A conversion rate is the ratio of users who perform a desired action. For example, an ecommerce site where 2 out of 100 users end up purchasing an item can be said to have a 0.02 or 2% conversion rate.
Conversion rates are important as they are the primary metric for a website’s functionality. They serve as a benchmark for site publishers to understand if the site is performing as needed. Compared to other metrics like site visits and average time on site, conversion rates are especially critical as these directly affect a business’s performance and profitability.
How Can I Improve Conversion Rates for My Website?
Conversion rate improvements are highly dependent on a solid understanding of human behavior.
First, the brand associated with your site has to be credible — the most optimized site design will only take you too far if your brand lacks credibility. Second, your site has to be designed to accommodate types of online behavior typical of your target market.
While building credibility can be a difficult and drawn-out process, redesigning your site to improve baseline conversion rates can be done relatively quickly. Fortunately, you can improve the conversion rate of virtually any website with just a few user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design tweaks.
Below are a few tips for increasing your site’s conversion rates through smarter UI and UX.
1) Do A/B Testing
A/B testing (also known as split testing) is a type of experimentation procedure where you show two different versions of one thing to defined market segments at the same time.
When A/B testing landing pages, the page versions can be essentially the same page with one element tweaked. This type of testing allows site publishers to isolate site elements that increase or decrease conversion rates and other site metrics. Alternatively, you could also test pages with completely different designs against each other.
While often time-consuming, A/B testing landing pages allows a scientific and nuanced overview of individual elements that help or hinder your site’s conversion rates. A/B testing can also allow you continuously improve site performance, one element at a time.
2) Limit Available Options
In a landmark study by behavioral psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper, they found that a display table with 24 varieties of jam attracted far less attention than a table with just six different varieties. What’s more, the table with 24 varieties only had 1/10th the sales (i.e. just 10% of the conversion rate) of the table with six jams.
This is a demonstration of Hick’s Law, where increasing the number of options increases decision time in a predictable logarithmic curve. In the context of website design, the existence of this law means you want to limit the number of options available to visitors as longer decision times lead to lower conversions.
Consider limiting the options on the navigation bar as well as the total number of links at any given time. To enable the user to find what they need, make sure to add a search bar in a prominent location.
3) Optimize Your Site Load Speed
If your page does not load completely in the first second, you will already begin to lose conversions. A study by marketing think-tank Aberdeen Group found that websites can have a 7% percent reduction in conversions for every second of delay.
Optimizing site speed is essentially a process of removing “dead weight” in your site’s back end so that it uses less processing power and bandwidth to display pages without losing any functionality.
However, the process of optimizing load speed can be different depending on how your site is designed and coded. For existing sites where you may no longer have access to the original developers, the easiest way to optimize your site load speed is to invest in professional website speed optimization services.
4) Use High-Quality Images
Low-quality images are often associated with sketchy websites and low-trust brands. It’s worth understanding that this is only a perception and may not necessarily reflect on the brand’s performance and reputation in the real world.
That said, people who are not familiar with your brand might be immediately turned off if your site features highly-pixelated images, low-quality stock photos, or stolen visual assets. For better conversion rates, make sure to invest in professionally-executed visual content for your website.
5) Consider Layouts That Use The “F” or “Z” Patterns
Eye-tracking data going back as early as the 1800s strongly suggests that the vast majority of people do not read smoothly across paper documents or websites. Most people focus on one point and then quickly move on to the next focus points.
By understanding where site visitors’ eyes tend to go and focus, site publishers can design their visual assets to lead them to the desired CTA (call to action). In cultures where people read from left to right, “F” or “Z” patterns tend to dominate. If you’re interested in maximizing your conversions, it’s worth considering redesigning your site layout to follow this principle of visual hierarchy.
6.) Avoid Cluttered Layouts and Content
This is related to the second point about limiting your visitor’s options. A site that is overly cluttered and lacks a strong sense of visual hierarchy can keep your users from immediately finding your CTAs. If visitors cannot immediately spot your CTAs, then your conversion rate suffers.
Additionally, it’s also worth considering that a majority of your site’s visitors may be coming to your site through phones and other mobile devices. Given the small amount of space available, clutter can greatly detract from the typical browsing experience, leading to fewer conversions.
Reducing website clutter requires site publishers to step back and prioritize the most essential things for the business. Visual elements that are outdated, unnecessary, or unfit for current purposes should be removed or relocated.
Clutter isn’t just about cleaning up graphical content either. Written content should also be revamped to avoid walls of text or unnecessarily complicated language. Engaging the services of professional copywriters who specialize in writing for the web can thus directly help your website’s conversion rates.
7.) Use Colors Strategically
One simple tweak you could try to increase conversion rates is to use basic color psychology, particularly in your CTA’s main colors.
In most markets, red and orange are the preferred colors for increasing conversion rates. The caveat is that these colors need to stand out from the other colors you use on your site.
Marketing software developer HubSpot demonstrated this principle in 2011 when they ran a landing page A/B test where one version had a red CTA button and the other had a green one. After, 2,000 website visits, they discovered that the red CTA button outperformed the green CTA button by 21%. These gains have since been replicated countless times by thousands of other brands.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for boosting conversion rates. Businesses operate in different environments and serve different markets, which means website conversion rate strategies should always be taken into context.
Fortunately, there are usually some quick UI and UX tweaks you could implement on your site that will boost its baseline conversion rates. For businesses that already have a strong brand identity and a good offline reputation, even modest changes will often deliver healthy increases in conversion rates over the long term.
This isn’t to say that new brands or those with weak marketing foundations will not benefit from the tweaks. However, to get the most out of a site design overhaul, changes to an organization’s overall branding and marketing strategies may have to be considered as well.