This website works best with JavaScript enabled. Learn how to enable JavaScript.

VWO Blog

A Blog Around Everything Conversion Optimization And Beyond

Never miss an update from VWO

A value for this field is required.

Why Understanding Your Audience Matters – Good Design Produces Bad Results

Uncommon Knowledge trains psychologists, therapists and other mental health practitioners by providing them tried and tested self help and psychology information. Their self-help programs are also open to the public and are easy-to-understand for everyone. Founded in 1998, the company switched to the online world in 2000 to widen its customer base on an international scale.

The Business Need

Uncommon KnowledgeWith a new product launch due in the near future, the company wanted to expand its reach in order to improve their response for the launch. For this, they decided to first spread the word about their expertise with their 3-trauma treatment videos pack, which was made available for free after visitors entered their name and email on the website.

Website Goal

To make sure that the response for the product launch went well, it was essential that visitors were convinced enough to signup for the free video pack. It was this email list which Uncommon Knowledge planned to use later to market for their launch.

And since the email capture page was crucial to motivate visitors signup for the videos pack, it was an easy choice for the test. So, the website goal was to increase the signups for the 3 trauma treatment videos on this page.

Here is their original page that was used to collect emails:

Uncommon Knowledge Original Page

As an experiment, Uncommon Knowledge implemented a new landing page that was more in tune with recent design trends.

Uncommon Knowledge New Page

Changes Made

Uncommon Knowledge did a complete page overhaul of the page to match with the times and their  modern design approaches. The new design was simplistic and urban in its appeal. And also provided the much-needed assurance to visitors that their privacy is respected and they can opt-out of their newsletter anytime.


To many of us it might seem that the Control page looks sort-of dated and we would even go ahead and place our bet on Variation. After all, it seems so obvious that the simplistic, chic look of the new design is more appealing than the old magazine-style layout of the page.

But to those who know the importance of understanding the psyche of their target audience in A/B testing, this should be another great case where the original, old landing page beat the fancy new one by 19.55% with 99.99% statistical significance. And to put it in the words of Uncommon Knowledge, “this is a highly significant business result.”

Here is the comparison page for you:

[pinit url=”” image_url=”” description=”Old school magazine layout increases conversion rate by 19.55% for Uncommon Knowledge” float=”left”]

Uncommon Knowledge Comparison

Why did this happen?

To answer that, let’s look at the audience profile of Uncommon Knowledge.

UNK Audience Profile

As you can see above (and also corroborated by age-range on their Facebook page), most of Uncommon Knowledge’s visitors are aged 45 years and above. It would be fair to assume that they are generally low-tech and would not be affected by the “latest” design trends. The original gave them a good idea about each of the three videos in the pack, piquing their interest a little more on the topic than just telling them that it’s a three-pack trauma videos set.

Plus, Mark Tyrrell, the author of Uncommon Knowledge’s blog is quite popular among the audience and his headshot adds credibility to the overall offer.

This test makes it clear how understanding your target audience can have a huge impact on the conversion rates of your website. While it is easy to go by the herd mentality and follow the modern design styles, they may not work for all.

Had Uncommon Knowledge not tested their design, there’s no way they could have met the expectations of their visitors with that modern design, which is so “in” these days. So you see, it’s worthy to think about what your audience type is, following the industry trends blindly may not always be the best choice.

Comments (7)

Leave a Comment
  1. Remove that entire top banner and you’ll see a further boost!

    Add a picture of the video with a play button overlay instead of “watch now” and you’ll get more of a boost.

    Love these quick case studies.

  2. I believe your intention here is to talk about “Visual Design practices” than design in general. Good design will always take care of the audience first.

    In this example for instance, there are multiple touch points that empathize with the users of Uncommon Practitioners in the old version.
    1. A photograph of the trainer, Mark would have been crucial in quick identification with the user base, which is absent from the new design.

    2. The old version also reveals upfront the content of all the videos that are included in the free pack.

    3. In a very intelligent move, the old version also mentions what is the content of the video that is to follow and thus creates a touch point for his “Rewind Technique Course”.

    Content omission in the new design only makes it less relevant and vague. Makes me think more on why it should be called good design in the first place.

  3. it is not only a great point for understanding your target audience but also for split testing which showed the results fair and square. Anyway, great example of “why following newest design trends isn’t always the answer” and “why testing is always the answer”.

  4. @Aakanksha – Thank you for dropping by. Those are very interesting points. 🙂 The reason why we called it a “good design” is because it was simple, made clear what is expected from visitors and why, and also had an urban appeal to it.

    @Anna – Exactly my point! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  5. This result actually isn’t too surprising.

    While the new page does look like more modern, clean web design (on a superficial level) it fell short vs. the control in substance.

    The large, blurry background image communicates nothing of value to the visitor, while the headline gives no reason why we should sign up (just being “free” isn’t good enough).

    By removing the the image of Mark Tyrrell as well as details of what the prospect could learn from all 3 videos, they made it harder for the prospect to understand the relevance to their wants/needs/interests.

    Testing a new headline expressing the CTA + a key user benefit of watching these trauma treatment videos would probably yield more important insights and a lift.

  6. This is an excellent article.

    My one observation on the data is that the test changed both copy and design. I’d suggest running a C version that is the same as the B version (the new design) but with the original H1 (“Subscribe to watch Mark’s new FREE video series on rapid trauma treatment”) and the original copy within the quote form (“Watch now!” rather than “Watch Mark Tyrrell quickly lift PTSD from a man who suffered long-term physical abuse as a child”). If you have enough traffic, I’d recommend doing a D version that includes the original supporting copy and/or replaces the stock image of a patient with an actual image of Mark rather than a blurry stock image of a fake patient. We’ve generally found in our research that pictures of actual employees are far more effective than stock imagery.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes : <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Contact Us / Login