Website conversion, put very simply, is how well your website “converts” a casual browser into one who acts.
Although the specific “action,” depends on your goal and site type – blog/informational, direct sales/mini-site, e-commerce retail shop, etc. – a website can only be considered effective when it achieves your intended goal. That’s the key.
I’m redundantly breaking down website conversion in this way to get you thinking about the critical question: “What is my website designed to do?”
What goal do you expect it to achieve? Get specific and keep this objective in mind while we cover five website conversion basics below. To be considered effective, your website must:
1. Use Navigation and Design to Direct (actions) and Serve (audiences)
And not just any audiences – yours. When people come to your website, they are there to achieve a goal. The good news is the action you want them to take and the action they are there to achieve is the same, but articulated differently.
For example, you want visitors to buy your grant-writing book. Visitors want information about grant writing. What a match. And while they probably didn’t come “to buy,” they have come in search of information.
According to expert Jakob Nielsen: “Users don’t see stuff that’s right on the screen. Selective attention makes people overlook things outside their focus of interest.”
You can capitalize on that fact by leading potential customers right to the goods:
* Is your site designed in such a way to allow them to easily achieve their goal?
* Can they navigate easily … or are they easily lost?
* Does your site load sluggishly, causing visitors to bail before seeing your offer?
* What information does your average user most want, and is this provided in the right away?
In other words, is the path to your desired goal – a sale – perfectly clear?
If you’re even slightly uncertain, meet with a business Web designer who has a marketing background – or one who at least understands website conversion and results-focused design – to discuss ways to streamline, focus and direct your Web traffic.
2. Remove Anonymity to Boost Credibility
Does your site offer an e-mail address or a contact form? Does it offer a phone number and a P.O. box?
There’s nothing wrong with having those things, but having them and ‘embodying’ them are two very different Mohicans. Website conversion suffers drastically from excessive anonymity.
Exactly what are you hiding from? Better yet, why?
According to Stanford Web Credibility Research: “Make it easy to contact you. A simple way to boost your site’s credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address and e-mail address.”
Hint: Solopreneurs can use a service like Mail Boxes Etc. for a physical address.
Remember, most customers in most industries don’t want that “big business” feel; they want to be able to associate a face and a name with the company to which they’re about to give their money.
3. Choose a Website Size and Layout Suitable for Your Audience
You don’t want your visitors to say your website doesn’t suit them, do you?
Analyze your website’s stats. Find the most common screen size and use that information to make design and layout decisions.
No website just yet? For a simple site with seldom-changing content, try a resolution of 1024×768 to accommodate the narrower screen widths of those running a little behind the times.
Don’t feel pressured to use “responsive design” if all you have is a simple three-page website for a service-based business, with content that never changes. A fluid-width website with a companion mobile site can be more than sufficient.
Likewise, if you have a blog or frequently changing news section on your website and want this information reflected across all media channels – desktop and mobile – it may then be in your best interest to take your “fluid width” website a step further, to consider a completely responsive design.
Here, website conversion rates hinge upon how well your content adapts to the user’s needs and how accessible you’ve made it.
4. Use Font to Convey Credibility… and Personality
Font choices add character to webpages and logos. They play a very important role in your audience’s perception of your business – and of you.
Don’t think something as silly as the appearance of words on a page would have any effect on website conversion?
“Research has shown that the typeface (i.e., font) that is chosen for a website conveys mood, attitude and tone; and can impact the perception of a company’s credibility.”
“Web pages presented in either a neutral or inappropriate typeface resulted in lower ratings for trust, professionalism and believability.”
[Source: S. Furman, Usability.gov - "Credibility"]
Unless marketing directly to children, avoid using kiddy-style fonts like the dreaded Comic Sans (good heavens!). Even when marketing to children it is not the best choice.
5. Use Colors to Influence Action
Color plays a critically important subliminal role on your website. For example, green is often referred to as a “concentration” or “harmony” color. On long-copy sales pages that feature a lot of text (where website conversion increases the longer they read), use of a green border, highlights, or background could be a very good move.
However, take care to note the nuances between meanings in different shades of the same color. For instance, in some sources, dark green is seen as a money color, while only the standard Kelly green would be the concentration color. Sometimes, the effects you want can be interchangeable between color shades, but not always.
You can use color to your advantage, to make your website visitors feel energized, relaxed, focused, scared, angry, more prepared to buy – almost any effect you can think of. The important thing to note when attempting to increase website conversion in this way, however, is to use colors that contrast enough to prevent parts of your website from becoming invisible for color-blind users.
Color blindness is definitely a consideration when using this website conversion tip. When designing with this disability in mind, you should avoid green because the most common type of color-blindness (99 percent) is the red/green deficiency.
For more information on color psych, read the Psychological Properties of Colors. It offers interesting details on how color can influence.
The Reveal: There are certain foundational principles every website must implement to be worth an organization’s time and investment.
Does your website make the grade? If not, begin tackling and testing the above five aspects one-by-one. Website conversions will surely, and quickly, increase.
Harmony Major began building business websites and marketing online in 1999, converting her e-biz to full-time in less than one year – at age 19. These days, she does simple, conversion-focused websites and redesigns for service professionals, non-profits, and minority- and woman-owned businesses. Find Harmony at: ExcellentPresence.com or blog: http://blog.excellentpresence.com