Overcoming Design Challenges to Improve Conversion Rates

December 7, 2020

A conversion rate is a metric of success on which many companies and businesses rely. After all, the more people you convert to making a purchase, the more sales you make. So it’s little wonder that companies pour so much time, effort, and money into improving their conversion rates. But if you’re making design errors that affect your conversion rates, they won’t improve—no matter how hard you try.

A Web site’s user experience impacts how users feel about it. Does it send all the right signals? Can they trust it? How simple and streamlined is the purchasing process? These questions and others provide essential information, especially regarding how high or low your conversion rates are. Design plays an important part in converting people to customers.

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While signing up for an email newsletter is part of the conversion funnel, if there are too many popups asking visitors to sign up, they feel more like a demand than an invitation. Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a vital part in people finding your Web site, but if it’s too obvious, it seems unnatural and actually results in visitors receiving less information. Engaging content is also a vital part of the user experience. When companies give information freely, they attract people to their site. If a call to action feels too contrived or works too hard, it comes across as stilted. Branding must also be effective. It must be consistent across a company’s Web site and all other channels. Otherwise, this can cause disconnects, affecting the company’s conversion rates. How can you solve such errors?

Increasing Newsletter Signups Without Displaying Annoying Popups

We’ve all visited Web sites on which a popup appears, inviting us to sign up for an email newsletter within the first few seconds of our landing on a page. We either sign up or, more likely, immediately close the popup so we can carry on using the site. After browsing a site for some time, the user might sign up for the newsletter. Or the user might become so irritated after a second or third popup suggesting that he subscribe to the mailing list that he navigates completely away from the site.

While popups do have the potential to draw people in and convert them from browsing to buying, if they are too overbearing and detract from the use of your Web site, it may be these popups that are driving people away.

The Importance of Getting People on Your Email List

Experts agree that having people voluntarily add themselves to your email-marketing list is a fantastic thing. It shows their interest and also builds a relationship between your brand and the customer. If you get this right, you’ve secured a direct path to the very people who buy from you. Your email newsletter is worth more than a status update on your social-media channels. It gives you almost a direct line to your customers. Use a sophisticated system in the background, and you have the potential to send targeted offers that you know would interest a customer.

However, when it comes to the user experience, not relying solely on the popup to capture people’s email addresses is key to eliminating an error that many Web sites make. To get people to sign up for your newsletter, do the following:

  • Simplify signup. Making it as easy as possible for people to sign up is key. There is some debate on how much information you need to capture at this point. Thus, many brands ask only for an email address.
  • Make a compelling offer. Encouraging signups by making an offer can be a winner only if it fits what your customers are looking for.
  • Say thank you. Once people have signed up, don’t forget to thank them. According to SEO guru Neil Patel, this is one of the most underused aspects of newsletter signups.
  • Give subscribers control over their information. This is essential for data protection and to satisfy the European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules. Ensure that subscribers to your email newsletter can unsubscribe whenever they want to. Unsubscribing should be as simple as it was to sign up for your newsletter in the first place.

Focusing on SEO Without Damaging Your User Experience

Competition online is fierce. The days of enjoying a high-ranking Web site with little effort are long gone. So to keep your site where you want it to be, SEO for your site needs to be up to date, sending out all the right signals to search engine bots and crawlers.

User experience and SEO go hand in hand—or at least they should. In combination, they result in a great Web site. But you need to understand the concepts behind them:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ongoing process that helps increase the visibility of your site. Driving high-quality visitors to your site means achieving higher conversion rates.
  • The user experience is the overall experience that a visitor has on your site. When your site meets visitors’ expectations, your conversion rates are likely to be higher.

The Importance of User Experience to SEO

A good user experience—which results from a high-quality, consistent Web-site design, along with excellent branding—directly influences your SEO ranking. They share common goals.

Google, along with other search engines, emphasizes user behavior on a Web site—particularly what users do in a specific situations. Search engines want to deliver search results that meet users’ needs. Understanding what people do when they find your site effectively determines, in part, how Google and others rank it.

