by Wes McDowell, The Deep End
If you’re a startup, you probably already know the importance of having a killer website. In addition to being your lifeline to the rest of the world, it can (and should) be a major tool to allow you to grow your prospects, and gain traction in the marketplace.
The way I see it, your website should cover two major bases:
- It should be current.
- It should be designed to actually contribute to your success.
Luckily, there are actually a few web design trends poised to be very prominent in 2016 that have been tested, and shown to improve conversion rates on any website when used correctly.
In other words, if you use them right, your site will not only look extremely current, (which helps in the credibility department,) but it will actually help convert more visitors into customers or qualified leads.
Here, we will look at three of the newest trends in website design and user experience that you can use today in order to increase conversion rates on your own site.
(For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “conversions,” it simply refers to any time you actually make a sale, or get a lead from your website.)
Trend 1: Prioritized Navigation.
One of the biggest roadblocks between your site’s visitors and making a conversion is an overkill of options.
Every web page should have one distinct, all-encompassing goal. As an example, on my site, I want people to fill out a form to set up a consultation. That is the ultimate goal, so I employ a few tricks to get people to do just that.
According to a recent study, when presented with too many options, the average person is 10 times more likely to take no action at all. I don’t know about you, but I hate those odds. So it makes the most sense to structure your site in such a way that they don’t have an overwhelming number of options to choose from.
Here is a simple action plan to follow:
- Figure out your main goal, which will become your Call-to-action (CTA) button. (Example: “Get a No-Strings Consultation”)
- Decide which are your biggest “money pages.” These are the pages you count on users being able to find and browse in order to properly entice a conversion. Then ask yourself, is there any way to reuse some of that content all in one landing page? If not, then pick your top two or three pages, and keep those in a standard header navigation bar.
- Move all links to the rest of your pages and place them in a hidden-drawer menu. This will be accessible by clicking a menu button in the header.
- Remember your CTA from before? Style it as a button for maximum impact, and place that in the header as well.
What we have done here is successfully prioritized where you want your users to go. Your main CTA will stand out the most, since it is styled as a button. But if your visitors would rather visit some of your more important pages first, they are also very accessible. If they still need more, they can find the other pages in the hidden menu if they choose. But the idea is, those less important options don’t clutter the playing field.
Trend #2: MInimal Lead Capture.
Let’s say you don’t actually sell anything on your website, but you do want to use it to get qualified leads you can market to later. This trend is a great tool you can use to maximize those leads.
Drawing upon our last trend, we already know that too many options and distractions will only get in your way. So, what better way to get loads of email addresses than to simply ask for them?
Ok, not simply. There is a bit of finesse involved here if you want to get the most out of it. This can work on its own landing page (recommended,) or as a section on any page(s) of your choosing. Here is all you need:
- A short, snappy headline. It should speak to a benefit your offering delivers, or alleviate a pain point. (For example: “Stop Wasting Time and Start Being Productive.”)
- A persuasive one sentence subheadline that supports the headline (“Discover the only project management software that combines time tracking and team communication in one easy-to-use package.”)
- An email capture field. Resist the urge to pump your visitors for too much information, as every additional thing you ask for will lessen the probability of getting the lead at all.
- A direct CTA. You should use words that make people think of getting something, rather than giving something or taking on a task. For example, “Get a Free Consultation” is much more clickable than “Schedule a Free Consultation.” The word “schedule” sounds like a hassle.
- Plenty of breathing room around the whole thing. This eliminates distractions, and alerts your visitors that this is the one and only thing they are supposed to do.
Trend #3: Video.
While video certainly isn’t new in 2016, it is still widely underused, and we can expect to see that change this year. I am a huge proponent of video in websites for many reasons, but mainly, I love it for the trust it adds to a site. And trust leads to conversions.
What can impede a conversion more than a lack of trust? When is the last time you bought something online without seeing any reviews? Or went to a restaurant for that matter? Reviews on sites like Amazon and Yelp provide trust, and video can work the same sort of magic for one very important reason: it’s extremely hard to lie on video. People’s B.S. meters are just too strong. Consider this example:
How much would you trust a written testimonial about a business when it’s on their own website? Marginally at best, since they ultimately control the content of the site. Maybe they’re filtering out bad reviews, or maybe they just made it up completely. The point is, you don’t know. But what if the testimonial were a video?
Unless you have access to Meryl Streep herself, the odds of falsifying a convincing video testimonial are slim. People can spot acting (even if it’s good,) and they can also recognize the truth in a human face. A testimonial is just one example of how you can use video on your site to build trust, and increase conversions. Here are some more ideas:
- Welcome videos are great for making users feel comfortable with your startup. They can get to know the people behind it, and see the human face of the company.
- Product demos. If you sell a product or service, show it in action. It’s the next best thing to users being able to interact with it themselves, and it breaks down the “I won’t buy it till I can see it” barrier much better than still photos.
- Ambient background videos can take the place of a large slideshow on your homepage, and they have been shown to perform better too. Just keep it fairly muted in color, and limit the movement so you don’t distract your visitors from following your CTA.
Starting a business from scratch is very difficult, but you can use your website to help launch it to success. The days of having an “online business card” type website are dead, and for good reason. You’re working very hard to make a go of your new business, so make sure your website is pulling its weight. By using these techniques properly on your website, you are helping it help you.
Wes McDowell is a web designer and usability expert at The Deep End, a web design agency in Chicago. He loves staying current on everything in the realm of website design, development and user experience, as well as sharing his knowledge through the magic of the interwebs.