10 secrets to high-converting websites
There are a lot of good looking websites out there. There are also a lot of not so good looking websites. But while good design is an important factor when it comes to website conversions, if you focus too much on the latest design trends and not enough on the principles of conversion, you may end up diverting user attention away from the information and actions that matter. Without applying the key principles of conversion, it doesn’t matter how good your site looks, you could be missing out on lots of business!
To help you create a website that converts, we reveal our top 10 secrets to high-converting websites…
1. Define ‘conversion’
Seems so obvious we almost didn’t put it in here, but since you’re reading this, we’ll assume you want to convert more on your website, so it’s pretty important we first define what a ‘conversion’ is.
A conversion differs from website to website, but essentially, conversion is what you want the person visiting your website to do. So think about it, do you want your users to:
- Book a call with you
- Sign up to your newsletter
- Make a purchase
- Request a demo
- Start a free trial
If you have chosen more than one thing off this list, nul points for you.
The secret here is to choose just one overarching goal and drive all users towards that one goal (we’ll cover micro-conversions later). By focusing your attention on one key desired action that will lead to actual business growth, you can better design a website to funnel users to that action, even if you don’t manage to convert them all on their first visit.
2. Design matters
While the overall look of your website is not everything when it comes to a high-converting website, it is a great place to start. You won’t get a second chance to create a great first impression, right? And this post from ConversionXL shows that first impressions are 94% design related.
Design plays an important and foundational role in encouraging your users to convert. Breaking up content with visual elements can help make your content more digestible and will help keep your audience engaged, and keeping your audience engaged could ultimately make all the difference when creating a new conversion.
For help with designing a high-converting website, we advise you to speak to one of our many web design experts, but here’s a quick breakdown of our top design tips for creating a high-converting website:
- Use your layout and images to guide the user’s eye to your key text and CTA.
- Use images that your target audience can relate to or better yet aspire to.
- Make sure that your colour palette is accessible. You can use a site like Color Safe to make sure your colour palettes are based on WCAG Guidelines of text and background contrast ratios.
- Don’t be afraid to use white space.
- Do make sure your most important content sits ‘above the fold’ (the upper part of your website that the user does not need to scroll down to see).
- Make sure that your website is just as good on mobile as it is desktop (see secret 8).
- Make sure your images and design do not cause a delay in your website loading speed (see secret 9).
3. Content that converts
Put another way – define and clearly highlight your value proposition. Your value proposition should hit your audience through your headlines, images, copy and should quickly let the user know how you are going to solve their problem and how you are different from your competitors (USP). Multiple marketing experiments recommend that your USP should be summarized in 10 words or less.
Some top tips for creating content that converts are:
- Write with clarity and conversion front of mind.
- Write with a sense of urgency.
- Make use of strong call-to-actions (CTAs) throughout the website that compliment the natural thought process of the user.
For more information on writing website copy, read our latest article on how to create content that converts.
4. Clear CTA
The first section of your homepage is the best place to grab a user’s attention. This top section that sits ‘above the fold’ is often referred to as the ‘hero’ section, but whether it comes to your rescue or not is largely down to your CTA.
CTA stands for ‘call-to-action’. CTAs are typically displayed as clickable buttons that take the user to the main point of conversion. It’s likely that you will have multiple CTAs on your site, so it’s essential that your main CTA stands out from the others and demands an obvious action that appeals to your audience.
A top tip for CTAs is to make sure your designer knows which CTAs are most important so they can create a hierarchy in their look and positioning. A good designer will also design content, images and layout to draw the user directly to the main CTA.
5. Less is more
The concept of ‘less is more’ is not just a minimalist artist vibe, the concept actually plays to our natural instincts. Did you know that humans instinctively prefer simpler things because there is less chance for unexpected surprises? Once you create your first draft of a website design, take a close look to see what you can remove. Do you really need all those links on the header? Do you need all that text? Is every image essential?
Stripping your site back to the absolute essentials will remove confusion, help you communicate more clearly, and lead the user more effectively to your desired action, that is, convert.
6. No one likes change
There’s a fine line between standing out from the crowd and confusing users with an overload of gifs and unusual animations. Of course, feel free to express your brand in a unique way, but for optimum conversions, stick to some of the more standard rules of website design. While you might think it quite ‘kooky’ to place a navbar in weird and wonderful places, know that your user may not appreciate this ‘scavenger hunt’ CTA approach.
In general, users like familiarity, by being able to identify something from past knowledge, makes the processing time much quicker. Quicker processing time can lead to the user finding what they were looking for quicker and therefore quicker and more successful conversions.
7. Don’t forget about micro conversions
There are two types of conversions, macro and micro. Macro conversions are the action of a user that leads to direct revenue growth for your business. Typically, a macro conversion is when your user buys something from you. However, not all of your users are going to be ready to convert on their first visit. Did you know it can take up to 8 marketing touches for the average user to convert? So you converted a decent 30% of your users, great work, but what about that remaining 70%, lost and never to return?
This is where micro-conversion comes into play. Here are some examples of some micro-conversion CTAs you can include in your website design:
- Getting visitors to sign up to your email list
- Luring visitors to sign up for a free trial
- Asking users to fill out your contact form
By capturing the user’s details, you’ll have more opportunities to nurture them with insightful information and shout about how much your customers love you until they’re ready to make that ultimate conversion.
8. Mobile first
Have you created a wonderful desktop website and then thought, ‘I guess we should make sure it looks ok on a mobile too’ ? Join the big club. But unfortunately, Google does not apply the same order of priority when ranking your site.
In 2015 Mobile search officially overtook desktop search, and when this happened, Google made it very clear that mobile is critical to search when they started using mobile–first indexing. This means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking.
By making sure your website is just as good on mobile as it is on a desktop will not only help you convert more of those mobile users, it will also make sure you rank better on Google. So thinking mobile first really is a win-win.
While their forever-changing algorithms can be annoying, Google has tried to help people out with their mobile website tester. This test can quickly tell you whether your site is functioning well on a mobile device.
9. Fast loading
Don’t underestimate the impact that website loading speed can have on conversions. We’re an impatient race, to say the least, and the stats back this up showing just how long users are willing to wait for a site to load. Spoiler alert, it’s less than 1 second!
According to Portent, “When pages load in less than 1 second, the average conversion rate is almost 32%. At a 1-second load time, the conversion rate already drops to 20%.”
For optimal conversions, you should be aiming for a 0-4 second load time.
10. Testing, testing
Once you’ve made all these super-power conversion changes to your website, how do you know if they’ve made a difference? One way could be to simply benchmark the number of conversions and the percentage of conversions from users against your old website. You could then compare how many conversions you were you getting before the changes vs how many you are getting now? However, a big problem with this type of benchmarking is that you’ll never know for sure if there aren’t some external factors affecting the numbers.
The best way to test the effectiveness of changes to your website is to run A/B testing. This is where 50% of users see your old website and 50% of users see your new website. You then compare these figures.
With websites like Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer, setting up A/B testing is relatively easy. The difficult part is choosing which tests to run and how many changes to make before each test. No doubt you’ll be in a hurry to make all the changes at once, but if you have a bit more time available, try and make some incremental changes to the site, so that you can really pinpoint what changes are most successful and fully optimise each change before moving on to the next.