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August 11, 2016

5 Website Design Mistakes That Could Be Disrupting Your Conversions

Innovations in design technology have helped us tear down a lot of the barriers that prevented marketers and business owners from launching and easily managing their own websites.

Content management systems like WordPress and Joomla, eCommerce platforms like Shopify, and landing page generation services practically eliminate the need for developers and designers, making it easy for virtually anyone to get their business up and running in no time.

There’s a caveat to that accessibility though: throwing together a website in a simplified interface could hinder, or even completely kill, conversions on a website.

When assembling your content strategy, it’s important to remember that the entire purpose of your website is to score a conversion, whatever that looks like for you:

  • Consult requests
  • E-mail opt-ins
  • Free trial sign-ups
  • Blog shares or comments
  • Product purchases

According to a study from Larry Kim of WordStream, the average landing page conversion rate across several industries is just 2.35 percent. Since this is the average rate, that means many brands and industries saw significantly lower conversions.

There many conversion mistakes you can make while designing your site, but missing the mark on these five crucial elements can significantly tank your conversions:

1. Providing Too Many Options

Studies on every product imaginable such as 401(K)’s, jam, and chocolates have shown the same, debilitating effect too many choices can have on consumers.

The effect, known as Analysis Paralysis, states that the more options you present to an audience, the more difficult it’ll be for that audience to settle on one thing and make an efficient decision.

Offering too many choices on your site leads to higher bounce rates and a significant drop in conversions. This is why the most successful marketers create content and landing pages with just a single call-to-action.

However, offering plenty of choices doesn’t always kill conversions. I can’t recall a single time in my life where I walked away from a pub because they had too great a variety of beers on tap. Would you ever drag your kids away from an ice cream shop because there were too many flavors?

I still pick a brew, you still choose an ice cream, but the process might take a little longer and, for some customers, it can create fatigue.

The best practice? Try to reduce the number of choices available to make the selection process more streamlined, in addition to raising the number of conversions.

How to Take Action:

  • For tiered services, limit it to three instead of five or more;
  • Limit your call-to-action on a page to only one, or no more than two;
  • Remove navigation and distractions on landing pages to minimize choices and opportunities to exit;
  • Don’t reveal your entire catalog; show a smaller selection to make browsing easier.

2. Failing to Communicate Value

Your value proposition should be the first thing you communicate to your audience when they land on your website. It’s a quick pitch that tells them why they should bother sticking around.

If your audience doesn’t understand why they should buy from you, then they’re going to bounce back to the search results.

According to CRO expert Peep Laja, a good value proposition communicates three things:

  • How your product or service solves customers’ problems or improves their situation (relevancy)
  • Specific benefits (quantifiable value)
  • Why they should buy from you (unique differentiation)

You have to be crystal clear with your value proposition, because your customers won’t realize they need what you’re offering until you tell them. When your audience understands exactly what they’re buying and how it’ll benefit them, then it becomes obvious why they should choose you and you’ll see a lift in conversions.

How to Take Action:

  • Make your value proposition clear from the get-go on your landing pages;
  • Use headlines that communicate why something is worth purchasing;
  • Craft copy that supports the value proposition with benefit statements;
  • Use images that tell a story that supports the benefit statements.

3. Poor or Missing Calls-to-Action

Oftentimes, underperforming conversion rates can be attributed to the improper use or lack of call-to-actions. A call-to-action (CTA) is the most important element of your landing pages because it provides clear instructions on what the visitor should do next.

Every page on your site should be designed with a goal in mind, and the CTA is there to support that goal. A vague call-to-action won’t completely kill your conversions, but it will definitely hinder your growth.

How to Take Action:

  • Make your CTA stand out over other elements on the page; make it prominent;
  • The CTA should clearly state what happens if they proceed, such as ‘Start My Free Trial;’
  • Keep your CTA short but still communicate value; ‘Sign Up for Your Free eBook;’
  • Leverage urgency in your CTA; ‘Sign Up Today” or “Purchase Yours Today.’

4. Trust Elements Are Missing

When you’re up against some dense competition, you need to seriously evaluate how you’re positioning your business in front of the customer. If a customer pits you against a big brand or long-standing industry incumbent, then you have a lot to prove.

Well-known brands don’t have to prove that they’re trustworthy, but you certainly do.

Trust elements on your website can alleviate customer concerns about potentially buying junk or regretting the spend on your product/service. Inject trust signals throughout your site to build customers’ confidence and lift conversions.

How to Take Action:

  • Post authentic testimonials that include the identities and pictures of customers;
  • Share media mentions for your brand in major publications;
  • Show off customer data like subscriber counts, purchase volume or active users;
  • List your contact and support information prominently;
  • Highlight any security badges, certifications, awards, and memberships.

5. Lack of Visual Storytelling

I don’t know many people who would make a purchase without actually seeing the product. Most of us want to hold and touch something before we buy it, but that’s not possible online. It’s certainly impossible with something intangible like a service.

To compensate for that, you need visual cues to support your copy and tell the story. More than 40 percent of marketers say images are critical to their current marketing and storytelling strategies and for good reason: images boost conversions.

When 37Signals started using photos of customers on their landing pages, their conversions jumped by 102.5 percent.

Don’t just rely on text and generic stock images to communicate value. Use the right kind of visuals to engage your audience and boost conversions.

How to Take Action:

  • For products, use high-quality images from various angles;
  • Show pictures of people happily using your product or benefitting from your service;
  • Find ways to incorporate video, especially user-generated content and testimonials;
  • Make sure images are highly relevant and match up with the content on the page.

Have you improved conversions by fixing mistakes similar to these on your site? Share your success with me in the comments below.


avatar

Aaron Agius, CEO of worldwide digital agency Louder Online is, according to Forbes, among the world's leading digital marketers. Working with clients such as Salesforce, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, and scores of stellar brands, Aaron is a growth marketer - a fusion between search, content, social, and PR. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or on the Louder Online blog.

2 Responses to “5 Website Design Mistakes That Could Be Disrupting Your Conversions

    Excellent article, thank you for the information. I see a lot of sites having poor or missing CTA methods. I think in the age of mobile browsing, having a CTA button prominently displayed is paramount or the user will simply move on. Great information.

    avatar Rob Osborne says:

    Great post, some good ideas that I need to action on my site.

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