128. First, you design the check-out experience

Does the term “300 million dollar button” mean anything to you? If not, I suggest you google it. It’s quite the story.

I first heard of it while listening to Rory Sutherland. I listen to a lot of his talks. In general, I’m a big fan of his style and delivery and I am fascinated by many of his insights. The fact that he often re-uses points in different talks just means that by now I’ve heard some of them enough times to actually remember them.

One point that I stumbled upon recently, while biking to work and letting my ears get their daily dose of Sutherland was pretty interesting.

Check-out experiences should be designed first, rather than last. Because they matter more than we’d like.

Basically, the argument is this:

It doesn’t matter how good your product/service/experience is, if an annoying check-out experience makes people not click “Buy”. In analog stores, this is less of a problem, as we’ll forgive a lot more (if there’s a human being present, at least).

But online? Most of us are brutal and unforgiving. I know that goes for me as well, and for a lot of people I know. If it’s bothersome to give people money, we end up not doing so.

So according to Sutherland, you should spend some time and energy designing your check-out experience. The logic is simple and on point. And yet, many of us (including my company) fail at this. We design what we’re selling. We design the websites, the marketing and the promotional material. But the check-out? That’s just supposed to be functional and if possible unnoticed.

Now, I don’t know how we’re going to be changing our check-outs after this struck me. But I’m sure that we’ll be giving them a critical look-over. And I would be very surprised if we can’t come up with some ideas for how to do things differently.

The offer of a live person to help guide you through the signup? Bigger and friendlier buttons, and less text? Soft piano music to accompany you as you type in your credit card info? Cat videos unlocking as you complete steps?

I just know that this is something I’ve failed to think properly about before. And from my experiences with buying things on the internet, so have many others.

Luckily, learning can lead to change.

That’s why I love getting new input. Even if it sometimes makes me feel stupid for not realising stuff before!

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If you want to get into contact, I’m easy to find online. So if it’s worth your time, search me out. I’ll do my best to answer. ;-)

Director at The College of Extraordinary Experiences, Coach at McKinsey & Founding Partner at The Global Institute For Thought Leadership. Author of 31 books.

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