10 Web Design Best Practices to Increase Conversions

Your site is the key piece to the conversion puzzle. These web design tips will prime it for conversions.

Your website visitors are judging you as soon as they land on your website.

You have less than 3 seconds to win them over. 

This means that your web design needs to be primed for conversions – and we’re here to guide you to do just that. 

1. Limit choices

Have you ever opened up your fridge, saw that it was full, but still thought, “There’s nothing to eat?”

That’s Hick’s Law coming into play:

“The time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices.”

Source: Laws of UX

Having too many options causes decision fatigue. The result? Analysis paralysis. To help your website visitors make a decision,

  • Simplify choices by breaking complex tasks into small steps
  • Highlight recommendations
  • Limit the number of call-to-actions (CTAs)

2. Use white space

White space is the blank space you see on a website that gives breathing room to other elements on the page. It helps visitors to see important elements without being distracted by too much clutter.

Have you landed on websites that have an extremely cluttered design? If so, you’re likely to find yourself overwhelmed. 

Having too many cluttered elements on a website increases the chances of potential customers leaving your site, not clicking anything, or clicking unimportant elements. These are all things that you should avoid.

Use white space to your advantage, so your users can have a clean, straightforward experience.

3. Capitalize on natural eye movements

The rule of thirds is often used in photography, but it has its place in web design as well. 

Here’s how it works:

When designing your website layout, place a grid overlay that is divided equally into thirds, giving you nine equally shaped boxes.

Source: Fine Art Tips (Rule of Thirds – Composition in Art)

The parts where the lines intersect are crucial. These are known as the focal points where you should place important elements such as your CTA – since the human eye will naturally gravitate towards them.

4. Optimize images

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial factor if you’re refreshing your web design or building a new site – and an important part of SEO is your page load time. If you’re new to SEO or want to understand why exactly is it so important, head over to a piece we’ve written here.

Now, with the ideal website load time being less than 3 seconds, any longer and you risk users leaving your site.

Not compressing your images means that it’ll show your website down. Conversely, compressing them helps to reduce file sizes and help them load faster.

The trick is to compress them as much as possible without harming the quality of the images. You want perfect and crisp images, not pixelated nightmares.

If you’re on WordPress, one easy way is to use compression plugins such as Smush. Smush is a plugin that we personally use at Appiloque, and it has been great at optimizing multiple images simultaneously – while preserving image quality.

5. Leave breadcrumbs

Hansel and Gretel used breadcrumbs to mark their way through the woods. On websites, breadcrumbs serve a similar navigation function.

“Breadcrumb navigation is a way for users to visualize their location on a website. It’s a secondary navigation bar that typically appears as horizontal text links, separated by the ‘greater than’ symbol (>).

Breadcrumb navigation improves the findability of your landing pages, and helps users reach higher-level pages faster if they initially found your site from search or a deep link.”

Source: Hubspot

To put it simply, breadcrumbs tell your visitors where they are on your website, how they got there, and how to get back to where they were.

Breadcrumbs are even more important for large and complex websites such as eCommerce stores. If there are tons of web pages nested inside other web pages, you’ll want to leave a trail so that your potential customers don’t get confused – or risk having them leave your site.

6. Use contrasting colors

Using color and contrast to your advantage can help you make a bold statement and bring important elements to a user’s attention.

By making an element stand out from the other elements on a web page, visitors’ eyes will be immediately drawn to the element and are more likely to convert.

You can achieve this effect by using:

  • A pop of color for or around the element you’d like to emphasize on
  • Bold fonts 
  • Grayed out versus strikingly colored CTA boxes

7. Apply the Law of Similarity

The Law of Similarity, which is part of the Gestalt Principles, comes into play here.

“The human eye tends to perceive similar elements in a design as a complete picture, shape, or group, even if those elements are separated. The brain seems to craft a link between elements of a similar nature. Then, we perceive them in a relationship with each other, separating them from other elements in a design.”

Source: The Interaction Design Foundation

Similarity is influenced by the colors, sizes, and shapes of elements. Elements that are similar to each other tend to be perceived as a unified group. 

In web design, the Law of Similarity can be used to build connections between linked elements. 

Placing a CTA button and a testimonial next to each other, with both elements in the same color and shape, can make users want to take action even though the two have nothing to do with each other.

Likewise, you can draw a user’s attention to a specific element just by breaking the Law of Similarity. That’s right, you can make use of both sides of this law – just plan out which elements you want to form an association with first. 

8. Avoid these at all costs

Sliders and carousels used to be all the rage in website design, and chances are, you still see them around. 

Some people still think that sliders look flashy and cool. Plus, marketers who want to feature multiple content at the same time find it an easy solution – especially if they need to tell different teams (with competing interests) that their message is on the website. 

But here’s why you should really stop using them:

  • Your user’s attention is diverted: Sliders change within a span of a few seconds. Users are then greeted with a new image which they now have to focus on – even if they have not finished reading the previous one.
  • You’re taking control away from users: Your visitors want to be in control when they land on your site, but with an auto-rotating slider, they simply cannot.
  • Your SEO will be adversely impacted: Sliders are not good for page load speeds, which is an extremely important factor for SEO.
  • You won’t be getting the clickthroughs you want: Studies have shown that only 1% of users even click on a slider, and it’s pretty much always the first image.

So, if you are using sliders or carousels on your website, it’s time to remove them. 

Start creating different landing pages that allow you to target various audience segments. This will give you the opportunity to tailor your content to the specific audience you’re targeting, and make conversions more successful – which brings us to the next best practice.

9. Use different landing pages

Having different landing pages will help you maximize conversions, regardless of the channel that your users came from.

If your digital marketing agency is running paid ads or utilizing SEO as part of your marketing mix, you’re going to want a different landing page for each. Don’t try to design one landing page for multiple purposes.

Yes, it takes more effort, but it’ll be worth it.

If you’re paying for ads, you don’t need to worry about optimizing your landing page for SEO so that it will rank well on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). People who click on your ad will naturally see your landing page based on the ad.

However, if you want your web page to show up on Page 1 of the SERP for a relevant keyword, you’re going to have to do some legwork.

For instance, landing pages for organic search need long-form content that is SEO optimized, so that users can find them through the search engines.

For more information on on-page SEO factors and how to optimize them, check out the article we’ve written here

10. Collect & learn from data

Don’t stop after implementing the best practices for conversion – every website is different.

You want to provide your audience with a great experience, and to do that, you need to do some testing.

Use heat maps, scroll maps and A/B testing to see how your users are interacting with your website, and what is truly converting.

Don’t go too crazy at once. Testing one thing at a time and making improvements incrementally is key to keeping your website consistent.

Get started with web design best practices 

Conversions do not happen overnight. Neither are they solely dependent on the traffic that you send to your site via digital advertising, social media marketing, or SEO. 

Your website is the key piece to the conversion puzzle, and if you’re struggling with conversions, feel free to reach out to us via our contact form. Share with us your website URL, and we’ll be happy to analyze it and provide our recommendations 🙂

Lisa Tan

Lisa Tan

Lisa wears multiple hats at Appiloque - digital strategy, agency operations, and content marketing. To keep herself sane, her favourite form of entertainment is free and involves reframing reality, changing it up to something ridiculous and playing out imaginative scenarios. No, she's not mad. Yet.

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