We were kicking off a web design and development project recently when an interesting comment was made…

Ugly converts!

The unfortunate thing is that this is true. Ugly calls to action on websites actually get clicked… ugly converts. But does conversion have to be ugly? Not really.

Design can be an incredibly powerful tool in your conversion arsenal. Using nothing more than basic rules of art composition, you can dramatically increase the visibility of your calls to action.

Visibility converts. That’s why ugly converts. It’s ugly because it’s usually a loud color, has some sort of movement, or uses jarring design elements so that it stands out.

Bad Design – But at what cost?

Bad design, while it can convert, can have a detrimental effect on your brand. Building your brand, building trust and establishing credibility are all part of a long game marketing strategy.

The long game marketing strategy is about building a strong level of trust with your audience so that you go beyond being a provider of goods and services, you become a trusted resource. If you mar this trust with visual trickery in an effort to get clicks, the damage will show itself over time.

The good news is that, using good design, you can get clicks and contribute to your long game strategy. Let’s take a look at some samples of this used in real websites…

Composition and Conversion

Why Certain Calls to Action Covert

three-callouts

When our brain looks at 3 calls to action on a website with 2 of them being very similar and the 3rd being completely different – it really doesn’t matter what the call to action is, our brain will want to click on the one that’s different.

The number one action the client above wanted the site visitor to take was to try their product. That call to action was purposely designed to standout and get noticed more than the two to the left.

It’s in our DNA to notice the differences in our environment. It really doesn’t matter what the scenario is, be it viewing a website or walking down the street.

Testing Your Call to Action

color-changes

Above you see an image of the same exact call to action with completely different designs. Think they got equal clicks? Of course not.

If a call to action isn’t working you can try a few of the things below to see if doing something as simple as changing the color of the button produces more conversions. Obviously, this assumes your site is getting traffic.

Ways to test with your calls to action:

  • Adjust the placement of CTA within your website
  • Static vs Animated CTA
  • Adjust the size of CTA
  • Try different content
  • Adjust the button size and/or color

Use Clean Design and Visual Cues to Drive Conversion

Give the viewer fewer choices so they don’t have to think and you can guide them down the path you want them to go. It might not be the path they were directly looking for but using the right design techniques and CTA put you in control.

web-design-conversion

Above you can see that the “Learn more about COVES” and “View Our Goals” are clear calls to action. But, look at the design more and you’ll notice (with some help from my big red arrows) that the two illustrated characters are “pointing” to those calls to action. This is on purpose.

These are the visual cues your visitors need for conversion to happen. Design doesn’t happen for design’s sake (at least it shouldn’t). Design should be a crucial part of your path to conversion. Use design to guide the user where you want them to go.

You can do something as simple as the blurry eye test. Look at a website with your vision blurred and take note of what stands out. What catches your attention? Is it the right thing?

A/B Split testing, Eye Mapping and the like are all great ways to get a more accurate idea of where people are looking.

A lot of this is a matter of just looking at the design. Are you seeing what you want your clients see? Or do you just see “pretty?” Remember, ugly converts. But, so does strategic design.

Now, go squint at your website and let me know what you see.

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.