3 Key Principles to Maximize Conversion Rates

Driving traffic to your website and capturing the attention of potential customers is only the first part of the sales process. Once your intended audience has arrived at your website, you need to convince them to buy your products and services. Many businesses focus on drawing visitors to their website but pay much less attention to turning those visitors into paying customers. If you're experiencing a low sales rate, despite driving significant traffic to your website, these three key principles will help you to maximize conversion rates.

 

Identify and Research Your Target Market

Understanding your audience is the single most important factor throughout all parts of the marketing and sales process. The more clearly and narrowly you can define your target market, the more effectively you will be able to identify and fulfill their needs. Specific information about your ideal customers, such as their age range, marital status, job title, annual income bracket, beliefs and interests can be extremely valuable when planning your marketing and sales copy, as it will enable you to find angles that appeal to them. Understanding their fears and desires can be even more valuable, as the ability to stir emotions in your target market can often produce the best results.

Tailor Your Landing Page

Many businesses make the mistake of using a generic landing page or sending website visitors directly to their product sales page, which often leads to high bounce rates. Usually, new website visitors arrive at your site looking for a specific product, service or information, especially if they have clicked through from a link on another website, social media platform or marketing email. Using a generic landing page will not captivate their attention, while a product sales page will make them feel pressured into making a decision. Creating dedicated landing pages that are tailored to each marketing campaign or specific promotion is essential for reducing bounce rates.

Trim the Fat

Your landing page, sales page and product description should all be laser-focused on the product or service you are promoting and all information provided should contribute towards achieving your goal. If your goal is to sell a specific product, then all elements of your landing page should contribute towards this goal. Remove any extra information or potential distractions, such as unnecessary graphics, links and non-essential information. Focus the visitor's complete attention on the product you are trying to sell, the benefits they will receive by purchasing it and how it will help to improve their life. Avoid using pop-up windows and flashing or animated graphics, as these can distract and annoy potential customers.

 

Poor conversion rates are often the result of a badly-designed, generic or distracting landing page, all of which can lead to high bounce rates. Identifying and researching your target audience is the first step in creating an effective landing page, as it helps you to understand your customers' needs. Designing tailored landing pages that focus completely on your sales goal is the key to maximizing your conversion rates.


5 Web Design Fails That Kill Mobile Traffic

Internet traffic on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets now accounts for more than half of overall volume, and if your website doesn't present a useful and attractive experience to mobile users you'll be missing out on a large amount of traffic. Where once it was necessary to build entirely separate sites for mobile users, to take into account the severe limitations of the then available technology, modern day mobiles are much more capable and can deal with most modern standards.

However, there are several different design considerations that need to be borne in mind to appeal to the average mobile visitor, and failing to take note can be very damaging to traffic levels and ultimately sales. Here are the top five mistakes to avoid.

 

Basic Incompatibility

The days when mobile devices varied widely in their website rendering are hopefully far in the past, and with modern smartphones there's little excuse to release a site that displays badly or not at all on the vast majority of devices. However, the only way to be sure is to test, test, and test some more - ideally on physical handsets, but there are also several websites such as Browserstack which provide comprehensive emulation options covering the whole spectrum of devices, browsers, and operating systems.

 

Information Overload and Screen Clutter 

Despite the impressive advances in display technology over recent years, it's a simple physical fact that smartphone screens are smaller than regular monitors. They may boast ever higher resolutions, but trying to pack too much into this restricted space just makes for confusion. Added to this, many mobile users access sites while on the move, with less time to digest information, and so it's vital to reduce the amount of clutter and get straight to the point.

Techniques such as Responsive Web Design (RWD) allow the selective removal of less important data depending on screen size, helping to ensure that the most vital content is shown without the distraction of extraneous information or purely decorative graphics. It's also a good idea to pare back site navigation for mobile users, making it easy to reach the most important parts of the content without presenting bafflingly detailed menus on that cramped screen.

 

Going Overboard With Forms

No matter the platform you're aiming a website at, it's good design practice to minimize the number and size of forms you require visitors to complete. Little turns a surfer away more quickly than having to spend time entering information for no obvious benefit, and this goes even more so for visitors using mobile devices where 'fat finger syndrome' can make information entry frustrating and slow.

Avoid this by limiting form usage as much as possible. For example, if your site requires a log-in for full functionality, enable this via existing social networks with a single click. If you really must use forms, then make them as easy to navigate as possible by ruthlessly removing all inessential elements, and using functions such as geo-location to pre-fill as many fields as possible.

