While many people think of web design as the practice of making a website “prettier," it can actually be a tool used to help achieve an outcome. A common goal of web design boils down to one objective: get more people to buy from you. Whether you're consulting or selling physical or digital products, your web design probably exists to make your business more money.
You don't have to change much about the aesthetics of your site to potentially see a rise in performance. There are many ways to improve your design without affecting much about how your site looks and feels. The following eight tips can potentially improve your site's design and help create better outcomes on your website.
1. Start tracking your site's conversions.
A pillar of design is eliminating bottlenecks. Truly good design often gives the customer just enough style and structure to achieve their goal, and then gets out of the way.
But you'll need to first identify those bottlenecks. You can do this for free with services like Google Analytics. Start looking for pages that have high bounce rates (that is, pages where people visit only one page and leave), low conversion rates (using Goals) and slow loading pages. These three metrics alone can give you a quick snapshot of how your website is performing.
2. Use A/B testing to test different variations of your web design.
Now that you're getting some baseline data from Analytics, you can start testing assumptions. Google Optimize is a free A/B testing service that can test different components of your website to see what produces the best results. Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely are two services that aren't free but also provide A/B testing.
For example, you could test call-to-action colors, headlines and images to find the best conversion rates for these elements, and update your web design based on those findings.
3. Work on your unique value proposition.
I've found that the unique value proposition (UVP) is usually the weakest part of most business's website. Within the context of web design, a UVP is how effectively you convey your value with the design elements—copy, layout and graphics—on your website.
This may sound extremely elementary, but it's surprising how often I'll visit a business's website and leave without learning what exactly that business does or how it could help me.
If it isn't apparent to your ideal customer how your business can solve their problem within a few seconds of landing on your website, you may want to go back to work on your company's UVP.
You can do this by putting yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer. Try to view your website through their eyes. What are they searching for and how can you help them? You could also improve your design by focusing on specific benefits of your service or product as opposed to features, and why you might be better than the competition. Consider showing helpful videos and graphics that back up your point, and using navigational features that point the customer to more information.
4. Stop using technology that hurts you.
When it comes to design, people often get caught up in things that are flashy and complicated. Adding complexity for the sake of appearance when it doesn't move the conversion needle might not be the best idea.
If you're going to introduce an element that adds complexity, consider making sure that it actually improve conversions. If the technology is in place and it doesn't help your conversion rate, I would suggest getting rid of it.
5. Reduce complexity of your site.
In 2016 Google partnered with performance monitoring company SOASTA to use big data to monitor over a billion tracked points of data from online retailers. They distilled the data down to find that the more complex a webpage was, the less likely it was to convert. The study found that the slower the webpage loaded with these elements, the more likely the visitor was to leave the site without taking any action.
As a general rule it's best to only use as many images and videos as absolutely essential.
6. Shrink your images.
With this in mind, a quick and effective way to improve your site's loading times is shrinking your image file size. Images are often the biggest detriment to page loading times, but you can easily shrink images down to a fraction of their original size without sacrificing quality.
You don't have to change the dimensions of your image to give the image a smaller download size. There are tools you can download, as well as online versions that will take the image and reduce the file size 30-70 percent without making any visible change to the image quality.
Also, you'll generally find that JPEG files are much smaller and faster than PNG files. Aim to use JPEG if you can.
7. Fine-tune your design for mobile.
Is a good chunk of your total site traffic coming from mobile devices? Having a mobile design strategy in place can help you accommodate these users.
This means designing for mobile devices independently of desktop computers. We use our phones differently than computers, so the experience should be different, too. Because there is less screen real estate on mobile devices, consider prioritizing content on each webpage. You may want to use a responsive design layout that adjusts your site's design based on whether the customer is viewing it on a computer, tablet or phone.
8. Create contrasting call-to-action buttons
A/B testing can be daunting because of the vast number of things you can potentially test. But I usually test the call-to-action button (CTA) first.
The CTA is the button that's used to get the user to complete an action, like signing up for a newsletter. CTAs are important because they are usually the most important element that you want your visitors to click. However, companies often use bland or passive colors as their action buttons.
I've found that the exact color doesn't matter as much as how much it contrasts with other elements on the page. Try testing bold, bright colors that aren't already used in your color palate. Greens, reds and blues are a great place to start.
Before you start planning a wholesale redesign of your website, consider focusing on improving elements on your website that make the most difference to your site's objectives—and that can help make your company more money. Things like headlines, call-to-action buttons and more concise messaging can oftentimes make a much bigger difference to your bottom line than rebranding.
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