How to Increase Your Website Conversions
I’m about to share with you a secret trick I use to help increase my website design clients’ conversion rates by up to 100% or more.
A lot of people think that Website Design relates mainly to fonts, colors, spacing and imagery.
Design elements are of course important and we take pride in our unique and well designed portfolio of work. But the truth is…
Good design is not enough.
You can have a well designed website with beautiful imagery, gorgeous fonts, a harmonious color palette and sophisticated development that won’t convert nearly as well as it could because it lacks some key ingredients.
My ‘secret’ comes from a 30 year old psychology book called Influence, written by Robert Cialdini.
In this book Dr. Cialdini outlines 6 weapons of influence, scientifically proven to measurably improve subject compliance.
In this post I will share with you the 6 weapons of influence and how we incorporate them into our client’s designs.
After reading this article you might never see a website the same way, as you’ll notice these tactics being implemented on many of the websites you visit everyday.
Ever hear the expression ‘monkey see, monkey do’? Well people are a lot like monkeys.
They did one study where a classroom full of people were all given a form to fill out. Everyone in the room was in on the experiment and only one person was actually being observed. The classroom slowly starts filling with smoke, clearly indicating there was a fire in the building. But all the other subjects (in on the experiment) kept filling out the form as though nothing was happening. The subject (the only one not in on the experiment) continues to stay seated filling out the form in spite of obvious concern on their face about the smoke.
The takeaway: People are more likely to go along with the group and do what other people do.
This phenomenon has been used expertly by companies Amazon.com. Have you ever seen the callout that says: ‘People who bought this item also bought…’? That’s Social Proof
When it comes to incorporating Social Proof into your Website Design to increase conversions a great way to do that is via Testimonials.
Even better is including photos with your testimonials.
People like to see pictures of people like themselves and trust those opinions more than others.
A good strategy is to have a wide range of testimonials across many customer types to give people a better chance to self-identify with one them.
Sam Walton, founder of WalMart, forbade his purchasing agents from accepting any gifts from prospective vendors, not even a stick of gum. He must have known about the power of reciprocity.
In the book Influence, Cialdini tells the story of how Hari Krishnars would accost people at the airport by pinning a flower onto stranger’s lapels. Then after receiving this gift they would ask the poor mark for a donation to their church. Having just received a ‘gift’ the recipient almost always gave money out of a sense of obligation. This is the power of reciprocity in action.
One of the most powerful words in all of marketing is FREE.
If you can give something away for free that goes a long way in triggering the reciprocity bias.
Giving away valuable information in the form of an article or whitepaper can also trigger the reciprocity bias but not as strongly.
People are more likely to comply with the instructions from perceived authority figures.
In the famous Milgram experiment, students were talked into administering lethal levels of electric shock therapy to innocent victims only because the instructions were given by a perceived authority figure. Luckily the ‘victim’ was part of the experiment and no one was harmed, but this experiment proves the influential power authority figures have to influence our behavior.
Using logos from recognized and accredited third parties is a great way of demonstrating authority on your website. This can include business organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, or press coverage from recognized media authorities in your industry.
Commitment and Consistency
People have an innate need to stay consistent with how they perceive their identity and behavior.
In one study researchers went door to door asking homeowners if they would be willing to put a giant sign on their front lawn promoting driver safety; less than 10% of homeowners complied.
Then to a second group of homeowners, researchers asked if they would be willing to put a small flag on their front lawn promoting driver safety and about 80% of homeowners complied.
The researcher then went back to the second group that had allowed having small flags on their lawn and asked them if they would allow placing a giant sign on their front lawn promoting driver safety and a whopping 30% of homeowners now complied to the request.
The act of asking for a small request first, increased compliance of the larger request by 300%.
When it comes to website design the mistake most people make is asking for too much up front.
The purpose of a website is generally NOT to make a sale. The purpose of a website is to get a visitor to make one small action, such as learning more about your product or service. Then to take another action such as filling out an inquiry form or downloading some type of Free Report. In any case they key is asking for one small request, then another building on the Commitment and Consistency bias until you make a sale.
People have a tendency to do more for people they like than they would for people they don’t.
Seems pretty obvious but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a powerful and effective tool for influence.
People like people that are like them. They also like people that are positive and upbeat.
One way to use this bias to increase website conversions is to include images that are representative of the user types you are trying to target. We also encourage our clients to include photos of themselves , especially in fun spontaneous images that help show a more human side to them which helps to trigger the liking bias.
