Written by Sam Yadegar on Dec 11, 2019

Sure, you’ve got an impressive, well-designed website — but is it set up to convert?

Here, you’ll find:

  • How site design plays into conversion rate optimization (CRO)
  • Ideas for reducing e-commerce cart abandonment
  • Ways to make pop-up ads work for you
  • How to leverage heat-mapping and click-mapping data

You know an attractive website is integral for drawing users in, and you’ve taken the time to build one that dazzles. The design is clean, the images are eye-catching, and you think it’s ready to go. But there could be one component missing.

Your website might not be designed to convert.

HawkSEM: How to Increase Conversions Through Website Design

For the vast majority of businesses today, their website is what brings in customers and makes sales. (Image via Unsplash)

If your page has a high bounce rate — meaning that people are visiting your page and leaving almost immediately — despite a great look, you may want to consider redesigning for CRO.

If you haven’t started designing yet, you can build your site the right way from the ground up and save time later.

Let’s go over what exactly a conversion rate is, why you should care about optimizing it, and some ways you can design your site for CRO.

Why you should care about CRO-focused website design

As we said above, CRO stands for conversion rate optimization. While “conversion” means different things depending on your company, industry, and goals, the idea is that a user who takes the action you want once they reach your site is converted.

Say you want them to browse through your e-commerce line and purchase the product that’s right for them, or you’re in the service industry and want visitors to request more info via a form.

In each case, the number of users who do so are conversions, and the number of conversions relative to the total number of people that visit your site is your conversion rate.

That rate is expressed as a percentage. Naturally, you want this to be as high as possible — that’s where conversion rate optimization comes in. For the vast majority of businesses today, their website is what brings in customers and makes sales.

If you haven’t implemented CRO-focused website design, you’re going to end up losing money. Smaller businesses are particularly at risk of dissolving into the ether if people can’t find them online.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be that way.

How do I improve my conversion rate?

You can optimize your website for maximum conversions by approaching design with a few simple rules in mind. Most of these guidelines revolve around user experience, and how intuitive your page is to visitors:

  • Don’t overwhelm the user with too many choices
  • Optimize your checkout process
  • Don’t bombard users with popups
  • Take advantage of heat-mapping and click-mapping data

Don’t overwhelm the user with too many options

This comes down to the paradox of choice: when confronted with an overwhelming number of things to choose from, people tend to burn out and not choose anything. This may seem counterintuitive — wouldn’t more choices mean happier users? Don’t people want more variety? Not necessarily.

Instead of including images of every clothing item you sell on your homepage, consider highlighting just one area (women’s jeans, for example) every week or so, and letting that item shine. If you’re worried you may turn people off who aren’t looking for that item, just make sure your top navigation bar makes it clear that there are other items on the site that might be more their taste.

Targeting a specific demographic not only helps you refine your message but lets you speak to the customers most likely to need or want your product.

This also goes for the design of your site. Design with your ideal customers in mind. Don’t confront them with too many buttons and sidebars — simple is almost always the way to go. Let them know exactly what’s available and where they need to go to get it. Guide them through each page with a good user experience (UX) design.

This also applies to calls-to-action (CTAs). It’s usually wise to include only one CTA button instead of several. Too many might make it unclear what the user is supposed to do first, and they’ll bounce from your site. Make sure buttons are clearly visible, appealing, and easily identified.

Pro tip: This may seem obvious, but design your site navigation menu to be easily navigable. Even the colors you use for certain elements on your page can have a significant effect.

Optimize your checkout process

You may think you’ve got the customer hooked when they get to the checkout phase, but beware. Cart abandonment — where users add items to their cart and leave them in limbo without paying — is a real issue. In fact, the global rate of cart abandonment as of 2019 is over 69%, according to Statista.

As the owner of your site, it’s your job to prevent that from happening as best you can. You want to be sure a customer’s curiosity converts to sales. One way to do that is to refine your checkout process, making it streamlined and simple for the user to get right through to the end. There are several ways to accomplish that, including:

  • Minimal data entry fields
  • Not having customers enter the same data multiple times
  • Prominently displaying shipping charges, taxes, and any other fees associated with the purchase (don’t surprise them at the end)
  • Having a preview of the customer’s item in the cart so they can review their purchase
  • Including multiple shipping options

No one likes a tedious checkout process. With CRO-focused website design, you can make your customers’ buying experience an easy one so they don’t give in to second thoughts and click away.

Don’t bombard users with pop-ups

This should go without saying, but being met with multiple pop-up ads, especially right away, may annoy potential customers.

This isn’t to say that they’re not effective or shouldn’t be used — it’s all about how, how often, and when. For instance, maybe you have one pop-up message when a user lands on your page with a special offer or incentive, like 15% off their purchase if they sign up for your email newsletter.

Even that may be too much, and some companies are ditching the entry pop-up all together. According to the Online Marketing Institute, it takes up to 13 interactions with your brand on average before a customer decides to buy, so a pop-up ad probably won’t be the thing to convince them, especially if it’s their first time visiting.

A better alternative? Exit-intent pop-ups. These activate when a user is about to leave the site after they’ve had a chance to look around. They’ve engaged with your product, know whether or not they like it, and are more likely to commit. In fact, exit-intent pop-ups can increase conversation rates by up to 27%.

HawkSEM: How to Increase Conversions Through Website Design

Click mapping can show you if those CTA buttons are actually working, or if almost no one is motivated to click them. (Image via Unsplash)

Take advantage of click-mapping and heat-mapping data

Heat-mapping software converts your page into a color-coded scale, with the “hotter” colors showing where users spend the most time, and cooler colors like blue showing where they spend less or no time at all. Click-mapping works on the same principle by showing you where on your pages users click the most.

Heat mapping can show, for example, how far a reader makes it through a post on your blog. Click mapping can show you if those CTA buttons are actually working, or if almost no one is motivated to click them. You can use this data to deduce what part of each page is getting the most traffic, and change your site design if that traffic doesn’t line up with your expectations.

The takeaway

Now that you’ve got a better idea of CRO-focused website design, you can start making the changes you need to get visitors converting into customers.

Use our tips to build a foundation, then branch out and research what’s right for you. The right tweaks could make a world of difference.

Need more assistance in the website department? We can help.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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