I have recently been reading Web Design for ROI by Lance Loveday & Sandra Niehaus, and have learnt a great deal!
As a designer, I found the Design Guidelines section of the book most interesting. In particular, the discussion of the increasing importance of well-designed specific elements within a website
Also, improving the conversion rate of a website is one of the best ways to make it more profitable, subsequently improving return on investment (ROI).
This post will discuss a few areas that I found most interesting.
Guided Trial and ErrorOne of the most effective ways of improving the conversion rate of your website is guided trial and error. Continually testing the text and graphics on your website can make a massive difference. 'Crazy Egg' is a program that can monitor the amount of clicks that certain buttons and links receive, but also where exactly the person has clicked. Small brightly coloured clusters of dots can be seen where people have clicked (which to me looks like someone has shot the screen with a miniature paint ball gun!)
The main problem with data like this for smaller businesses is that it takes a very long time to build up enough to analyse. Ten clicks one day and twelve the next can not be counted as suitable data to make decisions from. Because of this it can take quite some time to come up with the right solutions. In the mean time it is probably best to learn from the big boys. For example, Amazon's checkout process has had an extensive amount of research done on what colours/buttons increase sales.
Buttons and FormsChapter 4, Landing Pages, discusses that when it comes to buttons the bigger and shinier the better! This is really true! It is also important to make sure that a page is not too busy; that there aren't too many brightly coloured elements fighting for the user's attention. It is important to ask yourself: What do you want visitors to your website to do? Where do you want them to click? Their visit should be made as easy as possible. It should be obvious what to do- they should never have to ask, where to next?
To practice what I preach....we have recently added a much larger call-to-action button onto the contact page of the Distilled website.
Try this trick... if you squint your eyes so the screen appears fuzzy and no text is clearly visible, can you still tell what you should be clicking on then? It really is all about those transparent sheens and drop shadows that make the buttons jump out of the screen.
Another helpful trick is to repeat buttons- one near a form and one at the bottom of the page (providing these are different places). The language on these buttons should be simple. Not too demanding but direct and welcoming.
'Chapter 8 Forms' I also found particularly interesting:
When filling in forms it is important to make the user aware from the beginning what they can expect from the whole process. On many occasions I have started to fill in what appears to be an easy form and just when I think I am finished I am surprised by another (usually lengthy) section. At this point I close the window and give up.
The best way to avoid this unwanted surprise is to demonstrate clearly the stages. This is often done,by having step 1, step 2 and step 3 across the top of the form. People like advanced information- not surprises!
Another way to help make filling in forms a more speedy process is to help people out by filing in the most frequently used answer. This means, more often than not, that no further selection is necessary. It's worth the effort: the more forms filled in, the more business your company is likely to receive.
Most ImportantlyHowever, the most useful section of the book for me was a list of questions that users subconsciously ask when they visit your website:
Is this what I expected to see?
Does this look credible and trustworthy?
Does this look interesting enough to spend more time here?
If the answer is no to any of these questions your conversion rates could be suffering as a consequence.
I will leave you with these questions in mind. And yes, you probably are biased as it is your website- it may be wise to ask an outsider to your company for their opinion.
This is just a small insight into the wise words of Lance Loveday and Sandra Niehaus,
Other chapters within the book discuss, Managing for ROI, Landing pages, Home pages, Category Pages, Detail Pages and Checkout Processes.
This book can be purchased at: