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16 Proven Design Tweaks to Increase Your Website Conversion Rate

7 minutes

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the practice of guiding users who are already on your website towards taking a desired action, such as filling out a contact form, signing up for your newsletter, or completing a purchase (a “conversion”).

Many factors impact conversion such as lacklustre calls-to-action, poor site usability, slow page loading speed, and lack of social proof can get in the way of users completing conversion actions when they visit your website.

How to Determine What to Change

To identify what design elements need attention on your website to increase the conversion rate, we use behaviour tracking tools like Hotjar and Google Analytics to study user behaviour and identify pain points.

The approach likely to achieve the best results in the long-term involves running A/B tests to see how different changes impact the conversion rate. A/B testing is the process of comparing two versions of a web page by varying just one element. For example, when A/B testing a headline, you would create two versions of the same page with only the headline changed.

After you prepare both variations, each is presented to half of your visitors for a period of time. The test will tell you which version is more effective for conversion.

Increasing Conversion Rate by Tweaking the Design

Unfortunately, many people don’t bother with A/B Testing, because it’s painfully time consuming and very hands-on to run and manage. Luckily, many design techniques are already known and well documented, so with the lessons already learned by others, you don’t need to A/B test these. Here is a list of our favourites that we employ on our websites.

1. Clearly Communicate your Value Proposition

On any landing page, your value proposition should be clearly communicated. Make sure you have a solid understanding of your audience and your buyer persona. Write your copy specifically for your target audience. Address their goals, motivations, and pain points. Your copy should clearly and simply communicate how your product or service can solve your audience’s problem.

2. Disguise Benefits as Features

While marketing textbooks for years tell us to focus on benefits and not features, talking about benefits is dry, boring and “feels like marketing”. As marketers, we want customers to learn the benefits, but customers generally want to understand the features. I like to communicate the benefits while talking about the features. Just like hiding spinach in our kids’ fruit smoothies, the customers doesn’t feel like you’re preaching benefits while they are reading about features.

3. Build Trust with Social Proof (Reviews and Testimonials)

Did you know that 89% of consumers check online reviews before making a purchase? Research and multiple case studies have shown that visitors who interact with a review are 58% more likely to convert into paying customers. A Canvas8 study commissioned by Trustpilot also found 49% of consumers consider positive reviews one of their top three purchase influences.

Although it’s possible to link to your Yelp or any other directory page where customers have left reviews, but ideally you want to embed them directly on your site so your visitors aren’t distracted by going to a different site.

Make it known that your customers enjoy your product or service. It’s one of the mental checkboxes we have when evaluating a new vendor, so make it easy for them to check it off.

4. Make site navigation simple and seamless

Visitors land on your site with a purpose and your job is to make it as easy as possible for them to find what they’ a’re looking for. Make sure that navigating your website is easy to access and intuitive to use.

5. Improve page load time

Pages that take too long to load get abandoned by potential visitors in short order. Such immediate abandonments can hit your conversion rate hard.

Research shows that you should shoot for page load times of no longer than four seconds. The shorter the time, the better for your conversions.

If you’re unsure of how fast your pages are loading or not sure what to do to make them run more quickly, you can use Google PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix to uncover bottlenecks.

6. Add Live Chat to Every Page

Be available to answer any question, handle any objection or guide your visitors through your site using a live chat feature. The instant gratification provides a dopamine hit for your visitors, and creates a sense of loyalty which will increase conversions on your website.

7. Shorten and Optimize Forms

A form that’s not super easy to fill in creates friction and will frustrate visitors and push them to drop off from a website. When it takes less time to fill out a form, users are more likely to complete it.

Some of the best practices you can implement are reducing the number of fields, implementing inline form validation, displaying positive error messages, and enabling autocomplete. Don’t require any information unless it’s absolutely necessary. In most cases, obtaining a name and email is enough so at least you can reach out to the customer, work on getting them to a phone call and from there it’s easier to build a relationship.

