As a small business owner who's been involved in several website designs -- and paid thousands of dollars to 'experts' on upping the conversion rates on web visits -- I say "read this book before you hire any experts." The reason? After reading this you may not see a need to spend thousands of dollars on 'experts.' In fact, I was in the middle of a website overhaul at the same time I got this book, and reading it saved me plenty of hours (read: $$) with my designer.
What I liked:
- Hunt acts as a consultant/advisor, not a theorist or artist.
- Hunt's "if/then approach makes his advice easy to grasp. No fluff.
- Photos showing the nuances and how little changes made big differences.
What I didn't like:
- LOL ... Nothing. I liked it all.
Take this book and Jakob Nielsen's "Prioritizing Web Usability" and you have a wealth of information for designing websites that bring results (read: $$).
on January 31, 2011
I've been building websites for 12 years and have long believed that most sites are a waste of money; they look pretty but don't generate profits for the client. I tell prospects that if no one can find your site - and they don't do what you want (buy, donate, sign up, order) when they get there - it's money down the drain.
Still, web design courses have focused on how a site LOOKS ("graphic design") or the technical aspects of building a site. Ben Hunt goes beyond that. He marries technical knowledge with solid marketing fundamentals in a clear and compelling way. And best of all he provides examples of sites he's redesigned, explaining the reasoning behind each revision.
If you design websites, if you do copywriting for websites, if you simply want to understand how "online marketing" is SUPPOSED to work - get this book!
on January 28, 2011
I've been developing web application for 10 years and the one area that I have always been weak in is reliable conversion rates for my clients. I can deal with the complexity of the software, but the presentation and flow of the message for the audience is a different animal all together. For those of you who work in the online industry, you are probably aware of the wide array of skillsets required to take a concept through the entire lifecycle to completion. I've only read through a portion of this book, but so far, Ben is conveying the right message for professionals in my field. Having to deal with servers, development frameworks, existing applications (cms/ecom), design opinions and copy can make any web project way more complicated than it has to be. The focus on simplicty in design, copy and analysis that Ben has put together will definitely help bring me into the minds of the visitor for a better conversion rate and ultimately successful projects.
I highly recommend this book to all online professionals of all backgrounds.
-Josh (Bend, Or)
For almost any business, having a website is as necessary as having a phone number. Unfortunately far too many businesses have websites that simply don't work. Most websites are designed using what Ben Hunt, the author, calls the "first best guess" method - that is the sites are designed based on someone's best guess. After being published, there is often very little updating. The websites remain static. These websites are generally poor at attracting traffic and poor at converting the traffic.
Convert teaches a new approach. You start by asking questions like: "Who am I communicating with? What do they want? How can I attract them? And how can I get them to do what the site needs to do?"
The book has a very logical and straightforward method for teaching a new approach. In part one of the book, he gives the basic principles of how search engines work. Next he discusses the fundamentals of marketing.
Then he introduces the Awareness Ladder. In the past companies presented one marketing message. The Awareness Ladder concept starts with the fact that all prospects will not have the same level of awareness about the problem/solution your product/service offers. You need to engage with the prospect where they currently are on the Awareness Ladder.
Part two centers around specific design concepts to maximize conversions. Ben takes each step of the AIDA principle and shows how to apply it to website design. There are specific examples and case studies supporting each principle.
He goes into great detail about how to use Google Analytics and Google Web Optimizer.
The book is full of specific examples of what worked or what didn't work and why.
While the book is about web design, it is not necessary to be a web designer to gain benefit from this book. I am not a web designer but certainly learned some things that will be useful in having sites designed for me. Even if you are an experienced web designer, I feel certain that you will come away with a couple of new ideas that will greatly improve your services.
The book is based on years of experience by Ben Hunt and his employees. The writing style is very easy to read and highly engaging. It is not theory, but what works in the real world.
on February 13, 2011
Ostensibly this is a book about web design and conversion optimization. Indeed, in my opinion it is a masterpiece in both of these categories - a genuine double category killer.
Alas, that is only the beginning. Recognizing that for a commercial website it is somewhat meaningless to talk about web design separately from market research, search engine optimization, advertising and copywriting, the author proceeds to provide an excellent, integrated overview of all of these subjects. The end result is what I suspect is the first successful attempt to articulate a unified theory of Internet marketing.
What is most impressive is the quality of the discussion on so many related topics. For example, although many of the points on copywriting are familiar from other sources, in my opinion the end result is a book with copywriting insight at least the equal of the excellent books on the subject by Bob Bly and Drayton Bird.
A couple of chapters are devoted to a discussion of the "awareness ladder," by which people climb through various stages of awareness of your product or service on the way to becoming a customer. While some might argue that this concept is not entirely original, I believe that the depth and clarity of the author's descriptions in this area break important new ground. Do some Google searches on the subject after reading the book and you'll see what I mean.
