9 Practical Steps you Can Take Today To Create Real Results
A good looking website is certainly one goal of both small business owners and website designers. But that good looking design can only take you so far. No matter what size business you have or what industry you are in, your website should be providing you real value beyond beauty. If your website isn’t ranking or working as intended, you’ll eventually find yourself wondering why you can’t seem to increase traffic, get more leads, and drive sales.
This quickstart guide will help you understand your goals, estimate your conversion rate, and recognize what a high-converting website looks like. From there, we’ll dish out practical advice on using data in your website design to increase conversions and give you real results.
How do I know what my conversion rate is?
Your website’s conversion rate refers to the percentage of site visitors that perform an intended action rather than bouncing. So, the first step to understanding your conversion rate is defining what you want site visitors to do. Do you want visitors to make a purchase, submit a form, give you a call, download an e-book, or engage with your site for longer? Once you have established your goals, you can track that against the total number of site visitors.
Log into Google Analytics (or create an account if you haven’t already – better late than never). You can track the number of site visitors that you have, their demographics, how they got to your site, what they did once they got there, how long they stayed, and so on. Once you have your goals and your data, you can calculate your conversion rate.
Each industry has different average conversion rates, with a general range between 2-10%. This doesn’t sound like much until you begin the quest to increase your conversion rate. After many frustrating attempts, you may find yourself reading an article like this one!
What does a high-converting website look like?
Data is fascinating and incredibly useful, but unless you are able to weave it into the website’s design, it will do you little good. Beautiful data-driven, user-friendly design is the key to a high-converting website. And the best way to succeed is to become highly competitive with yourself.
High-converting websites are cool, confident, easy to navigate, trustworthy, and fast. Just as with SEO, increasing your conversion rate is a constant and ever-changing work in progress. This isn’t something you do once and forget about it.
9 Steps To Increase Your Website’s Conversion Rate
In web design, conversion rate optimization (CRO) involves a data-driven design approach to making both visible and invisible adjustments to your website. This is a fancy way of saying that CRO means using data to decide what tweaking to do in order to hit the conversion jackpot.
Here are 9 actionable, battle-tested steps that you can take today to get your website working for you and drive your business forward.
1) Collect data from your target audience.
Every business has a different target audience with different behaviors, preferences, needs, and so on. So, it’s absolutely critical that you know yours like the back of your hand.
A great way to get into the mind of your target audience is to create a user persona. A user persona is a fictional user that you have fabricated in as much intimate, explicit detail as possible to understand behaviors and build empathy. Beyond their relationship status, occupation, gender identity, financial status, and location, a user persona should include things like goals, current problems, world views, personality, and how/where they spend free time.
Once you have established this deep understanding of your target user, it is much easier to identify effective design elements that will speak directly to their needs, desires, goals, and habits. How do you do this? By collecting data of course.
Google Analytics is a great place to start and can help you see if you are even attracting your target audience to begin with. You can also collect data by doing competitor research. Or, you can conduct interviews, focus groups, or sendout surveys using Google Forms or SurveyMonkey.
2) Perform A/B testing
A/B testing is a powerful UX design trend that uses data to quite literally help you to decide whether you should choose option A or option B. While there are companies that you can pay to perform A/B testing, you can also use Google Optimize for free (…that is until September 2023 when Google will shift to providing this service via Google Analytics 4).
There are lots of ways this testing is done. To generalize, you decide on an element to test, such as the placement of CTA buttons on your homepage. Google Optimize creates two versions to test on equal audiences for a predetermined amount of time. Then it gives you the results and you make your data-backed decision like a pro.
Common design elements to A/B test are:
- CTA buttons
- Blog content (length, subjects)
In order to get accurate results and useful data, it’s imperative that you only test one change at a time. The basic steps in the A/B testing process include:
- Researching, creating goals, and thoroughly testing currently site performance of these goals using Google Analytics, heatmaps, or actually watching users
- Creating a hypothesis based on the collected data
- Choosing a variation to test
- Having Google Optimize (or another A/B tester) perform the test
- Analyzing the collected data
- Making changes based on the results
- Rinse and repeat
This should be a continual part of your digital marketing strategy. Trends and technology change incredibly quickly. If you just do this once and forget about it, it’s basically a waste of your time. However if you commit to tracking and analyzing this style of testing, you have the best chance of sweeping your target audience off their feet.
