Design a Website That Drives Conversions

Design CRO: How to Design a Website That Drives Conversions

Driving traffic to your website isn’t always easy. Between your SEO campaigns and paid ads, it takes time, money, and effort to get visitors to land on your site.

But getting people to your website is only half of the battle. What happens next is what really matters.

Are your website visitors converting? If the answer is no, or not as much as you’d like, then you need to take a step back and analyze your design.

First impressions matter. 94% of first impressions are related to a website’s design. Furthermore, people form an opinion about websites in just 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds).

So even if you’re producing great content or you’re selling an outstanding product, your site can still have a negative perception if it’s poorly designed.

That’s why 38% of people stop engaging with websites that have unattractive designs.

Fortunately, you’re not doomed forever. Bad website designs can be fixed. You just need to keep conversions in mind for every design element on your site.

Follow the design best practices that I’ve outlined in this guide and apply these concepts to your website. These simple changes can help your conversion rates skyrocket.

Simplify the Navigation

Design and navigation go hand in hand.

People don’t land on a website and convert within seconds. They typically do some browsing and navigate to other landing pages.

But if those website visitors have trouble finding what they’re looking for, then they won’t be able to convert.

The easiest way to simplify your navigation is by eliminating unnecessary options from your menu.

Take a look at this sample homepage created by Jimdo, which is a platform for creating websites.

Simple Navigation Jimbo Cafe

The navigation bar has 11 options. While it may not seem like a lot initially, this can be overwhelming for your website visitors.

It increases the chances that they’ll navigate to the wrong landing page. This is frustrating for your visitors and can cause them to leave your site without converting.

When you take a closer look, it’s clear that some of these menu options can be combined or eliminated. Here’s an updated look at the same sample homepage.

Updated Navigation

By reducing the number of menu options to five, it’s much more visually appealing.

There aren’t any conflicting or confusing navigation links, so it will be easier for website visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Less is more. Giving people too many choices harms conversions. This theory was put to the test in a famous experiment known as the jam study.

A grocery store set up a display table offering 24 samples of jam. This table attracted 60% of shoppers, but only 3% of them actually made a purchase.

Another day, the same grocery store set up a table with 6 flavors of jam. 40% of shoppers came to the table, and 30% of them bought jam.

The same concept can be applied to your website navigation. Offering too many options will have an adverse effect on engagement. While fewer choices yield higher conversion rates.

Eliminate Large Blocks of Text

Too much written text on your website is another way to kill conversions. People don’t want to read paragraphs before making an action.

So you need to come up with ways to get your point across as short and efficiently as possible.

Rather than using paragraphs and long sentences, consider replacing those large blocks of text will quick bullet points.

Bullet points are easier to read, and much more visually appealing.

Use Images (Sparingly)

This piggybacks off of your previous point. High-quality images paired with short text is another great way to explain things on your website.

Take a look at this example from Square.

Images Paired With Short Text

This landing page design conveys information about the Square reader for processing payments in person. Rather than explaining exactly how the product works in long-form text, the site uses pictures to do the talking instead.

Based on these pictures, it’s very clear how the product works.

The short text paired with the images complements the design of this page.

For visitors that want more information about how the product works, they can simply click on the “learn more” button to see additional details.

While you should definitely be using images to improve the design of your website, make sure you don’t go overboard.

According to Google, too many images can have a negative impact on conversion rates.

Fewer Images Create More Conversions

If you have too many visual elements crammed into a small space, the clutter will overwhelm your site visitors.

Plus, images can increase the weight of your website, which slows down your page loading times.

Prioritize Speed

Don’t let your design choices compromise the performance of your website.

At the end of the day, you still need to make sure your site is designed with user experience in mind. Page loading speed can make or break your conversion rates.

Loading Time Impact on Conversion

It’s a simple concept. Research shows that sites with faster loading times have higher conversion rates.

People won’t convert if they get frustrated and abandon your site.

So how fast should your website load?

According to a recent study, 47% of people expect pages to load in two seconds or less. 40% of people will abandon sites that take more than three seconds to load.

75% of users surveyed said they won’t return to sites that take more than four seconds to load.

Sites with too many images, videos, GIFs, and other large files will load slower than sites that have a simple design. So remove clutter and unnecessary flashing lights, bells, and whistles.

If you keep your design simple and clean, your loading times will be faster.

Make Sure Your CTA is Obvious

How can people convert on your website?