 

Overcomplication of the Interface

Going further with simplifying design, the increased complexity of modern websites has led to many adopting user interfaces that are almost application-like in their functionality. Even on systems with large screens and physical keyboards, there can be compatibility and usability problems unless the design is very well executed. On small devices, this approach is even more risky.

However, there is a solution. Modern mobile operating systems come with a full set of familiar, well-thought-out widgets that can be used to design an app that will be compatible and usable, so why not take advantage? If your website experience requires an app-like interface, consider cutting to the chase and writing a real app, linking to it from your standard website. There's a balance to be struck between turning away users who might be reluctant to download an app, and providing a satisfying experience for everyone, but if possible it's good to at least provide the choice.

 

Not Seizing the Moment

Many mobile surfers use their devices in short bursts, briefly checking out a site before completing their surfing or transaction later in a more comfortable setting. Ensuring that a visitor has a reason to revisit should be a high priority for any site, but especially so when it comes to mobile users given their short attention span. Make their research easy, but also offer a way to encourage them to come back, such as signing up for a genuinely useful mailing list offering free gifts, discounts for downloading your app, or any other way you can think of to grab their attention and prompt a second visit. If you don't attain some level of conversion on their first visit, they likely won't be back.

 

It's a varied internet these days, and it's fast becoming the case that the once-standard visitor using a desktop computer is in a minority. Every site should have a solid mobile strategy in place unless the developers are happy to turn away large amounts of traffic. It's never too late to start the process, and taking note of the above points will provide a good foundation for your site's future mobile growth.

5 Areas of Customer Concern Your Website Needs to Address ASAP

Ecommerce is now firmly woven into the fabric of modern business, and it's a rare company nowadays that doesn't have a web presence. However, there is still a residual mistrust of online shopping among many customers - regular stories of hacks, fraud, and other types of cybercrime mean that many are still wary of trusting their personal details to a new website.

To overcome this hurdle, it's vital to fully address five major concerns to reassure potential customers that your site is the right one for them to shop at - after all, giants like Amazon are only ever one click away.

 

Clear Delivery Information 

If your site sells a physical product, then it's essential that delivery information is given up front. Nothing is more likely to provoke an abandoned shopping cart than the sudden, unexpected addition of punitive shipping costs during the checkout process. If you offer free delivery, make this clear as a selling point, but equally make sure that if you do charge for shipping then the customer is aware of this from the start, to avoid conversion-killing surprises later on.

 

Clear Returns Policy

Many online retailers see customers returning sold items as a huge problem. While it's clearly preferable that an order remains completed and not sent back, trying to actively discourage returns can be counterproductive. In some niches, notably clothing, up to one in three items dispatched are returned by the customer, and this simply needs to be accounted for as part of the cost of business. Indeed, if a customer cannot reassure themselves that returning a product for refund or replacement is acceptable and easy, they're much less likely to place the order in the first place. Counter to many retailers' instincts, making shopping appear risk-free with a clear returns policy can be the final factor that turns an undecided visitor into a customer.

 

Easy Contact Methods

Providing a faceless contact form as the sole means of a customer getting in touch with you isn't going to cut it when it comes to engendering trust. Even if you don't expect it to receive much use, providing a toll-free contact number, and making it clearly visible to all site visitors, goes a long way towards building confidence. The same goes for live chat as a contact method - research shows that invitations to use the facility are generally ignored, but it acts as a subliminal verification of a site's trustworthiness.

 

Has the Customer Found What They're Looking For? 

In a crowded internet, you need to grab your visitor's attention immediately by making it clear that you can provide them with what they're searching for. A site that gets straight to the point with a clear indication of what it's selling will be far more successful than one which tries to dazzle with polished multimedia displays. Offer your visitor a fast, efficient solution to their problem and you're halfway towards turning them into a customer - and leave any distractions such as cross-selling or upselling until after the deal has been sealed.

 

Is the Website Trustworthy? 

Finally, it goes without saying that if a visitor doesn't trust your site, they won't be handing over their credit card details anytime soon. Does your site project the image of a legitimate business? While it's not necessary to have the slickest, most highly designed website on the web, few people will have confidence in a site that looks like it was thrown together by a schoolchild one afternoon back in 2003. It's also essential to have properly implemented secure shopping in place, along with a clear privacy policy, to reassure potential customers that there is a real business behind the site, and not a fly-by-night scam operation.

