Editor's Note: Nabeena Mali is the head of marketing at AppInstitute, and joins us today to discuss design techniques that can raise your traffic and conversion rates.
When launching an online business or bringing your traditional business online, a huge percentage of your resources goes toward building traffic. You invest in outreach and marketing, doing whatever it takes to drive people to your site.
But what happens when people land on your site? Does the user experience live up to the reputation you've generated? Or do people navigate away without converting?
Site design plays a pivotal role in converting visitors to loyal, long-term customers. Given that four out of five people in the U.K. are smartphone users, and 77 percent of Americans own the devices as well, having a mobile presence is no longer optional. Modern consumers expect a quality experience across platforms, so you must prioritize building a sleek mobile version of your site.
The most important principle, however, is delivering a cohesive, user-friendly experience in every aspect of your Internet presence. With these five design principles, you will be well on your way to doing that. Let's dig in -
1. Defer to the data
While design calls for artistic elements, the best sites begin with data. Everything from which buttons to incorporate to the color palette should be rooted in data.
Because every element - no matter how small - influences the customer experience. An effective way to determine which aspects resonate most with your audience is to tweak different elements and track engagement before and after those adjustments.
A/B testing campaigns are incredibly helpful for finding out what works and what turns people off. Run tests for different platforms as well. You may find that one user segment prefers to visit the desktop site and responds best to one page layout, while mobile users are more engaged by a different approach.
2. Design for the platform
Your user and brand experience should be consistent across mobile, desktop, and tablet devices, but the backbone of those designs should be tailored to each platform. You want to treat each as its own entity so you can optimize the experience for your audience wherever they find you.
One way to implement a multi-platform strategy is through responsive web design. This allows the site to reframe its dimensions and orientation based on different screen sizes. If you’re on a budget, services such as WordPress and Squarespace offer affordable templates that have responsive design functions baked into their code.
3. Don’t overcomplicate the design
If you clutter your page with too many images, features, and calls to action (CTAs), people become confused and frustrated. The goal is to convert them, so make the path to purchase or sign-up clear. Every element on the site should serve a specific and necessary function that guides people toward the goal.
4. Keep the main thing the main thing
New businesses often make the mistake of overselling themselves with too many items or a cluttered design. But when consumers feel overwhelmed or misled, they tend to close their browsers and never return. Make sure every page of your site has a purpose, and design with that purpose in mind.
Let’s use landing pages as an example: perhaps you offer people a free eBook in exchange for their contact information so you can email them about paid products in the future. That sign-up offer should be the focal point of your landing page. This isn’t the time or place to announce bonuses or other products and services. You have one goal with this page: offer one incentive to build an email list. Every aspect of the design - from color scheme, to fonts, to button shapes - should lead prospects in that direction.
5. Test a variety of Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
Get creative when designing your CTAs. Think beyond the standard "Buy Now" button to include unique but clear imagery, videos, and texts. Different approaches will suit different CTAs, so think about what you’re trying to evoke. Video is great for making a personal connection and inspiring emotions, while simple buttons or forms work well for more business-oriented offers. Each desired action should have a thoughtful design approach if you want users to respond positively.
6. Embrace white space
Also known as “negative space,” white space allows key design elements to stand out. Remember, everything on a page should serve a purpose. Anything that doesn’t directly enhance your branding, user experience, or conversion goals should be removed. White space lets the important things - such as the CTA or checkout button - do the talking. People have short enough attention spans as it is, so you don’t want to give them even more reasons to navigate away before converting.
7. Practice the three Cs: Contrast, color, and cues
Color is a powerful tool for evoking emotion and persuading people to convert. Study the color wheel to select colors that reflect the tone of your brand and complement one another on the site. You can create a complementary effect by using a monochromatic color scheme which incorporates different hues from a single color, or by choosing shades from opposite shades on the color wheel. You can go bright, dark, pastel -- whatever amplifies your brand’s tone and message. Beware of incorporating too many colors, as research shows that people tend to prefer simple color schemes.
The 60-30-10 principle is a good rule of thumb for using colors effectively. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Your background constitutes 60 percent of your page, so it will be the dominant color. Dark or subtle tones work best, allowing other parts of the page to contrast nicely against it.
- The base color accounts for 30 percent of the visuals on your page, including the header, footer, and other core aspects. You can select a few complementary or triadic colors to use for these elements, but again: don’t use too many. You want to create a visually appealing site that doesn’t overwhelm users.
- The final 10 percent goes to your accent color, which applies to the CTA. Because you don’t want people to miss this key component, you should choose a bright shade that your audience can’t ignore.
Directional cues are also powerful for ensuring that people focus on the right components. Arrows are an obvious option, but the flow of text, photos, and other elements can subtly lead people in the desired direction as well.
Implementing these principles into your design strategies will help you develop a top-notch design that meets your audience’s needs and helps boost your conversions. However, the work is never really done. To keep the user experience fresh, always track performance and test design tweaks that move your conversion rate higher. As design standards and consumer preferences change, your site should evolve with them.
Nabeena Mali is the head of marketing at AppInstitute a DIY app builder for small businesses and passionate about sharing her knowledge and insights on design strategy, UI/UX trends and driving digital growth through content marketing.
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