Website Conversion Optimization 101

Three Steps To Turning Your Website Into A Conversion Machine:

What is the purpose of your website? Do you want to sell a product? Promote your new store? Book reservations? Collect emails? Generate awareness about your personal brand?

Ok, got it. Now for the key question – how successful is your website in fulfilling this purpose?

Too many small business owners (and more than a handful of large companies) don’t spend enough time considering this question. 

The technical term for this is conversions. How many site visitors convert into paying customers, email sign ups, phone calls, reservations, etc.

Let’s say you own a small online business that sells rubber ducks. You have yellow ducks, red ducks, big ducks, small ducks. Ok, pretty niche, but hey, we’re not judging – often these niche business are super successful.

Yellow rubber ducks in a blue tub

Now, let’s say that business has Google Analytics installed, and the owner sees they are getting 100 visitors to their site every day, but they are only making 2 sales per day. Ok, perhaps this niche business isn’t doing so well…

Most people, when faced with such a problem, immediately come to the conclusion that they need to find a way to drive more traffic to their site. Maybe if I get 5 times the traffic, I will make 5 times the sales! Sounds enticing – and there are even some super tangible methods of achieving this:

  • Buy more ads, hire an ad agency, or increase the size of your marketing team
  • Pay someone to increase SEO
  • Sell more products

These tactics can work great and definitely serve a purpose when you are ready; however they can cost a ton of money and greatly increase complexity around your business. And the simple fact is that if you are only converting 2 customers in every 100, you don’t need more visitors. You need to turn more of those existing visitors into paying customers!

This is where conversion optimization comes in. If you understand a few key principles, you can turn that wonkey donkey website of yours into a beautiful but deadly conversion machine.

A white sign saying you are not lost, you are here on a brick building

When many experts talk about conversion optimization, they emphasize the importance of A/B testing; testing minor feature changes against each other to see which one converts better. I don’t disagree with the importance of A/B testing, however I disagree that this should be the first step – you need to establish the core building blocks of the website before testing tedious features.

From experience, these core building blocks come down to three different factors. Get these right, and you may find your rubber ducky store going from a 2% conversion rate to a 15% conversion rate overnight, even before any tedious A/B testing!

That said, I will now provide a bit more detail on these three core building blocks so you can think about how to implement them on your own site:

  1. Design

I put design at the top of the list, as I believe it to be the most important factor in optimizing conversions. Why? Because people are busy, and if your site is ugly, slow, or confusing, then it really doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, they will close your page and move onto the next one before finding out.  

Beautiful white flatlay with gold watch silver keyboard and white and black marble journals

Here are a few key design tips for optimizing conversions:

  • Make it clean, beautiful, and visually appealing: Your website is often the first place people go to find out about your product, service, or offering. They expect professionalism, and they expect you to put effort into promoting your business. If your website looks like something circa 2001, you know what to do.
  • Optimize that baby for all devices – especially mobile: The stats are clear; over half of all global web pages are served to a mobile phone. It is safe to assume that many of your conversions will come from a hand held device.
  • Simplify: Your value proposition needs to be clean and clear, and immediately apparent to site visitors. If there is any question about what the purpose of the website is, then it is too complex. Put the core value proposition on the first fold of the website, and make it visually appealing. You also want to hold your visitors hand through the process by creating a clear site map, and directing visitors with clear, simple calls of action.
  • Make it lightning fast: People don’t have time to wait for your site to load. They want what you have to offer, and they want it now. Everything from the server your site is hosted on to optimizing photos and text and cleaning up unnecessary code will improve your speed.
  1. Trust

The internet can be a bit of a scary place, and unless your visitors have a reason to trust you, there is no way you can expect them to give you their email or credit card information.

Two men on a beach giving each other high fives with a sunset behind it

Here’s a few ways you can establish trust right away:

  • SSL certificates: An SSL certificate turns http into https, and tells your visitors your site is secure. Having a valid SSL certificate is often the first thing visitors will see, and immediately starts to build trust. SSL certificates are an absolute must for any site that collects payment, credit card information, or any other sensitive information, however all sites benefit from having an SSL certificate.
  • Testimonials: One of the easiest ways to earn trust is to show that other’s trust your site, product or service.
  • Include a FAQ: By answering your visitors questions up front, they will see that you have nothing to hide. As an added bonus, a good FAQ will greatly reduce your customer service burden.
  1. Content

Last, but certainly not least, is content. Not long after you wow your visitors with design, and establish some preliminary trust, they are going to want to read your content, and determine if what you are offering is something they want.

A woman in a beige sweater writing on a piece of paper with a pencil

Here are some content related tips to keep in mind:

  • Have a strong value proposition: What you do should be undeniably clear the second someone visits your site. As I discussed, this has a design element and relies on positioning on the page, but deeper than that, what the value proposition says and how it says it is of utmost importance. Keep it short, to the point, and make it exciting
  • Use clear, understandable language: You are the expert on what you offer. That doesn’t mean all of your site’s visitors will be. Speak to your audience in a way that everyone will understand. Stay clear of industry jargon and $100 words where possible. Simplicity is often key when it comes to content.

If you follow these three core principles, you may find that you don’t need to spend copious amounts of time or money to generate higher conversion. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, and build a site that they will be happy to use.

If you want any help with any of this, at Stirr Creativ, we rely on design, trust, and content to build websites in Vancouver that convert the first time around. Let us know if you want a hand on your next project!


Visual example of great website design