The CRO mini degree is dangerous for your self-esteem.
While I am taking the CRO minidegree from the CXL Institute, we are also launching the biggest online communication academy in Italy. We already had a small e-learning website, especially for multinational companies that did not want to use their internal LMS, but now we decided to go big after a 2-year study of the market. And we decided to do it properly. Which means, to push from every conceivable angle. That is why I took the CRO minidegree.
I wanted to have solid foundations on how to optimize our website and I wanted to know everything there is to know about CRO. I am still at the beginning of the course, but I already feel pangs of pain for our other websites – which, now I understand, are full of mistakes.
While one of my colleague is developing the website, I keep exclaiming, “holy cow, we need a bigger search field!” or “hey, our cart checkout page is not good, we need to change that!”, or the always annoying “can you create more contrast and make that button bigger?”
I am only studying the foundations and I already know how to make dozens of optimizations on our website.
So, stress grows: so much to learn and so much to do…
At the same time, this course is proving dangerous to my self-esteem. The course is so comprehensive (72 hours packed with material…) that you start thinking you will be unbeatable. You start going to other competitor’s websites and exclaim with a sort of crazy laughter “Ah! They are doing everything wrong!”
This might not be healthy. Seriously, though, the CRO foundation module I have just finished is packed with dozens of suggestions, case studies, techniques to lift your conversion rate and make you much more money without redoing your website.
Even though it is just the beginning, CXL instructors already show you how to attack conversion-slowing features on your website and not just on the usual checkout pages. Do you know what to put above the fold, and how? Do you know how to use the search function and that there are companies – to my great surprise – that offer you optimization just for that field? Do you know how to use visual hierarchy and fonts?
Every chapter is a list of analyses, case studies and practical suggestions to improve your conversion rate. It is a useful mental checklist that completely changes the way you see a website. You find yourself landing on a page and saying “hey, this layout looks like the case study on the pricing module and this is not optimized. They should move that button on the top and not make the coupon code field so prominent. This will surely hurt their conversion…”. It’s a great training on the job, and I highly suggest anyone taking the CRO minidegree to start with their own website. You start seeing things you did not realize before; errors become immediately apparent and the opportunities to improve, almost endless.
In this part of the course I saw that not all modules have videos, which I prefer, when accompanied to further readings, but which in this case would mean that you need to write down everything, because in just one chapter on headlines, you have a ton of suggestions on how to improve them and further readings on the topic. I am writing everything down and I have now a rich checklist which I will apply as soon as our website and e-commerce are online. I have started the module on conversion copywriting and, once again, you do not find the simplistic “seven top headlines that will make you rich”. Everything is analyzed in depth, with examples, case studies and comments from the instructors.
The Value proposition chapter comprises one video and text with further readings: at the end of the chapter, you know almost everything you need to know about Value Propositions, where to position them, what t include and how to design the page with the Value Proposition in it. The thing that surprises you most during the course is seeing websites from big companies violating even the most basic rules of effective communication and copywriting, let alone design. You start seeing the digital world with new (albeit a bit geeky) eyes.
A word of caution: you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the quantity of information only one chapter of the course presents you.
That is why I suggest you take your time: even if you calculate that you can take the course in 3 months, I you do not have time to make experiments during that period, extend the duration of the course. Take it 5 months, but practice. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and will bring all this theory down to practical earth. Mind you, as I said, the theory is highly practical: you can see that it comes from experience and all examples are with real websites at the same time, it is a lot to digest, and reading everything without doing it might be a bit too much. If you do not have your own website to practice on, find other websites and at least check their structure, their mistakes and what they did right: the repetition of this exercise will be the best use of all the knowledge you acquire from the CXL Institute CRO Minidegree.
Another suggestion that will slow you down a bit, but will prove extremely useful, is to write everything down in different files, divided by the same chapters of the CRO best practice chapter: in this way, you already have a comprehensive guide on how to improve any website or e-commerce site. It is longer, but you will not need to go back and look for such and such chapter or technique: everything is at the ready. Every chapter is a part of the website you can optimize: it is already in an order you can follow to optimize any site. You will already have a pretty comprehensive guide. And it is only the beginning.