Presidential donation flows (part 2 of 2) – Hillary Clinton

Four years ago I did an audit of the donation flows of the two presidential campaigns – here it is for reference: Obama vs. Romney: Donation Flow Comparison. As more and more people are going to be making such donations on their mobile phones, I’m going to capture the user flows on my phone – specifically, on the Safari app on an iPhone 6 (iOS 9.3.3)

Here are the observations for the Hillary Clinton flow:

  • When searching “Hillary Clinton” in Google, it takes approximately 4 scroll lengths to get to the relevant link in view to get to Hillary Clinton’s campaign site. See screen where the “Hillary Clinton 2016” link is in the user’s view.
  • Before the user has the ability to start the donation flow, the user is shown an interstitial page – Welcome Tim Kaine to the team! – this page will come with the usual caveats of interstitials. Emails collected will go up, and donations collected will go down.
  • On the Select an Amount page, the user is shown an incentive to complete the flow: “Make a donation today and get a free brand-new Clinton-Kaine sticker.
  • One key difference between the flow on the Clinton site vs. the Trump site is that Clinton’s flow is all on one page whereas Trump’s flow is split over several pages. Typically, the several step flow is less intimidating to the user because all the steps they need to complete are not in their face.
  • After entering all necessary information and touching the Donate prompt, the user is shown another Make this a monthly donation interstitial. After several seconds, the user is shown the Your donation is complete! screen.
  • On the confirmation page, the user is shown a prompt to have their email opted-in – this is the Next, join Team Hillary screen – in order to receive a bumper sticker. Given that the user was earlier told that a donation was enough to get a sticker, and now the user is also being asked to opt into the email list, this seems somewhat misleading.
  • In the confirmation email, the user is given an opportunity to share the link to the Clinton campaign via social media as well as shop from the Hillary Clinton online store.

Presidential donation flows (part 1 of 2) – Donald Trump

Four years ago I did an audit of the donation flows of the two presidential campaigns – here it is for reference: Obama vs. Romney: Donation Flow Comparison. As more and more people are going to be making such donations on their mobile phones, I’m going to capture the user flows on my phone – specifically, on the Safari app on an iPhone 6 (iOS 9.3.3)

First, we’ll start with Donald Trump, and then we’ll move on to Hillary Clinton. Observations:

  • When searching “Donald Trump” in Google, it takes approximately 5 scroll lengths to get to the relevant link in view to get to Donald Trump’s campaign site. See screen where the “Make America Great Again!” link is in the user’s view.
  • On the screen where the candidate is asking for a donation – this is the “I AM YOUR VOICE” screen:
    • The candidate lays out his pitch for why the user should make a donation to the campaign
    • The user is given an opportunity to make this donation a recurring donation
    • The user is given an opportunity to log in, although this treatment is not given prominence
  • The transition between the Choose donation amount step and the Enter your information step is broken. The user sees what looks to be a blank screen with no clear call to action. After selecting done the user can scroll to the top and enter the relevant payment information.
  • After completing the donation, the user is prompted to immediately double their donation. This is a bold ask to the user, but one that could be fruitful even if it has a low conversion rate.
  • The user receives two confirmation emails – one from the Trump campaign, and one from Stripe – which is the payment processor. This may be somewhat confusing to some users and the campaign may be better served muting the second email and not having Stripe send it out.

Optimization to Progenex Review Flow

Recently I bought some Cocoon Protein Powder from Progenex. About a week and a half later, I received an email from them asking me to come back to the site in order to write a product review for the product.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.06.18 PM

When I clicked on the CTA in the email, I was taken to the Progenex web site. This is also evident when I hovered over the CTA where the browser footer indicates the link simply goes to the Progenex main site.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.07.35 PM

Looking through their site, I see that the page a user goes to in order to write a review is on the product page itself:

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.08.29 PM

Ideally, Progenex should be taking users directly to this form from the CTA in the email. By taking users to the home page, there’s going to be a great deal of drop off as most users will not look around to find the review form on the product page.

Facebook Event Email Subject Optimization

Everyone loves being invited to a friend’s birthday party on Facebook. Recently, I was invited to my friend Jane’s birthday party. Here’s what the email looked like in my inbox:

FB event 1

What was really effective at getting me engaged was that my friend’s name Jane Smith was in the from field of the email. This way, it appeared that she, personally, had sent me the email.

