Design To Sell: 8 Useful Tips To Help Your Website Convert

As we see more and more businesses move their services online, and even
more that begin their life on the Web, a greater need arises for websites
that are designed and built to sell. A great-looking website may achieve the
goal of shaping and delivering a strong brand, but its good looks alone
aren’t enough to sell the products or services on offer. For that, you need to
introduce the element of marketing.

1-Subliminal Suggestion

Research shows that objects and images you see around you can prime you
for certain behaviors. For example, a study on children showed that after
being shown a Santa Claus cap, they were more likely to share candy with
others. The cap embodied the concept of sharing and giving in their minds,
and exposure to it primed them for regarding sharing more positively. The
same study also exposed kids to a “Toys ‘R’ Us” logo, which had the
opposite effect of the Santa Claus cap, making them less likely to share
their candy.

LegacyLocker features a photo of a happy family on its landing page, presumably
to evoke in visitors a warm feeling for its product and a desire to care for their
loved ones.

When choosing images for your website, think carefully about the message
you’re trying to send. Pick images that are meaningful and that embody
that message or feeling. Don’t put graphics on your website for their own
sake — if they’re not doing a job, they don’t have to be there. Clichéd and
overused imagery and stock photos are also dangerous because it may not
send the right message in the given context, so select images that get the
effect you’re after.

Prevent Choice Paralysis

There is a phenomenon in marketing known as “choice paralysis.” Choice
paralysis happens when the user is given too many options. Choice is great,
but when your customers are presented with too many options, they may
be confused about where to go. Nobody wants buyer’s remorse (where a
person chooses an item and decides later it’s not right for them), so many
people spend more time than they should on the selection process: they
become paralyzed.
In fact, according to Barry Schwatz, when customers have too many options
to consider, they end up avoiding a specific service or the task in general
(Paradox of Choice) – and this is exactly what we as designers need to
carefully consider in our designs.

The Highrise pricing list shows a set of monthly payment plans. The most popular
one stands out visually to help you make a choice.

To remedy choice paralysis, make it easier for people to find the right
product or service for them. Tell them what each option is great for, and
then suggest the one they should choose. You can even use visuals to
highlight the most popular product and steer potential customers towards
it. If the product is not right for them, they’ll pick another, but if they’re
confused, a “default” choice helps prevent choice paralysis.

Show The Product

When you visit a physical store, perhaps a grocery, you can look at, examine
and sometimes even taste the products on sale. You make your purchasing
decision based on the information you gather there. Are the tomatoes ripe
enough? Are those strawberries red enough? What about the look and
smell of that freshly baked bread?
When you sell services or Web apps online, you should do exactly the same
thing: show the product. It’s surprising how many websites that sell
software don’t actually show screenshots of their applications. Sure, these
are intangible goods, digital goods that you can’t touch or smell, but
they’re still goods you can se

Dashboard puts large screenshots of its lead-tracking app right on the front page.

People make judgments based on what products look like. Why? Because
appearance is an indicator, rightly or wrongly, of a product’s usability. This is
known as the aesthetic-usability effect.

Xtorrent, a torrent download client for OS X, has a product screenshot right at the
top of its minimalist landing page.

If people see a complicated and cluttered interface or, in some cases, even
just an unattractive interface, they may assume it is not very usable or is
hard to learn. On the other hand, if people see an attractive and simplelooking interface, they may start figuring out how it works right then and
will want to give it a try. Get people to imagine using your software, and
you’ll get closer to closing the sale.

Let People Try It

Once you start using a product, you become involved in it. Once you start
entering data into it, you begin to make it your own. Every second a user
spends trying out features is a second of their time invested in learning and
using your product.
When that user is then presented with the question of whether to purchase
or subscribe to the product or service, they will more likely say “yes”
because they are already involved and have invested time in it. Of course, if
the product is bad, then it may turn people off, but then your priority
should really be to improve the product until it reaches a level people are
happy with.

MailChimp, an email marketing service, allows you to start using the service for
free with your first 100 subscribers.
In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of the “freemium” business
model. A freemium service allows people to use a portion of it free of
charge, but requires a purchase to use all of its features. It gives people a
taste of the full product but doesn’t limit them to a trial period. This lets
them use the product for free without monetary commitment and then
upgrade if they like it.
It’s a great model for many online Software-as-a-Service businesses
because once somebody begins using your product, they get sucked in.
They start to rely on it, and when they rely on it to do business or manage

their life, they will very likely need the premium features down the line and
will be happy to upgrade because they already know your service well.
Stories are very important in sales because they get potential customers to
imagine what it would be like to use your product. Letting people actually
try your product for free goes even further. They don’t have to imagine
because they can begin using it right away at no cost. Letting people try
out your product, whether through a demo, a trial period or a freemium
model, is an excellent way to win customers. Now, this isn’t really a “design”
element but is important to mention here because of its potential to drive


