Designing for Conversion: Where Form and Function Collide

Finding a balance between form and function is a daily challenge for web designers and marketers. A website with breathtaking imagery and pithy headlines could look great to a visitor, but without conversion strategies in place it’s just a pretty picture.

It’s important to have design that converts and conversion tools that are well designed. The below are our top rules to keep designers, marketers and sales teams happy.

Evoking Emotion

Urgency. Happiness. Acceptance. Confidence. What do you want your prospective client to feel when they visit your website? A website can evoke emotion from a variety of angles, but most commonly it’s expressing the mindset of your industry. Finding pain points, stressors or upcoming challenges can incite a visitor to take action with your business.

In addition to creating an emotional response, design should present a solution. While emotion varies based on industry, even B2B website design can addresses a visitor’s needs, desires and goals.

For example, instead of simply stating, “Project management is difficult,” Basecamp’s homepage outlines the features of their service that make project management easier. Basecamp knows poor project management puts collaboration, employee morale and the bottom-line at risk. Their playful tone and design expresses understanding and drives visitors to partner with their business.

Stressing Usability

Effective design and usability go hand in hand. Believe it or not, your visitors don’t know what to do next after landing on your website. Instead, your website design should give them options based on their needs.

For designers, page layout plays a strong role in conversion. Elaborate navigations, cluttered content or bare to the bones pages are all putting your usability at risk. Focus on 2 – 3 paths you want the website visitor to take. This could include reading your “About” page, browsing your business blog or getting to the “Contact Us” form.

Health insurance provider Humana has the challenge of balancing two different audiences: current customers who log into their portal and new prospects. Their website gives equal weight to both audiences without sacrificing user experience, by placing the portal login clearly at the top and balancing navigation options based on new visitors’ needs.

Simplifying Desired Actions

Design can have a lot on influence over whether a prospect chooses to contact your business. Most importantly, designing straightforward, eye-catching calls to action helps make that decision easier for the customer.

Designing for actions on a website should be simple, but also varied. Simple means straightforward copy and contrasting colors that draw the prospect in. Varied means actions are prevalent on multiple pages of your website (not just the homepage) that address the page content and buyer stage.

Web analytics provider KISSMetrics has taken simplified conversion to a whole new level. Featuring a homepage with one primary conversion option, visitors have to spend seconds extra to navigate to other parts of their website such as pricing, their blog or case studies. While all industries couldn’t simplify this much, it’s an interesting practice to see how much you can take away without hurting conversion.

A successful website is one that converts and brings in new business. Keeping these general rules in mind, evaluate your current website and see what areas it could use improvement in.

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