If you aren't familiar with the "awareness ladder" and think it sounds like a bunch of hokey marketing theory, think again. After reading this book you'll know exactly how to link the elements of your website together according to stages of awareness in such a way as to maximize conversions.
Page for page and dollar for dollar, you'd be hard pressed to find a better book than this one. This book deserves to be on Amazon's bestseller list, not number 200 thousand and something on the sales list as it stands now. It was just recently released so perhaps it's just a matter of time...
on January 6, 2012
I read A LOT of marketing books, probably 20 or so in the last year. The two that stood out were "Get Rich Click" by Marc Ostrofsky and "Convert" by Ben Hunt. This book is much more than a list of things to do to optimize your website: it's an approach, it's a philosophy, it's a revalation (if not a revolution).
Is there such a thing as a "one size fits all" automobile? No. Is there such a thing as a "one size fits all" computer? No. So why do we think all websites should be?
That's what Ben does so well: to teach us that there's no such thing as a "one size fits all website" anymore. A website is a living thing that needs to be customized, optimized, and simplified for the different audiences it aims to attract.
I've rarely read a marketing book with so many "a-ha" moments that made me want to take immediate action with my own work, every single page contains usable, actionable insight. So much so, in fact, that I recently signed up for Ben's Web Design course, and I'm loving that too.
Kudos to Ben for understanding what a website is really about: not design, not text, not aesthetics, but a way to communicate and "convert" customers.
on January 30, 2011
What a pleasure to have Ben Hunt's work finally available through a conventional publisher, in a form that will make his ideas available to more readers.
Hunt's first book, Save the Pixel, is a self-published document that has been available only online.
Until recently, Hunt and his business, Scratch Media, have been best known for their contribution to thinking about how to create simple website designs that focus on achieving well-defined goals with great economy.
Convert! broadens the scope of Hunt's prior work. It is a valuable resource for anyone interested in improving the effectiveness of a commercially oriented website.
Hunt presents an excellent synthesis of ideas from many interrelated fields, including design, copywriting and search-engine marketing.
The ideas he shares are far from commonplace today, though I believe in the not-too-distant future better marketers will apply them almost universally. Someday reviewers may write that the ideas in the book are not new. If so, it will be only because the book's influence promises to become so pervasive.
Hunt's writing is clear, readable and accessible. I read it once in a few hours and have been rereading it with pen in hand to note all of the great ideas I can put to work immediately.
This book is a treasure for marketers who want to create a standout presence on the Web. And its price makes it an absolute bargain.
on March 6, 2011
I'm not a web designer but UI/UX obsessive as well as small business operator (online). I stumbled across Ben's Web Design From Scratch via an article long ago, and quickly bought Save The Pixel. I became a big fan of Ben's thinking in terms of designing simple, effective sites that convert.
My websites rely on calls to action and conversion of visitors into mailing list subscribers or buyers of ebooks or downloading of apps.
I needed no convincing to buy this book, and you shouldn't either. It is absolutely CHOCK FULL of rolled-gold tips that will absolutely help you convert.
Seriously, this book takes a while to get through as it triggers so many action points. I've had to read it front to back, then read it again to get all my action points.
Whether you're a web designer building sites for people, a UX person helping to optimise someone's site, a small business owner engaging with designers, or a website owner/administrator responsible for your site's continuous improvement, I don't recommend you get this book, I demand it.
Ignore this book at your own peril. Ben knowns his stuff and has been practising his arts for years. By buying this book you can effectively leverage his knowledge to your own benefit.
Highly, absolutely, strongly recommended.
If you have worked in web design and development for any length of time, you have probably built a number of what the author refers to as "best guess" website solutions. If you've never felt great about this approach and would like to develop practices that will actually help your web design clients grow their businesses, this book is for you. The book includes clear examples and case studies that will help you get these practices into your workflow quickly. I liked the ideas in this book so much that I actually bought another copy to give to one of my clients so that we could all be working from the same playbook.
on December 22, 2011
I am a web designer and internet marketeer. I absolutely devoured this book and I still refer to it from time to time. There are some concepts Ben writes about that absolutely took my approach to web design to a new level and I am not a novice at SEO.
Although Ben openly claims that some of the concepts in his book are not new, the way he explains them are. And to me that is what makes this book a potential game-changer if you're struggling with your web design business.
The concept of the awareness ladder is what rocked me. To someone that doesn't get excited about internet marketing, this might not seem earth shattering but to me it was like a door opened in the way I thought about marketing. The idea that you can market to people differently depending on their awareness of your product or service... That changed everything for me. I practiced memorizing the awareness ladder until it became second nature.
I think this is a great book if you are interested in making money online for you or your clients. Highly recommended!