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01 Jul / 2011

4 Simple Design Ideas to Improve Your Website’s Performance

Posted by : Under : Web Development No Comments

Most website designers I know can’t wait to finish a project. All it takes is a positive feedback from the client and the site to go live before they slump relaxed on their beds. That’s okay because website design can sometimes be quite energy draining, especially with crazy clients breathing down your neck with crazier design ideas.

However, the problem with this approach is the ever-changing web landscape. Designs that convert today might not convert tomorrow. Sometimes, they might not be converting at all in the first place. The cause: most web designers will never take the time to test their designs before submitting them to clients. The result: a long, often unpleasant, client mail and redesigning.

Redesigning a website, or web page, that you have previously designed can be a major problem even if it does not require an overhaul. In fact, an overhaul is often easier because it uses fresh ideas; there is less work building from scratch than breaking down and changing an existing design.

I believe in simple solutions; minor adjustments that promise big results. An incremental approach to web designing can get you effective and measurable results without taking up too much time, and to a great extent, help avoid a design catastrophe.

  1. Select a Maximum Impact Page – Traditionally, the home page is selected to make the greatest impact on visitors. I suggest to not blindly following traditions and starting to dig a little bit into

    • Find out your top landing or entrance page (look under ‘Content’ on the left sidebar in Google Analytics).
    • Using the Advanced Filter link at the bottom of the table, filter and remove the minimal trafficked pages.
    • Sort pages by bounce rate and select the page with maximum potential for improvement. This will usually be a page with high visitors and high bounce rate.

    A combination of high visits and high bounce rate means your web page has enough of what attracts maximum users searching your niche, but has little of what it takes to retain them. With minor tweaks, the bounce rate can be reduced while keeping your visitor count intact, or increasing it.

  2. Detect Improvement Areas – There are several ways you can find out the areas of your web page that need improvement. Tools like Userfly or ClickTale will help you follow how people interact with your website. CrazyEgg’s and clickdensity’s heat maps are also excellent detection tools for popular and overlooked areas of your site. You can also set up SurveyMonkey or PollDaddy to find out what your users want.

    Additionally, you can find out how these following areas of your website works:

    • Headline
    • Calls to Action
    • Buttons (size, color and location)
    • Text size
    • Color scheme
    • Images
    • Whitespace
    • Advertisement density
    • Value proposition
  3. Define – Your analytics tool will probably throw up a hundred different things that can be changed. By using the incremental approach, you must select only the major items that you believe can be improved to create a major impact on visitors and search engines.

    Remember, an overhaul is not your aim, but tweaking a few items in your website to make a seemingly unworkable page work, is.
    Narrow down your list of changes to include the top three plausible impact areas on your page. Develop content and code to make changes you believe will benefit your site. Limiting your list of changes makes your work manageable, although if you want to test more changes, it will have to be an ongoing process.

  4. Test – After you have made changes on your page, the A/B Split Test in Google Website Optimizer will help track your results. Select a conversion page that accurately reflects your primary goal for that page.

    A/B split test results will start showing anywhere from a couple of hours to a few weeks. The effect of your changes will be easy to spot once you do a summation of average traffic to your page for a set period. If you have implemented changes with sincerity, you will most likely be rewarded with an increase in conversions.

However, it is possible your new page performs the same as your previous page or that there is a considerable drop in performance. But that’s the fun of testing. Every successful and unsuccessful test result will give you something new to learn about what works and what does not for your website.

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