Web design is more than just the look and feel of a website. It’s a careful combination of design and functionality that gets your visitors to take a desired action. In this article we will take a look at why web design is critical for conversions, and best practices we recommend.

What is web design?

Web design is the combination and structuring of elements like color, fonts, size, page layout, images, and content to create a functional, usable, and aesthetically pleasing website. Traditional design only had to worry about what a graphic looked like, how a business card presented itself, or the feel of a branded logo.

Today, web design needs to concern itself with how a design interacts with users, and multiple devices. This flows into user experience and responsive design, meaning a web designer needs to create something that works on multiple levels.

Why is it so important to get it right? Stanford University found that 46.1% of people use website design as the top criteria for deciding credibility.

Your website design doesn’t just affect how visitors perceive your brand, it also affects how well your website converts. Let’s take a look at a few ways web design affects conversions.

How web design affects conversions

It closes the knowledge gap

There is a knowledge gap between what a website can do and how well visitors know how to use that website.

Most visitors will know the basics of navigating a website, but not necessarily your website. Based on the design, they start off with certain information on how to use your website. That’s considered their “current knowledge.” They may still need to click around to find what they’re looking for.

The Knowledge Gap is where design happens. We don’t need to design to the left of current knowledge point, because it’s all stuff the user already knows. And we don’t need to design stuff to the right of the target knowledge point, since the user won’t be needing that information (for this task, at least). We only need to design the interface for the space in between current knowledge and target knowledge. – UIE

Website Design Conversions

Web design helps visitors get to the “target knowledge” stage, wherein visitors know, or quickly learn, how to take a desired action.

For example, making your phone number or email address prominent in your header or menu will immediately show them how to contact you. Putting your blog in the main menu will show them how to browse your articles, establishing trust and thought leadership.

It allows consumers to purchase across devices

People are accessing your website across multiple different devices, and desktops are only a small piece of the pie. Google’s mobile-first indexing is just one indication that the future of the Internet continues to evolve across platforms.

Good web design will make it easy for your site visitors to take a specific, desired action, no matter what device they’re accessing your site from.

It creates a seamless user experience

Your visitors should be able to find exactly what they want, when they want it. If you haven’t generated interest within 59 seconds, visitors will leave your website. Users will leave your website if it isn’t usable or when they don’t know what to do.

The best web designs will show visitors how to use the website within a few seconds, and ensure your users have the best experience possible on your site. That means simple forms, easy-to-understand content structure, great navigation, and more.

Web design best practices

Avoid choice paralysis

Giving your visitors multiple options sounds like a good thing, but in practice, too many choices hinders their ability to make a decision at all. Focus on what you want your users to accomplish, and avoid drawing their attention in too many different directions. For example, if you want someone to download a white paper, don’t offer a link to a blog post on the same topic in the same page. Keep things focused on the white paper, and have a straightforward download form that doesn’t ask for too much information.

Use conversion-centric design

Keep your designs focused on what you want someone to do, and use subtle nudges to drive them to take your specific, desired action. This can include a CTA at the footer of every blog post, putting large headings on the most important pieces of information, and keeping your navigation bar clean.

Focus on functionality

You could have the perfect website, but if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less, you’ll lose 40% of your visitors. A 1-second delay in page load reduces conversions by 7%, and creates an 11% decrease in views. Your website must function seamlessly and be easy to use if you want to convert browsers into buyers.

Some sample questions to ask yourself;

  • Does your font hierarchy make it clear what’s important?
  • Are your sign-up forms easy to fill out? Do they ask only for what’s necessary?
  • Does your site load quickly and reliably every time?
  • When you divide your website into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, the intersections are where your strategic points of interest are. OptinMonster shows some great examples of this, and how websites can strategically place their CTA buttons and key information so that visitors take note.

Select your images carefully

Visual Website Optimizer found that authentic images can outperform stock images by driving up to more than 161% more conversions, and it only takes people 13 milliseconds to interpret images. Neil Patel recommends using original, high-resolution images in your website design to make the most impact.

Place content strategically

Finally, your website design should consider where content will be placed. Content should be strategically written and positioned following the natural eye movements of your readers. For example, if you’re serving an English-speaking and reading audience, most of their attention will start at the top left side of the screen.

The bottom line is web design affects conversions, directly and indirectly. Good design will keep things running quickly and smoothly, and most importantly, help your visitors convert. Use the advice we’ve shared above to improve your website design and help increase your conversions.

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