When a user visits a website, their first impression of the site is made in a matter of seconds. A number of factors influence this impression, including the overall aesthetics, the availability of information, and its ease of use. Why is it so important? Better first impressions help conversions. Depending on the nature of your business, a conversion might be anything from getting a user to fill out a contact form to selling a product, but the fundamentals are the same for any site. Finding a balance of these factors that will leave a positive first impression can be difficult, but a key tactic to keep in mind is simplicity.
With websites affording the ability to present a myriad of information, it’s tough sometimes to narrow it down to the important stuff. Creating a clear hierarchy of information – both visually and structurally – is the first step in funneling users toward conversions. This often constitutes breaking the site up into just a few clear-cut sections with concise, relevant names to help navigate through it, directing users to the information they want as quickly as possible.
The next step is being sure to include helper links or buttons with a clear call to action, preferably on every page. These calls to action should have straightforward and actionable language – things as basic as ‘Buy Now!’ or ‘Contact Us’ can be very effective.
So how does design tie into all of this? Once the information on each page has been simplified, the same needs to happen for design. Newer trends in web design are moving toward an overall clean and minimal look, which can cater well toward defining a visual hierarchy. Keeping the page uncluttered lends itself to better focus points on the page, which is important in garnering conversions. Here are some design elements that can help gear a page toward a higher conversion rate:
- Easy-to-read typography – while decorative fonts have their place, they can often be difficult to decipher. If the user has to squint or spend more than a millisecond to try to read something, they’re less likely to have much vested interest in it. Typography should be clean and not oversized or undersized. Especially on mobile layouts, text that is too large takes up a lot of visual real estate, and text that’s too small is impossible to read without zooming.
- Prominent calls to action – using bright, contrasting colors and elements like buttons or heavy typography can help call attention to the calls-to-action on the page. The action itself is what triggers the conversion, so make sure the action is clear and easy to see. They should also be positioned above the fold as much as possible, so that they don’t take much effort or scrolling to see.
- Grouped information – keeping similar information visually grouped on a page helps the user assess what they’re looking at. Using headlines to define each group, as well as visual elements such as dividers or boxes, can assist in accomplishing this. This will also give you an opportunity to control the visual flow of information. Be careful not to use too many different groupings, boxes, or dividers though – they can make a page cluttered or choppy when overused.
- Clean design – an overall clean and polished look can do wonders for a site. Aesthetics are important for a lot of reasons, from branding to general perception, but they can be utilized to direct focus as well. The use of consistent design elements makes it easier to determine the function and importance of items on a page, i.e. links and buttons. Pair this with a page that isn’t cluttered, and the intake and processing of information becomes quick and second nature as the user browses.
Optimizing web design for conversions is a hefty topic with complex detail and a multitude of information available about it, but learning some of the basics can help fine-tune a site and help move it in the right direction.