This is not a trick question. Take a look at your website and actually ask yourself what a visitor needs to do in order to convert.

If they have to scroll, click on a link that brings them to another landing page, and then search for a button hidden in the bottom corner, then you won’t have high conversion rates.

While that hypothetical example may sound extreme, you’d be surprised how many websites lack an obvious CTA button.

Just 47% of websites have CTA buttons that can be spotted in three seconds or less.

Furthermore, 72% of sites don’t feature CTA buttons on interior pages. That design flaw will kill your conversion rates.

Your CTA needs to be on every page, and in view at all times. It should be obvious, so the visitor knows exactly where to click when they’re ready to convert.

Try pinning your CTA to the top menu bar, so it’s in view no matter how a user navigates.

Here’s an example from BuildFire.

Obvious CTA

BuildFire is a company that builds mobile apps. Both CTAs on this homepage navigate to the same landing page, but they’re just worded differently.

When you view their homepage, you can spot these buttons instantly.

Before I continue talking about their CTA strategy, take a moment to analyze the other design elements of this homepage. I used this site as an example because BuildFire has applied some of the other strategies that we have already discussed.

There are limited navigation options, minimal text, bullet points, and an image that fits perfectly on the page.

Now—back to the CTA. No matter where you navigate on this site, at least one CTA will always be on the screen.

CTA Always on Screen

This screenshot was taken from their blog after I had scrolled down a bit to see older posts. Even as I scrolled, the “build an app” CTA stayed pinned at the top of the screen.

I highly recommend using this design tactic on your website as well. If the CTA is too hard to find, your traffic won’t convert.

Shorten Form Fields

Some of you might have forms as a requirement for driving conversions on your site. If these forms aren’t optimized properly, then fewer people are going to fill them out.

The best way to improve the design of your forms is by reducing the number of required fields.

People don’t want to spend all day filling out a form on your website. They also don’t want to disclose information that’s too private or personal. So make sure you’re only asking for information that’s actually required for your purposes.

According to Ninja Forms, sites with fewer form fields have higher conversion rates.

Conversion Rate of Form Fields

If your forms are too long, figure out what you can eliminate to make them shorter. Getting your forms down to three fields will give you the highest opportunity for conversions.

Optimize Your Checkout Process

For those of you who are using your website to sell products or services, conversions equate to dollars. So if people aren’t converting, then you’re not making money.

The design of your checkout process could be hurting your conversion rates.

How many steps does a visitor have to take from the moment they decide to buy something, until the time the purchase has been finalized?

If they have to go through too many steps and landing pages, they’ll abandon to the process.

Check out the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment.

24% of people abandon carts because they needed to create an account. That was the second highest response. An additional 17% of people said the process was too long and complicated.

Both of these problems can be solved by improving the design of your cart (which combine for over 40% of survey responses).

Eliminate unnecessary steps. Each added step gives the customer a chance to change their mind or encounter a problem.

So design your checkout pages in a way so that everything can be filled out on one page, with minimal scrolling. Make sure the “buy” or “purchase” CTA is big, bold, and obvious as well.

Use White Space

Your landing pages don’t need to be filled wall to wall with design elements. White space can be just as effective for driving conversions.

By simplifying your design and including less on the page, it draws the users’ attention to the elements that are most important.

Check out this example from Apple.

Example of Using White Space

I always like to turn to industry leaders as a way to replicate success. If an industry giant like Apple uses whitespace, then you should follow their lead.

Rather than trying to pack the page full of images, text, and links, the majority of the screen is just plain white space.

Our eyes automatically focus on the few design elements that are in view. The use of white space also limits our choices, so the chances of converting are much higher.

Final Thoughts — Always Improve

Follow the design tactics that I’ve outlined above to improve your website conversion rates.

But with that said, don’t just make changes and move on. There will always be room for improvement.

No website can be 100% perfect. So I recommend using A/B tests as a way to constantly enhance your design.

For example, you can run A/B tests on your CTA button for things like:

  • Placement
  • Wording
  • Color
  • Font

The test will automatically direct 50% of your traffic to one version of your website, and the other 50% to a variation. This will tell you which version is converting at a higher rate.

Then you can make the necessary adjustments, and continue running A/B tests on the other design elements of your site. Each test will help you boost conversions.

For those of you who need more assistance with design CRO, reach out to us here at McDougall Interactive, and we’ll be happy to help you out.

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