 

Stephen Croome:

Harvey Nichols should have focused on why it is a luxury brand and demonstrated these credentials.

I would be using sites like, showing people my design and asking people “On a scale of 1 to 10 how luxury/expert/high quality does this website look” and “Does this website look like the shopping equivalent of Maserati?” 

Albie Attias, Ecommerce Director at King of Servers:

I think the visuals could work harder to deliver a richer online experience.

The product range is largely aspirational and whilst there are sections such as ‘inspiration, editors picks & buzz’ to help get this across – better/more lavish use of lifestyle imagery would carry a greater impact (something M&S does really well).

Site load and response times are sluggish too which also detracts from the experience. There’s perhaps an over-reliance on user discovery across the website too.

Sections such as ‘The Buzz’ & ‘The Knowledge’ give little away up front and even the newsletter sign up pod doesn’t give any compelling reasons to do so.

Mike Upton:

Alongside the decision to steer clear of a responsive design Harvey Nichols also appears to have led with a tablet first design for the tablet/desktop version of the site.

Unfortunately though, I feel that somehow it hasn’t quite managed to make it work as it should for either device. The size of the site has clearly been aimed at the effective 1024px width of an iPad and this leaves it floundering in the centre of wider resolution screens with too much wasted space.

Chris Lake highlighted some examples of websites that deal well with higher resolution screens and this should have been better considered for Harvey Nichols.

Further to the website width, HN has also chosen to use a touch friendly navigation bar that opens when clicked rather than hover over.

This makes a lot of sense if you are targeting touchscreen devices but the spacing between items in that navigation bar just isn’t enough for me to consider it touch friendly which defeats the point. 

If you take a look at some luxury brand websites such as Burberry, Mulberry or Smythson you will see huge top quality high resolution photography showing off all the beauty of their products.

I feel that this is what is missing from the Harvey Nichols site and is exactly why many have denounced it to be a little bland and underwhelming.

The other aspect that I feel they is lacking a luxury feel in is the selection of fonts across the site. Fonts can play a huge part in how websites and content are perceived and I think that across the site fonts are used that lack that weight and authority that a good luxury brand font can provide. 

Dan Barker:

A few people have mentioned the site doesn’t feel luxury. I think that’s an interesting point.

If you scroll through one of the ‘new’ categories, you’ll see lots of expensive products from lots of well known luxury brands.

That basically leaves the UX, UI, and content tone as potential reasons for it not ‘feeling’ luxury. I think HN could fix all of that without any fundamental changes to the site.

First of all I’d:

  1. Clarify internally whether Harvey Nichols does want the site to feel ‘luxury’, or if they’re actually wanting to push more mainstream.
  2. Do some investigation into whether or not their target audience perceive the site as ‘luxury’ (or as matching their wishes).
  3. Make some simple tweaks to the UI layer to try and achieve that, and then test them. 

Here’s a silly 10-second example of how fiddling about with some of the visual cues can push forward a bit of a higher end feel:



One additional thing to mention is that the site is most definitely ‘tablet first’. Harvey Nichols needs to take a look at the mobile and desktop experience and bring those up to the same level.

If you look at the top-level navigation, the categories are ‘women’, ‘men’, ‘beauty’, ‘food & wine’, ‘brands’.

I’d bet 80% of the clicks there are within the ‘women’ section, and for every one of those clicks you have to click ‘women’ first and then click into it.

I’d have probably built good landing pages for each of those categories, making them essentially ‘department homepages’. The nearest the site has to that at present are ‘view all women’s clothing’ grid pages, which aren’t really a substitute.

Do luxury brands have a more difficult task when designing new sites? Is it harder to balance creativity and good UX?

Stephen Croome:

There is nothing mechanically more difficult about creating a luxury site than any other site. 

The gap in understanding lies with the marketers behind the sites and the ignorance of decision makers in the luxury space in general, when it comes to IT and digital marketing.

Many marketers think luxury marketing is just marketing, but until you sit down with a few millionaires and interview them on their online shopping habits, you really have no idea what makes them tick when buying online.

Albie Attias: 

I think it’s a balancing act that needs thinking through and testing carefully and there are likely tradeoffs to be made between style and substance but you don’t have to look far to find plenty of sites that have got this right (Nespresso, M&S, Mulberry & more).

Imagery and photography are hugely important as is the quality and tone of voice of the copy writing (which HN is already doing very well in my opinion).

Mike Upton:

Designing luxury sites has its own complexities to consider but I believe that is true of any website.

All sites are likely to have something that makes them uniquely awkward in one way or another and so I wouldn’t necessarily pick out luxury websites as being particular difficult. 

I’d also argue that designing for luxury/exclusivity and designing for usability are not conflicting ideologies and are by no means mutually exclusive.

The brands, products and websites that are able to achieve both of these aspects tend to the be the ones that break the mould and become huge commercial successes. 

Dan Barker:

Lots of what luxury sites do is around brand, and product, and fulfilment, and tone. Many of those are ‘people’ things and rely on good people, rather than specifically technology stuff.

The big, easy one of course is aesthetics. If you look at Selfridges, or Liberty’s homepage at the moment you may have the two same thoughts I did:

  1. They look more luxury than the Harvey Nichols site.
  2. If you pick apart why they look more luxury, Harvey Nichols could easily achieve all of that without any fundamental changes to the new platform:

Selfridges homepage

What do you think of the new site? Let us know below… 

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