Episode 2: Icons in the online shop

Conversion hacker Jörg Dennis Krüger talks about icons in the online shop. These can be very helpful - but also quickly turn into picture puzzles. And the same applies to online shops as to jokes: if you have to explain them, they are bad.

thinkCONVERSION on November 5.11th in Berlin: https://thinkconversion.de


Welcome to the second episode of the Conversion Hacking Podcast. My name is Jörg Dennis Krüger and as my lovely anteroom has just said: Yes, I am the conversion hacker!

Thanks in advance to Uwe Hamann from Jungs 24, because he gave me a lot of feedback after the last episode, which I was able to implement wonderfully to make this podcast more exciting, interesting and better for everyone.

And so the podcast is already available on Spotify, iTunes and Tynan. And if someone still misses their service, where they would like to have the podcast, just let me know, then I will be happy to register the podcast there. And don't forget, ThinkConversion will be in Berlin on November 5th, not that long anymore - my own little event, there are still tickets for both seminars, just look at ThinkConversion.de or just take a look at the ShowNotes for the episode. Because actually on JDK.de/Podcast I will always have the ShowNotes for every episode, where all the links are there and so on, so that everyone can click quickly. 

This episode is about icons. Because icons are a wonderful tool for doing many things, especially in online shops. And they are simply taken for anything, especially in the online shop, but also on landing pages and so on.

And somehow we also know icons or signs or whatever. So symbols that somehow help us out of traffic. We know warning signs everywhere, symbols have somehow dug into our brain, because somehow they are easy to understand. The psychologist might say that they are easy to decode in the brain, because you know them, you have learned what certain things say, what certain colors say and so on, and then you immediately recognize what this is about.

Without thinking about it for a long time, take a look - okay: we know it on the computer as well, since there has been Windows or graphical interfaces, there are many icons and symbols that are much easier to work with. 

Here my start symbol on my Windows 10 computer is the Windows flag, we will find out whether this is intuitive now, but I know it doesn't have to be the start menu, as it may have been before, but the flag. But the best-known example is of course the small floppy disk for storage that we see everywhere, still although we haven't actually used floppy disks for a long time. But as a symbol it's burned into the brain, into the global brain, the collective brain, so let's stop.

But the whole goal is to get there quickly and without thinking, and we use icons for that. What does that mean for e-commerce now? We want to use that so that users can reach their goal quickly and without thinking, and icons are a cool thing. You can use icons really well there, i.e. as a shopping cart symbol, in the shopping cart, as a magnifying glass when searching, as an arrow to click on “continue” or for such a next button, as a telephone receiver of course for a telephone number, where you then really understands; Ah, what is this about?

You don't have to look long, it just makes it easier. And so, from my point of view, icons can really help. So navigation for example, or especially when I have such a mega drop-down, when I have a somewhat more complex shop, or when I have several products and it opens so nicely, there are a few nice examples where nice icons make it easy what products are we really talking about here? And the user does not have to read what is written there, can see at a glance, in an online print shop, for example, is it a NOL up or a business card. 

This can be seen at first glance by showing the product in a highly standardized way and the user can make a very simple decision and does not have to read in large letters. And then it is often even easier to understand the icon than the text, because the user does not know exactly what is meant by the text, he may not know the technical term.

But the standardized icon shows him the product and he can then decide. And of course you can use that on category pages or if I have filters, visits and so on.

In order to display product properties in a great way, these can also be things that I can really display beautifully in the icon. Colors are the best example, even if it might not be a real icon, but somehow it is. But other things, or if they are learned things, we know it from Amazon: the Prime icon. I know Prime immediately, I might want to see these products because they can be delivered faster, so I click on it. 

And I can also use such icons nicely, for example to present shop unique selling points, USPs and simply have them everywhere in the shop. Fast delivery, maybe delivery on account and so on and of course on the product detail page, so that the product features can be properly compared. And if I should then perhaps decide between different products, then I can see at first glance what kind of material it is, there are also official symbols and icons that have been learned from them. But maybe something like battery life or something, that can be shown wonderfully, whether something is waterproof or, or, or.

There are very, very nice ways to really make these products easy to understand and not to burden the user with actually reading the product features, but simply to see them at first glance; Yes, okay, the product can do this and that! And so he can penetrate the products much faster, make decisions and then hopefully buy them. 

But I don't want to be misunderstood at one point: I wouldn't say icons are generally good for the conversion rate. Most of the time, I have to say, actually quite the opposite, because far too often people just make an effort and somehow come up with their own icons to represent and show whatever that makes my individual products so special. And how should I say it? This often turns into a picture puzzle. 
The icons then only have something to do with the actual statement about one, two, three, four corners. This happens particularly often when I use icons that are standard templates. An asterisk when it comes to depicting the particularly outstanding things, or an asterisk above it. That doesn't help me. Then I have to read what's under there, I can actually leave out the asterisk itself and just take up space, just like a heart or something. 

