Conversion Rate Optimization University

CRO Review:

Update – they listened! Sorta.

Back in May, the North Miami-based art supply company Arteza was recruiting for a CRO position. I sent them my info along with a detailed site audit.

Posting my notes and observations as an example CRO audit. This is the kind of work I love.

Site search

I searched for “rhodia” who make my favorite notebooks. Arteza doesn’t carry Rhodia products:

At Divers Direct, we used site search synonyms to redirect “No results” queries to a list of relevant products. I’d recommend doing the same.

Alternately, there’s a lot of dead space on this page. Why not fill it with one of these carousels?

Departments navigation

For those departments that don’t currently have any deeper category levels, why not create some? For Brushes & Tools, it’s pretty easy to split the category into Brushes and Tools (or Cases, depending on future offerings).

My primary concern here is not forcing the visitor to make an unnecessary click.

Category page

Existing categories without subcategories still have a redundant thumbnail at the top of the category page. I’d recommend removing it to prevent customer confusion.

Alternately, following the advice under Departments Nav above, we’d break Kids’ Art Supplies down into Kids’ Painting, Kids’ Drawing, etc. (Speaking as a parent, maybe the subcategories should be Very Messy and Less Messy?)

Weekly Deals category page Weekly Deals page

These products don’t seem to be sorted — the first fou results are basically two variations of two products. At Divers Direct, we manually merchandised page 1 of our Deals page to ensure customers weren’t seeing, for example, eight wetsuits and four regulators. We wanted to show
visitors great savings on as many different top-level categories as possible.

20 products per page, on this page in particular, might be too many? Depends on how considered the merchandising decisions are.

Product detail page

Since Arteza doesn’t carry Rhodia products, I settled on a substitute: ​Hardbound Sketchbook, 8.5” x 11”, 110 sheets – pack of 2​.

I have a lot to say about this page.

Very good images, especially the lifestyle shot! ​​ does a great job of product photography, especially their samples of different pen types on the paper, and an aspirational photo (the strawberry watercolor). the world’s greatest shop for writer nerds – the next best thing to testing the paper yourself

At the top of the page, stars are in black — yet at the bottom of the page where the actual customer reviews are, the stars are yellow. A tiny bit of cognitive dissonance, probably not a big deal, but made me wonder which was the deliberate choice.

Red suddenly appears as a call-to-action color, whereas before all calls to action were in mellow gold (which shows up nicely on a black background).

Product description looks solid. The bullet copy is especially well-chosen, doing a good job of turning features into benefits.

Cart page


I can’t recommend removing Promo code from this page strongly enough. If the visitor goes down the RetailMeNot rabbithole and never completes checkout, we don’t even have their email address to send a cart abandon email. I’ve seen 15% bumps in conversion rate from simply moving the coupon code box onto the checkout page.

Checkout page

Can we minimize the Promo code box and force the customer to click it open, as it is on the Cart page? Or do we require this to remain open because it’s also apparently the method used to pay with a gift card?

My friend Cher, a body painter, only has one legal name. When she tries to purchase from Arteza, she fails validation. Do we really need this?

STRONGLY recommend defaulting Country to United States — again, no reason to force a click. (Though the address autocomplete feature is super nice.)

Recommend adding a hovering Checkout button floating on the right, because sometimes people get lost just from scrolling down a page.

Update: they listened! (sorta)

Well, Weekly Deals is now highlighted on the main nav (see below) but still, confusingly, in their second call-to-action color. (Still > 20 products represented, though.)

Honestly I’m delighted they listened, annoyed they never acknowledged my input, and curious about the decisions they made.

Site search revisions product search now shows something on a no-results attempt…

So now when you look for something they don’t have, they at least show you what they DO have. Along with products currently out of stock, for some reason…

I checked: they let you backorder OOS products: lets you pay now and enjoy your purchase later!

Note also their “we think you’ll love these” results DO vary based on your search, at least a little: didn’t watch the C-beams glitter in the dark

Main nav revisions

They added subcategories to Brushes & Tools like I suggested (and also added some pretty nice video snippets to the nav dropdown — I wonder whether they’re too distracting?)

Maybe they just added more products and this was an inadvertent change?

Note also: previously the nav said Shop All to browse the entire category’s contents. Now it’s a more specific Shop All Brushes & Tools.

Checkout revisions

Looks like my input on their Promo Code fields made an impact…

Cart page:

Check out that lil bitty promo code link!

Checkout page:

Aww there it is again!

They added a really nice touch — a dynamic green check highlights the fields that meet validation!

Unfortunately, poor Cher can’t catch a break.

Green checkmark – nice!
Cher 🙁

Look — you’re thinking Why does he keep going on and on about the no last name thing? At least they’re not making a customer click in two different boxes to enter first and last names separately — that’s good UX, right? That horse is dead.

