How to Optimize Web Design for Conversions

A question I often get asked is, “how do I go about optimizing the design of my website?” In a nutshell, no one can tell you how to optimize your website better than your own visitors, and they do so in many ways. It’s just a matter of having the right web analytics tools to pick up on what they are trying to tell you.

To easily tackle website redesign, these tools should communicate both quantitative and qualitative data about your visitors’ between-page AND In-Page experience – to, from, and inside each webpage. Each one of your visitors has his or her own reasons for coming to your website and what he or she wishes to gain from it. Therefore, in order to best design and improve online usability for your visitors, it is essential to understand why they come to your site in the first place.

Clickstream Analytics

Up until the last five years, the primary focus of web analytics has been on the click path analysis of online visitors as they navigate between each webpage. This type of analytics, we call clickstream analytics, enables online businesses to capture quantitative metrics about website traffic including number of pageviews, number of visitors and their average time on a page.

Among these quantitative metrics, we have, of course, conversion rates. Whether you have an ecommerce site, a media outlet, or a nonprofit organization, there is always some form of conversion you are trying to achieve on your website. This could be making a purchase, but might also include downloading a white paper, signing up for a newsletter or contacting a salesperson, just to name a few. Once you define what this desired conversion is and quantify what is going on within your site, you can then track changes over time and evaluate whether they have a positive or negative effect on your conversion rate.

After deciding what KPIs need improvement, your next question should be: how to maximize them? Clickstream analytics, providing data about your visitor traffic alone, does not reveal how a customer experiences your site and the webpages therein. This can only be seen and understood through the analysis of visitor engagement within the webpages themselves. Below is an example of Clickstream Analytics from Google

Google Analytics Screenshot

In-Page Analytics

Website owners today need additional tools to reveal the in-page experience of their visitors. In-Page analytics tools provide you with honest visitor feedback about each usability element within your webpages. Each time a visitor clicks, hovers, scrolls or hesitates with his mouse, he is communicating rich qualitative data about the text, images, links, banners, and ads, as well as their placement on your webpages. Given that there is an 84-88% correlation between eye and mouse movement, you can learn what content your visitors are looking at, what specific elements they are interacting with, and how far down on the page they scroll. Below is an example of Mouse Move and Mouse Click Heatmaps by ClickTale.

Mouse Movement Heatmap

In-Page analytics tools give you two ways to learn about your visitors. Discover either individual visitor behavior by recording and playing back videos of their actual browsing sessions or aggregating thousands of visitor sessions into visual Heatmaps and other behavioral reports. Additionally, the ability to segment these reports enables you to analyze the specific visitor types. Compare the online behavior of:

  • Visitors from different countries and who speak different languages
  • First time visitors vs. returning visitors
  • Visitors with different screen sizes and fold heights
  • Converted customers vs. abandoned visitors
  • Organic Search Engine generated traffic vs. a paid search, email, or any other campaign traffic

In-Page analytics can also include reports that evaluate the success of your online forms. Find out which form fields cause potential customers drop out, how much time is spent filling in each field, and which fields are left blank. You instantly remove much of the guesswork behind your conversion rates and abandonment rates. Below we can see an example of form analytics with segmentation from Clicktale.

Form Analytics Segmentation

In-Page analytics tools deliver qualitative actionable insights that you can utilize to instantly optimize your website design.

Conversion Funnel Drill Down: Clickstream + In-Page Analytics

The most effective analytics tools combine both between page and In-page solutions to answer the often overwhelming questions associated with website redesign: Which pages need to be redesigned? What specific page elements are problematic? How should they be redesigned? The ClickTale Conversion Funnel Drill-Down released yesterday is one such tool that does just that.

Conversion Funnels reveal how customers browse throughout your website, where they converted, where they dropped out, which pages produce the highest conversion rates and which cause the highest abandonment. Previously known to be complex and difficult to use, ClickTale’s Conversion Funnels allow online businesses to easily and efficiently extract necessary conversion data, maximizing conversion rates and websites’ ROI. See a screenshot from the tool below.

Conversion Funnel

Bridging the gap between traditional and In-Page Analytics, the ClickTale Conversion Funnel with powerful drill-down capabilities is now the only web analytics tool to provide online businesses both quantitative statistics and qualitative behavioral data about their visitors at each funnel step.

Discover the answer to the following questions:

  • What causes visitors to abandon your conversion funnel?
  • Which behaviors lead to successful conversions?
  • Which webpage elements hurt the conversion process?
  • Where visitors go when they leave the funnel?

Take Aways

Web design has always been an important factor in website performance and success. If you want to take a substantial amount of guesswork out of the design process, and do so successfully, I highly recommend listening to your visitors. Ask yourself whether the site/page/form, etc. offers real value to your audience, why should they care and how useful it is to them.

Sometimes even minor adjustments to your web design can make a major impact on site performance. By using both traditional and In-Page analytics to implement and test these small changes, you can fine-tune each page to achieve optimum results. Improving conversion rates, ROI and usability is an ongoing process, but one that will ultimately help you keep your site on top of its game.

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