Shortly thereafter, I saw another email arrive in my inbox. My friend had updated the original invitation:

FB event 2

Now, instead of being from my friend, the email was from Facebook. So when I first glanced at the email in my inbox, I had less urgency to see what it was about because it didn’t appear to be arriving directly from my friend. My guess is that Facebook has AB tested the original event creation email subject and found that replacing Facebook with the event creator’s name in the From field leads to greater engagement. As a next step, they can either AB test the same change for the event update email or simply implement the change.

Redundant Modules on LinkedIn User Profile Page

I once saw a graphic t-shirt that had the comical phrase: Department of Redundancy Department. I saw something today on LinkedIn that reminded me of this t-shirt. On the user profile page, the right rail displays a vertical module that shows “People Also Viewed” which is a collection of profiles that were also viewed when other LinkedIn users viewed this user profile. This is an interesting and engaging placement, but what’s strange is that LinkedIn has another placement – in exactly the same spot – that shows the same piece of information in a different UX: namely, a horizontal module that you can iterate through by clicking the right arrow. Ideally, LinkedIn wouldn’t have both of these placements show the exact same information in almost identical locations on the page. Redundant.

LinkedIn Redundant

Digital Ads > Print Ads

While it has been quite a while since digital ads started to supplant print ads as the medium of choice for advertisers, it is interesting to see remnants of print ads struggling to hang on. Here is an example I found on the back of a supermarket receipt from Mollie Stone’s. 

Print Ads

What’s remarkable is that of the five placements on the back of the receipt, FOUR of them are dedicated to selling the advertising display itself. Suffice to say, the supply and demand are not matching up here. 

LinkedIn’s Growth Tactic and a Non-Ideal Error Message

Recently I noticed that LinkedIn was suggesting that I connect with people who shared zero professional connections with me. What was odd was that I actually knew of these people but had only had one or two email exchanges with them in the past. How on earth did LinkedIn know that I knew these people and that we had any type of a connection whatsoever to begin with? 

At first, I thought something sneaky was going on and I even entertained the laughable notion that LinkedIn was reading my email. As silly as it sounded I still went ahead and did a Google search for “does linkedin read my email” to see what popped up. 

LinkedIn Contacts 4

I clearly wasn’t the first person to have noticed this strange phenomenon. After scouring through the top links, I realized that the simplest explanation was that I had, at some point, unknowingly fallen for the old “share your address book with us” trick by clicking a button on their site and now they had access to my Gmail address book. The good news was that there is a way out of this predicament. The first step is to go to the following link:

So here’s the tricky part: In order to delete the list of emails that LinkedIn has on file associated to my external address book, I have to go to the first page of the flow where they gain access to my various email address books. So be careful here – as you might end up achieving the opposite goal of what you wanted to accomplish. Once you go to this page, click on the link in the top right corner that says Manage imported contacts

LinkedIn Contacts 1

Next, you will be taken to the page to view your contacts: 

LinkedIn Contacts 2

By default, all of your contacts are pre-selected, and if you scroll to the bottom of the page you will see a button in order to delete all of the contacts. 

Not too difficult right? Well, actually, after clicking this button, I received the unfortunate error that I’m trying to delete too many contacts at a time:
LinkedIn Contacts 3

In short, LinkedIn somehow collected my Gmail contacts from me without me realizing it, does not offer a user-friendly way to remove the collected contacts, and once I found the page to actually remove the contacts, LinkedIn will not let me do that (unless I remove them three or four at a time) because I’m “trying to delete too many contacts at a time”. Not very user friendly. 

When the Product Becomes an Ad

When the iPhone first came out in 2007 and the gradual shift from feature phones to smart phones started, one of the common themes during this shift was that websites started to make mobile-friendly versions of their product. At the beginning, viewing web sites on a full-screen device (laptop or desktop) was much better than on your phone. On the phone, the text was tiny and it was hard to see any rich media. But as sites became more and more mobile friendly, it was delightfully surprising to see that some sites were better viewed on a phone than on a full-screen device.

One of the key reasons that sites were more delightful on the phone than on a laptop or desktop was that there were fewer (if any) ads on the mobile experience. One hypothesis as to why this came to be is because there is very limited real estate on a mobile screen as compared to a laptop or desktop screen. But as must be the case (revenue must be made), ads started to be integrated into the respective mobile web experiences.

