By Ralph Francois on May 10, 2013 at 9:00 am

While it can be a tough balance to achieve, creating a functional, streamlined and well designed website is well worth the effort.

Fortunately, improving your customers’ experience with your site coincides with improving your bottom line. One study even revealed that a website’s design is most likely to affect its presumed trustworthiness—not the content that lies within.

Today, we’ll look at some proven strategies for building a website that customers will love to use ... and buy from.

Let’s get started!

1. If it’s Important, it Should be Obvious

While it’s not necessary to keep every little thing “above the fold” (more on that point later), it is important to create a site that correctly prioritizes key pages.

In a humorous take on doing this wrong, xkcd points out how miserable it is to browse most university’s homepages:

In a common example, think back to a time that you visited a restaurant homepage that didn’t have their hours listed or that hid the phone number for reservations all the way at the bottom of the page.

Try viewing your site from a customer’s perspective, and apply the KISS principle to avoid clutter and needless navigation.

2. Give Customers Closure

Human beings have a natural inclination to seek closure.

This trait even applies to the purchase of new products. According to a new study from the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers feel more satisfied with their purchase if they get a sense of closure after the sale is made.

The idea of closure is a bit muddy to describe, but the authors of the study point to clear cues that indicate that the deal is done and other options are no longer a concern.
 Perhaps the best way to illustrate the study’s findings is with the use of this terrible example:

Hopefully this is one of the worst user experience and copywriting fails you’ll see this week. The image above showcases an awful way to close a deal; it’s ambiguous, impersonal and just downright confusing.

For all of the aspects of your site that can be “finished” (e.g., purchases, contact forms, etc.), make it crystal clear that the process has been completed and a customer is all set.

3. What’s the Best Color for Conversions?

The argument over which color is best for conversions is a silly one.

Red, orange, green—there’s never a consensus. A color’s ability to affect conversions has far more to do with context than the color itself.
 This statement is supported by cognitive research, specifically a phenomenon known as the Von Restorff effect. In layman’s terms, the effect predicts that whatever stands out gets recognized and easily recalled, and what blends in gets ignored.

So when you come across A/B tests like this one, you should recognize that one color only outperforms the other because it stands out.

It’s better to create a visual hierarchy for your site, as explained by StudioPress and illustrated below:

You can utilize “action colors” to denote when a customer should click, allowing you to distinguish your important buttons and links from your unimportant ones.

4. Apply Fitt’s Law

The use of Fitt’s law in web design may seem like common sense after you read about it, but many small business sites don’t seem to put it into practice.

The mathematics behind Fitt’s law make it seem complicated:

But the main takeaway is that the larger a target object is and the closer it is to a user’s start point, the easier it is to use and the more attention it will draw (duh!).

You can improve your website’s usability with Fitt’s law by making the most commonly used buttons bigger than others (thereby ranking them more important in the visual hierarchy). You can also improve your calls to action by making the most important element the largest and the easiest to access.

It makes sense that Unbounce would have the equivalent of their “Try Us” button be larger than other options such as “Log In” or “Landing Page Examples:”

Are the most important elements of your site’s design easy to access and use?

5. The Power of Large, Concise Headlines

According to data from Eyetrack III, a study that looked at web usability, headlines are consistently the most viewed items on a web page ... even over images!

Headlines attract eyeballs because users want to see exactly what the page is about (qualifying if it’s what they want). Bold, concise headlines give them that information up front.

You’ll notice this design trend is becoming common on the homepages of many companies:

Far from just being a marketing tactic, headlines let you really give users what they want. You save everyone time by letting customers know from the start if your product is a fit for their needs.

Read the rest of the article at the HelpScout website

Ralph Francois

Blog Author

Ralph Francois

Ralph Francois is the founder and CEO of Studgate Inc, the web developing company based in Boston but reaching clients as far as Hong Kong. Ralph is passionate about developing websites and transforming ideas into web applications that our clients ca... Read more