8. Set Expectations for Form Effort Required

If you use a sign-up form for your product or service, measure how long it realistically takes to fill it out, and state that in a subheadline, like “Sign-up takes less than 30 seconds.” Many people won’t take action because it looks like it will take too much of their precious time. If you state 30 seconds, it’s perceived as insignificant and worthy of their time.

9. Include Multimedia Wherever Suitable

A picture is indeed worth a thousand words and a video is 1,000. Both help create memorable and more persuasive online journey for your visitors. They aids your storytelling storytelling, capture attention, and break the monotony of text, making your content more appealing.

10. Use Strong Calls-to-Action

A significant factor in conversion is the call-to-action (CTA). Your CTA could be to download an offer, share a post on social media, or subscribe to your email newsletter.

CTAs should appear throughout the website and landing pages. They should be clear, highly visible and easily accessible.

As for how numerous they should be, our advice is to take a “Goldilocks” approach. Too few and it’s possible none will be seen, but too many will feel like a hard sell which no one likes. You don’t want to appear spammy to your website visitors. If the page is fairly long, multiple CTAs is OK so even users who don’t scroll down the entire page will have a chance to see it. Even better—have the CTA as a constant element that’s always visible.

11. Add a Competitor Comparison Table

Add a head-to-head comparison table which compares your product or service against your competitors. This is useful to visually showcase exactly how your product or service is better than your competitors.

12. Optimize for Mobile

You’ve probably heard it before—most website traffic these days is from mobile devices. By not building the site so it’s 100% responsive and looks (and works) fantastic on smartphones, you are guaranteed to lose potential customers. This doesn’t just mean the page flows to fit the narrower screen…it also means you actually have to use the site to ensure everything is a fantastic user experience. Often elements should be eliminated from the mobile view, and text sizes should be adjusted.

Since Google switched to mobile-first indexing, mobile optimization has been more important than ever. If you don’t optimize for mobile, your Google rankings might be impacted, which could reduce conversions.

13. Use an Animated Countdown Clock Create Urgency

FOMO and a strong motivating factor. Quicker decisions are made when there is an urgency of something and that you’ll miss out on it if you don’t jump on board right away. People go crazy for “limited-time” offers like Starbucks’ holiday cups which are around for a very short period of time.

14. Don’t Require a Login to Purchase from Your E-Commerce Website

Customers don’t want to spend time registering and logging in to websites when they just want to buy a product. Have you heard of the famous $300 million button story? As one customer in the study said, “I’m not here to enter into a relationship. I just want to buy something.”

If you require customers to log in before they make a purchase, there’s a chance they’ll leave before making the purchase. A study by Baymard Institute found that 37 percent of users will abandon the checkout if forced to create an account.

Avoid requiring a login. Let your customers shop as a guest without creating an account. Make it clear they don’t need to create an account to shop by including a “Checkout as Guest” button.

15. Offer Free Shipping

According to OnlineDasher, 66% of consumers expect free shipping on all online purchases.
48% of online shoppers abandon their carts due to shipping costs, and businesses that offer free shipping have a 20% higher conversion rate than those that do not.

16. Use Reassurance Badges on E-Commerce Websites

Adding various reassurance badges like “Free Shipping”, “100% Secure”, “Money Back Guarantee”, “3-Year Warranty” makes customers feel secure about the transaction—another mental check that we all consciously or subconsciously need to check off.

A black and white photo of a man wearing glasses and a polka dot shirt.

Eric Embacher

I channelled my love for mobile and cloud computing into one of Canada’s early SaaS successes by co-founding Symbility Solutions in 2002 in Toronto (later acquired by CoreLogic) and designing a tablet-based, cloud-connected software for the insurance industry, years before cloud-based software and iPads were a thing. Thirteen years later I started Infinite Monkeys to focus on my passion in my favourite place (Victoria).