Nathaniel Ward

Some statistics about carousel performance

Carousel click-through rates. Source: Erik Runyon

Source: Erik Runyon

Erik Runyon compiles some actual data on how people use carousels, including auto-​​forwarding carousels and those requiring users to click through. His conclusions:

First, if they’re going to insist on a carousel, they need to include compelling content that not only entices users to click, but can get their attention in the first place. Second, I might suggest keeping the number of features to a maximum of four (or better yet, three), as it appears that as the number of features increases, the click-​​throughs on sub-​​features decreases dramatically. Finally, I’d suggest that the subject matter can make a big difference.

The last point is key.

Do you really need a carousel on your homepage?

Most website carousels are added not because of a focus on the consumer but because of internal organizational politics, Brad Frost points out. His first rule for when to add a carousel: “Make sure you actually need one.”

Universities are now running money bombs

Columbia University ran a one-​​day online fundraising campaign that drew $6.9 million. It had all the hallmarks of a political-​​style money bomb:

  • A time-​​limited campaign to create urgency;
  • Matching gifts from major contributors to inspire donations;
  • A counter showing funds raised to date;
  • Donations before the formal campaign launch to generate momentum; and
  • Multi-​​channel promotion via e-​​mail, social media, and phones.

I’m particularly intrigued by the university’s use of a contest between its component schools to prompt donors to give more.

Incrementalism won’t fix your fundraising

Tom Belford:

Direct response fundraising is seriously broken. And incrementalism won’t fix it … indeed, might get in the way of fixing it.

We think fundraisers need to lift their sights above the weeds.

This is exactly right. Focus your fundraising strategy on long-​​term successes, not incremental improvements and minutiae.

Why you are personalizing your messaging?

Meghan Keaney Anderson warns against personalizing content just because you can: “Personalization without a good reason breaks the cardinal inbound rule: Marketing should be driven by the prospective customer’s needs. At its core, marketing should be useful.”

A sign you might need to rethink your web design

The Salvation Army's tips on how to navigate their website.

If you have to provide step-​​by-​​step instructions on how to navigate your web site, including a whole section devoted to your home page, perhaps you need to rethink how your site is designed.

Be careful what you learn from your tests

Pilot programs and other trials can often lead us to the wrong conclusions, Megan McArdle warns:

This is one more installment in a continuing series, brought to you by the universe, entitled “promising pilot projects often don’t scale”.  They don’t scale for corporations, and they don’t scale for government agencies.  They don’t scale even when you put super smart people with expert credentials in charge of them.  They don’t scale even when you make sure to provide ample budget resources.  Rolling something out across an existing system is substantially different from even a well run test, and often, it simply doesn’t translate.

The importance of color to web design

Tommi Kaikkonen explains why so many websites have light-​​colored backgrounds:

The whole Google network of websites and applications is based primarily on white. They aren’t very exciting or arousing to our senses. But what if they switched the background color to a different one, such as red? My guess is that while the sites might look more exciting, you wouldn’t be as comfortable using them. The color red causes a non-​​conditional physiological reaction, increasing your heart and respiratory rate. This reaction is something we humans are born with.