Designing with conversions in mind

Designing websites is hard, and designing sites that actually convert can often mean a shift in mindset for some designers.

We don’t just design to client requirements and ensure our sites are cross browser friendly; we need to consider how visitors use sites. And more importantly, how we ensure they convert. Ultimately, if our websites don’t perform, we won’t get those sought after referrals and new work.

So, what can we do to make our websites convert better? In this article we’ll explore several points to consider to make your website perform incredibly.

Know your visitor

This is the single most important thing when designing a new website. Getting it right involves striking a balance between achieving business objectives whilst meeting the needs of their customers. There are several things you can do before the design phase to get a genuine idea of what visitors are after.

Speak to visitors directly

Speaking to visitors directly is often the best way to get an idea of what they need from the new site. You can use emails, surveys or even the telephone to survey visitors on what they need and how they use the site. This also gives you the opportunity to find out more about them – are they technically minded? Do they use the website often? How do they use the website? And so on.

To quote the conversion rate experts – “Surveying your customers is the bedrock of a successful campaign”. And that’s exactly what they did when they doubled a travel companies and made them an extra 14 million a year!

Delve into analytics to see how the current website is being used

Opinions are great, but without evidence to back them up they can be misleading and potentially damaging to your efforts. This is where Analytics comes in very handy – most sites track their visitors using something like Google Analytics, so grab yourself a login and have a look around the various stats and content reports. These will show you where visitors are going and what they’re doing. If you’re feeling particular adventurous then check out the Visitor Flow page.

Design a clear path

Now you know what visitors are looking for, this should be the bedrock that leads your decisions moving forward.

Another commonly overlooked element of a website is how it interacts across multiple pages. Usually, visitors will look around various pages before converting; this is especially true if you run an ecommerce website, so it’s important to make sure a visitor is guided through your site to the ultimate end goal. KissMetrics does a very good job of leading visitors through their website while also making attempts to push the visitor to sign up at appropriate points in the site.

Usability tests and surveys are a fantastic way to verify that your initial designs and wireframes are on track. If your potential customers can navigate the site and complete your goal, you’re usually on the right path.

Make buttons and links easy to click

Sites need to be simple, and the most important part of your role as a user experience professional or web designer is to make sure users don’t have to think about how to use your site. If you want people to click through to the next step in the journey, you need to make it as easy as possible. Use large click areas, obvious links and clear buttons that contrast the page.

Subtle effects look great, but if it isn’t immediately obvious to visitors what they need to do next you’ll be throwing away potential conversions.

So far we’ve talked about reducing the risk of visitors dropping out of the site or not converting, but what can we do to help increase conversions? One simple and highly effective way to get conversions is to build trust with the visitor. The majority of visitors to a website are new, so we have to do it immediately.

Use social proof and testimonials

Building trust with new visitors is a must. We have a very limited number of seconds to get our new visitors on-board with the site and brand. Testimonials and social proofs are a fantastic way to do this. If you can offer text, picture and video testimonials, you can add massive credibility to the site which tells the visitor they are in the right place.

This isn’t always possible with the client; however, if you can get real genuine testimonials or social proofs onto the site then you’ll be in a much stronger position. There are a wealth of sites out there that use client logos and testimonials to devastating effect.

KissMetrics have a very strong customer page where they showcase all the brands that are using their product. This is backed up by individual testimonials and a strong call to action.

In conclusion

We have to do everything we can to stay competitive. Taking into account conversions and the user journey through our sites is the best way to do this. It means our clients get more out of their site, and we get referrals and case studies.

This of course isn’t just a skill; a whole industry has evolved around conversion rate optimisation. If you have any tips or tricks, we’d love to hear about them below.

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