The Sophistication of Simplicity: Website Optimization for the Real World

By Adam Figueira

October 2, 2012

As Apple has remarked, “We believe technology is at its very best when it’s invisible—when you’re conscious only of what you’re doing, not the device you’re doing it with.”

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees.

When I travel to different trade shows, I get the privilege of speaking with marketers, merchandisers, and IT professionals at companies both large and small, and across a wide variety of verticals.

Many of these companies have little in common, but one belief has its adherents in each one of them: the notion that complexity in website optimization equates to sophistication.

It does not.

At the crux of whether complexity enhances (or diminishes) sophistication is the ability of the business user to exploit features to any measurable benefit. To help explain this point, Bruce Ernst, Monetate's Vice President of Product Management, and I use a simple car analogy in this video.

With respect to website testing and optimization, complexity that the business user cannot exploit leads to a slower, more cumbersome process of campaign creation and deployment. It is the opposite of sophistication.

Examples of such complexity include:

  • Writing code as part of campaign setup and deployment
  • Making changes to the production website for each campaign

But the value of a tool derives from its ability to deliver sophistication by masking the complexity that makes it possible.

Doing so makes website optimization:

  • Faster, by decreasing the time between idea-to-deployment
  • Scalable, by enabling the business to create more campaigns
  • Profitable, by delivering economies of scale
  • Accessible, by democratizing the overall process

So just as any good website optimization specialist knows that correlation doesn’t imply causation, complexity shouldn’t be confused with sophistication.

The ease with which a tool’s capabilities can brought to bear is as important as the capabilities themselves.

Adam Figueira is a former product marketing director at Monetate.

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