Then icons are often just neat elements and quite often they even suppress the actual message. Because then the icons take up so much space that the text next to it becomes so small that I can hardly read the text and then I see a star, or a heart or what I know and the text next to it is so difficult to read, that this whole construction of icon and text does not work at all, does not represent what it is about better at all, does not help at all, that the user has to think less, but then it totally confuses him and he has to start now and try to find out what that means then?

He doesn't understand the advantages, this whole effect fizzles out and all these beautiful features of the products, the shop and so on are not noticed. Then he either thinks, well, I don't understand, or he starts looking in the shop for explanations. Where is it now explained what that means? Or he has to read more and so on. And then I have to say I wouldn't even start. 

My icon conversion hack is really not developing my own icons at all. 

If you really have icons and there are icons that represent very one to one what is shown here. Product characteristics, products and so on. If you can really do that without having to think about these icons, what they say, then you can use them. But if you then get going and maybe set a meeting and think: "Oh man, how can we show that our icon, which our product does not contain this substance, for example, or has this feature or something similar." Then it becomes a big art project, it becomes hugely creative and, of course, if you suddenly have a really good idea to display an icon, then it can really be worth it. 

But most of the time it's just not worth the time to put in work here, only to be wrong in most cases, because developing really good icons, developing really good symbols is incredibly time-consuming and then maybe it's worth it not to think “how can I show that my product is vegan now?” I've seen that so often lately, such vegan icons and nobody really understood them. Then you can rather write vegan next to it and without the icon you have more space to write big vegan next to it.

Because with all these icons you always have to think from the user's perspective: 

The user has to understand that! And then online shops are actually like jokes to me. If you have to explain them, they are bad and icons can lead to the fact that you really have to explain and what is that supposed to mean? Then I come to a meeting and ask: what does that mean here?

I've been trying to find out. What does this icon mean? And then, somehow from marketing, he starts to explain: "Well, that represents this and that... and that means here... and that's why we used the icon..." Do you have to say, yes, that's exactly like when I look at a comedian like, “Huh? I didn't understand that, can you again?" And then he says, look around three corners here, haha ​​- yes, then it's no longer funny and the icon doesn't help anymore, because an online shop is there to earn money and is not an art project.

So reduce, reduce, reduce, don't get creative unnecessarily and don't develop any graphic things unnecessarily that just take time but are of no use to the users. And I actually see it every day in some online shops, that there are unnecessary icons that nobody understands. And whenever I talk to the online shop operators, which I don't do every day, I get statements like "Well, the icons were there", or "Some icons should go there", or "That's a draft of ours Graphic artist” and – no, out of your head with it! Icons can work, but we don't have to We want to earn money, we don't want to have to explain anything, everything should be immediately understandable and text is bad if it's a lot of text, but if I describe my product features in clear, beautiful bullet points can display, then that's better than if I develop icons for two weeks. 

What are your experiences with that? 

I look forward to your feedback! Either on jdk.de/Podcast, there you can also find all episodes including ShowNotes, but there is especially the opportunity to comment and there are also links to all platforms where you can watch the podcast. And of course you can also send an email to jdk@jdk.de. And when we look at the page, the jdk.de/Podcast, there are almost no icons on it, namely only those where logos are used. From Spotify, from Facebook, from Twitter, from Linkedin. And the only icon that is there, and I'm not that happy with that, is a little heart, which shows how often the blog post, the podcasts are organized as blog posts because they have been liked on my website. 

And the little heart is maybe just okay because it is also used on Twitter and so on, but a like and thumbs up is perhaps better understandable, but the plug-in provider probably didn't use it because there are brand problems. And there you can see where these problems often come from: It's in the template, that's in the plug-in, that was included in the icon set. I thought I can leave this heart now, but if I had an online shop and should really use it to describe my products, then I can't use the standard, so I have to think about how I can do it much better individually? And then just the text without the icon would probably be much better.

So don't make bad jokes and don't build bad online shops and be part of the next issue of Conversion Hacker!

The next issue will also be a small special episode, because I have recorded some of my lectures and will publish them piece by piece as special editions by the Conversion Hacker and the Conversion Hacker will be there every week in the future. Always the new edition on the weekend, always on Sunday, so that you can hear a conversion hacker first thing in the morning on Monday at the start of the week, and the special editions, I'll try to publish them on Wednesday. And it starts next Wednesday!

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