Recently I noticed something on one of my favorite sites,, that caught my attention. When I visited the site on my iPhone, I saw that nearly the entire viewable area was covered by an ad:

Espn 1

Here, as the user, I had to touch the “X” in the top right corner in order to bypass this ad and actually view the site. This ad served as a gatekeeper standing between me and consuming the site’s content.

Espn 2

While it is understandable that ads must be integrated into a site’s design, especially a site that is content based and not selling anything, it’s another thing when each visit requires the user to get through an interstitial ad. It wouldn’t be a huge leap to compare this functionality to videos on YouTube that require the user to view an ad before being able to view the original video.

Jumping out of the digital space and into the space of physical products, I saw something that resembled this type of ad design. I noticed a Heinz ketchup bottle with an interesting label. Instead of just seeing the traditional Heinz name and product information, the ketchup bottle has a reference to the Trivial Pursuit game on the front label and a full explanation of the partnership on the back label.

Heinz 1

Heinz 2

One might argue that this partnership with Trivial Pursuit is fun and interesting and some users would get a kick out of this game being made accessible by the ketchup bottle. But the simpler explanation is that this is, simply put, an ad. And for me this was interesting because, similar to the ESPN example above, the majority of the product label is taken up by an ad.

So what to make of these ads in both the digital and physical space that seem to be getting larger, longer, and more pervasive? On the one hand, you can make the argument that they bring new sources of revenue to their respective companies. In fact, I’m fairly certain that in the ESPN case, they probably ran an A/B test that showed no decrease in usage when the full screen ad was introduced. And in the Heinz case, they probably did analysis that showed the same amount of ketchup would be consumed.

That being said, I still think there is a down side risk to this type of approach, and there is a potential to not be able to forecast or see that risk in the short term. The risk here, is a long term one, and is related to users’ perception of the quality of the product. In both cases, the huge prominence of ads may cheapen the product quality for the end user and open up the potential for users to leave the product for a competing product that has a more elegant and clean user experience. In the case of ESPN, an end user may get annoyed to constantly touch the “X” to close the ad and start to visit a competing site such as In the case of Heinz, users may be turned off by seeing logos for other products on the Heinz label and reach for a competing product.

Raising Prices and Improving Customer Retention

About a month ago, Netflix increased the monthly price of their subscription streaming video service for new users:

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 9.52.23 PMTypically, any time a business raises the price of a service, the natural reaction of the market is for existing users to decrease demand for that service and for an increase in subscription cancellations. However, Netflix did something clever that not only would keep these cancellations in check, but may even help improve customer retention.

By also announcing that existing users will keep their current rate of $7.99/month for the next two years, existing users feel special to be “grandfathered in” to this special low rate and have a financial motivation to not discontinue their existing subscriptions.


How Shiseido Ended Up Surprising My Mom (and me) After All

Last week, I wrote about getting a gift for my mom for Mother’s Day from I wrote about a couple of ideas I had for improving their purchase and post-purchase flow. My main complaint with their post-purchase flow was that they contacted my mom (the person who the order was being shipped to), instead of me (the person who the order was being billed to) when they had some questions with the order before processing the order. By contacting my mom through email before she received the package, they essentially ruined the surprise Mother’s Day gift. To say the least, I wasn’t too pleased. 

A couple of days ago, something happened that turned this somewhat negative user experience into a very positive one. I received a package in the mail that contained a Shiseido product, Eudermine Revitalizing Essence, and a letter from Shiseido corporate communications addressed to me:


To summarize, the letter acknowledged the negative user experience and mentioned that they sent the same complimentary product to my mom as well. Just to double check, I called up my mom and she had indeed received a second package from Shiseido with this product a couple of days after my original gift arrived in the mail. Like me, she had no idea that Shiseido was sending this product to the both of us to make up for the original experience with had — and she was very pleasantly surprised that her son was getting her yet another Mother’s Day gift. This amused me very much because, in the end, Shiseido did help me deliver a Mother’s Day surprise after all! Not to be one to take all the credit, I did tell my mom this was a gift from Shiseido to her (and not from me), but of course, she was still very happy to be getting another one of her favorite Shiseido products.