Websites at first glance; more on hiding conversion info


I got e-consultancy’s newsletter this morning, complete with a new blog by Tom Stewart. The post was “Why asking why is never a stupid question.” I really wanted to reply to the post, but when I went to comment, it said that I had to be logged in. Well okay, I though, I have an email address and password but when I entered them, the site told me that that email address was used to register for their newsletter (true enough) and that I had to do a different kind of registration to be able to comment on Tom’s post. So I though, sure, and I clicked on the Register Now button. In order to be able to comment on Tom’s post, I had to give them my firstname, lastname, company name, phone number, country, etc. And then there were a whole other set of fields (who am I, an agency? A vendor? etc.)

I won’t be fair and say, “In fairness to eConsultancy, some of these fields were optional.” Some were optional, but I didn’t notice that until I went back to the site to write my post. I just knew that it was early in the morning, I was plowing through my email, I wanted to comment, and I didn’t want to spend 120 seconds filling out information. (And I was told that this is only page one out of two pages that you fill out to register.) I have this conversation with customers all the time. “Make it optional,” they say about extraneous info fields, not realizing that the more you ask for, the more you turn people off, even if it is optional.

If I had been allowed to comment, my question would have been, “If this is your blog, why don’t you have a feed?” In fact, Tom’s blog does have a feed (again, I learned when I went back to write this post), but you don’t see it on the permalink and it is not even in the address bar when I look at the permalink in my Firefox.

All of which proves, what you see at a glance really matters. Maybe only 5 fields were required in that form but it felt, at a glance, like 15. As far as the feed goes – I really looked for it and didn’t see it because it isn’t even there — at least not on the permalink page. (This reminds me of a post I did about not hiding conversion information. You want them to call? Put your phone number on every page. You want them to subscribe? Get your orange icon on every page….)

I hope the folks from eConsultancy comment. Maybe they will tell us that by having a long registration, they successfully weed out tirekickers from interested prospects (always an issue in lead generation.)

Robbin Steif

Our founder, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics in 2004. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a Diamond Award for business leadership. In 2017, Robbin sold her company to HS2 Solutions and has since retired from LunaMetrics.

  • Anonymous

    Well, they should. I’m getting sick of every econsultant, web analytics vendor, and other organization pulling my info for lead generation just so I can read one white paper or do something as simple as provide a comment. This is where greedy attempts at lead generation go to far. You want my info? fine. ask for an email, one or two other things, and let’s roll. You want me to fill out more than five fields? With pull-down menus to define my field, the size of my company, and anything else your sales team hungers for? I lose interest. You’re wasting my time and acting as a gatekeeper, changing what was a friendly conversation or even offering from you into an obvious ploy for my business, and us fickle internet folks get tired of that real quick.

    great post. forgive me if I don’t fill out personal info, but I appreciate the ability to post without it

  • Chris Lake

    Hey Robbin,

    All great observations and you’re right on all fronts. We have a long to-do list to work through and both comments and user registration are two areas where we’ll be making changes.



  • Chris – even though this is an older post (in Internet time) it is still nice to hear from you. Nicer yet to have someone say, “Good point,” instead of the usual “I’m sorry it doesn’t work in Firefox but all our users use IE” or some other defensive posture about whatever the issue is.

    I never understand why site owners get defensive instead of saying, thank you for the free user testing. You are a real (and lovely) exception.


  • Ashley Friedlein

    I certainly agree with all the usability comments you make – making things clearer, easier to find the feed etc.

    I’m not 100% convinced about what level of registration is right. Certainly the less you ask for the more registrants you get.

    But we’ve always been more interested in quality rather than quantity and, because we are highly trafficked, highly ranked site (in Google’s eyes) we get a LOT of spammers posting just to get links to other sites. This is quite a problem in the forum at the moment even though you have to register. If we open it up more and it is really easy and quick to register we’ll certainly get a load more spammers.

    This is an annoying problem for us and our genuine users, but I’m not sure there’s any obvious answer. We had the same problem with e-mail unsubscribes. We used to let people unsubscribe from our e-mails by just replying to the e-mail. This soon became the victim of spam/viruses etc so we have to make people come to the site to unsubscribe.

    It’s about getting the balance right to maintain quality but not annoy people genuinely wanting to take part and comment. Any further thoughts and comments welcome!

    Ashley Friedlein

  • Hmm. Well, I am working history or much data, but what if you not only turned on moderated comments but made it clear that comments were moderated (so that you don’t have to wade through a ton of spam while moderating)? Maybe even set it up not to support links anymore. And tell people that the commenting doesn’t support links. If people have a great link, they can put in the text url.

    Just an idea.


  • Ashley Friedlein

    Yes, might help. Most of the spammers we get these days are (humans not bots) from China or India pushing things like cheap mobile phones. I fear they really wouldn’t care what wording we put there.

    I’m not convinced they can even read English – they just research high ranking sites online and copy and paste stuff they’re given into as many of those sites as they can.

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