People want what they can’t have. The scarcity bias is a powerful weapon of influence that triggers people’s innate need for loss aversion.
In one study done job seekers were given the option to interview at two firms one with many job openings and one with just a few job openings. The subjects all perceived the company with fewer job openings available as a better firm even though no other information about the company was given.
Amazon does a great job of using the scarcity bias to increase conversions in their website design. If you ever noticed the little box that says (only 3 items left) that is them triggering the scarcity bias.
As you can see, when it comes to increasing your website’s conversions there is a lot more that goes into it then just the fonts and colors. Having an understanding these powerful psychological triggers can help increase your website’s conversions by many times. The next time you’re on your competitor’s website or your own, try to check off how many of the weapons of influence are being used and how you might be able to use one of these tactics to increase your site’s overall conversions.
Want to see these concepts brought to life in your own website’s design? We will put together a mockup of your new site for Free before you sign or pay for anything. See for yourself how we would implement the 6 weapons in Influence into your own website’s design. Read below to learn more.
Website Design Trends in 2017
Website Design Trends in 2017
If you’ve been meaning to launch your new website by the new year but haven’t even gotten started with your project yet, I have good news for you.
As you know website design trends are constantly evolving and what’s new today is old tomorrow.
Make sure your new website stays ahead of the curve by educating yourself on the latest trends in the industry before you begin your redesign process.
What follows is an overview of the latest trends in website design for the coming year.
Content is King
It’s no longer good enough to be just another pretty face on the web. Visitors want substance in the way of compelling and meaningful content. Specifically visitors are looking to be educated and not sold and website content is only compelling to the degree it helps users solve their problems. Content and education based marketing have been emerging trends over the past few years and are only continuing to move to the forefront of website design.
Big, Bold Type
The scarcest resource in this frenetic day and age is not time but attention. The ability to grab a user’s attention and get them to take a moment and focus on your message is crucial to a website’s success. Innovative designers are solving this problem by literally making their key messaging impossible to miss and increasing font size of central messaging to the exclusion of other design elements.
Fewer Pages, More Emphasis on Landing Pages
People don’t like to read these days. They scan. Quickly skimming over content to self-identify with the most relevant section relating to their needs. Because of this, landing pages are a useful design tool to visualize website content into an easily consumable mode allowing users to quickly digest information with minimal effort.
Animations – GIF, CSS, SVG, Background HTML Video
People like things that are cool. Done properly animation effects can definitely add a lot of life and sophistication to a website’s design. Gone are the days of flash animation and instead CSS, GIF, and SVG are providing mobile friendly solutions to animating website designs.
Less Flat Designs, Return of Gradients
Have you noticed that all websites are starting to look the same these days? The advent of Google’s material design last year has shown an appeal for flat design but with a depth of view via subtle shadows. Gradient colors have also resurfaced over the last year. This resurgence of shadows and gradients has been seen as one solution to combat the effect of flat designs wherein almost all flat websites are starting to look identical with each other.
Use of Striking, Brighter, Courageous Colors
Web safe colors are things of the ancient past. Display devices from desktop monitors to smartphones are now more than capable in displaying the full visible colour spectrum. Many designs are now veering towards striking, bright, and courageous colors and are no longer limited to classic colour theory, complementary colors etc.
Decline of Stock Photography Usage
Have you noticed that all websites are starting to look the same these days :-)? Another reason for this the widespread use of stock photography and challenge of finding original and unique images when designing a website. Designers are now very careful in choosing images and most hire professional photographers just for this requirement. Aside from professional and personalized photos, hand drawn art has also been positively received.
Content Delivery via Videos
Fast and high bandwidth internet has lifted the limitations of video and streaming websites. This has made video websites like Youtube and Vimeo a staple among internet users around the world. This in turn has made people want to read less and just view videos.
Long Scrolling Pages
Gone are the days of websites needing to be designed above the fold. As more web users are now into mobile devices, the idea of putting all relevant information in the top-most area of a website is definitely obsolete. This is mainly because smaller screens like smartphone browsers have made users get used to scrolling through pages.
Innovative scrolling and parallax
Have you ever been on a site where as you scroll down across a section of the page and the picture on the background stays stuck while the text moves, and then as you continue to scroll the picture then move again? This is called parallax scrolling. This can be a pretty cool effect and remains a favorite among web creatives in relation to the long scrolling pages of today’s websites.
Customized Google Maps
Embedded Google maps are now customizable to use specific color sets to match a website’s colors. Map items like pins, structures, terrain and other map elements can also be customized to meet not only aesthetic but functional requirements as well.
