CRO Pro Nick D on fixing commonly overlooked CRO holes in your conversion funnel
Returning for his fourth appearance is Nick Disabato, ecommerce conversion rate optimization wunderkind.
On today's episode: an airing of grievances around merchant's approach to conversion rate optimization.
We talk through the common mistakes in methodology & management, and your top missed opportunities.
The Unofficial Shopify Podcast
Kurt Elster: So, the topic today that you and I are going to discuss, because you are like the eCommerce conversion rate optimization guy, is common blind spots in conversion rate optimization for Shopify stores.
Nick Disabato: That’s right.
Kurt Elster: Okay. That’s what I want to go through and you, Nick Disabato, who are you? Why do I care what you have to say about conversion rate optimization?
Nick Disabato: Well, I run Draft, a design consultancy for Shopify stores. I’ve been doing conversion rate optimization in some capacity since 2013. That’s probably longer than you’ve heard of A-B tests existing. I’ve run over 500 tests for over 50 stores. Other clients, my clients include the Wirecutter, Planet Of The Vapes, lots of other brands that you may or may not have heard of, Smart Marketer, BOOM by Cindy Joseph, those related things.
Kurt Elster: Oh, so you worked with Ezra Firestone and his brands.
Nick Disabato: Yeah. I worked with him for three and a half years.
Ezra Firestone Sound Board: Tech nasty.
Kurt Elster: That’s him.
Nick Disabato: I know, right?
Kurt Elster: That’s my favorite sound drop is Ezra Firestone. So, how many… Well, what are the common mistakes? Or actually, you know, let’s rephrase this differently. When someone approaches conversion rate optimization, their first instinct is to do what?
Nick Disabato: Their first instinct is to rip off everyone else, because they see things that they think work. They think everyone else is smarter than them and so they take these ideas and they’re like, “Oh, that looks interesting.” Or they hear about a blogger doing something, they’re like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” And then they, “Or this worked for this other store, our competitor,” and they take that, and they run with it, and it doesn’t work for them, and they’re like, “Well, why didn’t this work?” Well, there are a lot of reasons why it might not have worked, and the main thing is that you didn’t think about what really worked for you, right?
You didn’t go back to first principles and think about the customers that are coming into your store. I think it’s a huge problem.
Kurt Elster: So, it’s shiny toy syndrome, it’s the grass is always greener. So, I go outside, and I see, “Oh. Well, across the street, this other store has this way cooler sign than me.” And I perceive them as being more successful. Reality, I have no idea what their business is like at all, but I just perceive them as being more successful for whatever reason. And I say, “All right, well,” and then I just attribute that to whatever thing I notice and like.
Nick Disabato: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: And thus, we have some shiny toy syndrome action happening, and I think that is where people get in trouble.
Nick Disabato: Yeah, I think that’s right. What ends up happening, I had this conversation with a client a few months ago where they were like, “Our biggest competitor is doing this. We should do this.” I’m like, “Well, how do you know that they’re doing it right?” And they were just like… and just shocked. And I’m like, “What do you think their conversations were internally that led them to this decision?”
Kurt Elster: And then the response to that was:
Sound board: Crickets chirping.
Nick Disabato: They didn’t…
Kurt Elster: Yeah.
Nick Disabato: Yeah, exactly. Right? What you don’t realize is that everyone is a group of smart people on a Zoom call trying to figure it out in the dark like everyone else.
Kurt Elster: Yes. Oh, we are all in a cave with a candle, and maybe there’s eight people with candles. They might do slightly better, but we still… It’s such a young industry and it evolved so quickly that literally, I don’t think anybody knows what they’re doing.
Nick Disabato: No one knows what they’re doing, right?
Kurt Elster: I don’t know what I’m doing.
Nick Disabato: To go back to Ezra Firestone, he had a series. I think he still has the series that’s just called What Works Now. Right? And that’s wildly popular because it gives you clarity, and safety, and a sense of strategy for cheap, right? Like you could just go and look at this and be like, “Oh, that works. Okay, great.” And a lot of it actually does work, because the problem with conversion rate optimization is that in many ways, it’s like getting to just basic first principles, getting some best practices in place, getting something that’s familiar for customers, and that makes sense to people, right?
