Your Conversion Web Team Needs a Draftsman

BlueprintWe’ve been talking about who you need on your web team. One person was story teller. Another is a draftsman. Draftsmen are designers who are all about function, not just looks. Not that an ugly webpage is good for conversion. Not at all. If a website is ugly, looks amateurish or dated, or is tricky to navigate, it will hurt conversion rather than help it.

But, sometimes web designers get a little too caught up in the design, the beauty and symmetry. It almost seems they forget that the point is to get people to convert rather than to take a screenshot of the home page and post it on the wall. Reminder, we want people to find answers, products, services and relationship on this site…not just cool graphics.

Conversion Scientists know they need designers. But they also know they need draftsmen. Draftsmen aren’t the ones who make the front of the building look like a swan’s wing. They’re the ones who make sure there’s plumbing and electricity and air vents and studs and other things that make the building actually work.

If I am helping a company to create a high-converting website and I say, “Make this element the most prominent item on the page,” a “draftsman” designer will hear, “Surround it with white space, make it stand out on the background, choose a color that is NOT part of the page’s color palette, and make sure it is above the ‘fold.’”

[freebookpromo]I don’t know what the creative designer will hear. I just know that they are reluctant to step outside of the site’s style guidelines, meaning that important elements look the same as every other element on the page.

You want a designer on staff that is designing the optimal routes for the human eye. They can guide the path of your visitors’ eyes like a conductor’s baton.

Once the logo and style guide is done, release the agency, but keep your draftsman close. Because once the website is pretty you’re still going to need somebody around who can pick the right “Contact” form and design those breathtaking conversion buttons.


On your web design team, you need somebody who can pick the right colors and the right style and feel for your company. But you also need a draftsman designer—the one who knows that the prettiest website in the world isn’t much good unless the hard working parts—like your conversion buttons—have the right to disrupt the design. Draftsmen—who are sometimes women—are designers with tool belts. They’re more concerned with bearing walls than graceful arches. And they put in the elements that make people convert. Read more in Customer Creation Equation.


Your Website Needs an Image Maker

Pictures are powerful. They can evoke emotion and action and tell a story. Sadly, many designers focus solely on how an image fits into the design rather than what the image conveys to the visitor. So, in addition to a designer, our website needs an image maker who understands the purpose of an image in storytelling and conversion. Our image maker will understand why the image will appeal to our audience and what it will say.

For example, think about all the consultative websites that seem to feature the same set of super-scrubbed, fit, shiny, smiley, possibly lobotomized and mostly Caucasian people wearing dark suits?

Here they are! Put on your designer’s hat and see if you can ferret out the reason they chose the picture.


Figure 1: What does this image say to the reader?

The designer’s caption for this image may be “If you buy from us, you can hang with happy, pretty people, like me!”

I call this Business Porn.

[freebookpromo]Next, put on your cynical hat. What does the image “say” now? I might say “Hi! I’m here to appeal to the base urges of our mostly male audience.”

This is what readers are thinking.

Getting Your Best Image Out There

Here’s a great test for your site. Go to your home page or other page frequented by visitors. Look at the images there and try to write a caption for them. I know that your images don’t have a caption. No one adds captions, which is just plain sad. Every image should have a caption

Captions are the most read part of a Web page. You should provide a caption for each image.

The caption does not have to explain the picture. In fact this is a great place to re-state any offers on the page. Get your ace copywriter involved.

Having a caption is one of the basic tenets of images. Here are others:

Show the product

This is obvious for an Online Store, but less so for the other signatures. Publishers can show the content.

How can a Consultative Site “show the product?” Get creative. Show screenshots of things you designed for clients. If you work in human relations, have a picture of a real team, working together, not the perfect team above. Show graphs of improved productivity or profits. Provide pictures of DVD’s complete with labels to highlight your online video or choose pictures of your authors or presenters for reports and webinars.

For the Site as a Service, screen shots are commonly used. But only use the whole screen if you must to tell the story. If the screen shot looks like a complex, overwhelming jumble, it will scare people off rather than attract them.

Make it clickable

People expect to be able click on images. If you doubt this assertion, try installing a service like CrazyEgg ( or ClickTale ( You will get a heat map of where visitors are clicking on your pages.

It’s very enlightening.

For product pages in your Online Store, take visitors to a larger version of the image. For Brochures, Publications, Consultative sites, and Service sites, take them to a page that includes the image, but offers more.

Yes, you should take them to a landing page.

More and bigger is better for conversion

On your Online Store, the more photos you can offer, the better. Show the product from all angles, in high resolution. Show it being used, worn or manipulated.

Successful online retailers can even show their apparel with a variety of outfits.

Remember, you have to get the user to touch, taste and smell your products through the Internet.

Your image maker can help that happen.


