Why It's Good to Break Things

Neil McKay

“Abi is very good. She breaks things. Well, not literally, but she tells you where your website is certainly broken.”

That was my mentor Craig Sullivan (CRO guru), back in 2015, telling me that I should work with Abi Hough.

There are a couple of words there that I have amended. Craig uses more colourful language.

I took his advice, and Abi and I worked together to optimise a US lingerie website.

Within one day, Abi found a bug that was losing the business over $250,000 in revenue per year. Worst of all, this problem had gone undetected for 17 months.

The bug was fixed and the revenue started to flow through as it should have.

Ellen, the CEO of the business, said to me, “You found money I didn’t even know we were losing.”

This isn’t an isolated case, either.  Most weeks, we find things.

Last year, what I will call a ‘major alcohol website’ (not a client, btw) decided to promote its winning of an industry award by offering ‘one free beer with your order’.  When placing your order, you entered a specific code to take advantage of the offer.

It was a nice idea, in theory. The trouble was that the promo code allowed you to change your one free drink to as many free drinks as you wanted!

To add insult to injury, you could delete your paid-for drink at the checkout and still get your free ones!

My order for 105 bottles of beer (worth about £190) went through, for the cost of only £4.99 shipping. And before you ask, yes, I did cancel it immediately, and tell the company about the problem it had.

It was fixed soon after, before it had the chance to go viral, potentially losing them a lot of money.

And only last week, we found a fairly major issue on another website. It was caused by an apostrophe in the code being in the wrong place.

It prevented customers from adding products to their baskets.

How major was this problem? Sufficiently major to be losing the business money!

My point is this…

…websites are not bulletproof.

They break.

Sometimes they are broken to start with.

Chances are that somewhere within your site, you are losing money because something doesn’t work properly.

Take the time to have your site checked regularly.

You may find money that you were not even aware you were losing.

Money that you can now recoup.

In terms of optimisation, this is the low-hanging fruit, just waiting to be picked.

It’s too important to ignore.

Yes, there is all the sexy stuff like personalisation that we all want to do. But this is a higher priority. Otherwise, you will not get the full benefit from your optimisation program.

That initial encounter with Abi showed me just how vital this functionality stuff is.

When I launched Endless Gain, Abi was one of the first colleagues to join the business.

In the last 10 years she has found over £75,000,000 of lost revenue for clients. Why would I not want our clients to benefit from her, and our colleagues’, skills?

P.S. Abi wrote a guidebook on how to find bugs within your site. Please feel free to download it here.