In today’s digital world, business owners everywhere recognize that having a website is a crucial component to success. Not only does the web provide you with a platform for spreading your brand and engaging with your customer base, but it’s also a one-stop-shop for e-commerce, promotion, deals, advertising and market research. You’ve probably put a lot of effort into making your website look appealing, or at least into making sure it has all the necessary information it needs to represent your business online.
However, the main purpose of your website is to convert clicks into purchases — and sometimes, your site misses the mark. Maybe you’re getting strong engagement and high numbers of visitors, but those positive attributes just aren’t translating into a measurable monetary impact on your business. In this case, you may feel that the money you’re putting into building and maintaining your website isn’t worth it.
That doesn’t mean you should give up, however. There are typically a few concrete reasons why your website isn’t leading to many conversions, many of which can be traced back to specific design traits inherent in your site. And if you can detect them, you can fix them — and get your website running the way that it should be. To get you started, here are six possible reasons why your current web design just isn’t working, and what you can do to improve.
The number one design aspect that affects conversion rates is the call to action — a button, instruction or other element of your website that explicitly tells users what you want them to do. This could take the form of a button that says “sign up now,” or a field for users to enter their email with the instruction to “subscribe,” or a phone number that tells customers to “call now.” No matter the form it takes, your call to action should be clear, prominent and somehow distinguished from the other design elements of the page.
That means the call to action should be the most easily noticeable aspect of your web design; your eyes should be drawn to it immediately, and there should be no doubts in your mind when looking at it as to what exactly the page is asking you to do. Don’t be shy about repeating it, either; you shouldn’t just localize the call to action on one page, but instead have it on multiple pages so that customers can click it if they are galvanized by something they read or see on a particular page.
With so many options available for your website design these days — from galleries, to social media feeds, to other widgets that blink and flash and ostensibly attract viewers’ attention — it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of building your site and forget about the number one rule of design: simplicity. One or two cool features here or there can be incredibly effective in making your page stand out, but adding numerous components that each try to draw attention to their corner of the site can just end up frustrating users instead.
Overall, just keep in mind that it’s not about throwing everything possible at your viewers and seeing what sticks — instead, pick one or two focused elements to focus on your page, and build around those. Visually, you want a clean look instead of a cluttered one; focus on making the elements that you care about most, like your call to action, stand out, while the rest of the site should be designed and laid out to emphasize not more than a couple of elements per web page. And when the urge to add more cool features and widgets comes up, just imagine your viewers’ eyes going all over the page, not knowing where to look, and then giving up. It’s a situation you want to avoid.
Your website is more than the sum of its parts — meaning that it’s not just a collection of individual pages, but a cohesive platform that should contain components that work well together and merge seamlessly into each other. The hallmark of this quality is your site’s navigation — how a user can get from one page to another, and how this informs their overall experience with your website. Simply put, you need your navigation to be easy to use, but also effective — directing your audience to the page where they can purchase your product, sign up to receive updates, or contact you.
How do you edit your navigation to maximize the user experience? First, you should have only a few pages to start with — don’t make it confusing or too complex. Decide whether you’ll have a menu along the top with all of the options listed, or a “hamburger” menu (a three-bar icon) that drops down to give viewers a vertical list of choices. Order your pages in a way that makes sense, and consider bolding or highlighting the page that contains the call to action — “Contact Us” or “Shop Now”. And if your site is scrolling rather than page-based, make sure that each section flows well into the next one and seems to have a logical progression.
You know instinctively that graphic design and aesthetics are important to the user experience, but it’s crucial to understand how your page’s appearance affects whether or not viewers will choose to stay on it (and hopefully purchase something). The colors, fonts and images you use should all work together in an appealing fashion; for example, use complementary colors, and stick to two or three (two complementary colors and a neutral, like white) to keep the design simple and pleasing to the eye.
Likewise, stick to one or two fonts (you can vary them with different sizes and weights) in order to maintain simplicity and unity. Your images shouldn’t be generic stock photos; viewers can spot this from a mile away, and instantly grow suspicious. Instead, use photos that are relevant to your site and its content specifically. You should also evaluate your site from a holistic perspective; its aesthetic appeal is reflective of its professionalism and quality, and if your site looks sloppy or poorly put together, this will affect the number of people who choose to do business with you.
Nothing turns users off from browsing your site quite like popup ads. These windows, which appear automatically and can usually only be closed after a few seconds, are one of the most prominent advertising techniques and certainly ensure that whatever you’re trying to promote (a sale, deal, sign-up offer, etc.) can’t be ignored. However, this must be weighed against the annoyance factor, which can lead people to simply give up on your site if they are experiencing too many of these types of ads and no longer want to continue looking, as dealing with them isn’t worth the effort.
That’s why using popups is a balancing act — between advertising your content effectively and keeping your customers engaged. If you choose to use them at all (from a design and conversion perspective, the suggestion would be to avoid them if possible), do so sparingly — not more than one such popup per page (or even stick to one per site if possible). Also make it easy for your viewer to click out of if they so choose. However, you can also improve the content that’s in the actual popup add to make using it more worthwhile — if it’s something that actually attracts the user’s attention rather than annoying them, you may be able to use these ads for conversions.
These days, so much of internet browsing is done on mobile platforms that you can absolutely assume people will be accessing your website from phones or tablets. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure that your site is responsive — that it automatically changes its layout and sizing based on the device it’s being viewed on. Otherwise, a desktop-sized web page on a cell phone-sized screen looks way too tiny, or is weirdly zoomed in, and will be nearly impossible for anyone to use.
While most web development platforms incorporate responsiveness automatically into their product, you should still check your site’s design to make sure that it looks good on mobile and that it is easy to use. You may have to end up shifting some things around, but ultimately, it is worth it for the effect that it can have on your conversion rate, especially with so many people coming to your site from mobile platforms.
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