Designers look at how the whole website fits together. Image makers, on the other hand, make sure the images fit in the story and the overall conversion plan. Without an image maker, your website can wind up with images so sterile they communicate lack of imagination or so “arty” they forget you’re selling a product. Image makers make sure your products show to the best advantage, have captions and are clickable so that people who like what they see can be taken deeper down the ol’ conversion funnel. Find out more about what your site needs from an image maker in Customer Creation Equation Blog….


Design Your Book Cover for Conversion

While we love to stay in the incredibly measureable realm of the online world, we know that many websites need to fuel action in the real world. As I’m putting the finishing touches on my new book, I am faced with the design that will make my book easy to recognize, easy to describe, and easy to buy.

In the book business, there are two conversions: convert an searcher into a finder, and convert a finder into a buyer.

We’ve already named the book Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Formulas of The Conversion Scientist. Now it’s all about presentation.

My preference will be a white cover with hand-drawn elements and a picture of me. Here is a crude mockup The drawn images are just for placement, and I’ll want to work with my cover designer before doing any drawings.


What do you think? Please let me know in the comments.

There are are some guiding principles I used to come to this collection of elements, many of which you will find in the book when discussing website development.

Here are my guidelines and some examples.

Show the Product

Tim Ash shows a sales funnel on the cover of his book.

In the case of my book, I am the product, as teacher and co-creator of my readers’ digital conversion labs, so it might make sense to put me on the cover.

I don’t find many examples of this in the business book space, and this gives me some pause. However, given the personas I’ve written the book for, it may be a way to look unique in the space.

Encourage word of mouth

When a reader is recommending a book to another person, it is helpful to give them a way to describe the book.

“You really should read the conversion sciences book. I forgot the guys name, but it’s the one with the _________ on the cover.”

In the case of my mockup, they could say “…a guy in a doctor’s coat.” Of course that could sell a lot of books for Bill Nye, the science guy.

The book Presentation Zen might be “one with stacked rocks on the cover.”

Brian Solis book Engage is the “chain” book.

Express Your Brand

Scott Stratten is a funny, self-effacing, contrarian writer and presenter. He says on his Twitter profile that he’s “kind of a big deal on a fairly irrelevant soc media site which inflates my self-importance.”

His book, Unmarketing, is in a plain brown rapper, and looks like it was stamped instead of printed.

This is potentially one of the most powerful integrations of book and marketing, and can make your book instantly recognizable for your most engaged potential readers.

My brand centers around two memes.

Meme 1: The Lab Coat

I wear a lab coat in my presentation and photos. This will be recognized by many of my readers.

Meme 2: Hand-drawn infographs

I occasionally do hand-drawn infographs when at conferences. My book has some of these hand-drawn images in it.

How Leaky is your Shopping Cart

I envisioned an entire lab in hand-drawn fashion, but haven’t had the time to complete it.

Emphasize the author or the topic?

After six years of writing and speaking as  The Conversion Scientist, my business brand is much stronger than the book brand. One could argue that it makes sense to highlight my name more so than the book title.

However, I’m not established as an author, and I’m not a household name. People are more likely to be searching for the book title than to be searching for a book by Brian Massey, or the Conversion Scientist.

I could go either way on this one.

Use universal visual memes

Drawing from universal memes in the imagery quickly communicates what the book is (or could be) about. Philip Graves uses the universal sign for shopping, the shopping cart, over and over again in his book cover.

Universal memes for a book by a “Conversion Scientist” include the lab coat, the ubiquitous test tube, the Erlenmeyer Flask, the Bunsen Burner, and other remnants of High School chemistry class.

The chemical equation will either strike fear or recognition in the minds of potential readers.

I have a whole universe of conversion “elements.”

This is probably too over-the-top.

Own a Color

Groundswell owns lime green.

The “For Dummies” series owns yellow and black.

The Guerilla Marketing books own camouflage.

Avoid business porn

In all cases, I want to avoid what I call “business porn,” or the use of happy, beautiful people who inevitably are devoid of emotion and authenticity. Wiley has built an entire series with cover designs like this. The books are excellent. The covers are uninspiring.

The words should be readable

So easily forgotten in the design of covers is that the title and author should be readable. This means

  • Avoid placing title and author on a busy background.

  • Avoid placing dark text on a dark background. Gradients are especially bad as some part of the text won’t show up no matter which background you choose.

  • Avoid placing light text on a light background

  • Acknowledge that for aging readers, light text on a dark background is harder to read

  • Don’t create font-confusion

Appeal to your readers’ tastes

Once you’ve identified these logical ground rules for your book cover, you can apply your readers’ preferences. This involves choosing designs from other successful books have done in your space.

If you get rid of the business porn, I like the simple design and white background of the Wiley Hour a Day series, and those readers interested in my book have bought lots of books in this series.

I like the had-drawn style of several recent books, and I have some ability to draw a cover such as this.

Stay tuned for the final cover art

I’ll be publishing in less than 30 days, so you can see my final cover.

I’ll notify you wen the book is out if you become a friend of the author. You’ll also get a free video to help you determine your unique site formula to increase conversions.

Talk to me. Comment below.