Conversions are measurable actions that users complete on your website, things like: completed purchases, form submissions, button clicks, video views, document downloads, or specific page views. Every website exists (hopefully) with a specific goal or purpose, and while the types of conversions may vary between different organizations, they all share the same desire to provide their audience with a solution to their needs.
The way your website presents itself, and the way in which users interact with it, will have a significant impact on your organization’s ability to increase conversions and achieve its goals.
Let’s take a look at some of the web design elements that can influence users and increase conversions.
Navigation & Layout (User Experience)
Think of the user experience of your website as how it “feels”, “functions”, and “flows”. Your site’s navigation needs to provide users with access to the content they need, in the fewest amount of steps possible.
Poor website navigation has the same result as a driver encountering a roundabout for the first time. Common reactions include: “How did I get here?” “where am I going?" and, “how do I get out of here?"
It goes without saying that your navigation should follow a logical progression, so the difficult question to answer is, which content will receive the most prominent placement within your site’s navigation?
The answer can be found in a number of ways, but fastest and easiest way is to look at your analytics. Your analytics will reveal which pages your users visit most often, which ones receive the most interactions, and which ones aren’t quite cutting it. You won’t be able to please everyone all the time, so don’t even try. Instead, use this information to design your site’s navigation in a way that best serves your audience and your business needs.
Aesthetics (User Interface)
The user interface pertains to the interactive elements of a website; the text users will read, the buttons they will click, and the media they will view.
Have you ever visited a website that was a little too “busy”? Instantly, you’re barraged by content, video, images, dozens of links, and endless choices. These types of sites often fail to present users with a clear path forward, like being dropped into the middle of a jungle with nothing but a canteen, a machete, and pat on the back for good luck.
Humans are visual creatures.
According to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of the population are visual learners. We like things that we think are pretty: pretty cars, pretty houses, pretty clothes, and pretty websites.
A site can have great navigation, but if it looks “messy”, your users will never know it. They be too put off by the dated design, confusing color palette, or jumbled font treatments. Whether you base it on your business goals, or the information gleaned from your analytics data, the visual treatments of your website should drive users toward the most important content.
Desktops, laptops, iPhones, iPads, Android phones, Android Tablets, Windows Phones, Windows Surface, overwhelmed yet? Think about how your website feels when it’s constantly forced to be zoomed, scrolled, pinched, and swiped across so many devices.
Originally defined by Ethan Marcotte,
responsive design is a byproduct of the web’s versatility and variety. With so many different devices, platforms, and mediums on which to view content, the digital world needed to free itself from the rigid constraints that carried over from print publications.
Rather than forcing every device to find a way to house and navigate your website, usually through clunky scrolling and zooming, Responsive design allows your website to automatically adjust its size, layout, appearance, and functionality based on the user’s chosen device.
Mobile use is growing faster than any other platform in the world, and will continue to do so as the technology behind it continues to evolve. If you don’t think your organization needs to prioritize its mobile strategy, think about this:
- Smartphone usage is expected to reach 2 billion by the end of 2015
- American’s spent 34 hours per month viewing the web/apps on their mobile devices in 2013- 7 hours more than they did on their computers
- Mobile devices account for 80% of China’s Internet traffic
Responsive design will help make your site mobile friendly by adjusting the layout to fit within the smaller sandbox, but that isn’t the whole story. The mobile environment requires a few extra considerations in order to provide users with the optimal experience:
Save for a few stubborn holdouts, smartphones and tablets have fully embraced the touchscreen, which changes how users are able to interact with the “clickable” elements of your website. The usability of a website changes dramatically when the primary method of input changes from a mouse click to a finger tap.
Take this into consideration when deciding where to place these elements, and how they are presented.
File sizes and download speeds
Remember that mobile users can be anywhere at any time, at that their Internet connection can range from “passable” to “oh my god, let’s go!” You can help them access your site faster by keeping its loading time down.
Don’t bog down your mobile site with unnecessary elements, heavy visual treatments, or large images/videos.
Using a “single column” layout on your mobile site helps you cope with the limited space allotted by mobile devices. It also helps your content scale between different devices and viewing modes (portrait vs. landscape).
This vertical, single column environment can sometimes lead to what’s known as the “endless scroll”. This happens when content that would normally stretch horizontally across a site is condensed into a slender space.
You can combat this by adjusting the amount and length of content presented on your mobile site, or by implementing a collapsible navigation. A collapsible navigation will allow you to stack large amounts of content underneath drop-down menus that can be easily opened or closed.