In online, avoid complications at all costs. Keep things simple!

From time to time, I see things in contests like these (Concurs »), in which you need to buy something, then if you are one of the 30 selected, you need to take a test, and then be available to take your prize, which is a trip. There are three steps to win the product (join the contest by buying an expensive product – not easy, give a test – not easy, go on a trip – strange, still, not easy). It’s highly demotivating, even if you do win.

Michelle Robinson - Complicated, https://flic.kr/p/gdQRXb
Michelle Robinson – Complicated, https://flic.kr/p/gdQRXb

The solution: create something simple. “Join the sweepstakes, and you could win”. It’s OK to ask some things from the people, but do you really need to take 30 people to a test in which 2 of them will win a product? Simplify the rules as much as possible. “Buy a product, you might win”.

Also, it matters how you give the prize. You can give money (everyone can use them), you can give a product (you can at least give it away if you don’t like it), or you can give a service / trip, sometimes involving effort (not so attractive).

It’s simple:

  • Create a contest either with a single step for wining (join sweepstakes – get the product and use it) or
  • With two at most:
    • Either do something in order to win the product, write something, buy something, go somewhere, post something online (put some filter on the entry), or
    • Make the prize a bit more complicated, like a tour around the world, which, even if you do win, will take some effort from the participant). (put some filter on the output)
  • Don’t make 4 steps: effort to join the contest – another test – something to work on – another task.

There are exceptions, of course:

“In 2009, Tourism Queensland promoted the Great Barrier Reef as a global tourism destination with a website encouraging people worldwide to apply for The Best Job In The World, to be a “Caretaker of the Islands” to “house-sit” the islands of the Great Barrier Reef for half a year, based on Hamilton Island.

Job benefits included a large salary, free lodging in a multi-million dollar villa, and transportation there and around the islands. The application process required a web video to be submitted, available publicly for consideration for the position. The job duties listed were primarily publicity-related with web videos, blogging, and photo diaries. The submission web site crashed two days following the launch of the campaign, from excessive visits and application video uploading.

Over 35,000 applications were received from over 200 countries, and whittled down to 16 finalists (including one chosen by an on-line vote). Finalists came from Australia (two), United States (two), United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Taiwan, India, China, Japan, France and South Korea. Ten were male and their ages ranged from 20 to 39. The candidates were interviewed on the island starting 3 May 2009. The United Kingdom finalist Ben Southall, 34, a charity fundraiser and ostrich-rider from Petersfield, Hampshire, UK, was appointed as the new caretaker of the island on 6 May 2009.”

The Best Job In The World – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

See a video on the matter »

So, if you have a huge prize, and there is a great interest, yes, you can complicate things a bit. But, generally, keep things simple, in order to keep the interest high.

Another example – Altex offers price matching for their products. But their conditions include:

  • Buying a product previously online from them.
  • Price matching is only done compared with 7 other online stores.
  • The price has to be the same on the competitor web sites for 3 consecutive days.

Highly demotivating, wouldn’t you think?

It’s better, in this case, in my opinion, not to claim you offer price matching, than to offer it and say it in this way. Or, simplify the rules.

I previously wrote on the matter of returning products: Returning products – “Oh, no, don’t do this, why do you want to do this? This looks damaged!” vs. “We’d love to refund your product, no questions asked! Thanks for shopping with us!”: OlivianBreda.com.

Seth Godin has an article » in which he shows how to improve a text:

“BATHROOMS FOR PATRONS ONLY.” versus
“Our spotlessly clean restrooms are for our beloved customers only, so come on in and buy something! Also, there’s a public bathroom in the library down the street.”

Contact forms with CAPTCHAs tend to complicate things a lot. If you can avoid them, please do.

Also, very long forms for registration or buying things demotivate users. Keep things to a bare minimum.


Note: Also see the Yahoo! Group on which I present similar issues:IMRo. To join, email imro-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and reply to the confirmation email.

I am a Freelancer. My expertise is in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) / UX (user experience) / WordPress. Co-founder of lumeaseoppc.ro (series of events on SEO & PPC) and cetd.ro (Book on branding for MDs). On a personal level, I like self-development - events, sports, healthy living, volunteering, reading. I live in London, and lots of things live in me.

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