But then when it comes to doing something that’s more custom tailored to the specific needs of your customers, everybody’s just like, “I don’t…” They don’t know what to do with it. And that’s where I come in.
Kurt Elster: And so, what should people be doing instead? So, we’ve established that the shiny toy syndrome, the grass is always greener, that is problematic. And you’re just kind of… When you’re doing that, you’re blindly throwing stuff against the wall, which there could be… You know, you’re gonna get successes some of the time. But we need a framework. We need a better approach here. So, how should I be approaching it? And then we’ll get into the most common pitfalls or missed opportunities.
Nick Disabato: Yeah. I’ll tell kind of an anecdote that I like to tell my clients, especially when they first come in the door. If you ran a physical store, assuming those still exist, I don’t even know, but if you ran a physical store people come in and there’s some amount of foot traffic. And you, the owner of that store, are behind the counter and you can observe, or you can talk to them, and so the problem is twofold. Number one, you aren’t observing them, and the second is that you can’t talk to them, necessarily. Can’t be like, “Hey, do you have any questions?”
And what happens in that process of observation and conversation in a physical store is that you understand the customer’s needs a little bit better. You may not close the first few sales, but eventually you’ll understand, “Oh, people are coming in for this. I should be maybe making a couple changes to the store, changing the way that I’m marketing myself, or putting this stuff over here,” or whatever it is, right? And so, there’s something that’s observable, that you can see, right?
Now, how do you take that process and apply it to eCommerce? Well, I think that you can actually look at what customers are doing and ask them what motivates them. I don’t think that’s difficult. The problem is that when you’re stuck behind a computer all day and you’re as nerdy as I am, it’s not your default to go out and talk to customers. It’s not your default to go out and observe what customers are doing. And when you try to do that, you’re stuck in an application like Google Analytics, which is bad. So, the process of understanding what customers say and what customers do is a little bit more slippery and difficult, but no less essential, right?
So, how do you go about doing that? Well, a lot of the tech industry has figured this out, and it’s using a lot of unsexy terms like research, and analytics, and data, right?
Kurt Elster: I like these things. This, now I’m getting excited.
Nick Disabato: I like these things because that’s why I get up in the morning. I get up to research customers, right? And you may not. You may be… If you’re listening to this and you’re a store owner, you’re probably waking up to ship more product to customers, grow the store, grow the business. You might be thinking about BI stuff if I’m lucky and you’re my client. And I think that for me, like the fundamental answer is that you need to go out and understand what your customers are doing, and you need to be a little bit more proactive about it, and this doesn’t come naturally in retail as an industry, right? Because normally, the people come to you and you can just look at them, and that’s the research. The research already just happened because people were shopping with you, and you understood what really made them light up and buy your stuff. And you got that feedback on a daily basis.
But really, all you’re getting as feedback is people complaining about that where their order is, and occasionally anecdotes from your friends about the product. That’s your research process, and maybe if you’re lucky you go in and you look at GA and you think, “Oh, the conversion rate is bad today.” That’s it.
Kurt Elster: But Nick, I’m my best customer. I know what they want.
Nick Disabato: No, you don’t.
Kurt Elster: I don’t? You’re right. I know what I want, and my world view has quickly been wildly warped by being so close to everything.
Nick Disabato: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: As the business owner.
Nick Disabato: Yeah, exactly. Like you are actually… It gives me no pleasure to report that you are maybe the worst example of a customer if you’re the store owner.
Kurt Elster: Okay, and so once we accept… When you’re starting out and you have no customers, you don’t have a choice, but at some point you have to move beyond that, and then that’s where you need to start figuring out your customer. And you’re right, online it is so impersonal and divorced that it gets strange, and so you need to go through and do the customer research. Talk to your customers on the phone! Oh my gosh, pick up the phone. Give them a call. And try and uncover okay, how do they see themselves? Why did they buy? And then also do it at a larger scale through customer surveys.
