Conversion rate optimization (CRO) plays a huge role in the design and composition of websites, whether you factor it in or not. As a web developer and designer, it is your job to provide an optimal user experience first and foremost.
The overall design has to look good, yes, but you should never compromise performance and UX just for great visuals.
In essence, that is the basic concept of CRO, as well. It is a process that calls for the creation of engaging user experiences, which ultimately motivates people to remain on-site or complete a particular action.
It’s not a quick-fix or a shallow rollout, however. Consider CRO throughout the entire design and development process. What is the mission or goal of the site? Are you selling products? Or marketing services or brands? Are you providing a free trial?
Do you simply want to provide a community where customers can reach out and communicate with one another? All of these scenarios require proper CRO techniques. It is more about seeing to it that a design or website meets its full potential.
How to Improve Your Design’s Conversion Rate Optimization
So, how do you boost CRO for the average design? Here are four tips that can help you prioritize it.
1. Respect Color Theory and Contrast Psychology
There’s a reason why blue is used a lot in design. Not only is it considered to be a color of happiness, but it also promotes trust and security. Yellow, on the other hand, is optimistic, quirky and youthful in nature. Pink tends to elicit romantic and feminine emotions. Orange is aggressive, generally perfect for a call to action.
The concept of using color to enhance an experience is called color theory. It may also be referred to as color psychology. Learn it and use it to your advantage to augment your designs.
Color can make the difference between an engaging button or call-to-action, and something that is generally passed over.
This concept applies outside of digital spaces and online experiences, too. At a trade show, for example, choosing the right booth and promotional colors can mean the difference between lots of people stopping to interact with brand reps, or avoiding the booth entirely.
2. Do a Little More With Your Whitespace
Every website sleek or noisy is going to have some amount of whitespace — it’s sometimes referred to as negative space. Minimal designs are especially layered with blank backgrounds and lots of whitespaces, but it exists in every design, nonetheless. I
White space looks great, keeps things relatively clean, and helps direct attention to more exciting elements on the page.
But it can also be used for a lot more than just an accent or tie-in. There’s a lot you can do with your negative space. This is especially true if you want to call attention to an element or item.
Placing a button or call to action half in the main design and half in the whitespace of a page, for example, makes it stand out and gives it visual depth.
Of course, this is just one example of many. You don’t want to go too overboard, littering your negative space with interactive elements or content. But using it for emphasis is okay now and then.
3. Optimize Visual Hierarchy
Similar to storyboarding, designing comic frames or even just reading a book, your website has to have a clear, relevant hierarchy. Typically, you read a book from left to right, starting at the top of the page and moving down.
Comics or storyboards are read the same way, with unique frames sometimes used to change the flow — but even then, there’s still a clear idea of movement when reading from frame to frame.
How you influence a person’s movement along a page or layout is called visual hierarchy, and there’s a science to it.
Your website should always follow the same basic design principle. Make your ultimate goal be to lead visitors to a call to action, prompt or conclusion. You don’t necessarily have to follow conventions — reading from left to right, top to bottom is not a requirement, per se.
However, you do need to provide visual cues and a clear layout, so visitors understand which way their eyes need to move on a page. A lot of this can be done by simply including elements inside a container or breaking up large segments of a page.
4. Eliminate Choice When You Can
Hick’s Law is an incredibly popular one to follow and is often cited by marketing professionals. It essentially states that the length of time it takes people to decide is proportionate to the number of choices they have available.
With more choices, it’s going to take someone a long time to decide what they want or where they want to go.
This is important in marketing and design because you’re muddying the waters more and more each time you ask your audience to make another choice. It’s not necessarily about removing all choice to make things easier— it’s about presenting smarter, more effective options.
For example, requiring customers to sort through a huge list of categories and options right when they land on your storefront is a bad idea. That’s why many companies like Amazon offer smart recommendations.
It gets their customers right into the thick of shopping, browsing products they’re already interested in. It also takes away that need to make an initial decision they may not want to make.
More choice also means more hurdles to leap over when moving toward a particular action or event.
Try to make it as simple as possible for customers to reach the conclusion you want. If that’s buying a product or subscribing to a newsletter, remove extraneous choices from the equation.
You Have Eight Seconds
It’s important to understand that while these elements do play a huge role in conversion ratings — color theory especially — if you want to achieve your goal, you need to get your point across in the amount of time your customers and visitors afford you.
Generally, you have about eight seconds total to capture their attention and keep them on a page or moving through an experience. That’s shorter than the average attention span of most goldfish, and it definitely makes things difficult.
But knowing this, it’s easy to see why you should not waste your opportunities by muddying up a design with ineffective visual themes or elements.
Before going live with an experience — online or off — invest time in perfecting its composition. The more effective an experience, in total, the higher the conversion rate.