When a marketing guru suggests revamping your whole website design, it sounds like too much work. You’ve already invested time and money into your current design. Can’t you just work with what you have?
If you don’t have the resources to start from scratch, the good news is you can work with what you have. Although, preparing your existing website for a stellar marketing campaign will largely be a process of elimination and a move toward simplicity.
Here’s how the marketing pros scale down and trim the fat:
Move to a barebones, minimal design
Most people assume that successful marketing requires adding more visual elements to their website. They want homepage sliders with beautiful images, sidebars with widgets, and mega menus that display links to all the pages they’ve got.
Those elements can create a beautiful website, but the truth is, fanciful websites don’t generate optimal conversions. In fact, designs considered plain or ugly often convert the best. These designs convert better because they quickly get the visitor where they want to be, which is the whole point.
You don’t need to make your website ugly on purpose, but you do need to eliminate unnecessary elements. An element is unnecessary if you can’t identify what purpose it serves in converting visitors.
For instance, you might have an image at the top of every blog post that scales to fill up the whole screen on any device. This looks cool, but it doesn’t contribute to conversions. Featured images on blog posts are like the parsley that comes with a good prime rib: it’s a garnish that makes the dish look good, but it doesn’t (usually) get eaten.
Size your images based on purpose
The size of your images should be proportionate to the amount of time your visitor will spend looking at it. If the image is supplementary to your content, visitors will only glance at the image before moving onto the content. Images people only glance at shouldn’t fill the screen.
On the flip side, if you’re presenting an image as part of the content you want your visitors to look at, a larger image would be appropriate.
Add more information to your product listings in search view
When a user searches for a product on an ecommerce site, having the right information displayed in the results can result in faster conversions. When a user browses their search results, they need enough information to make a decision without having to click to view each product page.
For example, this site selling parts for pools tells visitors the part number, price, and indicates that the items are “tax-free.” Providing the part number in the search results gives visitors enough information to quickly scan through the page for what they need. Noting that the parts are tax-free gives visitors an incentive to buy there and possibly skip comparing prices altogether.
Move to an all-text format
If it’s appropriate for your content, moving to an all-text format could boost your conversion rate.
Text-centric websites like 4Chan, Wikipedia, Craigslist, Hacker News, and The Drudge Report all appear to be out-of-date and boring, but their popularity has remained steady for years. Similar sites have entered the arena with beautiful, modern designs but the originals remain king.
Daniel Gackle, the guy behind Hacker News (HN), told The Next Web why his sparse interface works so well. He said, “HN emphasizes content above all else. A fancy UI would distract from that. Text is timeless. The information density of HN is carefully calibrate: it would be hard to squeeze more in, and less would feel too lightweight.”
Gackle also explained that his minimal design stimulates intellectual curiosity. With a text-based design, pages load faster, and the design attracts people who want substance rather than novelty.
By that same token, blogger Jason Fried explains why he considers the Drudge Report to be one of the best designed sites on the web. While Fried calls the design ugly, he also calls it an aesthetic masterpiece.
“Its generic list of links, black and white monospaced font, and ALL CAPS headlines have survived every trend, every fad, every movement, every era, every design do or don’t,” he says. “There are no tricks, no sections, no deep linking, no special technology required. It’s all right there on one page.”
The Drudge Report is just one example of a website that doesn’t need to keep redesigning their website in order to stay on top. You can achieve the same level of success if you’re willing to sacrifice visual appeal for practicality.