And one thing I’ve heard you say that I love, and because I have found exactly the same thing to be true, is you do a customer survey and often you can find that that one magic phrase that suddenly becomes the headline on the website, and that’s the thing that really increases conversion rate. That’s the thing that people don’t get. And my favorite example of this all time is for ChicagoBrickOven.com, who is in Chicago and sells brick ovens, and we did this exercise. We did the customer survey. And their homepage headline then became, “The oven and the pizza I cooked became the sensation of my small town.” So, literally the conversion rate optimization result of a customer survey was a real quote from a customer basically saying, “I bought a pizza oven that made me the mayor.” Oh my God! That’s so fantastic!
And so, if you’re just sitting around going, “I’m my own best customer,” you’re never getting that headline. You’re never getting that optimization and that lift in conversion rate.
Nick Disabato: Yeah, and to give another example, actually with Ezra Firestone, what we did was we swapped out all of the product detail pages headlines. Normally, it’s the name of the product, right?
Kurt Elster: Right.
Nick Disabato: We changed it to a brief blurb from a customer, which I pulled out of the review section, so it wasn’t even… I didn’t even get on the phone with anybody. I went into their reviews, found a coherent looking sentence, ran an A-B test with three different of these, and then conversion rate went up I think… Add to cart rate went up 19%. Conversion rate went up like 12. Cool. Great.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, that dog will hunt.
Nick Disabato: Yeah. And that’s the kind of thing, like people want those stories in certain industries, right? Like that can be very emotionally impactful for people. And that’s just one tactic, right? Like I’m not saying do this and then test it and it will always win. The challenge is finding out what to research, when to research it, why to be researching it, and when to prioritize the kind of research that you’re getting in. And that’s where it makes sense to probably be hiring somebody who’s been doing this for seven and a half years and has seen literally everything.
Because it depends on your industry, it depends on your size, it depends on really what your customers are motivated by. Maybe the quote works. I don’t know. It might.
Kurt Elster: So, we talked about that quote, that headline example. I think one of the things that gets a lot of attention and probably also results in a lot of gnashing of teeth are homepage mastheads. That most basic of like page layouts. You get your logo, your menu, and an image carousel with a headline and a button. Oh, boy! I bet someone has opinions on this. Please.
Nick Disabato: I have a lot of opinions on homepage mastheads.
Kurt Elster: I want an airing of grievances here.
Nick Disabato: Oh, my God. Where to begin? So, homepage mastheads are one of those things that can take me five minutes to change, but ultimately it’s like six months of holding space for the psychic heat death of my clients when I do things that are bold, and because it’s… There are sort of like two of the biggest leverage things that I can do on a store are homepage masthead and updating your filtering and sorting mechanisms to actually match what your customers are trying to do on your category pages.
One of those is very easy to research the problems with and come up with a solution, and very hard to code. One of them is very easy to code and very hard to actually implement, because everyone has an opinion about it, and that’s your homepage masthead. Everyone in the organization has it, and so I have to come up with a whole strategy around rolling out homepage masthead improvements, making sure everybody is comfortable with it, and then heading off continuously for the entire duration of the engagement attempts to incur upon the research that we have come up with for the homepage masthead.
Your ability to accept the research and execute on it for your homepage masthead tells me everything I need to know about your ego as a client. Everything. There are no gods. And-
Kurt Elster: So, tell me what… Give me practical advice here. If I want to be Nick D’s dream client and I want to approach the homepage masthead, the image carousel, her vid, whatever it is, and I want to approach this in a sane way, that does not get me dragged into the principal’s office, in which Nick D is the principal and he’s angry, what do I do?
Nick Disabato: So, well, the first thing is listen to the research, right? And usually, the research bears out doing things that you might not want to hear. The biggest one is ditching your carousel. Almost all research for every client I’ve done states that you really shouldn’t have more than one slide on your masthead. I’m terribly sorry. This is just grief. We’re all going to have to suffer right now. And the reason that you have a carousel is to basically manage internal trench warfare around the homepage masthead and your customers don’t care.
Kurt Elster: They don’t. They absolutely don’t. And many customers will never even see the homepage or land on it.
Nick Disabato: Goodbye.
Kurt Elster: And they’re certainly not sitting through a slideshow.