I get it. Here’s the thing, though: this is a website selling art supplies. I only know a handful of people with only one name — and guess what they do? They’re all artists.

Know your customer.

And boy oh boy do they want to know their customer!!

This seems… excessive.

16 trackers is — well, it’s a lot. Blocking them shaves 0.63 seconds, about 20%, from page load time. A lot of places I’ve worked with would trade a point or two of profit margin to speed their site up 0.63 seconds. Presumably, for Arteza, it’s worth the trade-off.

One last thing: when you’re using the default $categoryName parameter in your dynamically-generated featured product carousels, sometimes you get output like this:

These aren’t just ANY bestsellers!

4 replies on “CRO Review:”

Dont be a baby. You didnt tell them anything anything beyond basic cro best practices that they could get for free. Besides you said you told htem all this for free without them asking so what you think they should put you on payroll for some free advice???

Fair point — I didn’t tell them anything the most basic UX review would’ve revealed. Maybe they launched the site knowing about that whole list of issues, and went back and fixed ’em just coincidentally after I reached out? Shmaybe. I prefer to imagine someone read the email and did their best to clear up the issues I pointed out, and maybe just plain forgot to hit Reply and say, “Great points thanks George!!!!!!” which would’ve been enough to make me happy.

Still — why would you try to hire a CRO specialist before you’ve implemented basic best practices? Most places I’ve worked with do their best first and then bring in someone else to give them a new perspective and outside ideas. You could argue the other side — “No you want your CRO person right at the beginning so you can make it right the first time,” sure, I get that. Arteza didn’t do that (presumably? If they *did* have a CRO person on staff maybe my unsolicited advice got them fired?)

Regardless, I accept your argument. I told them a bunch of stuff they could’ve learned for free. Can’t do more than that without access to their analytics and data which, alas, I don’t have.

Hello. I enjoyed your article and just wanted to comment because I have a love-hate relationship with this company. The student-grade quality and inconsistency of their products, terrible search abilities and ultimate lack of listening to the consumer just irritates me.

One reason is, and of course it is to be expected going from a startup to a semi-popular company, but I get irked watching their prices rise almost daily. Their arrogance and greed seem to know no bounds. They’re charging $6.49 for the same size bottle of craft of paint one can purchase from .50 to $1.79 in popular brick and mortar stores.

I also caught them, then called them out online, regarding a comment provided by a representative as an answer to valid customer question. The gist of it was: “..are your new glitter pens more glittery?” (yes that word was used but in the grand scheme of things, it does not matter )
The reply by the rep was:..”it’s more or less the same …”

Uhh..what? I chimed in and stated that the reps comment was vague and I wanted to know: “..well, which is it? more glitter or less?” I also pointed out that their new, more expensive glitter pens called: Super Glitter, is apparently not “super glittery” at all. I then proceeded to point out what the company had done was redesigned the pens to mimic a popular pen, Gelly Rolls. Arteza seriously went all out and made their pens look darn near the same as Gelly Rolls, renamed them to Super Glitter, which is apparently not true and tacked on more expensive price tag.
To date, my comment is not on their website lol..
Anyway, thank you for reading my rant, if you did.. and have a safe and happy new year.

You make some really good points! I want to explain what’s going on from the other side (the Arteza merchandisers or product dev team or whatever they call themselves…)

1. “student-grade quality and inconsistency of their products” is because they’re buying them by the container from different factories in China. When they find a better price they switch suppliers, and yeah quality is ALL OVER the place. I worked with a school supply company once that found an incredible price, HALF what we’d been paying, on plain old #2 pencils. We got samples, tested them, everything seemed okay… and when the container arrived and we cracked open the first box? It was full of golf pencils. That’s an extreme example for sure, but supplier bait/switching happens ALL the time and there’s just no way to get your money back, and your delivery is NEVER as good as the samples. Inconsistency wouldn’t be an issue if they just gave a new SKU or UPC to their newer/crappier product — but then they’d lose that listing they’ve been working so hard to maintain on Amazon.

2. “prices rise almost daily” is gaming Amazon sales. At first you set your price really low, maybe sell at a loss for a while, to get your conversion rate high and make lots of commissions money for Amazon. Then you slowly raise prices until you find the sweet spot that maximizes cash flow. (Also at the beginning you Venmo all your friends $10 to buy your product on Amazon and leave a 5-star review because that helps, too.)

3. “redesigned the pens to mimic a popular pen, Gelly Rolls” is exactly what nearly everybody does (I talk a lot about that in the article about Amazon, commodities and the race to the bottom). Might surprise you to learn that, for most pens, the cap and barrel make up about 75% of the manufacturing cost. Unless it’s a REALLY good pen like my personal fave the Pentel Hi-Tec C 0.4mm in which case yeah, the ink and point add meaningfully to cost.

Thanks for reading! If you see anything else weird let me know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *