In the same way as more instruments don’t necessarily make a better tune or more words a better poem; when it comes to creating effective website pages, less is often more.
This realisation, as with many of the results of multivariable tests I run every day, is actually quite counter intuitive. It’s very hard to resist the urge to fill every inch of the page copy in the hope that something will stick. In fact generally speaking, test results show that the opposite is true. Six points are normally better pared down to four or even three.
Information overload, as with people or computers, can cause shut down. Often I’ve found the simple removal of FAQs actually increases the conversion rate whereas “satisfaction guaranteed” is a consistently beneficial message.
And of course you might be excited about the range of benefits you offer your customers and cover your pages with them. But what you think is a benefit might not be perceived as such by your customers, so this is something to look at carefully.
One classic example of this was a website that carried the statement: “no spyware”. Rather than reassuring customers, this simple statement had exactly the opposite effect, sowing doubt in users’ minds - conversion did not improve until the statement was removed.
What is the question?
Think about the way you word your headings. Changing them to questions can be very effective. For example, “Free Casting Call” becomes “Are You Ready to be Discovered?. Or give your headings a sense of urgency: “Today’s Specials” instead of “Special Offers”. You will have your own calls to action: think about how you can spice them up.
As you systematically examine all of the elements on your web pages, keep asking yourself the question: “What’s the point?” Unless you have a compelling reason for the copy that you use – take it out.
Way too cool
Although the more sophisticated of your customers might appreciate your cool design features, you could be in danger of alienating those who just want to get straight to the point. Toning down the over clever elements won’t turn your sophisticated visitors away; they already know how to navigate your site and where to click, but you will help those who are less impressed by your site’s coolness to stay with you. Remember – they can click away from your site at any point. Don’t help them to do that.
Lastly, one important element to consider is the photographic images you use on your site; specifically author photographs. Unless you have a well-known celebrity endorsing your products or services, it is normally best to remove headshots from the pages. We found this with one well known financial advice site, which regularly published authors’ pictures alongside their articles. Conversion rates rose significantly when they were removed.
Greg Kelton is the managing director of Optimost.