Fido Finder was my first Internet site and continues to be one of the most well-known sites I own. The site is built on the freemium business model. Give away the basic product and allow customers to choose to upgrade their account. On Fido Finder, users are given the option to choose a la cart upgrades to their lost dog listing. Since inception, the layout of the upgrade page has been pretty much the same. I’ve never been 100% happy with the page but I lacked other ideas. Recently, I started from scratch in designing the upgrade page and doubled my conversion rate. I’d like to share some of the things that I noticed, learned, and implemented during this time.
The Old Interface
I had a lot of problems on the old interface deciding what should be the focal point of the content. What was the selling point of an upgrade? We have the description of the upgrade, the benefit of the upgrade (listing time extension), and the cost of the upgrade. If you choose an image upgrade you can show exactly what your lost dog looks like. Choosing this upgrade extends your listing time by 30 days. And it only costs $5. Which of these factors is most important to users? The problem is that this is different for different users. Throughout the history of the site I emphasized different parameters (upgrade, extension, price) of each upgrade hoping to increase conversions. Nothing seemed to make a difference. Conversion rates hovered around 8-10% for years.
Starting From Scratch
When I decided to redo the upgrade page I sat and thought about the psychology of the upgrade choice (inspired by Predictably Irrational). Why would a user want to upgrade? What do they think it’s going to accomplish? I realized that users aren’t trying to accomplish making their listing show longer on the site. If you’ve never lost a dog before you’re thinking that he’s going to be found in a day or two and you just have to reach the finder. All they are thinking about is getting their dog home, now. There is no benefit to pushing the number of days an upgrade adds to their extension. Most users expect their dog to be home before their listing ever expires. So I removed the listing extension from my plans.
In a perfect world you make users think, “I need to do this, or else…” Regardless of what you are selling, you want them to create their own sense of urgency. I decided to present users with the reality of their decision to upgrade or not. Instead of the standard checkbox to select an upgrade that you want, the page loaded with radio buttons that have “I do not want…” selected. How ridiculous is it to agree that you “do not want” to upload an image of your lost dog. Of course you want to!
The traditional layout would be to have the default options on the left and chosen options on the right. So you would have “I do not want…” on the left and “I want…” on the right. I decided that this was the opposite of what I should do. Putting the “chosen” radio button on the left, instead, made it feel like after selecting the first upgrade the user should make all of the options on the left selected. It becomes obvious that each option’s correct property is to be selected, with the radio button on the left being selected. It feels as if the natural order of the page is to have 4 filled in radio buttons on the left. The “correct” thing to do is to select all of the upgrades. It feels unnatural to leave some of the radio buttons toggled to the right. I point out at this time that I do not like automatically checking optional upgrades and forcing users to deselect them, even though this would truly cause users to click on “I do not want”. Auto-selecting all 4 upgrades would mean that the interface loads with lots of overwhelming prices. Not a good idea.
At the time that the page loads users don’t know that these options cost money. I wanted to them to make the decision “yes/no” I want to upload an image before they are presented with the price. I wanted users to think, “Duh, of course I want to upload an image!” before they can think, “I can upload an image if I want to pay $5.” Once a user selects “I want”, the price appears. In order to move past this page, and not pay, you have to approve the options of “I do not want…” How absurd does it feel to choose to not help find your lost dog? Another addition not represented in the interface images is the addition of the lost dog’s name to the upgrades. “I do not want to upload an image of Fido.” Choosing the reward upgrade extends your listing by 1 day for each dollar on the reward amount. I used to actually try to explain this on the page. Also, the price to add a reward is 10% of the reward amount. I used to try and explain this, too. The new interface simply changes the price of the upgrade if you change the chosen reward amount. Less interface is better.
After implementing this new interface conversion rates doubled instantly. I focused on what users want to buy (hope and help, not more time). I forced them to think about “What if I don’t?” and “Am I doing all I can?” And the interface is simpler by removing wordy descriptions (the real site had a sentence under each blurb of the upgrade) of the upgrades. Sometimes you have to step back and start all over. Think about what would drive users to choose your upgrades; sell them what they want. There are always multiple ways to design an interface, make sure that you’ve chosen your design for a reason. When I first built Fido Finder I built the page this way because it was all I had ever seen. 8 years later it was time to rethink it all.