Simple Websites Drive Conversions

CRO: Why Simple Websites Drive Conversions

People often ask me the best way to drive website conversions. While a wide range of factors are involved, the overall concept can be described in just one word—simplicity.

Optimizing your website layout to improve conversions is easier than you think.

Why are simple websites so successful? That was my inspiration behind this guide.

I’ll explain exactly how a simpler layout is often the best choice for conversion rate optimization.

Timeless Design

In order for people to convert, they must have first have a positive association with your brand. If your website isn’t giving off the right impression, none of your other conversion tactics will matter.

Simplicity is timeless. It’s not something you’ll have to worry about updating every year.

Will you need some minor tweaks here and there? Sure. But simple themes and templates can be used forever.

We’ve all landed on websites that look like they were designed back in 1991. Those sites give the impression that the brand isn’t keeping up with the times. But the negative effects of an outdated web design are worse than you think.

In fact, 94% of people say they don’t trust websites with an outdated design. If roughly nine out of ten users are landing on our site and bouncing, you’ll never have high conversion rates.

Fewer Distractions

Our minds are easily distracted. If your website has tons of different elements on the page, users won’t be focusing on your CTA button.

Every single product or service you offer doesn’t need to be on your home page. Each landing page should have just one main point of focus.

If your site is filled with advertisements, pop-ups, dozens of videos and images crammed into a single screen, the conversion action gets lost in the shuffle.

But simplicity has the opposite effect. A simple design can draw a visitor’s attention directly to your CTA buttons.

Take a look at this example from Spotify.


This homepage is the epitome of simplicity. There are no distractions from the CTA button.

Look at how Spotify uses blank space. Only about 20% of the entire screen is occupied by text. Everything else is empty. People don’t really have much of a choice for what to click on; they’re going to click on the CTA button.

This strategy keeps conversion rates high.

Paradox of Choice

Depending on the size of your website and your industry, you could have dozens of different pages on your site. Some of you might be selling thousands of products.

Even with so many offerings, you still need to keep the design simple if you want to drive conversions.

Are you familiar with the paradox of choice? Here’s how this concept works—if someone is presented with too many options, they are less likely to convert.

One of the most famous experiments about the paradox of choice is was published back in 2000 by two psychologists—Mark Lepper from Stanford University and Sheena Iyengar from Columbia University. It’s best known today as “the jam study.”

The experiment took place at a local supermarket. A table was set up for customers to sample different jam flavors. On the first day, the table had 24 different types of jam. The second day, the table had six jam flavors. Take a look at these results.

Paradox of Choice

The results were astonishing. While the table with 24 jams attracted more shoppers, the conversion rate was just 3%.

When shoppers had fewer choices, the conversion rate skyrocketed 10x to 30%.

This same concept can be applied to your website design. If you’ve got 30 different buttons, menu options, products, etc. then you’re giving visitors too many choices. By eliminating options, it increases the chances of driving conversions. That’s the paradox of choice.

Simple Designs Are Trustworthy

Simplicity and trustworthiness are synonymous in terms of web design.

Websites that are cluttered with advertisements, crowded space, tons of links, and things of that nature appear spammy and untrustworthy. But a site that’s clean, polished, simple, and professionally designed emulate trust.

I’ll give you an extreme example. I normally don’t like to give “bad” examples or call out brands for doing things wrong. But I’m going to make an exception to my rule using this Norweigian website,


What do you think about this website?

I’m assuming the word “trust” doesn’t come to mind unless it’s referring to the lack of it. Would you buy something from this website? I wouldn’t.

The design is chaotic, which is putting it lightly.

Again, this example is a bit extreme. I’m assuming (and hoping) that your website doesn’t look anything like this. But even if this site was 50% less cluttered, it would still be too much.

Alternatively, when you land on a site that is clean and simplified, you automatically feel like you can trust it. Visitors who have this type of reaction are more likely to convert.

Consumers Expect Simple

When it comes to browsing the web, there are certain things that we have all come to expect.

For example, we expect the navigation menu to be positioned at the top of the page. When we click on a company’s logo on the top left corner of the screen, we expect to return back to the home page. The sitemap, contact details, and other information are typically found at the bottom of each page.

If a website breaks those patterns, we raise our eyebrows and don’t convert.

Subconsciously, we’ve also grown to expect simplicity. Think about some of the most popular websites and brands in the world

  • Google
  • YouTube
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • PayPal

All of these websites have a simple design. These designs have been proven to work time and time again.

Let’s take a look at some of the latest trends in web design, according to a recent study from GoodFirms.

Latest Trends in Web Design

Nearly 90% of web designers lean towards a “flat” design. That’s because flat designs are proficient and streamlined.

A flat design is not only simple, but it’s also easy to manage.

Complex designs are more likely to have issues with responsiveness. But a simple design will render properly across all devices and web browsers.

Easier to Consume Content

When it comes to driving conversations, you need to operate under the assumption that website visitors don’t know anything about you, your brand, products, or services.

Your web pages must have content that can educate people on what you’re offering. If you have a complicated, messy, or cluttered design, you won’t have much luck here.

Instead, your content should read like a book. Pages should be linear and straightforward, making it easy for visitors to consume.

Use a mix of text, images, and headers to get the point across. Interior landing pages on your website can have more details than the homepage.

For example, your homepage should not try to describe or explain every single product or service that you offer. But a different landing page for each category can go into greater detail.

Here’s an example from WiderFunnel:


There’s a “What We Do” menu option at the top of the screen. One of the options from that list is “Personalization.”

The screenshot above is from that personalization landing page.

Putting this on the homepage wouldn’t make sense. But for an interior page, it’s perfect. The purpose of the page is to educate users about this service.

As you continue scrolling through the page, you’ll see that the content is very engaging and easy to consume.

Easier to Consume Content

Anyone visiting this website can quickly and easily learn about this service. Rather than trying to clutter everything about the service into one page, it’s easier to consume if you can scroll and read it like a book.

Improved UX

A simple design means that users can easily navigate from page to page. They should be able to find whatever they’re looking for in a few clicks at most.

I’ll give you a simple example to showcase my point.

Let’s say you have an ecommerce website that sells clothing. You offer clothes for men, women, and children. From dresses and shirts to tuxedos, hats, and accessories, your shop has it all.

If someone lands on your website, that visitor must be able to locate the right category based on gender and product type within seconds. A simple design is the only way to make this possible for hundreds or thousands of items.

Consumers have other options. They won’t spend all day trying to navigate the complexity of your website. Instead, the customer will leave and find what they’re looking for elsewhere.

But if you’re able to reduce friction in the navigation process with a simple design, conversion rates will be significantly higher.

Final Thoughts

All websites need to have a simple design.

Why? Simple websites have higher conversion rates.

It doesn’t matter what type of website you have or what industry you’re in; simplicity has been proven to convert. All of the tips and best practices that I’ve outlined above explain why.

So how do you create a high-converting website? It all starts with a simple design.

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