Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Worst Practices for Conversion Rates

Your conversion rate is the percentage of visitors on your web site who convert into paying customers, clients, or patients. In a recent article in Website Magazine, Tim Ash encourages website owners to “Keep Your Graphic Designer on a Short Leash”. Tim, CEO of SiteTuners.com a landing page optimization firm, says that you may have been led astray by your web designer. He says that because of the limitations of their unique perspective, web designers are predisposed to (inadvertently) sacrifice your conversions in the name of “coolness”.

Not all web designers fall into the “coolness” trap, as is evidenced by our strategic partners. But many do. Perhaps the most egregious form of this is web designers who design entire websites in all Flash, rendering them irretrievably invisible to search engines. But there are many other lesser evils that can be perpetrated on your poor web pages that make them less likely to drive your visitors to take the action you want them to take. Here’s a bit of what Tim says:

Unfortunately, many … pages are … a visual assault on the senses, forcing the visitor to determine what (if any) of the many striking visual elements on the page are important.

After conversion optimization

Before

Graphic designers are rarely trained in maximizing conversion. The best ones pride themselves on their ability to be non-conformists, and their ability to “think outside the box.” They are bored with standard production-oriented graphic design work and like to keep themselves entertained by doing something new and interesting on every project. Unfortunately, the goal of the design is often lost, resulting in these chaotic … pages.

Wild background colors — Many … pages use dark and dramatic color themes. Often, large sections of the page or entire backgrounds are black or fully-saturated bright colors. The color choices often create a dark and brooding atmosphere, or imply something so exotic that would only appeal to teenage male adrenaline junkies who play too many video games.

Garish text — Page text and headlines are haphazardly placed on the page and often use very large font in high contrast colors. Font sizes are often enormous, and are further emphasized by the use of edging effects, drop shadows, color transitions and needs, and fill patterns.

Visual embellishments and flourishes — Even simple page elements such as box edges are emphasized with drop shadows, glow, or other effects. Simple round discs in bullet list are replaced by colorful graphical check marks or other icons. A neutral background space to the site of the landing page is often filled in with intricate patterns or photographic images.

After convesion optimization

After

Animation or video — All other design mistakes on the landing page pale in comparison to the aggressive use of motion, animation, and video. Images and text pulsate or revolve, image slideshows use wild fly-in transition effects, intricate animation sequences draw the eye, and full-motion video auto-plays on the page. These attention-grabbing tactics are very powerful. Unfortunately, they are rarely tied to the desired conversion goal on the … page and only serve to squander a few precious seconds of limited visitor attention. Never deploy rich media on your page without first testing to determine its impact on conversion.

Tim then presented a case study illustrating the before and after versions of an important page for a national client of theirs, along with eye-tracking results. He convincingly presents the case that you need to create web pages that draw the eye and the attention of your visitor to the places on the page that will drive them to call you or buy from you.

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