Making sense of the WordPress.com Redesign

In pursuit of awesome conversion rates, I’ve been amazed by all sorts of landing pages over the years. The redesign of WordPress.com in the last day was obviously one to watch out for.  I however can’t help but wonder if they’re going to see the amount of sign-ups decline? The first rule of conversion club is make no assumptions, but I’ll go out on a limb as to why this may not work.

Too heavily inspired by Squarespace

I’ve been a big fan of Squarespace landing pages for years. They constantly A/B test and as a result have been able to evolve significantly over the years. One of the biggest things I’ve learned running happytables, is that you don’t ship code, you ship decisions. So when a company creates a design based off of another’s code, it’s taking action without understanding why. This is the overwhelming feeling I get from the redesign, I have the impression it will work against WordPress.com.

Wordpress dot com landing page

Squarespace migrated to the big background image and simple call to action. WordPress did the same, but turned cold showing only black and white images. To make matters worse, there is not a single human being in any of the frames. It also completely misses on the point that the Squarespace image is in fact a real customer (hidden on the screenshot above, but noted on the website “PARTS AND LABOR DESIGN, Manhattan Design Firm, Squarespace Customer”).

squarespace landing page

Social Proof has been Destroyed

I’m a big believer in using as many third parties as you can to validate your business. I already mentioned human photography being absent, but with the new design I don’t even know if any humans use WordPress.com at all. Let’s look at the old landing page:

Old WordPress.com landing page

There’s a lot I love about it, the biggest being this sense of “activity” and “momentum”. Some noteworthy points:

  • Insane statistics right next to the call to action.
  • Faces, diversity and life as whole. It shows off WordPress at its best, quite literally “trying to make the world a better place”. I’m a sucker for this statement and wish I could copy it for happytables. I think it’s an important part of Automattic’s brand that should continue to be reflected on the new landing page too.
  • Zero clutter, maximum conversion.  I often considered testing this layout for happytables, showing off six to nine real restaurants above the fold (and leaving the sales’y gibberish out).
That’s all gone now.

Final Touches?

The custom domain input isn’t clickable (yet feels like it should), the language block is floating randomly and subsequent call to actions on the page are subdued. I get it, it’s the minimum viable product of a new idea. But if the goal is to test the concept of the Squarespace landing page, it won’t work. Squarespace is a 12’000+ pixel behemoth that has been polished over and over again internally. They’ve taken the long copy landing page (that SEOMoz once crushed) and transformed it into a “long media” landing page. It’s some really innovative stuff that I’m sure sparked a number of internal debates and probably took way more iterations than originally intended  (maybe someone can share?) .

In my opinion, WordPress.com is too big to test this early in the design process, but hopefully someone can prove me wrong.

Your thoughts?

I’ve been wrong many times, even for what I thought were “obvious” A/B experiments. I for one would love to get my hands on the analytics/testing data of WordPress.com, so maybe someone will share hard figures in the near future.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on this redesign?