There’s often a bit of debate over whether design is really that important for a website. If the content, copy, and strategy are otherwise all right – does the design really make a difference to your conversion rate?
The short answer: yes! Design matters a lot to conversion. People make super-fast judgements about everything –and it only takes about 50 milliseconds for a visitor to form an opinion on your website. That first impression can make a visitor quickly run for the nearest exit – or go on to convert.
For the long answer: read on!
One of our clients had a free video opt-in page that performed well. There were easily over one hundred conversions from the page each month, and the conversion rate was strong. But in the spirit of our #3 value, optimisation, I decided to run a test to see if we could further improve the conversion results.
With some research on user perceptions and conversion optimisation principles in mind, I decided to do a fairly simple design refresh as a split test.
The copy was already strong – but the design was definitely lacking. This page was a content page on the client’s website and it hadn’t had its own specific design created yet.
All of the content was kept the same (including headlines and form fields), but the new design was significantly different. Here are the two pages side-by-side for comparison:
From an unscientific point-of-view without any data: the new page design looks much better! But will it improve conversion?
And exactly how much does visual design matter to conversion?
The new page increased conversion by 43.90%, with a statistical confidence of 95% (test run over two months).
With all the research out there on visual design and user perceptions, this isn’t too big of a surprise – but it’s a really good reminder that it pays to take the time to invest in conversion-optimised design.
Here’s a deconstruction of the design elements that we changed, and why:
1: Addition of Stock Image
I added a carefully chosen stock image above-the-fold as part of the overall effort to improve the page design. This particular image was chosen for a few reasons:
a) Image relevance. The particular service was broadly related to retirement planning. This image quickly reinforces the desired outcome of a person looking for this type of service (a happy retirement!), so it’s relevant.
b) Eye flow direction. The two people in the stock image are looking towards the form – so your eye is more naturally drawn towards it too.
Stock images are tricky to get right, so it’s really important to keep these principles in mind when selecting a photo. Images without relevance are distracting for the wrong reasons, and adding in a photo that leads your visitor’s eyes off to the wrong area can be harmful for conversion.
2: Redesign of Opt-In Form
We added in a new form – and designed it to contrast more with the rest of the page than the old form. Creating your forms in a colour that stands out from the rest of the page can definitely help with conversion – as again, your eye is more likely to be drawn to it.
The button text also changed slightly – we renamed the button “Start Watching Now” from “Watch Free Video” to make it sound more action-driven – and instantly beneficial to the visitor.
3: Redesign of Testimonials Area
The old testimonials area was called “Case Studies” – and all the testimonials were related to the service, not the video. They weren’t relevant and were possibly harming conversion – at this page, a visitor is only thinking about watching a free video…not buying into an expensive service.
We gave the testimonials area a design refresh, and renamed it “What Others Are Saying…”. The content otherwise remained the same.
4: Addition of a Form at the Bottom of the Page
We added in a form at the bottom of the page for all those people who actually wanted to read the page content. This just makes it easier to convert once you’ve scrolled down – the form is right there waiting for you. Visitors then don’t need to think about their next action – it’s right there waiting for them.
In summary: a few simple design tweaks can really impact your conversion rate. The new page design wasn’t at all complex (and the content was 100% the same as the old page), but the design refresh increased conversion by 43.90%.
If we had dedicated more resources to the design, I’m sure that we could have increased conversion further – but this was a great quick win for the client to boost results quickly.
Unsurprisingly, visual design counts – and this quick win case study is the perfect reminder of why it’s important to keep design in mind when optimising for conversion.