4 Essential Elements of Conversion Centered Design
Great web design goes a long way. By simply improving the way your content is presented, you can appear more trustworthy to visitors, encourage them to spend more time on your page, and make your brand more memorable. However, today we’d like to talk about one of the most compelling reasons to spend some time on your design… conversions.
At some point in your digital marketing campaigns, you’ll need your audience to take action. Whether it’s signing up for your email list, downloading a piece of content, or making a purchase, you need to “convert” your audience at different points along your funnel.
In order to do this, you need to optimize each side of the conversion triangle:
In the diagram above, strategy means demographics, traffic, and funnel optimization. Copy refers to all the text and marketing messages that your audience has received. Each of these two elements are crucial if you’re looking to increase conversions and we’ll talk more about them in later articles. But for now, let’s dive into design and talk about the underlying design principles that can lead to greater conversions.
The next time you put together a landing page (or any page, really) use the following principles to guide your design decisions. Many of the tactics explained below are based on case studies and the trial-and-error of marketers around the world. Use what they’ve learned to create high-powered landing pages that convert!
The best designers sometimes disregard the principles of design. When they do so, however, there is usually some compensating merit attained at the cost of the violation. Unless you are certain of doing as well, it is best to abide by the principles.
— William Lidwell
Element #1: Focused Design
Let’s start off with an amazing landing page by Kickresume. They’re doing a lot of things right with this page. They’re using a very selective use of color, have a live chat option, and their copy is fantastic!
However, this is really a great example because they’ve successfully narrowed their focus to a single goal… email sign ups.
Instead of dividing their users’ attention between multiple CTAs and offers, they’ve set this page up so that it leads to email subscriptions. That’s it. You’ll notice that even the navigation links in the header help to serve this purpose. They’re set up as anchor links so that users never leave the page.
In your own pages, aim to do the same thing. Don’t distract users by having multiple calls to action or by presenting different offers.
This is typically easier said than done. Often, you’ll find yourself tempted to have two or more calls to action (Buy Now and Learn More, for example). But if you’re looking to increase conversions, avoid this at all costs. Aim to have your audience’s attention focused on one single goal per page.
Element #2: Good Use of Contrast
The previous example used color sparingly, with a very limited use of red, white, and black. This next example uses multiple colors: purple, blue, yellow, white, gray, black, etc. However, notice how they’ve made good use of contrast when deciding on an accent color:
It’s very… green. You can’t help but notice it. The button jumps out at you. And, as you scroll throughout the page you’ll notice that every time they use green, the designers are attempting to call attention to something:
This helps to direct their viewers’ eyes to the areas that are most important.
In your own landing pages, find ways to do the same thing. Every time you give your readers a call to action, use effective contrast and color to draw attention to it and make it more prominent. Try to avoid using too many colors that would distract from your main CTA. Remember, people have a shorter attention span than the average goldfish; it’s up to you to figure out how to draw their eye to the most important information on your page.
Element #3: Using Images Effectively
Using images in your landing pages can have a huge effect on conversion. However, it’s important that you use images in a way that supports your page and doesn’t detract from your conversion goals. Include images of the product in use, ideally by your target audience.
Notice how inSite does exactly this in their landing page:
Here, inSite targets their audience (millennial web usability professionals), shows them using the product, and has their line-of-sight directed at the CTA input “Your Website URL”. This helps direct your eye towards the input box and can prompt to you sign up.
In another example, this page from Whole Design Studios features a fashionable guy staring directly at their CTA, “Get Started”.
Again, this is a great example of both drawing attention to their CTA and featuring their target audience. You’ll notice that other images feature this same audience (fashionable young folks) throughout the page:
What’s more, notice how the designers have used these images to keep our attention within the page. The man on the left is looking right, the woman on the right is looking left, and the three individuals in the center are staring straight ahead. This is helps keep us, the audience within in the center of the page instead of drifting off to the sides.
As you start designing and optimizing your own landing pages, think carefully about the kinds of images you’re using and the effect they have on your readers. Remember, the goal of any landing page is conversion. Every element of your page should be working towards achieving this goal, especially your images.
Element #4: Visible Social Proof
A conversion designer’s work is never done. Over time, you’ll need to go back and review your work, edit your design, and optimize the page to increase your conversion rate. As you go, you’ll be able to add/remove different elements and test the effectiveness of different tactics and strategies.
Blendle, a startup that helps raise money for great journalism, understands how important it is to constantly update their landing pages. Instead of putting together a single, static design, they often update their home page in order to improve their conversion rate. In their most recent refresh, they’ve done exactly that.
Here’s their original landing page. It’s great for a first attempt. They include images of their product in use, an above-the-fold CTA form, and no distracting navigation links. However, they’re lacking in one key area: social proof.
Social proof is the idea that if lots of people can stand behind something, it must be something worth standing behind. This is why commercials often feature “real people, not actors” in order to make a product seem authentically useful. On Blendle’s original page, they’ve made a good attempt at including social proof by displaying logos of their press coverage:
However, what would really help is a testimonial or two from their users. Testimonials are the gold standard of social proof and go a long way for helping to sell any product. Someone at Blendle must have realized this, because their latest landing page includes a ton of praise from their customers:
The, “iTunes of journalism,” says the New York Times. Pretty cool, right? Adds a lot of credibility, doesn’t it? In your own landing pages, aim to add a little social proof by including testimonials, logos of your clients or press coverage, and screenshots of enthusiastic customers expressing their excitement on Facebook or other social media platforms.
Oh, and don’t bother being shy about your testimonials. According to copywriting legend Drew Eric Whitman, more is always better than less.
How many photos of satisfied customers do you have? Put them in your ads, brochures, and sales letters, and on your Website. Show just one photo, and it communicates little more than you have one satisfied customer. Show dozens of them, and it produces a powerfully positive perception of credibility and certainty about your claims by quantity alone.
—Drew Eric Whitman, Cashvertising
Never Stop Testing
In the previous example, you saw how one company improved their landing page by adding testimonials. We’re assuming here, but they probably made this change by A/B testing the two designs and then sticking with the one that led to the most conversions. At least, that’s how most folks would make those kinds of decisions.
With your own designs, ensure you’re constantly testing your design, copy, and strategy. Set up A/B tests to compare different theories against one another. If your pages are lacking any of the above elements, try running 50% of your traffic to an updated page that is focused, uses contrasting colors, includes plenty of social proof, and uses images effectively. Let us know how you did in the comments.
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