“Let’s just look at what the top players are doing and replicate those strategies.”
“Come on! This strategy has worked for Amazon and many other leading sites. It’ll work for us too.”
We’ve been brainwashed (kinda) to just copy and adopt the best practices in everything that we do.
One thing we often fail to understand is the fact that they’ve been developed and implemented keeping their context in mind.
“Blindly copying and implementing “best practices” is stupid – nothing scientific about it. You’re essentially using somebody else’s solution to their problems for your problems.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that we should ignore them altogether.
In fact, that would be a dumb idea too.
So what’s the catch here?
Best practices are great when used as a starting point.
So what should drive your implementation?
And how do I know if I’m doing it right?
Test. Test. Test.
We use data to keep testing our hypothesis.
And this is why you always need a great designer to constantly test, refine, and implement from the data-driven results.
While there are way too many areas where best practices can be tested and implemented, I’ve covered a few of the major areas to help you understand how to go about implementing your design hypothesis.
I’m sharing these learnings from the CXL Institute’s CRO mini degree.
1. Web Forms
This is of fundamental importance for absolutely any business owner having a website.
Your website might include any of the following just to name a few.
- Sign-up forms
- Checkout forms
- Payment forms
- Quote request forms
- Lead generation forms
Optimizing these forms to maximize conversion is directly linked to profits
Asking questions that make the visitor uneasy creates friction.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while optimizing your forms
✓ Set clear expectations for the visitor
“Takes only 15 seconds to fill the form”
“Fill out this form and get instant access to the free e-book”
✓ Minimize the number of form fields
Only ask for information that you absolutely need. Anything extra adds friction.
Note: This doesn’t have to be always true. Sometimes an extra field might give you better insights about the customer which might be significant to you.
So how do you know which one will give you better results?
✓ Multiple Step Forms
Let’s say your product or service requires your prospect to fill ~ 12 fields.
Your prospect would get intimidated if he sees all the 12 fields at once and there’s a good chance they will back off.
In such scenarios, you should try implementing multi-step forms.
Inserting 3 forms with 4 fields each along with progress indicator will make the process much easier.
✓ Feedback and Error Validation
We hate getting error messages.
This is particularly true if we get one after submitting a long form. This can bring down conversions significantly.
So what can you do about it?
Clearly specify what you’re requesting for and use real-time in-line validation (whenever possible) to minimize drop-off rates and maximize conversions.
Show a green tick (if it’s valid) or a cross (if it’s invalid).
For eg, if you’re requesting a work-email, make it clear.
Explicitly mention what exactly you need.
2. E-Commerce Sign-Ups & Checkout Pages
You have a customer on your site → They add desired products to the cart → They’re about to make the purchase.
Do I have to register in order to make this purchase?
This is so annoying and hurts a brand’s relationship with the customer.
Remember that the goal is to eliminate friction in most of the cases.
Please get rid of mandatory registration ASAP. It hurts conversions like crazy.
As a customer puts it in her own words, “I’m here to buy. Not to build relationships.”
Here’s what you can do.
Since you already have the e-mail of the customer by the time the purchase is completed, insert an optional registration form after the purchase is completed.
If possible, offer an incentive at this stage.
For eg, “Sign-up to get 15% off on your next order.”
Or you can redirect to the guest option by default with a sign-in option for existing customers to complete the checkout process faster.
Now let’s talk about checkout pages
Never ask for credit card info at the start.
This creates so much resistance.
Start off with simpler fields to fill like name, email and shipping address. This makes it easy for customers to commit.
Always start with something easy.
Asking for credit card info straight up creates friction and there’s a high chance they might abandon the cart.
Use the SSL logo and clearly state that the payment is secure.
This might sound obvious but not everyone practices it.
Would you make a purchase on a site that doesn’t explicitly mention the safety of your credit cards? Think about it.
Make sure that the SSL logo clearly stands out from the background.
It’s important to give customers a sense of safety and reassurance.
3. Internal Search
This one tool can boost conversion rates significantly, especially in e-commerce sites with at least 20 products or pages.
Here are a couple of reasons why you should include Internal Search:
- Some people already know exactly what they’re looking for. They don’t want to waste their time browsing through the endless list of products.
- Some people are just habituated to searching. They just don’t browse. It’s something inherent within them.
- The search box is big and clearly visible rather than hiding in some corner.
- The search does auto-complete.
- It finds stuff even if search queries have typos.
- It avoids the dreaded “no results found”
4. Importance of Visual Design
There’s more than sufficient evidence that websites with great designs significantly outperform those with bad designs.
In fact, in some cases the sole differentiator for companies is design. We shouldn’t be surprised at that because we are naturally visual beings.
We process information visually and the impression that we make within the first few seconds determines if we will be going further down the road or make a U-turn.
Of course, design is a subjective concept.
There was a study conducted by Stanford University credibility experts. They found that what people say about how they evaluate the trust of a website and how they really do it are not the same.
From studies, we’ve observed that websites that are simple to use and highly prototypical have shown far more success than those overwhelming websites with flashing ads, extensive menu options and lack of structure.
BottomLine: Use data to drive the design process.
Track and measure which pages perform and which ones don’t.
If it’s a funnel, identify in which stage the prospects are dropping off.
Today you’ve learnt about some super useful design concepts and strategies that can REALLY change the fate of your business or website.
Let me know which strategy you found most insightful in the comments below.
Have a question? Or do you want to learn more advanced strategies for certain elements of a website?
Put them down in the comments below and I’ll get back to you!