Many modern websites fall victim to a tendency to over-elaborate, using technical gimmickry to impress and losing sight of the ultimate aim of generating sales. If you always put yourself in the shoes of a customer and build your site to overcome any concerns they may have, your conversion rates will thank you for it.


7 Common Usability Mistakes in Web Design

Web design has come a long way in the last few years. The user experience is now one of the most important aspects of effective design, and for good reason. Consumers today expect a great-looking website, but if it's difficult to use, they'll look elsewhere. To keep your visitors engaged, here are some of the most common usability mistakes you should avoid.

 

Too Much Focus on the Homepage

Your homepage may be easy to navigate and look professional, but what about the other pages of your site? In many cases, users may not even see your homepage, instead landing on inner pages from search engines or social media links. This is why it's crucial to spend an equal amount of time on the usability of every page on your website.

 

Lack of Hierarchy 

When looking at a web page, it should be obvious where you want users to look first, second, third, etc. Otherwise, people will struggle to make sense of the page. To ensure users focus on your key messages in the right order, you need to effectively use font sizes, colors, and layouts that help people figure out what the most important information is.

 

Hidden Navigation

The design trend for parallax scrolling and other techniques doesn't always impress users who are simply looking for information. It may look good, but when it comes to site usability, navigational links should still be easy to find.

Creating a site structure that makes sense to users is key. Links should be labelled correctly, describing exactly what type of content users will find after clicking on a link. Too many websites use poorly labeled links, which means users struggle to find the right path to the content they're seeking. If links lead to different pages with related content, the solution could be to consolidate content so that it all falls under just one link.

Links that resemble advertising are also a common usability mistake, with users skipping content that has an added design element, such as a border or background color. To avoid confusion, avoid adding unnecessary design elements around a link. Alternatively, use simple graphic symbols alongside text to highlight its meaning, such as a telephone icon to show where to go to for contact information.

 

Information Overload

Filling pages with walls of text makes it incredibly difficult for users to locate the information they need. Remember that users scan content, so you need to use enough white space to break up blocks of text, write shorter paragraphs, and use bulleted lists, headings, and bolded keywords to make it easier for users to find what they're looking for. This is even more important for e-commerce product pages, where users are looking for specific information about a certain product.

 

"Secret" Contact Information

Many websites fail to show their contact information prominently on the web page. You at least need a dedicated "Contact Us" page link in the main navigation bar. Many visitors will be looking for a way to contact you. Make it easy for them to do so!

 

Inconsistency

Consistency in design means ensuring similar elements look and act the same. If your first subheading is Arial in dark grey with a 16-point font size, the rest of the subheadings should be the same. Are your hover effects all the same? Do links have the same color? With proper planning, you can make sure your design remains consistent and users have a better experience.

 

Non-Responsive Design

A recent study by ComScore and Millennial Media reported that around 56 percent of online content is viewed on smartphones. Businesses cannot afford to ignore the rise of mobile, which means responsive design should be a priority for every business. It's not only crucial in terms of the user experience, it's also essential for SEO.

While design trends come and go, the fundamental needs of website visitors remain the same: users need to find information easily, without distractions. Don't worry if you've made any of these errors; they're common in web design. If you remember that usability is ultimately more important than looks, and you focus on your users' needs, you can avoid many of these design mistakes.

UX Design, Human Memory, and a 1950s Japanese Crime Movie

What do you get when you combine UX design, the psychology of human memory, and a Japanese crime movie from 1950? Although this sounds like the opening line of a bad joke the answer is better UX design. Good user experience is something all designers want to achieve, and one of the secrets to achieving this is to understand how people remember things.

How is memory important in UX design? It is most important in the user testing and research phase. There are lots of ways you can do this research, although one of the easiest is asking users for their opinion. This is often done in a survey.

It is a method that has limitations, not least because it doesn't offer easy opportunities for follow-up questions, but it is quick, cost effective, and easy. Here is the real question, though - can you trust the data from this sort of research?

The Rashomon Effect

People complete surveys using memory. When looking at whether such memories are accurate, psychologists refer to a phenomenon known as the Rashomon Effect.

The Rashomon Effect was named after an award-winning Japanese movie released in 1950 called Rashomon. The story is about a bandit who is accused of raping a woman and killing her husband. In the movie, four individuals, or "witnesses", to the crime, describe what happened. Each of them presents a different account of the events.