Trends come and go; some are greatly accepted while others are short-lived. During the design or redesign of a website, the decision to jump on the trend bandwagon might make a website look identical to a great majority while veering away from trends or staying with “safe” designs may make a website look old or dated. Not all trends may be beneficial or relevant to all websites and their content. However trends are here to guide us towards improvement and finding better ways of doing things. The key – balance, identify which trend will help you achieve your website’s goals.
Looking to implement some of these trends into your new website’s design? We’ll put together a mockup of your new site before you sign or pay for anything. Learn more by reading about our Free Mockup Offer below.
Website Redesign – Our Step-by-Step Process
If you have an existing website and are looking for a redesign you are in the right place.
As the owner of a website design business, one that deals about 80-90% in website redesign, here is a pretty typical scenario for me. I will get a call from someone, let’s call her Greta. Greta has just recently started working for XYZ Company as the head of marketing. She is tasked with growing the company’s revenue and generating more leads. She decides that the first order of business needs to be the company’s website. She hates it. She hops onto Google and ends up contacting me.
When Greta contacts me she has a few major challenges with the existing website:
Her existing website just doesn’t look good. The colors are off, the fonts don’t look good and overall the site just has an amateurish and unprofessional look to it. She sees her competitor’s sites and they look so much more clean and professional looking.
She can’t put her finger on it but the site overall just looks ‘old’ and not modern or up to date. The width of the site, the layout, the alignment all look like a website that was designed almost 10 years ago.
Can’t update it
One thing that drives Greta crazy is that it is impossible to update the site. In some cases the backend to the site is literally under lock and key, and she has to pay the previous design firm a fortune just to make simple edits to the site. Other times she does have access to the backend of the site but she feels like she needs to take a coding boot camp just to make simple text edits on the site.
Looks terrible on Mobile
Greta hates how their site shows up on her phone. It’s difficult to read and impossible to navigate. The text is hard to read and the flash animation doesn’t show up at all on her phone making the site look broken.
Site doesn’t show up on Google
In addition to the problems Greta has with the site itself, she is pulling her hair out in frustration because her site is nowhere to be found on Google. All of her competitors are showing up at the top of Google search results and her site is completely missing.
The trouble is it’s actually worse than she thinks.
Not only could she be getting more traffic, more conversions and more business with a redesigned website, her current site is actually putting her at risk for many negative factors:
Google has recently announced that it will be penalizing search rankings for websites that don’t have a mobile responsive design. This means that just by having an out of date website Greta is missing out on the many potential search visitors due to lower rankings.
Older websites that are not well maintained have a greater risk of being hacked or infected with malware which cause costly and time consuming repairs.
When it comes to Greta’s current company website they may be better off having no website at all than a website that represents their company in a poor light. This is because having an ugly website sends the wrong message to potential customers. As the great motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said: “People come up to me all the time and say people shouldn’t judge you by the way you look. Well let me give you a clue. They do!”
Our Website Redesign Process
As I mentioned before about 80-90% of our business are website redesigns. Over the years we have perfected a process to maximize the results of redesign work. Here is the process:
The first step we take with all clients (and this happens during our Free Mockup phase) is to learn more about our client, their customers, their design needs and their goals for the site.
We establish who the major user types are for the site, what they are looking for and what are the next steps they want to take.
We identify other websites the client likes the look and feel of, along with fonts, colors and other design elements they like. If the client has an existing branding or style guide we work within those guidelines. If not we develop a branding and style guide as part of our service offering.
We then create a preliminary mockup of the homepage of the redesigned website. This all happens during our Free Mockup phase and potential clients pay and sign nothing during this phase. It is only after receiving the mockup that potential clients would make a decision to move forward working together.
Once the initial mockup has been created we move into the design phase. We first go back and forth with design edits on the homepage until the homepage design is finalized. Our process involves finalizing the homepage first. Our experience has been that once the homepage mockup has been set the total site design is halfway there.
We then mockup the unique inner pages of the site and go back and forth with design edits until those pages are complete. At this point the design phase has been finalized.
While working on the design phase of the project we work together with clients helping to organize and structure their content. The content phase takes place in two parts:
The sitemap is the main skeleton of your website. It represents all the pages found on the site and their relationship to each other. We work with the client, often using data we find while analyzing our client’s Google Analytics reports, to identify the major pages of the site and to make sure those pages are easily identifiable within the new sitemap hierarchy.
Once the sitemap has been established we set up folders within Google Drive where we pull all content from the client’s existing website and set them up as Google Documents. This allows the client to easily update and edit the content and provide a central repository for all content for the website.
