• http://www.search-usability.com/ Shari Thurow

    Hi Brian-

    Outstanding SEO article on copy vs. design. If there were an SEO award, I would nominate this article.

    BAH cracked me up….and I’m a designer/developer! A new term to add to my vocabulary. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people want the BAH design right now because, “It’s hip, it’s hot, it’s cool, it’s current, it’s [fill in spin-doctored adjective of choice].”

    I have known for years and years that the seemingly ugly design works…it converts better. And it’s important to always test the seemingly ugly designs.

    Nice work!

  • http://ConversionScientist.com Brian Massey


    There is a natural tension between the copywriter and the designer that makes Web sites better. However, copy is usually a line item on the design process.

    Copywriters need to get better at defending their copy. I think a focus on conversion provides that defense. It lets the say, “I wrote the copy this way this because it will generate more leads or sales.”

    Thanks for the kind words.

  • http://searchengineland.com Sandra Niehaus

    Great article, Brian! a good reminder to never sacrifice conversion basics for mere decoration. Of course, I’d like to believe there’s a middle ground – that the site design can be updated to be more beautiful AND to support, not work against, the copy. Love to hear more about this project as it progresses.

  • http://blog.9thsphere.com/blog/ ezra

    This example just further supports the necessity of more then just one skill set a website development project. Copywriting, marketing, design and technical developers all need to be part of a re-design process. In a recent article I wrote on the topic of what comes first design or content, which emphasizes how important goal focused content is to the successes of a website.

  • http://ConversionScientist.com Brian Massey

    Sandra and ezra,

    I certainly wouldn’t be so hard on designers if they didn’t dominate the development process for so many sites. All are skill sets are needed. All contribute to success. However, the current state of development over-emphasizes design, IMHO.


  • http://www.marketingwords.com Karon Thackston

    Exceptional job, Brian! I couldn’t agree with your assessment more. I’m a recent blog subscriber of yours and have learned a great deal from the articles I’ve received so far. Keep up with good work ;)

  • http://www.brandextract.com Hayden7913

    Great article, Brian. While I don’t dispute your results, I think that Heliski.com sounds like a company and HeliskiReview.com sounds like a 3rd party review site–unrelated to your client’s business–so it looks like the result of p.r. rather than web promotion. Some could argue that it’s deceptive, but you don’t claim to be a neutral reviewer. Overall, great lessons.

  • mark.aldrich

    I’ve always wondered which was more important – the design or the copy, and this article perfectly highlights this – in the end, it’s still going to be the marketing, not the design that gets the conversions.

    Great post, thanks!


  • http://ConversionScientist.com Brian Massey


    You raise an important point: quality of traffic. The URL definitely will draw people looking for a “review” of heliskiing tours and sites. If those looking for reviews are closer to the buying decision, then more “ready to buy” visitors would find heliskiing”review”.com.

    The site delivers a lot of information about many tours, so the site delivers on its promise. This isn’t deceptive.

    None-the-less, all of this attention to copy and layout may in fact be secondary to the quality of the traffic coming.

    I think three things are teaming up to make heliskiingreview.com better:
    1. “Ready to buy” traffic
    2. Home page that gets the visitor in faster
    3. Reviews of tours. Heliski.com starts with the providers, not the locations, like HeliskiingReview.

    Thanks for commenting.

  • http://ConversionScientist.com Brian Massey


    Design was important for both, but it wasn’t the kind that designers are delivering — and, in fairness, that clients are asking for.

    Good designers draw the eye to important messages and calls to take action.

    Thanks for the comment.

  • noelx99

    Great article! Rarely do we get to see such a specific example.