AIDA is a well-known strategy in sales and stands for: Attention, Interest,
Desire and Action. It is relatively simple and describes the sequence of
events you should aim for to get a sale. So, first of all, you must capture the
attention of your potential customer. Once you have it, you should win their
interest by explaining how your product or service can help them.
Then, once they’re interested, generate a desire in them for your product.
For example, a story about how this product has helped someone like your
visitor can help them imagine what this product would do for them, and
especially what benefits it would bring. Indeed, the benefit part is key here
because benefits, not features, sell products.
Finally, you need to get people to act. This means purchasing the product
or signing up for the service. If people want your product, all they may
need is a button to check out. If they are interested but not yet sure, you
could use a few methods to motivate them further; for example, creating a
sense of urgency with a limited-time offer or limited supply.

Yokaboo features large, eye-catching graphics. You’re likely to first read the short
description on the left. The stats on the t-shirt then help build trust. Finally, you are presented with a call to action on the right.
Now, the AIDA approach applies more to copy — the actual marketing text
on the website — than design, so what we need to do on the design side is
reinforce that copy, make it stand out and ensure visitors read it. This
means making sure the first thing a new visitor sees really grabs their
attention. The flow of the page should then direct their focus to the items
that achieve the other two goals: interest and desire. Finally, at the end of
this flow, we need to convert. So, provide calls to action: “Order now,” “Sign
up here.”
It’s important to understand that the design alone won’t sell: you need
strong copy in place to do most of that work. The design is there to
reinforce and support the copy, rather than the other way around.

Reinvigorate captures your attention with three large words at the top: “measure.
analyze. evolve.” You’re then led to a more descriptive bit of text below and a call to action link.
This means you shouldn’t design a nice website first and then fill up the
space with words. Instead, think about the message you want to send out,
write the copy and then construct a design that delivers that. If a delivery
truck breaks down, then the package does not arrive, but if there was no
package in the first place, then the delivery wouldn’t matter at all.

Guide attention

To benefit from something like AIDA, you have to lead your visitors through
your content. You can do this by aligning items in a manner that will flow,
and using images that guide the eyes. For example, if you want to focus
attention somewhere, use a big arrow. Our eyes will notice the arrow and
will naturally want to see where it points to.

The content on the Silverback site flows down towards the download button.
Additionally, the arrow on that button points towards the purchase link

Structure your content in a way that will flow towards something. Having a
bunch of scattered feature descriptions may confuse and make your visitors
lost, unless of course if all of the points end in calls to action. If you want to
ensure your visitors don’t miss anything, align everything in a linear
structure so that the user scans along it. Make sure to end it with the
ultimate call to action: that signup or download link.

Always Provide Next Actions

ABC: Always Be Closing. If you’re designing a website to sell something,
whether a software application or Web service, you should always be
thinking about how you’re closing the deal on each page. This doesn’t
mean filling every page with big “Buy now” buttons; it means when the
customer is ready to buy, they shouldn’t have to look around for the checkout link.Always provide next-action links to keep the flow going and to ensure you
don’t lose the attention of potential customers. Next-action links can direct
the visitor to a page with more information about the product or to the
actual page where they can make the purchase or sign up. These links could
read something like: “Ready to order? Click here,” “Learn more,” “Take the
tour” or “Shop now.”
Don’t leave a dead end on any page: always suggest to your visitors where
they should go next.

The Gutenberg rule

The Gutenberg diagram (or the Gutenberg rule) is a concept that maps out
something called reading gravity. Reading gravity describes a habit of
reading in the western world: left to right, top to bottom. The Gutenberg
diagram splits up a page into four quadrants: the “Primary Optical Area” in
top left, the “Strong Fallow Area” in top right, the “Weak Fallow Area” in the
bottom left and a “Terminal Area” in bottom right.

It suggests that the bottom left area of the page will get least attention as
our eyes scan the page from top left to bottom right and that our glance
would end up in the lower right portion of the page. How can we utilize this
concept? Buttons and calls to action could be placed in bottom right
instead of bottom left, as this is the place where the visitor’s glance is likely
to alight.

Notice how businesscatalyst has the take the tour button placed at the bottom
Note that the Gutenberg diagram is more likely to work on pages which
have more a balanced distribution of content. If parts of your page have
strong highlights through high contrast and bold typography, then those
areas would likely attract more attention and so will direct the way a user
scans the page.


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Written by Wolfgang Mayer