Business owners are naturally inclined to want a website that dazzles customers. Indeed, they want an online experience they can be proud of, and one they feel is an accurate extension of their brand. However, they often neglect features that make their website user-friendly and forget to include elements that lead to higher sales conversions. Of course, when you merge eye-catching design with usability best practices, you can create a website that drives value for the user and the company by delivering a cohesive and well-designed experience from top to bottom that attracts shoppers and leads to sales conversions.
High-converting websites highlight valuable information upfront
Audiences these days are fickle. With all the countless distractions in life, including funny articles on BuzzFeed and gossip on Facebook, consumers bounce from websites without giving them a second thought. To retain more of your website visitors, place value-added information on every landing page in highly-visible areas. Then, link to related pages that offer additional content your audience may enjoy.
Many top-performing websites strategically use action-oriented copy early in the user’s journey to provide a visceral sense of what they have to gain from purchasing the seller’s product or service.
High-quality, engaging imagery is spread throughout the experience
Twenty years ago, when download speeds were still measured in kilobytes, you could get away with having a text-heavy website, mostly because users were not interested in waiting five minutes for images to load. In Internet time this seems like centuries ago, and now it is difficult to imagine successful enterprise websites that do not utilize high-quality imagery in numerous ways.
Pictures of people, in particular, have shown to be very powerful when it comes to increasing engagement. Through a series of A/B tests, graphic designer Jamie Dihiansan and data analyst Noah Lorang at Highrise, a popular CRM software for small businesses, discovered that a prominent photo of a smiling person on a landing page could increase their signups by more than 102%.
Negative space guides the audience through the visual journey
When you think of websites that effectively utilize negative space, a certain search & online services company probably comes to mind. There are several reasons why the Google homepage is arguably the most iconic landing page in history. Its simplicity in form factor and clear sense of how to interact are definitely important, but not to be overlooked is the vast amount of negative space on the thinly-adorned search page.
One of the main reasons that negative space is so important in web design is that it sends the viewer’s eye to more prominent design elements on the page. Its inclusion allows your innovative design pieces to truly pop and renders them indelible in the mind of your audience.
A fast, functioning, and fluid mobile experience
If you hope to drive conversions through your website, the intuitiveness and design of your mobile experience must be equally as good as your brand’s desktop experience.
Not only does almost every customer use multiple connected devices at this point, but Forrester research concludes that over two-thirds of users switch between devices while completing common tasks. Users will notice instantly if the mobile experience is lacking in any way, especially if they have also been viewing the site on a traditional web browser. Your mobile interface needs to be tested as rigorously as any other component from the user’s perspective to ensure a cohesive journey regardless of whether they reach for a mouse or a touchscreen.
Incorporate color theory to drive powerful psychological responses
Humans respond to the use of color in dramatic and distinct ways, and designers of all media backgrounds have long used color to generate specific psychological responses in their audiences. When it comes to the world of website design, color choice is a perfect candidate for simple A/B testing.
For instance, Performable enacted a test to see if their CTA button converted more frequently in green or in red; no other aspects of the page were changed. While we intuitively associate green with “go” and red with “stop,” the red button resulted in an increase in conversions by 21%. Not only does red convey a sense of urgency, but it contrasted well with the rest of the elements on the page.
The golden rules of CTAs: clarity, consistency, and logic
If there is a single element that virtually every successful website shares, it is a prominent and effective call-to-action. It is the element on the page that ensures all of the work put into other design elements was not in vain.
Well-designed CTAs are first and foremost clear: the reader should be able to distinguish their position on the page immediately. They are also consistent: upon first glance, the viewer should know exactly what is being promised if they click through, and the following page should then deliver on that promise. Finally, they move the buyer logically through the site, corresponding to various checkpoints in the sales funnel.
Tie up loose ends in the checkout process
Ignore the functional and aesthetic design of the checkout experience at your own peril. While a conversion may seem like a foregone conclusion at this stage, since the buyer has already indicated that the product is valuable to them at the stated price, a well-designed checkout process is actually an important facilitator of the experience.
Some of the most important features of an effective checkout process include: displaying a visual layout of items in the shopping cart, including security badges and credit card company logos to instill confidence, allowing users to update quantities or remove items directly from the cart, displaying shipping options before getting to the final checkout page, and providing intuitive product recommendations.
The user experience is always paramount
A sales-driven website is only as good as its weakest element. Every feature of the user experience needs to be tested thoroughly, both independently and in conjunction with each other, to ensure that the buyer can comfortably move from one phase to the next without impediments.
You can have the most compelling customer testimonials, filled with high-quality data from reliable sources, but they will not help you much if they are embedded in a layout that is difficult to parse, or if the links are hidden in a way that make them largely inaccessible. Websites that are optimized for conversion are a beautiful combination of art and science; they allow the user to appreciate the visual design of the pages, possibly without even knowing it, while logically nudging them along the sales funnel effectively.
Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company. He also does marketing at Conversio (your all-in-one ecommerce marketing dashboard), Tenfold (your modern phone intelligence platform) and Big Drop Inc. (your preferred web design and development partner) . To connect, tweet him @dannywong1190 or message him on LinkedIn. For more of his clips, visit his portfolio.