FBSFO: ‘Fix Broken Shit First’ Optimization 💪

Rich Page
5 min readSep 29, 2021
Image credit: Gun Show Comic

There is an excellent new technique for helping to quickly improve revenue and conversion rates for any website.

It’s called ‘Fix Broken Shit First’ Optimization — FBSFO.

And it works very well — fixing the most common ‘shit’ on your website will lead to very high impact on your conversion rates and revenue. And it often has more impact than doing any A/B testing, or guessing what to improve.

This technique of fixing broken shit was first introduced by Craig Sullivan, Arnout Hellemans and Tim Stewart, who proved how effective this can be. So a big shout to these CRO and business optimization gurus.

Your website has broken shit which is hiding 😲

It doesn’t matter how good the UX, design and copy of your website are if visitors can’t easily complete common use cases due to ‘broken shit’.

And your website probably has a lot of hidden broken shit that needs fixing. I have found that the majority of websites do, no matter how good they look. And I’m not talking about broken links or 404 errors either.

You probably don’t even realize you have hidden broken shit, and worse still, you often won’t realize the big negative impact it’s likely having on your user experience and website revenue.

I think it's so important that it should be the first step of doing effective CRO (conversion rate optimization) for any kind of website.

Here are examples of common ‘shit’ to fix first on websites:

  • Poor or not understandable field error validation in checkout
  • Broken/squashed layout on smaller devices with 375 width
  • Mega menus that cover important content and CTA buttons
  • Layout broken on tablet due to stretched buttons or too large images
  • Product image gallery not working properly on mobile
  • Site search not working well or giving bad results
  • Live chat widgets covering and blocking CTA buttons on mobile
  • Pop-ups that can’t be easily closed because the X is too small or hidden
  • Tool tips that don’t work on mobile or their content is cut-off
  • Underlined text that visitors think are links and try to click on
  • Elements that look like CTA buttons but aren’t
  • Cookie banners covering and blocking CTAs buttons on mobile
  • Deleting signup field details when clicking back to them
  • Drop-down selectors for products not working as expected
  • Very slow loading images on mobile product pages
  • Zoom function not working on product images
  • Category page filters that don’t work or show wrong results

How to discover your hidden broken shit

Cross browser testing tools like browserstack.com are important for finding broken shit whenever you launch something new.

But developers who use those tools only check if functionality is broken — they often don’t understand if parts of user experience is broken, which often is the hidden broken shit you need to fix.

That is why you also need tools that give you insights from your users while they are using your website, as this will reveal some of the more hidden broken shit on their journeys. You need two tools in particular:

  • User testing tools
    To find the most common and obvious broken shit, I suggest getting at least 5 user tests done on mobile and 5 done on desktop. The tasks and questions you set up should get them to review the most common journey on your website. This will increase the chances of them finding broken shit on the key parts of your website. I recommend using Userfeel for doing these user tests, as you don’t need an expensive subscription to use it.
  • Session recording tools
    You need to review 100's of recordings of your users on your website to find hidden broken shit, on most common desktop and mobile browsers. In particular, you need to check for ‘rage clicks’ as they often indicate user frustration with broken or confusing parts of your website. This will often reveal some great hidden broken shit to fix. Good tools that include session recordings are Hotjar and MouseFlow.

It’s not just tools. You need experts too.

You also need someone who understands UX or CRO to analyze the tool results to discover the hidden broken shit (the broken shit your developers have missed). If they are good, they will have a great eye for small broken shit that negatively impacts user experience.

In addition to having someone who knows CRO or UX review the tool results, I also recommend getting a CRO website review from an expert like myself, as this will quickly uncover a lot of hidden broken shit for you.

How to prioritize and fix your broken shit

Using these tools you are likely going to find lots of broken shit to fix which will increase your website revenue. So how do you know what to fix first?

  • First fix anything in your checkout or signup flow.
  • Then fix anything on your top entry pages, like your homepage or your category pages.
  • Then fix any elements that are essential to users being able to easily use your website like navigation, filters, search and forms.
  • Then fix the small things that impact less common groups of users, like users who use the less common smallest width phones.

Double-check the broken shit is fixed and hasn’t broken something else

Every time you launch fixes for broken shit you need to check it’s really fixed. Sometimes developers don’t fix it properly, or worst still, their fix breaks something else. So once you have launched the fixes, do another round of session recording analysis to see if anything related has now broken.

Regularly review for hidden broken shit

I suggest you also do this hidden broken shit review every 3 months to check if anything has broken without you knowing it. This is because things can break without launching anything, particularly due to things like auto-updating plugins, or developers updating part of the website code without realizing it has slightly broken a less commonly used part of your website.

So spend some time today using those tools checking for hidden broken shit and then fixing it. It is the first most effective step of doing effective CRO. Then after that you can do further conversion research like doing surveys for your visitors and customers to discover doubts, issues and frustrations.