Evolved Search’s Simon Clark talks about the importance of UX and his thoughts about Google Optimize

Home / Interviews with Experimenters / Evolved Search's Simon Clark talks about the importance of UX and his thoughts about Google Optimize

Hi Simon, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us! How have you been?

Surviving Rommil, surviving! No, it has been an incredibly strange and difficult time overall, but I have been able to find those small things that I might not have found otherwise, so it isn’t all bad. I am a positive character, so this has just been another challenge to overcome.

Let’s start off with a bit about yourself. Could you please share with our audience what is it that you do and a bit about your career journey up to this point?

I began my digital career as a Web Developer back in 2008. I did this for nearly 10 years and was competent with both Front and Back-end development. I became really interested in analytics and other digital marketing disciplines towards the end of my coding career. I then had the opportunity, out of the blue really to join a huge company as an Optimisation Manager. And let me be completely honest, I had no idea what CRO was, what was involved and what skills I would truly need. I had to learn quick. But in that three and a half years, I learned so much that has contributed to where I am now. I am currently Head of CRO at Evolved Search, an award-winning digital agency based in the UK. I oversee all aspects of CRO & UX and we aim to help our clients understand their customers, improve customer experiences and increase conversion rates.

In your opinion, how important is UX to CRO? Where would you rank it among all the things CROs must do?

Wow! I could not see a world without UX to be honest. Norman Nielson define UX as ‘encompassing all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products’. If we didn’t begin to understand our users’ thoughts, feelings, and worries, how can we address them with copy & design changes or A/B test hypothesis. So, the two are unequivocally linked. One would suffer without the other and we would be running experiments and making design decisions blindly. My advice would be to get involved in as much UX Research as possible. Do some Usability Testing (or be a participant) and watch how people actually move around a website, read books on copywriting, CRO or other specialisms, understand how best to design for users and you will soon have a much broader knowledge that can help in your day-to-day life as a CRO.

How can CROs and Experimenters do a better job at leveraging UX?

I think the obvious answer here is to ensure UX is engrained within your optimisation framework and your team’s mindset. You should always be thinking about the end goal – how can we help our users find the right product/service for their needs and make that experience smooth and painless so they will come back repeatedly. UX is the perfect tool to do this with. It allows us to find out what your customers are thinking, how they interact with your website (and beyond), what stops them from performing the intended task and much more.

CROs have to work across disciplines often. How can we, as CROs, improve how we connect all these disciplines together?

So, I think understanding and communication come into play here. As an ex-developer I know all too well about the situations where a designer would design something without asking any questions and then wonder why we couldn’t build it. They didn’t ask! So, a big part of this is understanding the knowledge of each other and our limitations, what is possible and above all else, if you are unsure ASK. Communication and understanding are essential. We work with many different disciplines, all with the goal of helping our clients’ businesses grow. We are all just a means to that end and we must be as efficient as possible to achieve this. Ask, ask, and ask again.

For those that are new to CRO, Google Optimize is one of the tools that are often considered. What tips can you share with new CROs around getting the most out of GO?

So, I personally consider GO to be a tool best used as a free WYSIWYG testing tool for those starting out or who can’t yet afford a paid service. My most complex A/B testing has happened using something like VWO. Now, that isn’t to say you can’t create well performing and complex tests with it, but it is harder, in my opinion. I prefer a simple code editor and tools that allow easy editing (JavaScript and CSS), modifications during a test and previewing. If I am being honest, I feel I have a snagging list for GO as big as my weekly shopping list. The other thing to look out for with GO are its suggestions on how long it should run for and its reporting. I generally find you are better doing this yourself. It will often tell me to run my test for three months – not going to happen in most cases. And I also feel you are better creating your own reports in GA or using the Google Analytics API.

Changing gears, as an avid runner, do you have any bucket lists or goals for running?

I have been running for over 10 years now and I have really had a blast doing so. I wouldn’t say I am good or a fast runner, but it has given me something to focus on most years and has helped my fitness. I am running the Great North Run this September, which is a half marathon I have done six times previously, and I think this will be my last. I am loving my cycling these days and going out with my family and friends when I can. I want to push myself in this casual sport from next year and see what challenges I can complete in the next few years. Luckily, there are a few cyclists at Evolved who I am sure can push me on.

Finally, it’s time for the Lightning Round! Are you a Bayesian or a Frequentist?


If you couldn’t work in Experimentation, what would you do?

UX Research or UX Design

Describe Simon in 5 words or less.

Positive, curious, pro-active, always learning

Who should Experiment Nation chat with next?

Helen Willmot (who may not be in the Directory)

Thanks so much for chatting with me today!

Thanks so much for asking me to do this and I can’t wait to see how Experiment Nation grows!

Connect with Experimenters from around the world

We’ll highlight our latest members throughout our site, shout them out on LinkedIn, and for those who are interested, include them in an upcoming profile feature on our site.

Rommil Santiago