Where do we begin?
When we start working with a client who is looking to design a new website one of the first questions we always ask is:
“How is your company hoping to benefit from a new website, what are you hoping to achieve?”
More often than not the question is followed by a slight pause. After a moment’s hesitation we often hear something that amounts to:
“I hadn’t really thought about it, our current website looks a bit dated so we want it to look cool and modern.”
Now we will always place an awful lot of emphasis on building visually stunning websites with cool features that uses the latest modern design techniques but there is something that should always be considered first: Conversion!
Conversion is typically a very ‘salesy’ term and is typically associated with how many customer enquiries are ‘converted’ into sales. The thing is, when we talk about conversion in terms of web design it encompasses much more than just sales. Perhaps your website seeks to encourage users to sign up to a newsletter, receive your email alerts, follow a blog or make that first initial contact with your company. Whatever your goal, if you want users to do something or perform a certain action when visiting your website then you are trying to convert your traffic into action.
OK, so every website is trying to convert traffic into a certain behaviour, but how can you increase the conversion rate of your website?
Well first of all it is worth appreciating the order in which good website design should be done. The UX must come first. It is extremely hard to retrofit good UX into an existing website so you should define your UX journey before you start worrying too much about aesthetics. We can make it look awesome a little later.
OK cool, so we know focusing on conversion is a great place to start. Now we want to share with you some sure-fire ways you can improve the user experience for any visitor and give your conversion rates a serious boost.
Simplicity wins hands down over complexity. This applies not only to the presentation and layout of your website but also to the copy you use. Users want a hassle free experience, if you have a complex website filled with jargon your users are going to head over to a different website extremely quickly.
The Value Proposition
A good place to start is with your ‘value proposition’. This should be front and centre on your website and should articulate quickly and clearly what it is you offer that the user won’t find anywhere else. Your value proposition should be the first thing users see when they land on your homepage.
Writing a powerful succinct value proposition isn’t easy. Many businesses might have several USPs that differentiate them from the competition. The temptation is to write a long value proposition that includes as many of your USPs as possible. You really need to avoid this temptation, you need to work on your value proposition until you can give a really compelling offer in just one sentence.
Another key to giving your user the hassle free experience they have come to expect from high performing websites is to reduce jargon to the absolute minimum, preferably completely. Even if the line of business you’re in is particularly technical you should still seek to use conversational language, any language that might confuse your users or require them to slow down and work out what you are trying to say is going to push them toward leaving your website instead of moving toward the action you want them to take.
Another place you definitely need to be providing crystal clear clarity is your navigation bar (The row or column of buttons on your website that takes them to the various sections).
Here at Zudu we love innovation, we love making websites stand out and most of all we love creating the ‘joy of discovery’ in users when they find cool new features on your website. Whilst we are always looking for ways to innovate and improve there are some areas of web design where sticking to the accepted standards is the best bet.
This certainly applies to your navigation bar. This is the user’s main tool for being able to find their way around your website and it needs to empower them to feel comfortable enough to easily find any information they might want.
Users are used to finding a navigation bar at the top or down the left hand side of a website. If you try and get too clever in the design of your nav bar and start doing unusual things with it then your users will get confused, frustrated and are going to leave rather sharpish. Even putting your nav bar down the right hand side of your website is going to have a huge detrimental effect on your conversion rate.
Another great tip for designing a nav bar that will boost conversion is to keep it simple. The optimal number of options in your nav bar is 5 or less. The reason for this is that information overload is known to drive users away from websites, it likely boils down to the user thinking ‘this is too much effort’. Keep it short and sweet and if you can reduce the number of choices you give the user. Choice paralysis is a very real phenomenon and can slow your potential customer down on their route to conversion.
Building trust could arguably be one of the most important factors in designing a website that enjoys consistently high conversion rates. Make sure you include as many trust building elements to your website as you can. Users today are particularly discerning and sceptical when evaluating a company via their website. You can do wonders for your conversion rate by directly seeking to address this and build confidence and trust amongst your visitors.
Luckily there are a few easy ways to start building more trust that we can share with you here.
One of the best ways is to include client testimonials on your site. Client testimonials are great because they come from a third party. A user is likely to really appreciate this because they understand that people simply won’t endorse companies they aren’t particularly impressed with.
(Top tip – If one of your clients is willing to give you a testimonial, ask them if it would be OK to include a picture of them next to their testimonial to boost trust even further. Perhaps you could sweeten the deal by offering to get them a professional head shot done that they could use for their Linkedin Profile?)
‘Meet the Team’
People find it much easier to trust other people rather than faceless organisations. Make sure you include a really nice section on your website that shows the important people behind the company. Include photos and a little bit of information about each team member… just don’t write it like a CV. Include some more personal information including interests outside of work and/or family. This will ‘humanise’ your website and users will find it much easier to trust you. Have some fun with it and inject some personality, let users know that you are lovely approachable people who are easy to talk to and guess what? They are more likely to want to get in touch!
This one is fairly self-explanatory. You should always include a contact phone number and physical address of your company. You’d think most companies would do this as standard but you’d be surprised how many don’t. Improve your trustworthiness by being completely transparent about who you are and where you can be found.
Reducing friction is arguably the most effective way to boost your websites’ conversion rate. So what do we mean by friction? Well in simple terms ‘friction’ is anything that can impede your users on their path to completing any action you are trying to encourage them to take. In other words, any barriers (real or perceived) that users would have to navigate in order for you to ‘convert’ them.
So we have already covered one form of friction you might inadvertently create on your website and that is ‘too much choice’. To give you an idea of how offering too much choice can reduce conversions consider this:
Ancestry.com once offered three ‘package’ options for customers. Once they reduced this to just one (I.E Zero choice) their conversions jumped 20%.
Another useful example of ‘Friction’ is with online forms. Chances are that users will at some point fill in some sort of form on your website, it could be to sign up, to contact you, to complete a payment. In any scenario reducing the number of details you request of your customer will dramatically increase your conversion rate.
It’s that simple! Want more people to fill out your form? Reduce the number of fields they have to fill in as far as you possibly can. Research shows us that reducing fields on a form by just one can boost conversions by 50%!
Hopefully by now you have taken on board some of the advice detailed here. Design your website to achieve the goals you want, make it look pretty afterwards. Ask yourself “What do I want my website to achieve?” and you can’t go far wrong.
There is an awful lot more to designing great UX and a website that converts than is listed here…several books worth. If you need a hand or want to talk to us about how we can help you with your app or web project then give us a shout!