How to Design User Experience to Increase Conversions

How to Design the User Experience to Increase Conversions

You’ve just built your client what you think is a dynamite, new website. It looks cool, displays all of the social media buttons on the homepage, and maybe even took faster than you expected to complete.

So what about designing for the user experience, so that your client’s conversions drastically increase? If you didn’t plan the design of your new site around this main concern, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board!

Web designers should always have two questions on their minds when they begin the conception of any site they’re working on: How can I create a good user experience, and how can I design to increase conversions? Conversions don’t just apply to your basic ecommerce or B2B websites; they apply to ALL websites because conversions don’t have to be straightforward purchases. They can be signing up for email alerts from news or political websites or inputting personal information in order to get access to a health newsletter from a medical site.

In short: Conversions are what web design is all about since virtually every website wants to get users and site visitors to do something or perform an action on their sites.

The best way to increase conversions is by ensuring that your site’s user experience is top-notch and leaves nothing to chance. If you’re not designing with greater conversions in mind for your clients, then you’re not doing a good job.

Don’t worry, though. Here, we want to share with you some surefire methods of creating an amazing user experience for any site visitor that are certain to get your client’s conversions jumping in no time.

Make Everything on Your Site Very Clear

People prefer simplicity over complexity any day of the week. Users prefer websites that are extremely clear in both their site copy and presentation. As a web designer, it’s your number one job to make sure that they get this no-hassle and straightforward experience.

One of the first places you should start is with the all-important value proposition of your site. Let’s say you’re building either an ecommerce site (geared more toward selling products) or a B2B site (geared more toward selling services). The value proposition should tell users immediately why this site has something they want that they can’t get from any of its competitors.

This hook, if you will, should be positioned on the homepage of the website, obviously so that prospects and leads who find your site through organic search results can’t miss it. The value proposition has to succinctly articulate what about the website makes it stand out from its competitors. It has to be improved until it can be expressed in just one, short and sweet sentence on the homepage.

While we’re on the very important topic of keeping everything super-clear, you should eliminate all nonsensical jargon (read: extremely technical language) in the site copy of any site that you design. Even if the site you design is, for example, in the business of selling something super-complicated or super-unexciting, like power plant equipment, the site copy should be kept conversational, casual and very easy to understand.

Zendesk is a great example of how to make everything on your homepage very clear.

Zendesk Homepage

Optimize Your Navigation Bar

The navigation bar or menu on any site is what your users look to for guidance as they try to make sense of your site, so help their user experience by giving them a navigation menu that addresses their needs. Essentially, the navigation bar has to empower users to find everything they want on a website in the most efficient manner possible.

There can be nothing more frustrating to users or site visitors than not being able to find their way around a website. That’s a sure way to discourage them from staying on your site or visiting it again in the future. Every lost site visitor, of course, represents a lost lead, which in turn represents a lost conversion! That’s exactly why implementing a highly effective navigation bar is front and center to usability and, in a broader sense, the entire user experience.

So how do you start conceptualizing a navigation bar that’s helpful to the user experience?

For starters, you don’t want to stray from the accepted standards of what navigation bars are supposed to look like or where they’re placed on the webpage. Doing that would simply confuse site visitors. As far as the placement of the navigation bar is concerned, put it right across the top of the webpage or vertically down the left (not right) side of the webpage.

Bonus Benefit: When your navigation bar sits in either of these two, prime locations, your conversion rate isn’t the only thing very likely to go up. The bounce rate decreases, and the average number of pages visited by each user increases, too.

Another thing is how you label the different categories in your navigation bar. The temptation that snags every web designer is making said categories much, much too general and generic. For instance, many navigation bars have the boring and rote labeling of categories like “Who We Are” and the ever-popular “Products” or “Services.”

It goes without saying that these labels are much too inadequate to clearly describe what your site’s different areas are. And when you fail to instantly communicate to site visitors where each section of the website will bring them, you frustrate them, increase the bounce rate, and lower conversions as well!

Finally, the last thing you want to do is overload your site visitors with information. Information overload usually provokes a repulsing response that works to drive site visitors from a website—and potential conversions right along with them. Never put too many navigational links and items in your bar. One of the best ways to increase conversions is taking choice away from your site visitors by reducing what they can click on.

