Selling By Design: How Website Design Can Lead to More Sales

Updated: May 20th 2021

In 1898, entrepreneur Herberton L. Williams was watching a college football game when he was struck by the team’s red and white uniforms. At the time, Williams was looking to revamp his ailing business, so he decided to wrap his company’s soup cans in the same red and white pattern as the football team. Thus, the iconic Campbell’s Soup can was born.

This story illustrates how simple design changes can help businesses create the kind of lasting impact that earns trust and admiration from the public. 

Even in the digital world, design influences how customers judge a product and whether they’re willing to place their trust in a business. One Stanford study found that 75% of customers base their credibility judgements on a site’s design alone.

Fortunately there are a number of simple design tweaks that can help position your business in the best light and make a good first impression with visitors. Here are six fundamental design changes that can help businesses make more sales by giving visitors what they’re looking for.

Optimizing For Mobile

Perhaps you’ve had the experience of pulling up a website on your phone and having to squint to see the tiny text. You pinch and you unpinch but you can never seem to get the screen to fit correctly. 

With over 58% of all retail web traffic coming from mobile devices, websites not optimized for mobile are at a huge disadvantage. A study by Northern Arizona University found that 85% of adults think that a company’s mobile website should be as good or better than their desktop site. User trust is hard to earn when it looks like you haven’t kept up with the times, especially as it pertains to security.

Sometimes, optimizing for mobile can be as simple as defining a compatible viewport for mobile devices. Site owners can easily enable a mobile viewport by pasting the following HTML into the site’s header:

<meta name=viewport content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1>

Be aware that this setting must be applied to every webpage, and each webpage could react differently to the setting, depending on the layout.  Test, test, test!  Try every webpage on your mobile device to make sure the result is what you want. Also, many WordPress themes automatically include a mobile viewport option along with a full “responsive” design, so look into this option first if the site is run with WordPress.

Google also offers a Mobile-Friendly Test that analyzes sites for mobile accessibility. Simply enter the site’s URL and click “Test URL.” Google supplies a list of improvements in order to create a better user experience and get more in line with Google’s accessibility guidelines. 

Adding Calls to Action

Call to action (CTA) buttons grab visitor’s attention and help lead them through the sales funnel, serving as a kind of start here button to simplify the experience. Whether you want visitors to request a consultation, make a purchase, or simply learn more, calls to action must reflect the action that visitors are expected to take. 

Calls to action have long been proven to boost conversions and sales. Copyblogger experienced a 45% increase in clicks once it instituted CTA buttons, while Campaign Monitor got a 28% boost in click-through rates after creating a CTA button.

Not all CTAs are created equal so it’s helpful to experiment with copy, color, and font until you find the combination that works best. Also consider personalizing your CTA, as Hubspot found a 202% increase in conversions for CTAs tailored to users.

Optimizing Images and Videos

Videos and images continue to play an important role in boosting traffic and sales through a business’ website. Shopify found that high-definition product videos can increase conversions by 80%, while eBay Research Labs found that featuring product images “help increase buyer’s attention, trust and conversion rates.”

However, grainy photos and lag-heavy videos can also repel users, who see this as a sign of an unprofessional, and untrustworthy, business. A few guidelines for presenting images include:

  • Keeping large or full-screen background images below 1MB
  • Keeping small web graphics below 300KB
  • Choosing “Save for web” when saving an image to give it a web-friendly resolution
  • Reducing image dimensions is ok, but never enlarge them
  • Some mobile devices have very high resolution displays that will highlight defects

Additionally, too many photos or images can significantly slow down your site, as they typically account for two-thirds of an average web page’s total size. In order to keep a website’s page weight low, all images need to be optimized.

In general, JPEG files take up less space than PNG files, especially for photos. Meanwhile, PNGs are generally used for logos and other images with simple colors. WebP is a more recent image format that achieves an average of 30% more compression than JPEG, without loss of image quality. 