A positive user experience coupled with excellent SEO gives your site high visibility, better targeting, and thus, more sales and satisfied customers. Combining SEO and user experience on a Web site is all about doing the following:

  • user-friendly content—Irrelevant, useless content—especially content that you’ve copied or plagiarized—is frustrating not only to search-engine algorithms but also to users. When users land on a site that appears amateurish and jumbled and fails to signal the trustworthiness they are seeking, they’ll navigate away from the site. From an SEO point of view, search engines observe this behavior and lower the site’s ranking as a result.
  • a simple, intuitive user interface—Navigation is key in terms of both SEO and user experience. It’s hard to underestimate just how important a simple, intuitive user interface is from both points of view. If your user interface does not satisfy your users, your ranking drops.
  • visual contentImages are more than just pretty graphics to look at. They give your users important visual clues about your content, products, and who you are. Just as poor, outdated, pixelated visuals and graphics are off-putting to users, so they are to search engines.
  • page-loading times—People will try a new search if page-loading times are slow. Search engines also use page-loading times in ranking pages. Therefore, you should optimize your site so it is sleek and streamlined to improve both its ranking and its usability.

Designing Engaging Content

Deep at the core of SEO and user experience is the need for useful, relevant content. From blog posts, to product descriptions, to page content, text and graphics give visitors the information they need.

Blogging helps boost SEO positioning and relevancy—especially if the content answers the questions searchers have and helps them find the products and services you offer. The temptation is to write blog posts and create infographics and assume that they’ll all hit the mark for both readers and search engines. But are you writing content that gives your customers the information they want? When pages are no longer getting traffic, are you archiving them, updating them, or just leaving them as they are? From an SEO perspective, old blog posts and content could be holding back your site. They could also be holding back your vital conversion metrics.

Designing Engaging Calls to Action

A call to action (CTA) instructs customers about what to do next. Include CTAs in a natural way. They could be high-energy instructions or something far more subtle, but just as effective. Just how do you integrate calls to actions that are not overbearing into content that is informative and engaging?

  • Use the language customers expect. User experience is about meeting customer expectations. So, in some cases, action-packed language would work—for example, sign up for a free trial today. In other cases, a more subtle approach might work best—for example, Join us or Get started.
  • Choose language carefully. Again, this is all about customer expectations. At times, first-person content promotes the relationship between customers and the brand. But, at other times, customers would expect more formal language or more emotive language. Are you speaking to your visitors in the right way?
  • Less is more. For CTAs, less is definitely more in some cases. Getting rid of flashing graphics and text that says Sign up NOW before it’s too late could yield more signups.

Making the Most of Your Branding While Optimizing Visitor Engagement

For SEO, the more people stay on and engage with your Web site, the better. For your conversion metrics, the more people invest their energy on your site, the more likely they are to become customers.

All of the tips I’ve covered in this article relate heavily to each other. When it comes to branding, consistency is key and promotes on-page engagement, a metric that is important for your site. But what does this mean?

On-page engagement could be anything from contributing visitor comments and reviews; to reading content, viewing images, or watching videos; to sharing social posts. You need to create and maintain a site on which people don’t just hop on it to watch a 30-second video, then navigate away again. You want visitors to stay and look around. Better still, you want to convert them into customers.

How can you increase on-page engagement?

  • Improve page-loading speeds. About 88% of consumers are unlikely to return if they have a bad experience on your site. Therefore, along with consistent branding, you must ensure that all visitors have a good experience when they land on your site.
  • Display related content. Relevancy has never been more important. People are impatient beings. If the information a site shows to us is not relevant, we turn away to find a Web site that gives us what we want. Is your brand offering the content and information that your customers would find relevant, making them far more likely to engage with it?
  • Provide consistent branding. Branding is more than just your logo. It also includes the following:
    • language you use
    • the feel of your site
    • the relationship you build with customers
    • how you meet your customers’ expectations
    • colors, fonts, and layout
  • Segment branding to meet different customers’ expectations. If you know your site attracts customers with different demographics, modify your branding to address their differences. Marketing segmentation is the process of breaking down your current customer base into smaller subgroups. By focusing on each segment’s behaviors rather than just age or gender, for example, you can see how different groups interact with your site and your marketing campaigns.


Businesses typically spend serious amounts of cash on designing and developing their business Web site. Maintaining a site well means constantly seeking new, innovative ways of boosting your site above those of your competitors. Ranking high on the first page of a search engine is a must because 92% of Internet users rarely look past the first page of results. Once you’ve reached such heights, you’ll need to work hard to stay there.

Nothing on the Web stands still. Customer expectations are constantly changing, and search-engine algorithms constantly evolve to give users what they want and need. Your Web site can’t stand still either—including its user experience. What constituted a top user experience five years ago would now be consigned to the archives. Therefore, you should regularly review the design and functionality of your Web site. By improving your design and user experience, you can increase your conversion rates. 

Director at, Ltd.

Leicester, Leicestershire, UK

Joe DawsonJoe has a passion for creating meaningful experiences. Through design, he creates authentic, innovative digital products.  Read More

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