Design Audit:

Paige is a pal, and BetterWorks is an interesting company.  When I went to the BetterWorks site a month ago I couldn’t help but notice that it’s a mess and not reflecting the potential of the company.  So I offered a design audit, gratis.  Below is some of the nuts and bolts.

The numbers on the page refer to the comments below.  While this is primarily a design audit, I do touch on marketing, branding and product.  It’s all the same thing.


(click to see larger)


  1. “Contact Sales”?  No one wants to talk to a sales person.  Try “Questions” because people do want their questions answered by a live person, just not a sales person.
  2. Thoroughly uninspiring tag line.  That’s WHAT Betterworks is.  That doesn’t inspire decision-making.  Tell them what BetterWorks BELIEVES… people will align themselves to that if they are potential customers.
  3. Way too early for the call to action button.  Put yourself in a CEO’s or HR’s shoes.  Instituting an employee reward program is a big decision.  It’s going to take more than 15 words to “get me started”.  You need to build a relationship with the potential customer first.  I know conventional wisdom says to put the call to action above the fold, but consider the act of scrolling down a sales qualifier.  If your user is too lazy to scroll, they won’t be committing to your program either.  There are times when a quick call to action works, when the get-in (and get-out) process is fast and easy, like installing an analytics code snippet.  It doesn’t work here.
  4. Who cares about your press?  As a CEO, I know getting good press means I pay my press people well.  It’s hardly a signal of quality.  Sure it can be on the homepage, but there is no reason for it to be above the fold.
  5. Uninspiring image? Why waste the real estate.  This image conveys something about a neighborhood or broadcasting or something.
  6. Who cares what’s new?  I’m not even a customer yet.  Once I am a customer then you can feed me more info about new features and articles from your blog.  But right now, you have 20 seconds to get me to take the next action.  Don’t waste it by making me process irrelevant information.
  7. Leading companies?  Really… like who?  As a decision maker I get marketed too 100 times a day.  Unsubstantiated claims mean nothing.  As a decision maker, one of my biggest fears is looking like a dumbass.  I want to know that other people who have used BetterWorks do not look like dumbasses, they actually look like heroes.
  8. Ok… so there are your features.  A few words each.  Now I am supposed to “get started”?  I don’t think so.  You haven’t sold me yet.  I am going to be looking for anything other link to click on besides “get started”.
  9. That is your social proof?  That sounds like the most generic and boilerplate quote.  Show me something like “BetterWorks rocks!  Our employees have something awesome to brag about.  And the 50% less turnover is a great cherry on top”.
  10. Feedback? Huh?  Why would I want to leave feedback on your homepage.  Save the feedback for users of the product.  I don’t have feedback, I have questions, which I can answer with the ‘click for support’ chat bar below.  It really should say “questions” since that’s all I really have.

My audit went on to cover other pages but you get the idea.  The main conclusions are that BetterWorks was not appealing to people’s emotions.  It was all “This is WHAT we do” and “This is WHAT you get”.  I felt there was a real opportunity for BetterWorks to rebrand upstream and become an Employee Happiness platform, not a “perks and rewards” thing.  That’s boring.  As a CEO or HR, I can immediately get behind something called an “Employee Happiness platform”.  I have employees, I want them to be happy.  But a perks and rewards tool… that you need to sell me on.

Now criticism is one thing, but I wanted to take it a step further and show how I would make it better.

The un-bulleted version is here.

Also, there are lots in here regarding design and emotion and psychology.  If you think something will have negligible impact, or is total bunk, that’s fine.  But I think much of design (and decision-making) is processed in the subconscious brain.

(click the image for a new window)

