Vision is the most important sense and most direct way to perception through a computer screen.

Let your customers see your products! Use (professional) images that make your products look at their best. Or even better: use video! It’s the best way to stimulate the brain and evoke an emotional response. Use images to replace or reinforce text or to make literal of suggestive associations. Even if you don’t have physical products, you can show screenshots or a video about using the product.



Book cover illusion: The 4-hour workweek.

The 4-hour workweek (from Tim Ferris) book cover has a really nice visual illusion to (subconsciously) influence you. Do you see it?
Hint: it makes you happy.


Feedback 5: Be a user advocate, not a system sales rep.

It’s very important to realize about the pros and cons of Magento. Beside the many advantages, Magento also has some disadvantages that can have some influence to the choice of e-commerce platform. One of the points the shop owner should be careful about and good informed in is the migration of data from another platform. I also noticed data migration is always a difficult issue. The structure of databases are not the same in different platforms. It takes a lot of time and costs to perform a successful migration. Other issues are the high costs for support, license and development of the platform.

While I appointed some issues you should look after, before choosing for Magento, don’t forget it has also big amount of advantages. It’s a powerful open source platform for all your sales, transactions, mailings, Rich Merchandising and another marketing activities. I think personally the biggest disadvantages of Magento (Professional and Enterprise) versions are the relatively high costs, but it’s inevitable for such a great platform growing every month. But as you know, if you want a real increase in your revenue, you have to invest in the tools to reach your goals.

The idea of Magento Uservoice is incredible. It really gives an impression of an open source environment everybody all over the world contributes to improve Magento. The visitors can also vote the issues of the developers to pay more attention and give more priority to some posts. In my opinion not only developers, but also shop owners, sales managers and marketers could participate to this system, because they also have many ideas to make Magento more powerful, innovative and more purposeful e-commerce platform.


Magento - Project Stratus

Pssst…. Magento is going into the cloud!

Sometimes I’m just wondering around online, try some stuff here and there and most of the time nothing happens. But sometimes things do happen. Today I discovered a new project from Magento Inc…

Magento: Project Stratus

What is it? This is what the FAQ says about the project:

Project Stratus is Magento’s next-generation on-demand eCommerce platform. At its core, Stratus is an online version of our award-winning eCommerce platform. Everything you already know and love about the Magento platform is available with this hosted service. Stratus creates more choice for merchants to select the product and platform that best fits their needs. Stratus will empower merchants and developers to customize, modify, extend and integrate a hosted store as if it were their own code running on their own servers … an unprecedented capability in the market today.

If you go to stratus.magento.com you’ll see the landing page for the cloud service that Magento Inc. is working on. You can subscribe to newsletter updates, enter an invite key and request one.

Magento - Project Stratus

The beta program will run into “early 2011”. I don’t know how many invites they’re going to accept so I immediately applied for an invite and I’d suggest you do the same. I’ll keep you posted when the invite gets accepted.

Of course there are more questions then answers at this time, but I think an official cloud service for Magento will be a really cool and logical addition to the Magento product portfolio! Following their relationship with Rackspace, I’d suspect that Project Stratus will run on their servers.

Since I can’t find any mentions from Magento Inc. about this Project Stratus it think this might me still a little bit of a secret project, so don’t tell them you got it from me ok…? :)


A/B testing: more proof you should always be testing.

Last month I performed a simple A/B test on another (Dutch) website of me (dutchento.org) using Visual Website Optimizer (VWO). It was a simple A/B test looking to improve newsletter and RSS subscribtion rates by adding ‘persuasion’ (three reasons to sign up) to excising subscription links. The results were somewhat surprising to me and apparently also to the people behind VWO because they liked to use my test as a case study on their blog. Read on to learn what I learned by using split testing: A/B testing with competing goals: newsletter CTR increased by 190%, but clicks on RSS feed….

[disclaimer] I’m a happy customer of VWO, It’s one of the systems I use to analyze and test websites. I like to see myself as an objective person in talking and advising you about that. If I recommend bad software you won’t come back here and you won’t tell anyone about me so there’s really no use for me to misinform so I never will. I do however signed up for the partner program of VWO which means that if you click the links to VWO in this blogpost I get a 15% commission if you buy anything from them within sixty days. This of course will make me huge amounts of money and I will have even more incentive to blog great things for you. If you don’t like that just click this plain link to visualwebsiteoptimizer.com without the referral code. Thanks! [/disclaimer]


Lesson 5: Be a user advocate, not a system sales rep.

Ok, so you want to be a Magento Guru: you’ll know (almost) everything there’s to know about the system and you’ll try to convince everyone to use it.


But don’t confuse that with being a sales representative for a Magento company trying to make as many sales as possible. You are enthusiastic about the system, but also be realistic and a critique. I think Magento in general is probably the best e-commerce platform out there. But that doesn’t mean it’s a miracle system that is going to sell stuff by itself and it’s not the perfect system (mostly because I think perfect doesn’t exist with software). It also won’t be the best choice for every businesses.

So there will be bugs, faults and strange things you and users will encounter and need to deal with, just as with any other software package. Tell them about that openly and up-front, tell them what they can do about it and they’ll be much happier users. There’s no use in ‘selling’ Magento to people who won’t be happy using it.

For example: The way Magento is build makes it a real resource hog. Great when you want many features, great when you’re a developer that wants to extend the system. Not so great when you’re on a slow server and like speedy webshop performance. Luckily, there are many, many things you can do to counter that problem by using (one or more) fast dedicated servers run by a hosting company specialized in Magento. (Also see my blogposts ‘Magento Performance: Myth vs Reality‘ and ‘101 ways to speed up your Magento e-commerce website‘ on this subject).

Tasks for this week:

  • Surf Google and the Magento forums and try to look at the cons of Magento. Since developments go fast, only try to look at recent (<6 months resources) to prevent listing cons that are already fixed in newer versions of Magento. Pick the top 5 most complained about (besides the performance issues mentioned above).
  • Take a look at the roadmap (see resources below) to find out what is being done to help prevent these issues in the future (including performance improvements).

Some resources:



Feedback 4: Official Documentation

The sales skills of Magento are amazing. It provides shop owners many opportunities to increase sale and conversion of their webshop. The function of ‘webshop’ has almost disappeared after the appearance of Magento in the race of e-commerce solutions. Selling products is no longer the only wish of shop owners. They are looking for new features to please new customers, thinking about different tactics about how to increase the amount of returning visitors. Online and offline research of the market, the customer satisfaction surveys and extending product assortment are the indispensable parts of successful (Magento) webshops.

Last Thursday I had a stage reunion, when every student should tell more about his intern. I was just waiting for my turn, to tell the audience of 40 students of Digital Communication an amazing online shop solution, Magento! To my surprise I was not the only student who had something to tell about Magento. An another student told about his intern at another company where he also is an consultant on Magento platform websites. Fortunately he didn’t told all the advantages of Magento, giving me the turn to do it;)

I think the success of Magento is also in stimulated by the website magentocommerce.com. The screencasts and webinars I listened were very clear to understand for me as a student, as for the marketers and shop owners with less technical knowledge. I will keep following the screencasts and discovering newer features in my favorite webshop solution.


Interloper effect

We are likely to value third-party consultation as objective, confirming, and without motive.


When we read reviews of 3rd party experts/ consultants, we value that information as being more objective and trustworthy. So besides testmonials of your customers (see Social Proof), can you get some external experts to review or talk about your services on conferences or their blogs? Even when you pay them to write a review on their blog and tell the audience it’ll still work (example: sponsored review on Yoast.com). Of course it helps a lot if the review is positive ;).