5 Ways to Increase Web Conversions with Design
By Ricardo Figueiredo
For many small business owners, a website is an extension of their livelihood with the powerful ability to make or break their business. As more companies depend on the web to bring in new customers, it’s never been more important to reassess your skill as a designer to ensure your client is getting the most out of their website design.
Great design can lead to increased conversions for your client, fortifying your efforts as a designer and making your job worth the client’s investment. Add more to your portfolio of skills by understanding how web conversions work and reap the rewards (and referrals) on your next project.
1. Eliminate the Paradox of Choice
Have you ever been at a restaurant only to find the menu is chock full of awesome food choices – maybe even too many food choices? You fester over what to order, make a hesitant choice, only to be disappointed in your dish afterward. Ah, buyer’s remorse.
Whether you’re at a restaurant or surfing the web, the paradox of choice is making its way into internet marketing. Designers need to be cognizant of how choices are displayed on each webpage, especially on the homepage. No matter what kind of site you design – informational or e-commerce – you need to ensure the most important customer choices are highlighted appropriately.
An informational website should prominently highlight its call to action, whether it’s eliciting a phone call or signing up for a newsletter. When the call to action is buried in too many pictures, graphics or content, you will likely lose the conversion – no matter how pretty or high-tech the design.
An e-commerce site presents an even greater challenge as multiple products can be confusing for the shopper. A designer should work with developers to create breadcrumb navigation that breaks down categories into a logical, shoppable format so customers can easily find what they’re looking for without being overwhelmed by too many choices.
2. Follow the Gutenberg Rule
You open a book. You read the book. Your eyes naturally start left, and then continue right, following the words on the page. Exactly! That’s the Gutenberg Rule, and all designers need to be acquainted with it. The Gutenberg theory capitalizes on a customer’s visual perception when absorbing information – this is referred to as “reading gravity.” It means customers in the western world will naturally intake information from left to right, top to bottom, in four quadrants: the primary optical area in the top left, the strong fallow area in the top right, a weak fallow area in the bottom left, and the terminal area in the bottom right.
The very best design principles focusing on SEO conversions follow this rule. The “Buy It Now” button, phone numbers, newsletter opt-in forms or other call to actions should ideally be placed in the primary optical and terminal areas for maximum conversion prowess.
3. Hand-hold… a little bit
It’s true that nowadays consumers are smart shoppers and equally savvy using the web. But one thing remains for sure: guidance can go a long way into directing their actions. Designers should think about adding elements like arrows, oversized buttons, shadowboxes, highlights and proper use of color to guide users to a desired action.
On the homepage, use arrows or large text to draw attention to the most important feature of the page. This principle reinforces the Gutenberg rule and can lead to increased conversions – SEOs will thank you later.
4. Just Say No to Stock Photos
Marketing is an art form that combines subliminal messages and a call to action in order to manipulate a customer’s choice. When it comes to choosing images, stock photos – and other equally generic graphics or content – is cliché and should be avoided. The truth is, most consumers are smart, savvy shoppers, likely to snub a site that uses too much generic imagery.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using family-friendly photos on, say, a pediatrician’s website – it, after all, makes sense to use a picture of a child and her parent at the doctor’s office in that case. The key is using authentic photos coupled with interesting, informative copy that sells the clinic and elicits the desired customer response. If you must use generic photos, opt for images with alternative angles or action shots if possible to add the necessary element of interest into your overall design concept.
5. Ditch the Clutter
Every single choice you make as a designer should serve a greater purpose. Just because color, objects and graphics look good on a page doesn’t mean it should automatically earn a place on the page. Make room for the most important design elements and avoid typical space eaters like widgets, social media feeds, calendars, and recent posts. Sidebars should also follow this same principle, leaving only the desired call to action front-and-center. If you run into problems with a too-simple design, reassess the height and width of the page and reorganize page elements to make the most of your site.
About Ricardo Figueiredo
Ricardo Figueiredo is the co-founder of Elevated Search, a boutique firm of SEO experts based out of San Diego. Ricardo has over 8 years of experience SEO project management specializing in on-page optimization, link building, and local SEO and conversion optimization. Connect with Ricardo on Google+.