They are not telling lies, but the truth they tell is their version of the truth. It is influenced by their circumstances, their past experiences, and their prospects for the future.

The movie ends in a state of complete confusion, with nobody knowing what actually happened.

 

Human Memory and UX Design

Human memory is therefore not reproductive. Instead, it is reconstructive, with that reconstruction taking place in an incredibly complicated way.

Users who complete a survey about your UX design behave no differently - they use their memory to answer the survey questions, and they answer honestly, but the memory is reconstructive. This is why you get such contradictory answers to questions, even when talking to similar groups of people.

 

Getting Better Research Data

This doesn't mean you should stop surveying users about your designs. Surveys remain an important part of the research process, and the data is valuable.

You shouldn't rely on it exclusively to take UX design-related decisions, though. The only way you can overcome problems with memory reconstruction when testing and analysing UX design with real users is to actually observe them in action.

You can do this through real-life observation, although that is challenging in some situations. You can also do it through formal usability testing. This is where you bring a focus group of people together purely for the purpose of testing and observation.

You cannot improve the memory of users, but you can get more accurate data from usability testing. When you combine the two methods of research - surveys and observation - you will have reliable data for taking UX design decisions.


The Small Business Guide to Building Your Reputation Online

Small businesses can maximize their potential by building a solid reputation, both online and in the real world. Developing a strong online profile is essential for all areas of business, as customers and potential customers expect businesses to have an online and social media presence. If you want to grow your business and reach your target audience, there are a few rules to follow when building your reputation online.

 

Create a User-Friendly Website

Regardless of the type of business you run, a well-designed website is essential for reaching your intended audience. Most consumers judge businesses and their products on the quality of their website. Cluttered, clunky and poorly designed websites that are difficult to navigate convey an unprofessional image to visitors. Make it easy for visitors to find what they need. If your website is complex, separate your web pages or blog posts into categories and provide a site map to aid navigation. In addition, make sure that your site can be viewed on a variety of devices, including e-readers, tablets and smartphones.

 

Choose the Right Social Media Platforms

A social media presence is crucial for all businesses, but it can be difficult to maintain an active presence on multiple social media platforms. Unless you have a dedicated social media team that can spend all their time maintaining your profiles, you need to choose the most effective platforms to focus on. Choosing the best platforms will depend on your intended audience and the type of business you are running. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are popular social media sites for businesses, but other platforms, such as YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, may be more appropriate for your target audience.

 

Build a Recognizable Brand

Building a recognizable brand is an important task that requires synchronization across all of your business communications and online profiles. Profile titles, taglines, slogans and visual elements, such as your logo and the colour scheme of your website, need to be the same across all of your websites, blogs, social media accounts and email communications, as this will help to foster a sense of familiarity. Once your audience becomes familiar with your brand, it's much easier to gain their trust and encourage repeated custom. Headed notepaper should also show your logo and fit with the style of your online communications.

 

Link Your Activities

Linking your social media accounts, blogs, websites and other online activities together increases connectivity and enables you to reach a wider audience. Allowing website visitors to follow your social media accounts directly from your site is a great way to boost your audience. Similarly, providing links to your websites and blogs on your social media profiles increases traffic to your sites and can bring in new customers.

 

Building a good reputation online will take some time, especially if you are starting a new business, as there will be thousands of other businesses competing for the attention of your intended audience. Your website, social media profiles and brand are the most important elements in building your reputation and linking your online activities together can boost your marketing efforts even more.


3 Reasons You Should Be Using Landing Pages on Your Website

In an age of fast internet and endless options, your target audience has an ever-decreasing attention span. Getting - and keeping - people's interest is one of the most crucial elements of succeeding with your online business, and landing pages are one of the best ways to accomplish this. A well-executed landing page can get you more conversions, generate leads, and decrease your bounce rate, so it's no wonder so many successful sites use them. Here are three of the biggest reasons you should be using landing pages, too.

  

A good landing page grabs viewers' attention.

You've only got a few seconds to capture somebody's attention on the internet. A landing page can maximize the impact of those seconds. By using a landing page, you put your product or service in front of the viewer in a super-simple format that makes it easy to take action. Add an appealing visual design, and your landing page becomes one of your most valuable tools in getting people interested in your service before they can click away from your site.  

  

Landing pages warm people up to your product or service.

