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Experts Speak: Conversion Rate Optimization for Designers

Posted on 1.01.2017

By Amberly Dressler, Managing Editor


Everything impacts conversions, from internal influences like a website not responding to a device type or being slow to load to external factors like a visitor being interrupted by any number of things or not being ready to buy in that moment no matter what. Still, Web designers have the ability to implement a number of conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies to turn visitors into buyers and first-time customers into repeat ones. 

Website Magazine asked some of the Web’s leading experts to share their CRO tips, and we’ve included some below and dozens more at wsm.co/speakcro


“Clarity is the central focus of conversion-oriented design. Remove barriers by highlighting a goal and outlining a precise process for getting there. The most successful layouts will be visually striking and comfortable for your visitors.”

~ Kristen Friend, Art Director at Custom Legal Marketing 


“When it comes to improving conversion rates through design, there are always two groups to keep in mind: your target users and your clients. Users have needs, clients have specific business goals. To solidify and ramp up your conversions, design with both groups in mind, keep things simple and test your ideas before implementing.”

~ Marcelo Paiva, Lead Instructor at Ironhack


“Keep the design clean and focused. If something doesn’t serve a purpose don’t include it. Most importantly make the point of conversion obvious – whether it’s a button or form.  Don’t keep the user guessing.”

~ Kara Jensen, Creative Principal at Bop Design 


“It really comes down to testing. Many Web designers don’t understand the subtleties that contribute to higher conversion rates – simple things from the shade of color to the text to even the shape of the call-to-action (CTA) buttons themselves. We have seen conversions jump 10-20 percent just simply by changing the shape of the buttons from round to square corners. So the reality is conversion optimization and Web design are highly functional when they are being tested for individual organizations based on user data.”

~ Gary Morris, Founder of Grafted-In Design


“Too often, navigation is seen as a component that should not have as much attention extended when compared to other on-page elements. What we have found though is that the display of the design, the interactivity of selections within mobile environments, and the integration of new elements in mega-menu formats have driven substantial gains as users find products faster and overall site friction is reduced.”

~ Craig Smith, Founder and CEO of Trinity Insight


“Many e-commerce stores overlook this very basic tip to make conversions easier. When sending out emails or running social ads to promote products in a store, you might use an image composition, animated gif or video to showcase your products. Usually you’ll then link this to a category on your site. The problem is, if I’ve seen something I like on the showcase, it’s often hard to find, especially if there’s lots of items in the category. The solution to this issue is really simple –reorder your products! Place any that you’re featuring first in the category so that they’re immediately visible when the person clicks through to that category.”

~ Becs Rivett-Kemm, Email Wrangler at Conversio 


“Get your CTA/conversion point in early. We changed our website sign-up process to allow customers to first register an account before choosing and paying for a subscription. Our conversions dropped by 70 percent. We have since changed things back to encourage the conversion first and push administrative tasks back in the process.”

~ David Mercer, Founder of SME Pals 


“Users convert, so design for the user. This can be achieved by simplifying the decision process and minimizing the options. Too many options reduce the chance the user will make the choice you want them to.” 

~ Chris Arlidge, Creative and Marketing Director at Cheeky Monkey Media


“To improve conversion rates – focus on the action goal, keep distractions away, make the design simple and make it meaningful!”

~ Alonso Ysa, Creative Director and Developer at Hammerhead


“It is important to do keyword research before you begin development. This will give you a better grasp on the site messaging, content needed and navigation to be included.”

~ Stoney G deGeyter, CEO and Project Manager of Pole Position Marketing


From Backups to Testing and Everything In Between 

Digital Director at Wingard Creative Adam Berry shares his top seven CRO tips for designers:

1. Write content first

Before designing or building a site, figure out the content. Create a content outline and determine the hierarchy of pages and content. This will save time in design and development.

2. Think long term

When making updates or creating new sites, try to future-proof it as best you can. Prioritize what you want (see the “Must, Could, Should, Would” method at wsm.co/mscwidea). Doing some basic work now, may make adding features later easier.

3. Backup everything

Even the simplest of changes can go wrong, and without backups, a 15-minute routine task can turn into a day-long headache. 

4. Set up a staging site

Create a copy of the site to make updates and test features without impacting the live site. Some hosting providers offer a way to make staging sites, or developers can do it through a third party or plugin.  

5. Perform A/B testing

Try multiple landing pages and track performance. Make changes and compare results. Use a landing page builder like Unbounce to simplify the process. Small changes, even the color of a button, can impact conversion rates. 

6. Analyze visitors’ movement

Use a tool like Hotjar to look at heatmaps, watch recordings of user sessions and track conversion funnels. Watching visitors navigate can be a tremendous help in finding what’s hurting conversions or traffic.

7. Perform browser testing

Just because the site or page works on your browser, doesn’t mean it works well on all browsers. Test pages on as many browsers and devices as possible. Tools like Browserstack or Saucelabs can help. 


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