3) Use heat maps
You have probably seen heatmaps (or heat maps) before. One recent example was at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic when media outlets used colored maps to represent data for positive cases and hospitalization rates.
Heatmaps help you quickly visualize data. There are a decent number of companies that create heatmaps to show user behavior. You can get heatmaps that show how users scroll, move, click, and more to quickly see if users are navigating your site as intended.
They are a great tool for using data in your website design prior to redesigning your website as they can give you a great idea of what areas you should prioritize. Heatmaps can also help you to make useful choices when you begin A/B testing.
4) Construct a user-friendly design experience based on behavioral analytics
As unique individuals, there are certain human behaviors that are highly predictable. With short attention spans and so many choices on the internet, you only have a few seconds to make a solid first impression. Understanding these typical human behaviors is a great way to create a user-friendly design experience that gets people curious enough to stick around.
For example, most people respond well to clutter free websites with few distractions. Designing a simple, clean website that is visually appealing and easy to read is one of the first steps in preventing people from immediately bouncing.
Other user-friendly design elements include:
- Utilizing white space
- Choosing bold colors for CTA buttons
- Making sure that the color of text has a high enough contrast so that it’s easy to read
- Adding high-quality photos, videos, infographics, and other illustrations
5) Make sure you have solid copywriting.
When it comes to copy on your site, think quality over quantity. When in doubt, shorten everything. This applies to headlines, CTA buttons, product descriptions,body text, and blog articles. The difference of just a few choice words has the ability to either hook someone or drive them away.
A great step to take is to do a little spring cleaning of the copy on your entire site. Take an audit and look at the following:
- Is this copy necessary?
- Can I say this more effectively with fewer words?
- Does my copy show more benefits rather than just list off services?
- Is there a sense of urgency with the copy of my CTA buttons?
6) Make sure your website is mobile friendly.
Mobile-first design is popular for a reason. The majority of websites are now viewed on mobile devices and Google ranks sites based on a mobile-first approach. As you can probably guess, that means that if your website isn’t responsive and mobile-friendly, you don’t have a chance at increasing conversions. This step is a non-negotiable no-brainer. You just gotta do it.
7) Prioritize Easy Navigation
Site navigation goes hand-in-hand with user-friendly design, but the best navigation for your website is much more specific to your target audience. You still want to keep basic user-friendly design principles in mind while also considering your user persona.
Based on what you know of their needs and behaviors, how can you guide them towards your intended goals in the most streamlined way possible? You want to make sure that each page provides a clear and direct path towards your goals.
Navigation menus, headlines, and CTA should have specific copy with design elements reinforcing what users should do. Sometimes this takes the form of actual arrows while other times easy navigation makes use of white space. Providing less choices is helpful. Adding a search bar is another great option, and as a bonus you can use the search data for later. Multi page websites also have a more solid navigation structure than single page websites.
8) Creating Trust By Providing Proof
A well-designed website and a strong brand help promote trust. Without a doubt, hands down, it’s a given. But it takes more than design to increase conversions over time. Users want to see proof. Think about how you view websites with a long list of well-known clients vs websites that show absolutely nothing. Seeing proof that others are willing to publicly vouch for you is what entire businesses like Yelp are built on.
Adding just a few of the following to your website can have a huge impact on conversions:
- Testimonials and reviews
- Add logos from previous clients
- Awards or accreditation
- Test results
9) Check Your Website Page Speed
Even though this step is last on the list, it’s one of the most important. According to Google, if your page takes more than a few seconds to load you’ve already lost a huge majority of potential visitors.
You can find your current page speed using PageSpeed Insights. If your page speed is not what you want it to be, the first thing to check is your hosting service. When it comes to hosting, you get what you pay for and oftentimes the cheaper the hosting provider, the slower the website.
Another major culprit is unoptimized images. Make sure that all website images are scaled down and ideally converted to webP format. There are plugins to help with this, or you can do it yourself using an image program like Photoshop.
There are loads of plugins that can help you tackle other top speed killers, too. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to speed optimization so you will need to do some research to determine what is going to work best for you. Or, you can hire a professional to deal with it for you.
Increasing your website conversion rate is not for the faint of heart. Using data in your website design can have serious results, but it can also feel complicated, cumbersome, and discouraging. Luckily, there are professionals who actually enjoy taking this burden off of your plate.
At Creatography, we take a holistic approach to website design and digital marketing creating consistent conversions and putting your hard-earned money back into your pockets. The first step is to schedule your free discovery call today.