By Ethan Tan on October 26, 2010
Turn visitors into customers
Websites used to be little more than online corporate brochures. That’s no longer the case. Your website is more like a virtual employee, your ever-present point of contact with potential customers. Every time a visitor comes to your site, you have an opportunity to build a relationship with that person.
If you consciously design your site to turn these visitors into customers, you can dramatically increase the number of visitors who 'convert' – that is, make a purchase or perform some other action you desire. That will contribute directly to your bottom line.
Design your site to convert
- Know your goal
- Lead visitors to the goal
- Speak to their emotions
- Make your site persuasive
- Use a strong call to action
Know Your Goal
What is the primary action you want visitors to take? If you don’t design with a primary goal, you’ll end up pulling your visitors in several different directions, and won’t make much progress in any one of them.
Examples of primary actions are:
- Purchase your product
- Subscribe to your newsletter
- Follow you on Twitter
- Download your demo or free introductory product
Design all interactions on your site with your primary goal in mind.
Lead Them to the Goal
Make it obvious where the focus should be on your site. Use design and wording to emphasize that focus. You have just seconds to catch someone's attention, so you want to pull their eyes immediately to the most important thing on your site.
Here are some ways to draw attention to your goal:
- Size: Make it big
- Position: Our eyes go naturally to the upper left of the page
- Contrast: light, dark, different shapes
- Images: Especially of people, or people interacting with your product
- Arrows and other directional cues
- Whitespace: To lead the eye
- Headlines and bold text
Speak to Their Emotions
Your visitor's mindset is, "What's in it for me?"
Don't make the mistake of talking about your company or your product's features. People are concerned with their own needs and emotions, so that’s where you should focus. It's not about you. It's about them.
Put yourself into your customers’ shoes, and think about why they are looking for your product or service. Show them how your product's features will bring them benefit.
Show site visitors that:
- You can solve their problem
- You can make their lives better
- Your product can make them feel: safe, proud, happy, attractive, clever, or something equally positive
Make Your Site Persuasive
Use these psychological touchstones on your site:
- Social Proof
We look to others to tell us what’s valuable. Testimonials, reviews, and other evidence of group approval – perhaps numbers such as sales figures or Twitter followers – all help people feel more comfortable making a decision.
We all have a powerful need to repay favors. Give your visitors something first, and they will be more likely to respond to you. Here are some ways to give first:
- Useful information
- Free tools
- Product samples.
We give more credit to figures of authority. Press coverage, endorsements from experts in the field or well-respected companies – even a display of familiar logos – can all lend your site greater stature.
Use a Strong Call to Action
Once you have your visitors’ attention, get them to take the desired action by asking them. It’s really that simple, but people often overlook the “ask.”
Make a strong call to action by telling visitors specifically what you want them to do, and why. "Get our free report instantly" or ‘’Try now’’ are much stronger calls than “Click here.”
- Poll your site visitors, ask them to test your site, and solicit their feedback in other ways. Find out what they are trying to achieve, what they like and dislike, and what problems they’re having with your site. Not only are you getting great information, you’re also engaging them in a deeper relationship with you and your brand.
- Keep testing and improving. There is no such thing as a perfect design, and you should test and refine your site to improve conversion. Use a tool like Google Website Optimizer to test different designs.
- Track conversions. You must measure conversion if you want to improve it. Use analytics packages like Google Analytics to track visitors and conversions.