A great example of an optimal navbar is none other than getBootstrap.

Bootstrap NavBar

Persuade Users to Trust the Website

This is essentially the golden rule of web design: Without site visitors and users actually being able to trust the website they’ve landed on, conversions will stall and probably even drop. However, if you include trust-building elements on the website you design, you can get around user skepticism and increase your client’s conversions all in one move!

Trust-building elements come in various shapes and sizes, and while it’s not necessary to have all of these in place on the website you’re building, it pays to have most of them present. In no particular order, here are the trust-building elements that you need on your website to give your users peace of mind as they’re trying to decide if they can trust the website enough to do business with it.

Testimonials: Perhaps the ultimate trust-builder, testimonials are ideal because they instantly boost the credibility of any website on which they’re found. Since they come from third parties, testimonials naturally lower the suspicions of site visitors while giving them a sense of security.

Client Testimonials

Humanizing the Website: One way to successfully “humanize” the website you’re designing is by creating a killer about us page. A killer about us page shows the various, important people behind the website (for example, for a business, it would be the corporate structure, but for a newspaper, it would be the masthead) in an approachable way. This includes relatable bios that talk about interests and families and feature friendly pictures.

Contact Information: The contact information for the owner of the website should always be displayed prominently and clearly on each and every page. You mustn’t hide this because, if you do, it will hurt your client’s trustworthiness. If the website is for a business or organization, then the business’ phone number and physical address should be posted. If the website is for a service marketplace, at the very least, a contact form should be provided.

Get Rid of Friction

Friction is the ultimate conversion-killer! Friction can be loosely defined as anything that impedes your users and site visitors from successfully completing what your website wants them to do. In the case of an ecommerce or B2B website, it’s impeding them from buying a product or service; in the case of a government website, it’s impeding them from signing up for a new service online; and in the case of an entertainment or news website, it’s impeding them from signing up for email alerts or a newsletter.

Friction can and will rear its ugly head in numerous ways on a website—unless you’re careful, can easily identify it, and then get rid of it.

One of the most notorious ways friction presents itself is by offering your client’s customers too many choices. This creates wretched choice paralysis and information overload, which harmfully impact conversions. As this study from Marketing Sherpa makes crystal clear, when you reduce choices, you increase site conversions. When Ancestry.com realized that it should only offer its customers one package option on its package page, its conversions jumped by 20%.

Next up is the issue of web forms. No matter what the business model of any website is, chances are great that users will encounter some type of form at some place on the page. If you don’t design forms properly, they, too, can become part of this ruinous site friction.

The key to getting rid of friction when it comes to forms is to simply reduce the number of fields per form. Simple, isn’t it?! Forms usually ask a plethora of information that includes site visitors’ names, email addresses, geographical location, phone numbers, etc. Research indicates that eliminating just one—you read that right: one—field from your web forms can actually skyrocket conversions by as much as 50%!

So when it comes to forms…don’t mess around. Include fewer fields, and ask for only basic information from your users.

Reduce web forms

Design for the User Experience; Design for Conversions

When you make it a point to design for the user experience, you automatically will be designing for increased conversions. When you get one thing in order, the other element also falls into place. Unfortunately, far too many web designers don’t respect this reality. They’ll be more concerned with designing a site that looks cool or has all the bells and whistles, but things as fundamental to their clients as the user experience and greater conversions get ignored.

Don’t be one of those web designers. Put your clients first by remembering that design should always be about the user experience. If the user experience is solid and enjoyable, the increased conversion rate will obviously follow suit because site visitors who have a nice time on a website are likelier to perform the action the website wants them to.

The next time you have a web design project for a client, try putting yourself in the user’s shoes. Ask yourself if he’d really enjoy navigating the site you’re thinking of designing. If not, then make the appropriate changes to ensure that your client gets the conversions he deserves.

Marc Schenker

Marc's a copywriter, editor and blogger who specializes in web design, conversions, B2B, e-commerce--anything related to marketing and business. Contact him at marcschenkerwriting.com to hire him and like his Facebook page!