Nick Disabato: Yeah. They’re not gonna sit through a slideshow. I mean, most carousel research indicates that somewhere between 88 and 93% of your clicks happen on the first module of the carousel. So, anything that you put beyond that is getting buried and also getting loaded, which means it’s a full bleed image, which increases page wait. And it also is confusing.
Kurt Elster: As an easy exercise anyone could do, if you want to see why we find… why the image carousel is less important than you think and why you’re probably thinking about it too hard, get rid of it, replace it with a collection of your best-selling in stock products, and try it. See what happens. You-
Nick Disabato: It’s like an 8% bump every time.
Kurt Elster: Yes. And you’ll be like, “Why did I spend so much time worrying at a headline when I didn’t even need this thing to begin with?” But again, this is one of those things, like you have to test it. You have to try it.
Nick Disabato: I mean, the wildest thing is like I come in and I’m like, “There’s all this research that says we should do this bold change on the homepage,” and they’re like, “Well, you’re the consultant. Do it.” And then I do it and then the conversion rate goes up by 9% and they think I’m a wizard, and it happens every… and then I get like the overhead to do the rest of my job, and then I just think like if everyone did that already out of the gate, I don’t know what I would have to fall back on as a consultant to make myself look good. I think it would be… I’m sort of just undermining myself talking about this.
Kurt Elster: So, one of the really overlooked sections, for sure, I think is collection pages. Like when I think about when a site gets built, and it gets designed, and developed, and then tweaked, and improvised, the page that always gets the least amount of attention in this flow is the collection page. It’s like, “All right, we got our menus and our homepage, our product detail page, our cart page, maybe even our checkout and shipping options.” But that darn collection page just keeps getting ignored. Where are we going wrong with these collection pages?
Nick Disabato: You’re going wrong with the collection pages because doing them properly requires code and it requires thinking like a tech business, whereas everything else on your store can usually be handled by a relatively lightweight process of like wire framing, prototyping, just dropping stuff in, seeing what happens. The collection page becomes a lot more difficult because individual collection pages probably need to be designed in different ways, and what I mean about that is if you have a category page for a subset of your products, like say you sell apparel, right? Shirts has a specific layout around sizing, around sleeve length, around material, around colors, that may be different from your pants. Sizing is gonna be different for pants, right?
And then those are in turn going to be different from new arrivals, right? What do you put for filters on new arrivals? Do you put every possible size that can exist, so you have pant sizes scoped to shirts on new arrivals? No, that’s preposterous, but people do it, right? Sometimes their category pages should look a little bit different from their subcategory pages. The best example of this that I have seen in the past five years, they just redesigned, is Design Within Reach. Go to DWR.com. Go to like furniture, then chairs, then lounge chairs, and you will see different layouts for each one of those pages. Amazing.
And so, those are like technical dynamic content things that affect the information architecture of the store. The words information architecture don’t exist in eCommerce and they exist in every other part of the tech industry.
Kurt Elster: Isn’t that weird?
Nick Disabato: Wild. The mind melts.
Kurt Elster: I did just traditional web design for several years and they were so much more invested in information architecture that they called it IA. They had slowed it down to that, and they even argued about what goes into that versus other adjacent professions within web design. But in eCommerce, you don’t really see this stuff discussed. It’s kind of odd. Because eCommerce is much more business focused and they’ve got these very clear, almost universal KPIs to follow. And then those, it’s like no god but conversion rate.
Nick Disabato: Right, right. And then the other thing that causes this to happen, so there’s the institutional issues, but then there’s also the incentivization around it. I think that a lot of the quantitative data that you end up getting in on collection pages, this never gets talked about, disincentivizes the work that’s necessary to actually work on them.
So, for example, analytics, time on page for collection pages is usually low. Okay, that makes sense. That means that people are kind of stopping through on the way to a product detail page and then examining products more closely. So, if customers are putting more effort into their product detail pages, we should put a lot more effort into the product detail page, right? No. How do you know what product detail pages to actually be loading as a customer? The collection page!
