The UX of the Direct Marketing Page

From the legendary Bill Mirbach:
…. so here’s today’s high-value trivia question. this “website”, if you can call it that, sells product. navigation …. not. is there anything other than the straight down approach that would sell more stuff? in other words, could you redesign this copy approach (including, i suppose, [a better picture of Bob Bly] and get more orders? what do you think? possible or not?

My Quick UX Assessment/Reply:
I clicked on the link at the bottom to I think it’s interesting to compare the two. The first one keeps every sentence short, and separates the sentences with good padding, yet maintains a decent grid so you can skip a few, scan etc. The second one has crazy colors and no grid, plus the sentences are twice as long or longer. I will bet that the Bly site does much better (pound for pound) than the Filipino site. Even his picture matches what I think a great writer would look like. The key that I get from the comparison is: Ugly isn’t better, it takes skill to write the Bly page. Better writing is better.

Additionally, I think that the Bly site does one thing very well. It manages expectations and fits neatly in with the users mental model. His users are not buying computer hardware. They are not trying to see the slickest stuff. They want something that feels like “writing”, not something that feels like “website”. So for this application, I think its great. One might suggest a better palette or shadows or visual niceties, but I don’t think it would affect sales. Too much visual beauty here might detract from the copy.

I might try different font faces or colors, but I also think it wouldn’t change much. I bet this does well as is. Caveat, As a designer, you always have to be looking to improve, so trying new things and testing is still a good idea.

If I wanted to go a whole new direction, I would try a page flipping design. Nice and big. Cover the whole screen.
Examples (although they are small):

But I wouldn’t be confident in it winning. I just think it would be a good test to try. Thinking out of the box.

One reply on “The UX of the Direct Marketing Page”

The Bly site is an absolute classic. Everything he does there is right out of the old-school bag of tricks from the direct mail marketing days.

Personally, I’d dump that photo, it sucks. But I’m not sure I’d touch the rest of it.

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