  1. The only call to action on this page (besides login) is For Employers or For Employees.  This is basically “more info”.  My idea is that if you are an employer, you click the link and go to a page that sells the employer benefits.  Higher retention, engagement, making you look like an awesome CEO hero.  It would have quotes from other CEO’s etc.  The Employee page would have benefits and features that employees love.  While the CEO is the decision maker, selling the employee is a great tactic too.  If 70% of your employees want BetterWorks… who are you to say no. Also, CEO’s will no-doubt click the Employee link too, and see all the happy and awesome employees loving BetterWorks.  They want employees like that, thus, they want BetterWorks.  Now it’s not a traditional call to action, in that it doesn’t say DO THIS or CLICK HERE.  It’s a button, there is nothing else to do with it, and nowhere else to click.  On the road to a sale, your actions should be Yield signs, so they feel they get there naturally, not the DO THIS! actions that force an unnatural change of direction.
  2. The Employee Happiness Platform.  That just sounds awesome.  How can I, as a CEO go wrong implementing that.  The type weight has some subtle properties too.  You can read the full sentence, The Employee Happiness Platform, or you can read by weight as The Happiness (Platform) or (The) Employee Platform.  This should just enforce some core emotions about the product.
  3. Wow… I want my employees to be so happy and awesome they levitate.  Never leave an opportunity for a well placed and visually striking image.
  4. What’s with the curves?  This curve which is used all over is the up-and-to-the-right curve that you want to see in your business charts.  It means good things when you see it.  It’s also one half of a smile face, which is reinforced by the small divot in the black bar, which is the smile’s dimple.  Yeah it’s subtle.  The curve also pulls triple duty by pointing up to the phone number, your best chance to close a lead.
  5. So BetterWorks leads to a more engaged workforce with better retention, etc.  That’s boring.  It’s been tested and proven that success is the result of happiness, and not the other way around.  This statement should set the tone of why happiness is important, if you were not already aware.  Oh an there is a wink/smile emoticon that is on the outside of the blurb box.
  6. BetterWorks is on a mission.  They have a higher calling.  They have beliefs.  That’s something a CEO can respect and get behind.  This copy is also quite positive.  It’s telling you that your employees are awesome.  As a CEO, I will agree to that, or wish it were the case.   I also believe that “every business, no matter the size, should have access to the perks and rewards of industry leaders.”  Ok so now I have been in agreement twice, above the fold.  That’s a good place to start.
  7. BetterWorks has these customer spotlight videos that are really well done and showcase how the customer uses the product and why it’s awesome.  But these videos are buried in its blog.  They are social proof gold!  Instead BetterWorks uses confusing product videos to quickly cram as much info into the viewers 2 second attention span.  If you show me a video of Elon Musk (a BetterWorks customer) extolling the benefits of BetterWorks…. game over, where is the buy now button.  I suspect that replacing your lame product demo video with a social proof video will help most businesses.
  8. Ok now that I’ve led with my WHY statement, I can get more granular.   I can start filling in the blanks of how BetterWorks…. works.  I get that happiness is important.  How does BetterWorks deliver that?  By delivering “local perks at deep discounts in an easy to use platform”.  Two other subtle things here.  The winking emoticon is now a smiling emoticon.  It is also internalized within the blurb.   BetterWorks is bringing the happiness inside your business.  Also you will notice another curve here on top of the blurb.  There is a drop off at the same point it mentioned “deep discounts”.  A subtle design reinforcement.
  9. Ok there is no diagram here, but there would be.  I am honestly not sure how BetterWorks works but some people operate on different communication modalities and it helps for them to SEE how it works, and where they and their employees fit into the picture.
  10. These are your features.  Enough info for me to make sense of it and get what’s going on.  The ticket-like design channels the ‘white space’ so it flows across the features and then down to…
  11. Support!  Support is depicted here as the bedrock of the features and benefits.  This is as it should be for B2B because I don’t want to look like a dumbass decision maker so I want to know that BetterWorks will back me up, show me how to get the most of everything, and help me look like the awesome CEO I deserve to be.  Look how big that smile emoticon is, it just grows and grows.
  12. Look at that tasty sandwich.  Now I am hungry.  Another problem that BetterWorks can solve.  Catering is a big part of BetterWorks and throw in some creative copy there.. and… mmm look at that sandwich…
  13. Here is your more standard social proof in text form.  Not everyone can listen to audio at work.  This is tangible social proof in real-person-speak.  You don’t need much here, as you can put more on the next two pages.
  14. Here you are, at the bottom of the page.  You may have gotten here in 5 seconds or 50.  Your subtle ‘whisper-to-action’ is awaiting for you to take the modest step of “finding out more”, not “getting started”.  The next pages will have more specific copy, more social proof, and finally, a short form to submit.  If they are not convinced at that point, they are likely not your customer to begin with.  Do they not want their employees to be happy?  You may also notice this is the same image as above…. but the enlightened employee has been replaced by the call to action buttons.  You know that thing that happens when you look at a bright light and the image is ghosted in your eye for a while.  Yeah… details, I’m all about ’em.

I only spent one evening on this and made no assumptions about Paige implementing anything.  But it seems he and BetterWorks are going through some big changes.  I wish them the best and know that he is making the tough and smart choices that good entrepreneurs do.

I hope this case study was useful to others as well.  I would say that 95% of companies have some terrible design going on and lots of missed opportunities.

  • sethgodin


    great stuff, Jess

  • Tobin

    Thank you Jess. This is actually very helpful to understand the logic and appeal behind your changes. I follow your comments on the TWIST group (that’s how I found you here!) so always appreciate the insights.


  • Guido4000

    Great review!

  • You are making the world a better place with your constructive commentary. I find this really helpful.