Although it’s great to have a lot of traffic coming to your website, unless your site is optimised to turn those visitors into customers all you’re left with is…traffic.
Conversion rate optimisation is the all-encompassing term for the many techniques you can introduce to:
- Engage visitors
- Convert them into customers
- Improve the overall performance of your website.
A ‘conversion’ doesn’t necessarily have to be a sale, it’s simply persuading visitors to do something you want them to do, such as to get in touch, book an appointment, download an article, or sign up for a newsletter.
Research suggests one of the best ways to improve your conversion rate is the design. For example, one study from Stanford University found that 46.1% of people said the top criteria for deciding if a company is credible or not is the website’s design. (1) This ‘looking good equals being good’ theory actually predates the internet and has been a hot topic since the 1940s, but with the design of a website being such a prominent feature, it’s an area that shouldn’t be overlooked.
So, it’s fair to say that good web design can have a positive effect on converting visitors into customers. As a web design agency focused on beautiful UX design, we wanted to share some of our favourite ways of optimising your website for conversions.
When you’re trying to persuade visitors to engage with your website, the last thing you want is web pages that take ages to load. A study by the Aberdeen Group found that even a one-second delay in the time it takes a page to load can result in a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and a 7% reduction in conversions. (2) Slow loading pages can also negatively impact your search engine ranking as it’s one of the factors Google’s algorithm uses to rank pages because, to quote a Google source, ‘Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there.’ (3)
A good web design agency can help improve loading speed with a range of web design tricks such as compressing the size, quality or format of images which can make up 66% of a total webpage’s ‘weight’ (4); adding less plug-ins (additional services to improve your website’s functionality) which can slow performance, and compressing content to free up bandwidth. Check out our guide to the key benefits of a fast website here.
When visitors browse your website you want the experience to be a positive one. One of the simplest ways to achieve this is to ensure your UX design is geared towards their needs. That’s why spending the time to research your typical user when designing a website is vital. So much so, that we wrote a whole blog about it! Once you know your users you can design content that is useful and valuable to them.
Credibility is another important factor. Trust comes before a conversion so be sure to include reasons for people to believe in your brand. This could be as simple as adding:
- Logos of any governing bodies or reputable associations you’re affiliated with
- Logos of the payment security or authentication services you use
- Customer testimonials are great trust-builders as they’re seen as social proof of your reputation. A massive 92% of customers read online reviews before buying (5) so be sure to give them easy access to discovering why they should choose your brand
Your website’s usability can also make or break a visit. Your site should be easy to use with clear navigation so users can find what they need and your call to actions should indicate the benefits to the user. Failure to focus on usability can seriously affect your conversion rate. For example, the average shopping basket abandonment rate is over 65% due to no guest checkout option (14%) and a complex checkout process (11%) – that’s a lot of sales lost with the finish line in sight. (6)
We’ve already highlighted the direct correlation between your website’s design and your brand’s credibility. Here are a few simple changes you can make to improve both.
Research into how people look at web pages suggests that their eyes scan from left to right in an ‘F’-shaped pattern. (7) So, as they look at the top of the page, they scan from one side to the other, then their eyes move to the middle of the page but don’t scan quite so far to the right, and by the time they scan the bottom of the page their eyes don’t really leave the left-hand side. Why is this important? When planning your wireframe you can ensure the most important elements are placed in the areas most likely to be viewed.
Another tip is to keep things simple. Research indicates we have a preference for things that are clear and orderly, rather than complex and complicated designs. (8) A good example of this in web design is negative space – the bits on a website which don’t contain any content. The name is actually a misnomer as they’re a positive thing. Used wisely, the clever use of negative space keeps the focus on the bits you want people to focus on – such as your main call to action. Perhaps the best example of this is the Google homepage where the dominant use of negative space draws your attention to the search bar.
The colours you choose for your website are equally as important. Among other elements they can increase conversion by as much as 24%. (9) That’s because certain colours can affect human emotions and our emotions are believed to directly influence our decision-making process. Another study (10) found:
- Women aren’t fans of grey, orange, and brown, but do like green, blue and purple (apparently!)
- Men prefer blue, green, and black over hues such as orange, brown and purple
This might be a massive generalisation, but it’s worth considering your target audience when choosing colours for your website.
According to a study from Microsoft Corp., people lose concentration after eight seconds (11) so it’s vital your landing page is attention-grabbing with a headline that persuasively showcases the benefits, eye-catching imagery, with everything focused on the call to action. Another study found that just two out of 10 people continue to read beyond the headline (12) so be sure to keep your headline simple, clear, and compelling. Entice the reader to want to find out more. Pose a question. Make the reader curious.
92% of consumers read reviews and testimonials before making a purchase and 72% say they trust a business more if they have positive reviews and testimonials. (13) So give your visitors reasons to trust in you by including reviews, testimonials and endorsements on your landing page.
The user journey is the interactive path designed to guide visitors to conversion. Plotting different journeys for different users helps ensure you include the relevant content and functionality to persuade them to convert rather than head somewhere else. It’s important to consider the whole journey and to not try to jump straight from the landing page to checkout. Once you’ve persuaded someone to visit your site, give them reasons to stay there such as engaging content and answers to their questions. In other words, take them on a journey of discovery.
Providing a helping hand throughout the user journey can also improve the user experience. Features such as live chat allow users to interact with your brand on their terms and inform their decisions. 79% of businesses say offering live chat positively affected sales and customer loyalty, and 38% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company with live chat support. (14)
Taking the time to nurture your website’s visitors can pay dividends. Forrester Research found that companies who excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales leads at 33% lower cost per lead. (15) To inspire your user’s to take action, your website’s sales funnel should contain the following elements:
- Awareness: your target users are more likely to discover you’re the solution to their problem is your website is SEO-optimised
- Evaluation: your target users are more likely to choose your brand if you highlight the benefits and value of your offering
- Action: your target users are more likely to click ‘checkout’ if you ensure your purchase page is clear and simple to complete
You can also increase engagement but creating educational content, such as white papers, articles, and videos as people are 131% more likely to buy from a brand immediately after reading a piece of educational content. (16) Don’t overlook the power of social media either. With internet users spending an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes each day on social networking sites (17), sharing your content on the likes of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram will give it greater exposure.
If users can’t find what they’re after on your site, the danger is they’ll go looking elsewhere. So don’t be afraid of using easy website design tricks such as call-to-actions as signposts throughout your site. Many fall into the trap of only including call-to-actions to point to purchase points or contact us pages, but if you add CTAs to lead the user to discover more information or learn the benefits of your brand (e.g. download a white paper, sign up for a webinar, watch a video) that will hopefully bring them one step closer to making a purchase.
And don’t be afraid to keep things simple. British psychologist William Edmund Hick theorised that the time it takes us to make a decision is directly proportionate to the number of choices we have. More choices equals more time. By limiting choices in your web design – such as simplifying the navigation menu – you’re actually making it easier for your users to take action.
When it comes optimising websites for conversions we’ve got plenty more design tricks up our sleeves. To kick-start your web design project with Code23, simply get in touch.