Second, heatmaps, you get back a heatmap that looks good on the face of things but is actually bad. So, what do I mean by that? You get a heatmap with really high scroll depth, which means people are getting to the bottom of the page, that’s good on every other page on your store and disastrous on your collection page. Because if people are getting to the bottom without clicking, they didn’t find anything they wanted. How is this hard?
Kurt Elster: What if they get to the bottom but they do click that pagination? That pagination is just a rainbow of clicks.
Nick Disabato: Yeah. The pagination is a rainbow of clicks because they still haven’t found anything. They should be clicking products! Right? They click pagination, that’s not good. They click the breadcrumb navigation, that’s not good. And you see the page light up like a Christmas tree in all the wrong places.
And it doesn’t look like it actually makes sense when you’re just going in. You have to just think differently with your collection pages when you’re analyzing their heatmaps, and I don’t see that in part of the conversation in eCommerce. I feel like this should be, which is I guess why I’m on the podcast, right?
Kurt Elster: You are wildly changing how I view collection pages. But to your point, the thing I have found consistently is when we added good sidebar filtering, where products were tagged, and then we used those to power various filters, like much more what you would expect to see on a large catalogue eCommerce website, something like huge, like Crutchfield, you could do that on your Shopify store. It just takes an app to power that sidebar filter.
Nick Disabato: Crutchfield-
Kurt Elster: And the one I’ve had great success with: Product Filter and Search by Booster Apps. That one, genuine plug. I have used it on several stores, and it works very well to achieve exactly what Nick is suggesting.
Nick Disabato: Crutchfield is a perfect example, actually. And we… I will openly admit to ripping off Crutchfield for one of my clients who they’re the biggest seller of vintage Volkswagen parts on the internet, right?
Kurt Elster: That’s cool.
Nick Disabato: Which is amazing, right? So, you have an old VW Beetle from the ‘60s or whatever, and you need a place to go and buy all the weird interior upholstery, widgets, nuts and bolts that you need for it, right? Well, okay, I’m thinking about this from a standpoint of you don’t own every possible model, make, and year, and everything of a vintage Volkswagen, so why is the store scoped to all of Volkswagen? It shouldn’t be. The answer is it shouldn’t be.
And Crutchfield knows this too. So, one of the things that I did from a collection page standpoint is on the homepage, I put a configurator that said pick your make, model, year of car, and when you do, it throws a cookie to the customer and just filters the entire store down to only parts that are compatible with that model, make, and year of car. That’s it. That’s all you get. And then there’s a little widget on the top left that you can change and then it pops up the configurator again, so you can change the thing. So, it makes the whole store modal to a model, make and year of car.
Do you need to use the configurator? No. The header navigation’s right there, right? But that affects what shows up on all the collection pages and it perpetuates per session, so like if you’re logged in, you are always getting a 1962 Beetle sedan. That’s it. And I don’t see stores smart enough to do that unless they’re Crutchfield. I don’t. Yeah.
Kurt Elster: It does seem unusual. That is a thing that stores struggle with, is the larger problem, like merchandising in general is hard, but the larger problem of getting people to find the right person to find the right item at the right time. That is the true struggle of merchandising and it is literally, like in a brick and mortar store, that’s literally a science, and when we talk about heatmaps for eCommerce, we didn’t invent that. In stores, they used to heatmap how people moved through a store and where they spent the most time, and what aisle they looked at the most. All this same stuff, this technology, we’re literally borrowing it from grocery store optimization. Isn’t that wild?
Nick Disabato: And we’re starting from square one with it, too. Like they have the data set, but what am I gonna do, put the same data set in for… No. You can’t do that. That’s not gonna work. So, takeaways here, scoping the collection early if you have a large product database, and also creating multiple templates for collection pages. Most stores I work with have one template for collection pages and if you don’t at least have separate templates for like overall scope, like new, popular, back in stock, that sort of stuff, like things that could scope to the entire product database, and then things that filter the product database by certain criteria. Having two separate templates for that, why don’t more stores do it?
I think it’s just because they’re disincentivized and they’re busy working on a bunch of other things, but like man, that helps clickthrough rate to product detail pages, which is basically the top funnel metric that you have before you get to add to cart, to checkout, and I’m trying to help at every stage of the process and think holistically about it. Because no one else is.
