In Brand Perfect’s survey of top retailers, 29% of shoppers said poor design was a major reason for aborting an online shopping session. Remember rotating sliders that were on just about every website you went to? It turns out they were terrible for conversions.
You work hard to create web pages.
You spend countless hours researching your target market.
You put a ton of effort into writing copy that maximizes website conversions.
Are you wasting that energy by using a design that looks cool, but stops visitors from taking the next step in your sales process?
Design Kicks Off First Impressions About a Brand
Design influences the first thoughts people have about your business. And that matters. In a ResearchGate study, people were asked whether or not they trusted a health website and why. Their replies were startling: 94% of the elements that cause distrust were design related.
Minimalist design trims down the elements on a website. By cleaning up the clutter, this trend generally improves conversion rates. However, eliminating too many elements does more harm than good. What follows are five trends that can kill conversions when the designs aren’t used properly.
1. Poorly-Designed Hero Images Stop Visitors From Turning Into Prospects
A hero image is a large visual that spans across a home page. Many hero images have no content, which can be trouble. Without persuasive copy, the visual can stop visitors from going past the home page and into the sales funnel.
Here’s a hero image which discourages prospects from advancing in the buying process.
- “Book a table” is a weak way to tell people what the website is about. It’s so tiny, most people won’t see that link.
- New prospects will want to see a menu before booking a table.
- The website fails to communicate what makes this restaurant better than other fine dining establishments. There’s no motivation for a viewer to scroll, click or investigate.
Effective Hero Images Increase Sales Leads
- The headline tells you the site is an educational resource for children.
- The cute visual reinforces the headline, and the teacher guides you to read the message.
- Supporting text lays out the value KinderCare gives to children and parents.
- The copy speaks to people new to KinderCare.
A worthy hero image works with content to communicate your unique value. It persuades people to take the next step in your sales process.
2. Bigger Images Slow Down a Website
Here’s a warning about large images, like the hero. They are common culprits behind slow websites, and visitors won’t wait around for sluggish sites to appear. Econsultancy research discovered 38% of online shoppers abandon websites that take more than 10 seconds to load.
Reducing image file size is an easy way to prevent images from increasing load time. The smaller the file size, the faster an image loads. This image optimization tutorial shows you how to trim down image file sizes.
3. Use The Right Number of Fields In Website Forms
In an effort to shorten forms, some websites are only collecting an email address. Not having the names of subscribers will rule out future personalized emails. Something you don’t want to do. An Experian study shows getting personal with your subscribers improves click-through rates. “Personalized promotional mailings have 29% higher open rates and 41% higher click rates than non-personalized mailings.”
Too Many Form Fields Could Reduce Conversion Rate
Designers began taking the fat out of website forms for good reason. Fewer fields lead to more completed forms. The shortest form with only five fields was the clear winner in Marketing Experiments’ lead generation test. It had the lowest cost-per-lead and highest conversion rate.
There’s a limit to how much information people will provide on a form. Testing will identify where that limit is for your audience. Map out your short and long-term personalization needs. Then test your forms to see how personal you can get with subscribers. Consult these Daily Egg tactics for personalization ideas.
4. Typography Has to Do More Than Look Pretty
It has to make copy easy to read to improve conversions.
With fewer elements on a page, type style gets a bigger emphasis in minimalist design. Sometimes that emphasis leads designers to use classy type in ways that reduce readability. This derails typography from it’s main role which is to make content easy to read.
Visitors won’t stick around when reading is difficult. Nielsen Group newsletter fans feel small font sizes and low contrast are some of the, “most irritating usability problems.” Click Laboratory regularly sees, at least, a 30% improvement in bounce rate and time on site for larger type sizes.
Thin typefaces are a classy style often misused. Slender type shouldn’t be used for small text or with light colors, because letters will be faint and hard to read. Restricting slim type to headings adds an elegant contrast. This is an attractive way to make those ever-so-important headlines stand out. For more guidance, check out the Do’s and Don’ts of Using Light Typefaces.
5. Is The Hamburger Menu Migration Good For Visitors?
The hamburger menu is making it’s way from mobile devices to desktop websites. Is this trend a positive move for visitors?
Menu options are hidden behind an icon which requires users to make an extra “click” to see a full menu. On a desktop website with more real estate than a mobile device, why force visitors to make an extra click to explore the site? Why not let people scan (something folks love to do) to see their options? Unless space is a problem, don’t make visitors think more than they absolutely have to, or take extra steps.
“People often ask me: What’s the most important thing I should do if I want to make sure my site or app is easy to use? The answer is simple. Don’t make me think! For as long I can remember, I’ve been telling people that this is my first law of usability.” – Steve Krug, respected usability pioneer
NBC experimented with this menu on their desktop website. After testing the icon, the media outlet switched back to a horizontal menu. People weren’t clicking on the icon, and that’s a big problem. NBC was smart enough to test the menu and react to what their visitors did.
When reviewing a new design, ask yourself if it will improve the user experience or add friction. Test new designs to see if visitors’ actions agree with your decisions.
This research is a starting point for defending your website from design decisions that kill conversion rates. Keep in mind that everyone’s audience is different. That’s why you must test designs to find out what’s best for your visitors. More importantly, don’t jump on the latest web design trend just because it’s new or looks cool. Quality design doesn’t just look good. It works with copy to motivate visitors into taking the next step to becoming customers.
About the Author: I have three more bonus tips that will help your conversion rates. Subscribe to my Digital News to receive them in the free guide – Copy Formatting Secrets That Improve Conversion Rates. Mary Iannotti is a marketing strategist, copywriter and website designer who loves helping businesses get better results from their website. Connect with her on Twitter @maryi.