Little details matter. Ask Rogers Communications, Inc.
In 2006, this Canadian company witnessed firsthand how a single comma in a contract could cost them over $2 million.
What they thought they signed:
The agreement “shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”
What they actually signed
The agreement “shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”
The second comma changed the meaning completely. Whereas Rogers Communications thought only the subsequent extensions could be terminated on one year's notice, the clause created by the comma meant that the initial 5-year agreement could be canceled by either party. Consequently, the rates they were obligated to pay shot up immensely within the 5 year period they thought they'd have the prices locked in. (Read the story)
Details can make or break your website
Hopefully you have good lawyers who will, among other things, indemnify you in case someone maliciously uses your software or website to build weapons of mass destruction. Like Apple's lawyers did with iTunes. (Read iWMD: Why No One Reads License Agreements)
But even with that important detail taken care of, the little details matter in user interfaces, as well. And failing to pay attention to them can be the difference between success or failure.
- Should that call-to-action be a button or a link?
- Should those calls-to-action be together or separate?
- Should the calls-to-action be of equal weight, or should one be given greater priority?
How you answer those questions depend on what it is you're trying to accomplish and what people are expecting to find. But on a high-volume or high-stakes site, if minding the details can improve your conversion metrics by just 5-10%, it could be the difference between profitability and a money-leaking ego booster.
The Web is your petri dish
If at all possible, don't rely on experts to tell you that something has to be one way or the other. Test early and often. Don't be afraid to try new things.
Work diligently on the details. In bits.
- Is the headline effective?
- Is the language on the button inviting?
- Does the button look imminently clickable?
Let the data speak for themselves. You may want experts to design the page and the test, but you don't need an expert to know that a 15% conversion rate is better than a 10% conversion rate.
However, the characteristic you must first have is a willingness to fail. Because only through failure can you foster a willingness to search for the problem and design experiments to help you improve. - Cam Beck