Kurt Elster: No. All fabulous advice and I think for sure the collection page is the most overlooked optimization opportunities, like collectively. Collectively in your collection. The other one that I think drives us crazy is obsessing over the right kind of cart page and then also trying to optimize for average order value with various upsell-cross sell strategies. What does that look like in Nick D’s headspace?
Nick Disabato: So, everyone spends too much time thinking about the right way to present the cart. Is it a modal popup? Is it a sidebar drawer? Is it a dedicated page? I don’t think there’s one right way to go about doing it. The problem is when it’s inconsistently implemented. So, if I add something to cart and it pops a drawer, if I click on the cart link, does it pop a drawer or does it take me to the cart page? A lot of stores mess it up.
Well, then you just have two carts, and on Shopify, they have kind of a correct way of doing carts, and it’s to have a dedicated cart page at /cart. Now, for me, I try to do the Shopify-ish way of doing things because generally speaking, they usually have your interests in mind and trying to go against that, especially in situations where I’m going to be receiving the customer’s money, it’s not that great of an idea. That’s why I don’t do a whole lot of changes on the checkout page, because they keep locking down the checkout page.
Kurt Elster: Right.
Nick Disabato: The same with having a dedicated cart page. I think that it makes more sense to make it faster and easier to get to the dedicated cart page, and then do that, if you have to pick an approach. But beyond that, if you want to put in the time and effort to build a cart drawer, great. Do it. Modal carts are kind of on outs. They feel like a five years ago thing. I wouldn’t start doing that right now. But you know, ultimately I have a strong opinion, loosely held, about the whole situation.
If I’m presented with a drawer cart, it’s gonna be great. One thing I see people definitely screw up, though, is upsells. And so, once something’s been added to the cart, what happens? Do you pop an upsell dialogue before getting to the cart? No. Please do not do that. Do not. Spare the person a click. Provide upsells and cross sells on the cart page. That’s usually the most sensible place to do it. Checkout page usually requires an app, and that app requires a hack, and when I think about hacks and Shopify, and taking your money, I get scared, so I usually like-
Kurt Elster: No, it’s native now.
Nick Disabato: Is it native?
Kurt Elster: Popup or upsells post-checkout are now native.
Nick Disabato: Oh, that’s post-purchase though. I mean on the-
Kurt Elster: Post-purchase upsells are native.
Nick Disabato: I mean on the checkout page, like on the actual, like you have an upsell underneath the order summary on the checkout page.
Kurt Elster: Oh, yeah. If you’re on Shopify Plus you could do it. There’s apps that like… I forgot the name of the app, but yeah, there’s apps that’ll do it, they’re simple, and clean, and they just work. But yes, Shopify does not want you to mess with the checkout. They would strongly prefer that you just leave the checkout alone.
Nick Disabato: Right, right, right. Yeah.
Kurt Elster: That seems to be the message.
Nick Disabato: Right. Yeah. Post-purchase upsells are a whole different thing, and actually I worked for Zipify One Click Upsell for a little while doing optimization for them. They’re an amazing team. I’m glad it’s less hacky now. That’s it. I’m glad they don’t have to replace the whole checkout system, which is-
Kurt Elster: Yeah, that’s gone. That’s officially supported now.
Nick Disabato: Nightmarish. But yeah, another thing in checkout, I don’t see basic heuristics getting followed in checkout. If you go to Baymard, B-A-Y-M-A-R-D.com, they’re a bunch of people from-
Kurt Elster: I love Baymard.
Nick Disabato: They’re a bunch of people from Denmark who are way smarter than me that just tell you here’s how to do all of eCommerce correctly as a baseline, and they tell you how to handle quantity selection on a cart page, or removing items, or estimating shipping, or handling upsells, or handling guest checkout, which is not a problem on Shopify, but they’re kind of an enterprisey eCommerce system, so like… There’s a lot of stuff you can take from their playbook if you’re gonna be designing your own cart page.
A lot of cart pages I see don’t follow basic best practices for changing quantity. For layout, like doing… They make everything 100% width on the page, which typographically is a disaster.
