Guiding the Customer: Website Conversion Optimisation

Using this advice you can optimize the performance and conversion of your website or a landing page.

The Internet is getting increasingly cluttered – thus, having your own web page does not guarantee the success of your business. Apart from attracting the traffic to your web page through advertising or SEO, boosting the conversion rates (that is, getting actual sales or having visitors perform other actions you want them to) is extremely important. Below are some areas you can use to leverage the performance of your online presence.

Landing page

Avoid using your home page as your landing page for every campaign you do. Because a visitor decides within milliseconds, whether to stay on your page or click the “Back” button in his browser, make sure that what he sees matches his current needs. Landing pages with too much information or too many functions act distracting and irritating, as the user is clicking through the areas of the web page struggling to find what he needs. Even if your website contains a lot of information and categories, try to limit the amount of information presented down to the minimum and make it easy to digest.

Websites with unusual, “creative” layouts may, on the one hand, attract the attention of the visitor, but due to the reduced usability, are very likely to decrease your conversion rates, as the website visitors (and the potential customers!) get lost in the jungle of JavaScript and Flash animations.

Another important point is the technical usability of your website, e.g. the compatibly with different browser types, the absence of broken links, and last, but not least, the speed of the website (the speed of the website is also an important factor in search engine optimization).

Call-to-Action

In order to convert, your website hast to contain clear and precise calls-to-action. Some guidelines to follow: the button should match the overall design of the website (so as not to be perceived as advertising or an external link), but on the other hand, provide a color or size contrast to the less essential areas of the web page.

The position of the clickable CTA should be within the normal eye path of the visitor: according to some experts, the location in the lower part of the page on the right-hand side is advantageous, however, this would not work for long pages, where you have to scroll or for smaller monitors (netbooks, mobile, etc). On the other hand, elements placed in the upper left hand corner often get the most initial attention by a visitor (Google golden triangle).

Conversion barriers

Some well or less well known conversion barriers include the areas of the web page requiring registration, long forms to fill out, CAPTCHAs (pictures with words or numbers you need to type in to prove your human identity), distractions in the form of cross-selling or external advertisements, extended visitor’s path (a number of clicks required to reach the intended goal) and all kinds of usability and performance problems.

Test and find out

In conclusion, it must be noted that the guidelines given above are of very general nature, in other words, only by testing and monitoring performance you can learn about the methods working in your particular case. Some testing methods are A/B tests (tests with a control group), mouse tracking and eye tracking tests, as well as thorough studying of customer segmentation and implementing methods of website optimization for different target segments.

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Essential Criteria for CMS Selection

Essential features of a good content management system (CMS) were discussed during CMS night in Nuremberg. Both web developers and editors should be considered.

Content management systems (CMS) are applications used to build websites and manage website content and layout centrally, also if there is a larger number of publishers and editors involved. Currently, there are hundreds of proprietary and open source CMS, based on several programming languages (though at the moment PHP-based CMS are leading).

Last Monday, Co-Working Space Nuremberg hosted a workshop dedicated to some well-known and also relatively new CMS (Joomla!, TYPO3, WordPress, as well as Contao and Refinery). The participants represented a mixture of web developers and CMS-users, such as online marketing agencies.

Several features essential for CMS systems were discussed:

  • Usability features for web developers or web designers:
    • individually expandable functionality of CMS, existence of a range of extensions: plug-ins, widgets, templates, templates…
    • possibility to connect several domains in one CMS with a single log-in
    • possibility for integration of several CMS within a structure of a single website
    • flexibility and programming-friendliness of a system in order to create customized designs
    • flexibility in creating customized or streamlined back-end interface
    • support and forums for web developers
    • suitability for complex websites with hundreds of pages
  • Usability for editors and publishers (users)
    • suitability of CMS for a variety of web functions (e.g. an online shop)
    • open source availability of the CMS and the extensions
    • traceability of the staging process and the workflow
    • time-delayed publication
    • possibility of editing content in the frontend
    • preview features
    • a developed user support system: “help” functions, documentation as well as forums and “community”
    • multilingual possibilities of a CMS
    • simple and clear depiction of the website structure in the backend
    • simplicity in use, also for people without programming background

All in all, the choice of CMS depends both on the website purpose and the resources available. New CMS are constantly being developed (e.g. Refinery CMS was programmed with Ruby on Rails, and the first version was released in 2011).

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10 Criteria for a Usable Website

What is a usable website? Here is a handful of criteria that help you to test how user-oriented and well-designed your website is.

  1. Orientation towards the target group. For example, a B2B website should differ from a B2C website.
  2. Technical usability. Those include load times, correct display on different devices, etc.
  3. Clear-cut and easy to use navigation. The navigation should be as intuitive as possible. Also, try to reduce the number of items in navigation to a minimum.
  4. Uniform design. Use the same styles, fonts, colors, etc. on each page.
  5. Structured content. Structure the content in a such a way that a user can easily find what their looking for.
  6. Clear, compact and precise text. Avoid run-on sentences, use bullet points, headlines, etc. to make the text more readable.
  7. Up-to-date information. Watch for outdated pages, broken links, etc.
  8. Accessibility (i.e. usability for disabled users). Includes color contrast, fonts, alt-texts, etc.
  9. Search engine friendliness. Optimize your website for SEO, however, not at the cost of worse usability.
  10. Well-planned layout. Your website should lead visitors along logical and clear navigation paths.

(translated and adapted  from German, Web-Design course at VHB)

This list is useful for the evaluation of existing websites and designing a new website.

usable-website-criteria

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

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