Screenshot of "The Daily Cartoonist" with an "ugly" banner that, surprisingly, converts well

If I ask you whether you think a beautiful design will work better than an ugly one to get more conversions, I’m pretty sure I can guess your answer.

However, it turns out that this is not always true (as usual, that’s why you always need to A/B test your assumptions!). In this very interesting post Grigoriy Kogan explains how a terrible looking ad (the one illustrating this post) proved to work much better than his previous more “traditional looking” ones. He reports he got a:

  • 4.2% clickthrough rate
  • 15% conversion rate

quite better than the average figures for ads.

Does this mean that we should try to make our websites uglier? Of course not but it means that in a world saturated of nice designs, sometimes the best way to get some attention is to make just the opposite. It’s not about the ad being ugly, it’s about the ad being extremely ugly on purpose to distinguish itself from the rest of the page.

This also reminds us about the importance of being creative with our conversion optimization strategies. In this example, “ugliness” was the key difference to get more conversions but think what drastic changes you could do in your webiste that go beyond the standard tactics of changing colors, text in the call-to-action buttons,… Try to test something more radical from time to time and see how it works (remember that to minimize the risk of alienating visitors, you could always A/B test using a greedy algorithm so that if the change does not work at all, at least you won’t be showing it to half of your visitors for the full duration of the experiment).

So what unconventional conversion strategies have you tested already? Did they work? We would love to know!

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