Kurt Elster: Drives me crazy.
Nick Disabato: Drives me up the wall. They don’t handle third party payment providers properly, like Apple Pay. You should be defaulting to Apple Pay if Apple Pay is available. That’s it.
Kurt Elster: 2021, the year we’re gonna make express checkouts finally get adopted. They’re so convenient.
Nick Disabato: They print money.
Kurt Elster: They’re so amazing.
Nick Disabato: They print money. I’m sorry. That’s why you do your upsells on the cart page, then you direct people to Apple Pay very firmly, and then put a tiny button underneath that’s like, “Or go through the normal checkout if you want.” If somebody’s on-
Kurt Elster: Oh, okay, so we’re gonna flip. Normally, it’s like proceed to checkout, and then our express checkout button is in the cart. Or I could put the express checkout buttons in the checkout. That I don’t like. But you’re suggesting we flip. Express checkout button is first, then the proceed to checkout button in the cart.
Nick Disabato: Yeah. Express checkout should be the primary call to action. So much research that I do, I mean, people thank me for putting PayPal buttons on the cart page. And I’m like, “I didn’t put PayPal buttons on.” I mean, but they’re there, and I guess you’re welcome. They just want convenience. They don’t want to think about filling out a form. And no one knows what Shop Pay is. I’m sorry, employee at Shopify listening to this. No, it doesn’t have any brand equity. No one knows what it is. I barely know what it is, and I do this for a living.
Kurt Elster: We’ll get there.
Nick Disabato: I’ll figure it out in 2021. It’s fine. New Year’s intentions.
Kurt Elster: 2022. Shop Pay. Everybody. It’s gonna be the default. There’ll be no U.S. dollar. It’ll just be Shop Pay.
Nick Disabato: Yeah. Linux on the desktop. We’re just doing it. iPad will be professional computer.
Kurt Elster: Let’s not get… Linux on the desktop! Whoa! Now you’re crazy.
Nick Disabato: Yeah, I’ve gone off the rails. There you go.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. Now you’ve gone too far. All right. Well, what else? I mean, what we have so far is very valuable.
Nick Disabato: I got one more big one.
Kurt Elster: Well, actually, let’s go to the core issue. Why do people fight you? When someone hires you and goes, “Help conversion rate optimize my store,” and you say, “Here empirically is what you should do.” And then they go, “No, I don’t think I should do that.”
Nick Disabato: Ego. I think it’s literally like, “I’m the one running the show, I was smart enough to build this business, and I have C in my job title, and so I have a better sense of what to do than what customers want, or what you think customers want.” I think another reason, honestly it’s on me, I don’t know if I present my information well enough. Sometimes I’m just like, “Here’s the research.” So, some people don’t have the time to read a 2,000 word report on optimization that’s bespoke to their store. I get it. Sometimes I just dump a brick of text on somebody’s front porch and it’s on them to listen to it and ingest it.
So, I think probably one thing that I have actually for me 2021 is like work on presentational skills and haul people on calls more often, so that I can convey to them the importance of what it is we’re doing. Because I think a lot of people hire me to be a sack of money button, and then they don’t realize that they have to internalize a lot of research and read. A lot of reading. So, ego and not reading. Yeah.
Kurt Elster: Okay. That makes sense. Yeah, because books are from the devil and TV’s faster. So, yeah, I try to avoid… I’m kidding.
Nick Disabato: If I do like a screencast where I’m just like, “This is busted, this is busted, this is busted, you’re cool here. This is busted.” Maybe it would go better.
Kurt Elster: You don’t do screencasts?
Nick Disabato: I do sometimes.
Kurt Elster: The screencast is the executive summary of the 2000-word Nick D. brick that he has laid on your front porch.
Nick Disabato: But then people don’t read the brick, and the brick has important details.
Kurt Elster: That’s true. Well, that’s why there’s a teaser in there, like in the screencast you’re like, “You gotta change this and I make recommendations as to how in the report.”
Nick Disabato: I summarize the first 100 words of the brick and then hand you the brick anyway. I’m just like, “For more.”
Kurt Elster: Yeah. I think that would work.
Nick Disabato: There you go. Yeah. Yeah.