One challenge we ran into in the past was keeping track of website content version control. The client would email the latest content for the site and then a few days or weeks later the client would send another email with an updated version of the content. It became a real challenge trying to keep track of which the latest version of the content was. Using Google Drive as a central repository for all content solved this problem.
Once the design and content phases are complete we move forward to developing the site. It is during the development phase that we also develop the mobile responsive design. Once the development is completed we do a thorough Q.A. (quality assurance) test of the site making sure that it displays properly across all browsers and mobile devices. We then hand off the site to the client for their review. Once the site meets with final approval it is launched for the whole world to see.
As you see there is quite a bit involved when it comes to redesigning your website. If you have an existing website that needs a redesign, instead of asking yourself how much it will cost to redesign the site, ask yourself how much is your current site costing you? When choosing a web design firm to help with your redesign, make sure they have a proven process for working with website redesigns.
If you’re ready to take the next steps with your Website Redesign I have great news for you! You have the opportunity to see exactly what your new website could look like before you sign or pay for anything. Read below to learn more about our Free Mockup Offer.
What is the purpose of a website?
I’ve had the good fortune of working with many different clients across a wide range of industries. A question I often get from prospective clients is, ‘Have you ever done a website in XYZ industry’?
Many times I have but even when I haven’t it doesn’t really matter.
A website is not really about the thing that you’re selling or the information you are presenting.
A website, your website is not really about you or your company.
A website is about your prospect and their needs and communicating in a clear, specific and persuasive manner to their needs.
Here’s how I think of a website.
There is a specific person with a specific problem looking to fill a specific need.
They came from somewhere, (be it Google, Yelp, a referral, etc.), they are looking for something (trying to solve a certain problem) and there is a next step they want to take (fixing the problem they have, gathering more information, evaluate different options, etc…)
The challenge when it comes to designing a website is recognizing that there is more than one type of person coming to the site, each with different needs, each looking to solve different problems.
The goal then is identifying who are the different user types who are coming to your website, what specifically are the problems they are trying to solve and then making sure that each user’s needs are clearly displayed in a visually compelling manner (people don’t like to read these days).
Let me give you an example from my own business.
There are three main visitor types who come to my website:
- Head of Marketing – One type of person I get quite often is a person who has just recently started working with a new company and is now in charge of their marketing. They typically hate the company’s existing website and recommend they get a revamp, which ends up being their first project. That is when they contact me. Concerns for these users are making sure the site can drive traffic, increase leads and that the site is mobile responsive.
- Website Admin – Another user type we get is the current admin of a company’s website. They generally can’t stand working with the website’s out of date technology or are pulling their hair out because they have to pay their current design firm a steep hourly fee just to make simple edits on the site. Concerns for these users are having a site that is easy to update and edit without having to know how to code.
- Business Owner – The last main user type to visit our site are the business owners themselves. The owner’s concerns can range from opportunity cost of paying for a professional design, to the impact a new website will have on sales and generating future revenue.
As you can see each user’s needs are quite different from the other’s, with the challenge being to make sure they are all catered to within the website’s design.
So let’s go back to the new lead working within industry XYZ asking if we’ve done a site for that industry before.
Here’s why it doesn’t matter.
The truth is that we as a design firm will never know as much about a customer’s business as the customer does themselves.
The good news is we don’t have to.
What we do instead is work with our customers to identify the major user types visiting the site, clarify what their needs are and make sure the site’s structure and design speaks to those needs.
You might be asking yourself, “Hey! I thought you were a ‘web designer’ but you haven’t really spoken much about design. Why is that?”
You might be familiar with the saying “Form follows function”
Well, when it comes to website design “Design follows content structure.”
The design is just a way to facilitate the consumption and interaction with the content.
The content is there to meet the visitors needs and most of all…
Compel the visitor to take action!
That is the real purpose of a website: To the get a visitor, a stranger, someone who doesn’t really know about you and your business to take a next step.
We work with a lot of companies in the service industry so typically the action we want visitors to take is to fill out a contact form. Getting the visitor to contact you is really the name of the game. Otherwise what’s the point in having a great looking site if it doesn’t generate new business for you?
So there you have it, the purpose of a website is to turn visitors into prospects. And the way to do this is to identify the major user types visiting your site, speak to their needs and give them a clear action step to take next.
Speaking of taking action, if you’re looking for help with your website project read below about our Free Mockup Offer and how we will make a mockup of your new website before you sign or pay for anything.