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The Role of Web Design in Conversion Rate Optimization

So you’re a great designer, right? You create amazing sites that your clients fall in love with. But let me ask you something…what’s the conversion rate of the last website you created? I’m sure not many designers would be able to answer that question.

“We’re designers. That’s not a part of our job,” some of you might be thinking. Okay. But you do understand that people do not make websites just for the heck of it. Right? I mean, except for the reputation management clients who care no more than aesthetic appeal of the site, almost every website has a purpose. They want profits.

This purpose or conversion goal of the website can be anything from lead generation through form-filling, free-trial signups, and download brochure to direct sales from a website, like in the case of eCommerce websites.

The point is – if your design is in any way not doing a good job of helping people accomplish this conversion goal, no matter how beautifully designed your website might be, its value to your client decreases.

You must be thinking, why you should be bothered about the conversion rate? You’ve done your job after all!

Well, mainly because often there are loopholes in even the best of designs that reduces the conversion rate of a website. And if you really want to justify your fees to the client, showing them only the awe-inspiring designs will not steal the show for you. Throw in some numbers and boast about conversion rates of the sites you’ve recently created and see things turn in your favor. When you tell them how your design will make a difference to the bottom line of the company, persuading them would be a cake walk.

So let’s say, you have a deal. You convinced your client and made a great design for their website. Now what? The next step is to define a conversion funnel in the Google Analytics. It’s pretty easy. This article shows how simple it can be.

Now what exactly is this conversion funnel?

Conversion funnel is nothing but a series of steps that a potential customer takes to complete the conversion goal on your website. Now this funnel is unique for every website, but often there is a set pattern that is usually followed. Like, for an eCommerce website, a typical conversion funnel will be something like this:

  • Homepage
  • View Product Page
  • Start Checkout
  • Complete Checkout

Or, for a lead generation website, like a college website that’s seeking applications from potential students for various courses, it can be:

  • Homepage
  • View Course Details Page
  • Submit the Form

Of course, you can tweak in these funnels according to the needs/pages of your website. And don’t forget that people can also enter your conversion funnel in between these steps too through the search engines or any other referral.

Once you’ve defined this conversion funnel in the Google Analytics of your website and have designed these pages, wait for some time until the site starts to receive good volume of traffic.

Soon you’ll begin to notice that there are drop-offs at each step of the conversion funnel.

That’s precisely the reason why it’s called a “funnel.” It narrows down as visitors get closer to the final conversion page. Now scrutinize the Analytics data to identify the exact page where you’re getting the highest percentage of drop-offs. This is the primary page that needs to be fixed first.

Most marketing services try to sell you traffic. They will tell you that if you let them do certain things, you will receive a truckload of traffic. But, what they may not tell you is that just getting traffic is only the first part of the job. Those people visiting the site must convert. Well, realistically not everyone is going to convert, but at least some of them must turn into your loyal customers. While SEO, advertising, social media and a range of other activities can get you traffic, eventually your site must be good enough to capture their attention.

It’s clear to most that conversion rate optimization is extremely important and invaluable. In this post, I’ll discuss ways that web design can affect your conversion rate and the importance of keeping up with these changes.

What Affects Conversion Rate?

Generally everyone will tell you that your content has to be good, and this is true. The copy and the images you use must stand out. But, even the design of your site can have a profound impact on your conversion rates. In reality, it is all about human psychology. Here are a few things that you may keep in mind:

Color Palette and Call to Action: Different types of color schemes appeal to different demographics. So, you need to use the right colors keeping your target audience in mind. Luckily, a call to action is generally expected and people actually do things when they are told, requested or prompted – but, the copy has to be clever.

A Memorable Identity: Your business name is the most important word you are ever going to write. It must be memorable and a web domain should be available for you to register. In case you get stuck at this stage, just use a business name generator to find one that is appropriate as well as available.

Visual Communication: People do not have the time or the patience to read much. If you can express what you are trying to say with visuals, it is much easier for everyone. They generally glance through long content. So, divide content into small sections and use bold subheadings.

Clear Hierarchy: Average users do not like complex or long processes. So, you need to be very clear about what you expect them to do. Keep main goals in mind and introduce secondary things only after the primary objective is achieved. For instance, you can ask them to like your FB page, but do not prompt it when someone is trying to checkout. Do it only after the purchase is completed.

Mobile Compatibility: Nowadays most people use smart devices. So, responsive design is a must – and bulky, cluttered and old-school designs should be avoided. If it suits the business, a separate mobile app can be considered, too.

Some Advanced Conversion Hacks

Even after considering the aforementioned aspects, some extra effort will still be required to enhance conversion rates of a website. Here are a few ideas that you can experiment with in this regard:

Shorten and Simplify: Every page must be designed like a landing page, and the calls to action must stand out separately. You must ensure that people have to click and type the least amount of times as possible to accomplish any task. Here is a good list you can follow to avoid friction in your user interface.

Utilize your social proof: Social clout gives you validity. If you have a million FB fans or Twitter followers, it will surely help you come across as popular and trustworthy. But this information must be displayed on your website through Likeboxes, Twitter feeds and share buttons. You can also use social sites to collect testimonials and embed them on your homepage.

Optimize for every page: Generally, due to lack of time and resources businesses, just use blanket keywords and meta-descriptions for the entire site. In order make them more targeted, every page must be separately optimized.

Add human touch: Something as simple as a picture of a human model on the homepage can make it more welcoming and enhance conversions. Check this case study of a company that enhanced conversions by 100% by doing exactly that.

Add user generated reviews and ratings: User reviews can add trustworthiness to any product. It also shows that you are confident in your product, so try to keep a review on every product page.

Assure security: Assurance of security convinces people to convert and dispels their fears. Redesign your checkout pages to include large security icons and certifications if any. If possible, link them to relevant T&C pages and also declare relevant information such as a warranty and exchange policy. Use large buttons for important purchase actions and even include calls to actions on the buttons.


Persuasive web design is a very delicate affair. It is more of an art and hence it cannot be implemented overnight. The above pointers should help your business create the foundation for a user-friendly website that can be perfected over time with regular testing and modifications.

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