A successful website needs to do more than just present a pretty face to site visitors — it also needs to convert.
Think about it.
You could be attracting millions of visitors to your website every single month. But if none of those visitors are actually booking sales calls with you, or downloading your product, then those numbers mean absolutely nothing.
Believe it or not, one of the most powerful factors influencing your conversion rate — or the percentage of site visitors who actually do business with you — is design.
If given the option, most people would prefer to interact with something that is attractively designed over something that isn’t.
Moreover, according to research from Stanford University, 46% of people said that a website’s design is the single most important criterion for deciding whether a company is credible.
What’s more: By leveraging several important principles from the fields of psychology and human behavior, you can use your website’s design as a tool for dramatically increasing your online conversions!
So to that end, here are five quick design fixes to improve your website’s conversion rate and turn more of that hard-earned traffic into profit for your business.
Scale Back Your Design
More isn’t always better. And having a lot of options to choose from isn’t always a good thing.
Named after British psychologist William Edmund Hick, Hick’s Law predicts that the amount of time it takes for an individual to make a decision is inversely related to the number of possible choices in front of her.
This means that a prospective buyer’s decision time will increase along with the number of choices she has to decide from.
In a famous 2000 study, the so-called “jam experiment,” researchers set up a display table with 24 varieties of exotic, gourmet jam.
Customers who requested samples received a coupon for $1 off any jar of jam.
On another day, the researchers set up a similar table — with only six varieties of jam on display.
The results? While the large display attracted significantly more interest than the smaller display, customers who were presented with fewer options were 10 times more likely to make a purchase!
By paring down the design of your website to focus only on the essentials — the core product or service you’re promoting and the single most important action you want visitors to take on your website — you’ll ensure that prospective clients aren’t getting stuck in “analysis paralysis.”
And whenever possible, be sure to list which option will be best suited for most people — by including, for example, a “most popular choice” or “best seller.”
Speed Up Your Loading Time
According to surveys from Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of all web users expect a site to load within two seconds or less. And if it doesn’t load in at least three seconds, users will begin to abandon the site.
In addition, research from the Aberdeen Group suggests that:
“A 1-second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.”
This study is from 2008. But if anything, users’ expectations of website speed are only increasing.
There you’ll gain insight into such features like: page size, load time, HTTP requests, DNS lookups, and more.
For most small businesses without complex needs, one way to dramatically improve site performance is to replace their bloated content management systems (or CMS) like WordPress or Drupal in favor of a modern, static site served over a content delivery network (or CDN).
But if that’s not an option, you should absolutely be taking advantage of WordPress caching plug-ins, image compression, and site code minification to reduce loading times and improve your user experience.
Improve Your Site’s Readability
It’s simple, but it’s true: The easier it is to read something, the more it gets read.
You could have the best-written web copy in the world. But if your site suffers from poor readability due to poor design, your visitors will likely just skim right past it.
One of the most common flaws I see on amateur-built or DIY websites is poor readability due to font size and paragraph width.
Large fonts are easier to read than small fonts.
The default browser font size is 16px. This is also the default setting for the latest version of Bootstrap, by far the most popular website framework on the internet.
Another thing to keep in mind is line length, or the number of characters per line.
According to the Baymard Institute, the optimal length for body text is considered to be 50 to 60 characters per line. However, other sources suggest that up to 75 is acceptable.
Any longer than this, and your readers are likely to start skimming through your copy — or worse, ignoring it altogether.
Another way to quickly assess the readability of your website copy is with a free tool like the Readability Test Tool from WebFx.
This will show you the average reading level of your copy and metrics such as number of sentences, number of words, and percentage of complex words.
Follow the F-pattern
When designing your website for maximum conversions, it’s important to consider how most visitors are going to view your site and its content. This will inform the layout of your website.
A lot of research has been conducted on the way people parse information on the web.
Visual eye-tracking studies have found that the typical user reads in an F-shaped formation beginning with the upper-left-hand corner of a website, moving across the top and then down the left-hand side.
This is similar to how people generally read books: left-to-right and downward.
These studies argue in favor of placing the most important elements of your website on the left side of the page.
Following this F-pattern will help you establish a visual hierarchy for your website elements while also directing your site visitors to focus on the most important aspects of your site.
If you can hold their attention and keep them along this path, they will be less likely to leave and more likely to engage with, and take action on, your website.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
It turns out that Dwight Schrute’s favorite motto applies to web design as well.
So too does one variant of the phrase that is often attributed to Albert Einstein: “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
One dead giveaway of an amateur-built website is flashiness. Often, new designers think that they need to wow their viewers with over-the-top design elements and in-your-face animations. But this is usually counter-productive.
Simple designs almost always convert better than complex ones.
This relates back to Hick’s Law: People can only handle so much visual stimuli at one time. Too much information tends to overwhelm us, rather than spur us to take action.
The Japanese have a related aesthetic concept called kanso, which means “simplicity.” Typically, this is used in relation to interior decoration. It is designed to eliminate clutter from the home and to rid living spaces of the non-essential.
Similarly, creating a good user experience for your site visitors often means getting rid of everything that isn’t absolutely essential to your main objective — which is getting users to convert.
Apple has long been a pioneer of minimalistic design — both in terms of their website and their actual products. It’s no wonder that so many other brands have since followed suit.
Now that you understand these design principles, put them to good use by evaluating your own existing website design.
Put yourself in the mind of a typical website visitor, and ask yourself: “What does this site want me to do?”
If you can’t answer this question yourself, then you’ve got some work to do!
And if you’d like to enlist my help in building you a beautiful, conversion-focused website, then head on over to bit.ly/asdnewproject to request a free, no-obligation quote for your project!