Designing Websites for Conversion

February 7, 2018

Eric Small

Every web designer’s dream is to work on a site where they can create anything from the far expanses of their imagination, ignoring the boundaries of reality, functionality, timelines, and budgets to make something truly remarkable and unique. While attractive, that thought is never realistic when designing for real-world businesses. That being said, there are some projects that come across our radar that give us full freedom to make something really innovative and beautiful, allowing our team to flex their creative muscle and push the boundaries of design and development. These clients are utilizing their websites for purposes other than selling products or services, and usually aren’t concerned about how that website affects conversion to sales.

More often than not our clients want a beautiful, boundary-pushing website that also leads to conversion. Of course sales are important, these are businesses after all, but they want to look cool too. Why can’t they have a website that is well designed, but also leads to sales? Well, fortunately they can! Sure, some sacrifices need to be made to accommodate for the user’s buying process, but that doesn’t mean that their experience on the website needs to suffer for it. We’ve learned a few things over the years to help aid conversion. Making things look cool? Well you’ll have to talk to us directly about that one. We’ve put together a few of the considerations we make during our design process to help aid the conversion from site visitor to customer.

Understand your Target Audience

When you’re trying to sell something, you want to know as much about who you’re selling to as possible. Clearly define your target audience, and make sure that you understand how they think. Create profiles about potential customers and give them names. Imagine the theoretical people that you want to sell your product to; outline their personalities and lifestyles. Put yourself in their shoes. This may be an exercise in empathy, but it directly affects the appeal of a product presentation to a consumer.

Think about how site users will interact with your website. Are they more likely to view your site on a widescreen HD monitor, or an outdated smartphone? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle, but it’s an important perspective to take into account. Think about when a potential customer would particularly need your product or service. Would they be in front of a computer, or out in the world with a smartphone in their pocket? This line of thinking could greatly impact design decisions down the road.

So, you’ve identified your target audience. What visual cues do they respond to? A photo of a product on a white background might be great when selling items with subtle differences, but if you are taking an emotional approach, showing the product in use might be more effective. Some products or services being sold are extremely specific for a certain task or use, while others help consumers build their own personal identity. Is the target’s thought process logical or emotional? The approach to providing a visual identity for your product or service is extremely important when the target audience is considered.

When considering your target audience, it is important to understand how they typically buy products. Some individuals prefer to go to a brick and mortar store, while others would much rather buy online. Consider whether your perspective customer would rather check out through on online ecommerce platform or interact with a real member of your team. Some transactions make more sense over the phone, others are only hindered by bringing an employee into the mix.

Be Informative, Not Overbearing

It is always tempting to over explain how awesome your product or service is. You believe in the things you offer, why wouldn’t your target market? Well, they probably would if it was presented properly. Information overload is a real thing, and sometimes making the user dig for the knowledge they seek is better than hitting them with too much at once.

Lead your potential customer through the decision-making process. They aren’t going to buy from you because you have a big “add to cart” button. Tell them who you are, what you provide, and why they should get it from your corner of the market instead of your competition. Have a unique business model? You’ll need to explain what your product or service is. In a saturated market? Focus on what makes your business better than the rest. These things need to be communicated to your site visitor before you can engage in an effective sales pitch.

A great way to lead your potential customer through the decision-making process is by creating clear and informative information hierarchy throughout your website. Organize your navigation in a way that aligns with the user’s decision-making process. Give priority to the information that users are looking for, rather than to arbitrary things that every one of your competitors offer. Between two websites offering the exact same product or service, the way content is organized and prioritized can send completely different messages.

Break out the most important aspects of your product or service into easily digestible tidbits of information. Most web surfers aren’t going to read gigantic blocks of copy. Case and point, you’ve probably only made it this far into this post because you’re interested in what the title communicated to you. Grab attention in easily decipherable text or images. If you can communicate something more easily via visual mediums, don’t waste the space that heavy blocks of copy take up. If the user wants to read more, they should have the opportunity to do so on deeper pages of the site.

Create Clear Calls to Action

Nothing is worse than not being able to get what you want, when you want it. In the realm of web design, this could manifest itself through a difficult to find purchase or contact button, or a complicated conversion process that creates a poor user experience, potentially losing a sale. This leads to frustration and users will end up trying to find what they are looking for somewhere else. Avoid this situation on your own website by creating clear, directed calls to action.

An easy way to make the user take note of how to become a customer is by making the conversion step stand out. Save a specific accent color, change up content, or devote entire sections to make your call to action stand out visually from the rest of the page. This could be something that exists permanently in the static design or is revealed unexpectedly upon hovering an area. Whichever route is decided upon, the call to action should visually stand out from the content surrounding it.

Calls to action should also be directed. Assume your potential customer just doesn’t know any better. Tell them what action they should perform. “Contact Information” might be appropriate for the information on the page they are navigating to, but “Buy Now” or “Get a Free Quote” are far more enticing and relatable to their current decision-making process, and thus, far more effective. Instruct the site user to perform an action instead of expecting them to intrinsically know the best (or preferred) way to interact with your company.

Make sure your calls to action are easily locatable. Use easily findable locations on the various pages of your website to help create repetition in the site user’s mind. If they see the same conversion button or phone number in the top right portion of the screen on the first few pages they visit, they will expect to find it there on every page. This is extremely valuable for the exact moment that a site visitor decides to become a customer. At the time that a visitor has made their purchasing decision, the website needs to convert them into a customer as quickly and effortlessly as possible. If the visitor has seen the same call to actions in the same places on each page they have visited, they will know exactly where to navigate to become a customer.

Last Thoughts

While the limitations of creating a website to convert visitors into customers might not be the dream project for most starry-eyed design students, we’ve embraced the challenge to make sites that are both well designed and effective. By understanding our clients’ target audiences, being tactful with information hierarchy, and creating clear calls to action we’ve found a way to create beautiful, engaging websites that also lead to sales for our clients.

 

 

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