No matter how great your product and website are, if a new visitor can't figure out what you're offering within a few seconds, they're likely to click away instead of navigating through your site to learn more. A landing page can prevent this from happening. Landing pages put the condensed version of what you do right in front of the viewer, cutting down on your bounce rate. This quick introduction to your product orients the viewer, priming them to explore your site or make a purchase.

  

You can get more leads by using landing pages.

Want to make your email marketing campaigns more profitable? Use a landing page to collect visitors' email addresses. Plenty of people will be happy to give you their email address in exchange for a newsletter, assessment, fun quiz, or an entry into a drawing, and you'll be able to market directly to them afterwards, increasing your chances of making sales.

  

If you aren't using landing pages on your website, you're missing out on a major opportunity to generate leads and get more conversions. Luckily, there are plenty of easy-to-access resources available for learning about designing and using landing pages. Creating a landing page or improving your existing landing pages is one of the simplest ways to start getting better results from your website today.


Design Evolution vs. Redesign: What’s Best for Your Website?

Have you had a business pivot that makes your existing website irrelevant? 
Sick of your website and want a do-over?
Feel like it’s not connecting with your target market?

Traditionally a web redesign meant a complete overhaul of your website completed in one major launch. However, more recently the trend has gone towards gradually evolving and improving the design over time. 

With the traditional approach, a redesign was very dramatic and climactic with all the positives and negatives that go with it. While it was great for promotion and building excitement, it could also turn stressful, time consuming and expensive. 

Obviously, there are some cases where a large sweeping overhaul is the best fit. For instance, we recently worked with Kevyn Aucoin,who was transitioning to an e-commerce site from a purely informational website. In a situation like that, there are so many new pages and elements that are being added that a completely fresh launch of their website made sense. 

However, in many cases a more gradual approach makes more sense. An example is Trophy Skin, who already had an e-commerce website when they approached us. But their design wasn't very polished and it was off-putting for their target market. We broke their redesign down into monthly milestones so that over the course of six months we completely updated their website. That way they could test and optimize the website as we went along and gradually evolve it into a much more polished and elegant presence. 

 

Advantages to Evolving Website Design

There are a few reasons that account for this trend's increasingly popularity:

1. More Complexity

First off, as the web has evolved, websites have become increasingly complex, so doing a traditional overhaul is more complicated, expensive and involved than it was previously. There's more to be designed, written, tested and . . .

2. Better Testing

As businesses rely more on their websites for marketing and driving revenue, there's more on the line if a website redesign goes wrong. A gradual evolution of the website allows for real-time testing and quickly identifying elements that are hurting your conversions. If you've redone the entire website, it's much more difficult to track and analyze what the specific issue is. 

3. Easier Budgeting

Another advantage is that it's much easier to budget, as each iteration will use fewer funds stretched over several months rather than a large lump sum, which is often prohibitive. 

4. Less Time-Consuming

Doing any redesign is fairly resource intensive for the client too. There are extra meetings, gathering of materials, giving feedback, reaching consensus . . . it's a major undertaking. However, if you opt of the more gradual approach, this can be a more manageable side-project for your team.

5. Less Potential for Customer Backlash

Sometimes customers can be quite attached to your old design and may react negatively if they perceive a sudden, large pivot. However, most small incremental changes pass under the radar and do not create a backlash.

6. Builds Momentum

For start-ups in particular, it can be good to view the website from the point of view that it's a work in progress. I've talked with so many companies who can't even get their initial website up because they get so bogged down in complexities and wanting it to be perfect. I'm a big advocate for just getting a site up and evolving it as you go.

 

DISADVANTAGES TO EVOLVING YOUR WEBSITE DESIGN

All that said, obviously there are some downsides to evolutionary design, rather than doing an overhaul.

1. Slow

Probably the most frustrating part of evolving a website is the lack of instant gratification. If you've fallen out of love with your website, it can make you yearn to see the sweeping changes of a traditional redesign.

2. Bad for Business Pivoting

If there's a radical shift in your business strategy, it's probably worth looking at a complete overhaul, rather than trying to do it gradually. A bad situation is to end up with a Frankenstein website that's neither your old design nor your new design. If the change is relatively minor, it's not as noticeable, but with a major redesign it could become an issue.

3. Not as Promotable

The big, exciting launch just isn't as dramatic if customers have already seen the website gradually changing over several months. If you want to make your redesign an event and use it for promotions, it's probably better to go with a more traditional approach.

 

Overall, I think that doing evolutionary redesign is a very positive trend, especially for small businesses that might not have the budget or internal resources to handle a huge design overhaul.