Kurt Elster: You are an accomplished author. You wrote Cadence & Slang, a book about interaction design. What else have you written?
Nick Disabato: I wrote a book called Value-Based Design, which is effectively a… what’s a 160-page dramatic reading of my job description. So, if you want to steal all of my playbook and do it yourself, you can buy that. It’s a Draft.NU/Value. I’ve written Draft Evidence, which is kind of a mid-career essay retrospective. If you like my personality, then there’s about 400 pages of my personality you can buy for reasonably cheap. I’ve made a bunch of little courses. If you want screencasts, I do monthly teardowns for Revise Weekly, which is my monthly or my weekly CRO series, where I give you a bunch of lessons that are very actionable for your own store. I don’t know, I write all the time. It’s great. Yeah.
Kurt Elster: And I’m going through. I bought this thing called Pod Decks. It’s just like icebreaker questions. If you could be a personal assistant to anyone, who would it be?
Nick Disabato: Oh, dear God. Probably somebody who didn’t really need a personal assistant but was drowning in work anyway. I don’t know who that would be, necessarily.
Kurt Elster: I’m just gonna throw out Mark Cuban, because that’s what everybody says.
Nick Disabato: Mark Cuban? Someone who would be like, Sohla El-Waylly. I would be a good personal assistant to Sohla El-Waylly. I would get shit done.
Kurt Elster: Who’s that?
Nick Disabato: She’s like a YouTube food celebrity.
Kurt Elster: Oh, that’d be cool.
Nick Disabato: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, that would be a good one. All right. You win.
Nick Disabato: Okay, great.
Kurt Elster: Mark Cuban was too easy. Too obvious. Do you own anything autographed by a celebrity? I bet you do.
Nick Disabato: Actually, yes. In my office, I have… I don’t know if it’s a celebrity, necessarily, but I have an uncut sheet of an Edward Tufte book that’s signed by him.
Kurt Elster: That’s cool.
Nick Disabato: Which is pretty cool, right?
Kurt Elster: Yeah.
Nick Disabato: Yeah. And it’s like a proof sheet, like there’s color bars on the bottom and everything, and so yeah.
Kurt Elster: Which book?
Nick Disabato: It is Visual Explanations.
Kurt Elster: There you go.
Nick Disabato: I had to double check.
Kurt Elster: Very good. Well, explain… We’ll leave on this note. We’ll go so academically nerdy. Explain the significance of Edward Tufte.
Nick Disabato: Edward Tufte is a professor emeritus now of statistics at Yale, who in the early ‘80s wrote a book with a dry title that’s actually extremely entertaining, called The Visual Display of Quantitative Information-
Kurt Elster: I have a copy of it in my bookshelf.
Nick Disabato: It caused a bunch of popular publications, like Time Magazine and New York Times, to overhaul the way in which they display information to the public. He talked about how bite-sized infographics are not as useful for people as like more data-dense visualizations. So, if you ever see like information visualizations that are on a map, and they’re super, super rich, that’s his fault. I think he made the modern way of displaying data very legible to people in a way that resonated for me as a designer when I was just getting started 15 years ago. And so, I have all of his books, and I respect him enough that I have an unsigned proof sheet over there.
Kurt Elster: That’s cool.
Nick Disabato: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: So, if I’m on the same page, I’m like, “Man, I love Edward Tufte. Nick D. rules. I’m gonna listen to him, and take his advice, and I hate carousels.” Where can I go to hire you? I just want… You are my sack of money button. I want to hire the sack of money button.
Nick Disabato: Go to Draft.NU/Revise. There are form fields for your name and email address. Put your name and email address in there and then I get back to you with full application and next steps. I would be so grateful and honored to hear from you. I’m actually, a rare moment, as of this recording we have an open slot, which almost never happens, so get in touch. I will make the numbers go up in a way that is hopefully not gross, and I will do that by listening to your customers and telling you a bunch of things that might be surprising. Get rid of your carousel.
Kurt Elster: I love it. Nick D., thank you so much.
Nick Disabato: Thank you so much. I’m so happy to do this.
Kurt Elster: That was a good episode.