CXL Institute Conversion Optimization Mini-Degree Scholarship Program Week 7 Review
I left off last week’s blog post covering the ‘visual hierarchy’ and ‘FAQs on websites’ module for the CRO best practices section of the Conversion Optimization Mini Degree training. This week, I will continue to go through more of the best practices modules starting with ‘the importance of visual hierarchy’ module.
Design has a huge impact on conversions as potentially the cornerstone of a business’s marketing as a differentiator. Many companies dominate and outperform their equivalent counterparts simply because of stellar design that enhances and provides a superior user experience.
Two things to understand about people are that:
1) People are visual. Most of what we process is visual.
2) People are quick to judge.
Poor design will instantly decrease trust. This happens within milliseconds as soon as someone lands on a website. Great design outperforms average design time and time again. Of course, great design and average design can be subjective. It is difficult to talk about design in objective terms since everyone has their own biases and opinions.
There are, however, critical objective aspects of design that anyone should be aware about:
1. People judge websites in less than 50 milliseconds.
It takes only 1/10th of a second for people to form first impressions about other people. Website design is no different. Within this split second, people will decide where or not they like the website, which leads to whether not they decide to stay on or leave the website they just landed on. The first impression of a website can depend on many factors. Some of those factors include: structure, colors, spacing, symmetry, amount of text, fonts, and more.
2. First impressions are 94% design related.
An eye-tracking study showed that the look and feel of a website is the main driver of first impressions. Visual design elements take the cake here on deterring those first impressions. The design elements that had the biggest influence on first impressions were logo, main images, colors and the navigation menu. Unfavorable opinions of these elements led to an unfavorable opinion of the website in its entirety.
Similar results from another study found that what people say about how they evaluate the trust of a website and how they really evaluate the trust of a website are two different things. Data also revealed that the average consumer paid far more attention to the superficial aspects of of a website, such as visual cues, than to the website’s content. For example, nearly half of all consumers in that study determined the credibility of the website based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design of the site. This overall visual design included layout, typography, font size and color schemes.
The key takeaway from this is that great design gets people to trust your website and to stick around, while poor design leads to mistrust and makes people abandon your website.
3. Inspiration drives better first impressions.
Inspiration-related elements of website drive the biggest impact on website first impression. Visually appealing stimuli are an important tool for getting people to stay longer on a website, thus improving and increasing the number of website visitors who convert into buyers. After inspiration-related elements, usability is the second most impactful component of forming first impressions, and credibility is the third.
Fundamentally, website visitors want to get inspired about a desired end result or a problem being solved (inspiring imagery of someone happy after using the product that is being sold on the website). They don’t want to waste mental energy on figuring stuff out and needing to put in a lot of effort to get the desired end result or have their problem solved (usability — don’t make me think). And finally, they want to be sure the company and the product that they believe will help them obtain their desired end result or have their problem solved is legit (credibility).
4. Two key ingredients of web design people like: simplicity and prototypicality.
A study found that “visually complex” websites are consistently rated less beautiful than their simpler counterparts. Moreover, “highly prototypical” websites that have layouts associated with sites of its category with simple design were rated as the most beautiful websites across the board.
The simpler and more familiar the design, the better.
Simple design is the exact opposite of complex design. Things like lots of noise, design elements, many columns, banners, automatic sliders, animations, and more add complexity to design.
The more noise there is, the more distraction. And the more distraction, the fewer the conversions there are and less user friendly the website is.
Simplicity is about focus and clarity of purpose. Every website landing page has a singular goal, and everything that’s not directly contributing to that singular goal or action can be removed. Simple design makes people instantly understand what is going on and gives them confidence about what to do.
We must strive to have one core idea, excellent clarity, and design consistency. Simplicity is NOT about having less but mores about having enough. It is not as simple as stripping away every element of web design to having practically nothing. It is about providing adequate information, copy, details, imagery, and elements of conversion and trust at the right time and right visual presentation to make the whole process simple for the end user or potential customer that lands on your website or specific landing page.
For me, this means ensuring that I focus on designing a simpler e-commerce product landing page to include the right and adequate elements to convey what I am selling for that particular product that I am selling on that web page. Some of these elements include: product images with real people in my target demographic using and demonstrating the product in action, benefit-driven copy, customer photo and video reviews with accommodating text, USP trust seals and illustrations, and a primary add to cart call-to-action button.
Furthermore, prototypicality is the basic mental image your brain creates to categorize everything you interact with. From furniture to websites, our minds have already created templates for how things should look and feel. People already have an idea what an e-commerce store, blog, or app should look. Too much novelty and innovation that deviates from this prototype in the mind of the end user can backfire.
Overall, we need to stop arguing over opinions. Data-driven design is the way. It is measurable, and it can be improved. In the end, it is about helping website visitors do something more successfully which in turn helps you make more money.