There are also a number of simple tools used to compress images, such as Imagify and ShortPixel that integrate seamlessly with WordPress sites. Check out Shopify’s 10 Must Know Image Optimization Tips to find additional tools that can easily be applied to any website.

Increasing Load Speed

While appearance is important, it’s not the only factor contributing to a positive or negative user experience. As our hyperconnected world gets faster and faster, visitors expect their websites to load just as quick. If sites aren’t serving up content fast enough, visitors will find something else that can keep up.

A study by Google found that 53% of mobile website visitors would leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load, while bounce rates increased by 90% if load times increased from 1 to 5 seconds. This is a major reason why Google’s 2018 Speed Update announced that it would now penalize sites with slow load times.

There are a number of ways to speed up your site in order to keep visitors on the page, most steps being relatively simple to implement. Here are just a few areas to consider:

  • Load Order – The order in which your website content loads
  • HTTP Requests – The amount of requests a browser needs to make in order to load a page
  • DNS Lookups – How long a site takes to translate a URL into an IP address
  • Browser Caching – Allows browsers to save certain elements of a page so users don’t need to download upon each visit
  • Redirects – The amount of 301 redirects requiring HTTP requests
  • CDN Service – Allows websites to spread over a global network of servers to deliver faster load times
  • Third-Party Scripts – Hosting too many third-party scripts can cause lag time due to additional HTTP requests

Check out our guide on load speeds to go more in depth.

Having a Simplified Layout

Much like entering a messy room, an overly busy website can create a feeling of anxiety and confusion. With disorder comes panic and potential lost sales. Despite this fact, a GoodFirms study found that the most common web design mistake made by small and medium-sized businesses was having an “overcrowded” website.

Consider Apple’s website and the amount of white space used. The site puts your mind at ease and directs focus on the company’s sleek products. It’s like the digital version of walking into a boutique. 

Contrast this with sites loaded with links, mismatched images and fonts. Would you entrust your money to someone who cares so little about their site’s appearance? The stakes get even higher when you consider that it takes users just 50 milliseconds to make a judgement about a site, not to mention these decisions are 94% design related.

Avoid annoying and distracting elements such as popups and chat bots if they’re not absolutely necessary for the site to function properly. Stay away also from notification permissions that pop up when a user hits the site, as this can be considered annoying and may repel new visitors.

Offering Social Proof

With all the advancement in advertising, from geotargeting to Adsense, we sometimes forget that word-of-mouth advertising still reigns supreme. For decades into the digital age, word-of-mouth advertising like testimonials and reviews have proven to be an effective sales machine that doesn’t cost a penny.

A Nielson report found that 92% of consumers were more likely to trust non-paid recommendations than any other type of advertising, while 70% of those surveyed said they trust reviews and recommendations from strangers. The data shows that a company’s trust is only as strong as their customer’s opinions. For that reason, websites need to harness the power of their customers to put their best foot forward.

Don’t be shy about your accomplishments. Find happy customers and ask them to tell you why they enjoy your services. Post their statements on your home page or in an appropriately conspicuous spot on the site. 

In addition to testimonials, websites should post any trust badges earned, such as those offered by Paypal, Amazon, and Yelp, along with Secure Checkout, Free Shipping and Money-Back Guarantee badges. Websites should also encourage customers to submit reviews to sites as Amazon, Google, and Yelp. 

Selling Trust

Whether doing business in person or online, trust remains a key factor for customer’s purchasing decisions. If a visitor has any doubts about a business’ credibility, they’ll likely keep on the safe side and seek out a better known competitor. You only have 50 milliseconds to convince them otherwise.

Following best design practices can situate a business as competent and credible to visitors in the blink of an eye. No amount of advertising can compare with a great user experience and that begins with putting your visitor’s needs first. From there, sales are yours to design.

If you want to go further in designing your site for sales, consider getting your Trust Score from DigitalTrust. We scan your site for over 50 trust factors including usability, safety, transparency, and reputation, and give you an action plan that will help develop the kind of trust that leads to more sales. You can also qualify for a free trustmark, which serves as further proof that your site is one worth trusting.