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A designer’s work ends with design. For a business owner, however, the entrepreneurial journey often begins from here. If website design is the start, marketing is a lifelong endeavor. Most business owners tend to treat design as one set of jobs while copy or content is relegated as another subset of jobs. Meanwhile, the business itself is a huge set of tasks.

That approach to business is flawed. None of these seemingly separate projects are actually separate. They all work together and they work for one reason alone: to keep you in business by getting you sales.

In other cases, all these elements combined also help with branding. Here are some design related points that affect your business:

Pay heed to the obvious

Although every design element is separate, they work together in tandem. Each of them affects business.

Consider purely design for now: research by Missouri University of Science and Technology has concluded that it takes just about a fifth of a second for an online visitor to form an opinion about your brand.

Of course, there are the obvious design elements that’ll surely affect your business. These include the presence (or the lack of) a search bar, the About Us page, a functional footer, user interface, and navigation.

Ignore the obvious at your peril.

Don’t let fancy take precedence over simplicity

It’s only natural that we, as humans, look to “standout,” be “one of a kind,” and put in the extra juice to make ourselves “memorable.” Bring in core necessities like branding and we’ll walk 3 extra miles for this.

Yet, for website design, it’s often the first wrong step. Look at the sad case of what we’ve come to accept as sliders: there’s the accordion, the Nivo slider, and many more. Every slider out there on any website is a monster killer of conversions. You can almost bet that if you see a slider on a website, chances are that this website is making much less money than it could.

Peep Laja (who is the conversion expert at ConversionXL in the rare event you don’t know him) insists that you ignore the slider fad. Jakob Nielsen confirmed this in his tests while Gregory Clotti showed on the Unbounce Blog how sliders take up prime real estate and offer nothing in return.

Stop chasing fads. Revert to simplicity.

Design and the need for speed

What happens if you go overboard with creativity and bring in a ton of CSS sheets along with JavaScipt or JQuery scripts? What happens if you make your website image rich? Obviously, good design ought to mean “a beautiful website,” right?

Overdoing design leads to overstocking your site with web elements which can cause lowering your page speed. You’ll only end up having a great number of requests to servers and everything on your page will work to slow your site down.

Today, slow websites are dead ones. No one has to wait for your home page image to show. Your customers won’t appreciate it if they have pinch, zoom, and swipe just to see who you are.

GetElastic.com has some numbers on how page load speed affects conversion. Further, consider this: Walmart.com found that when load time increases, conversions see a steep drop. On the other hand, for every second gained, they saw a 2% conversion increase. Firefox worked to reduce average load time by 2.2 seconds and increased downloads by 15.4 % resulting in 10million additional downloads.

Moreover, slow websites are dead meat when it comes to SEO (which has nothing much going for it: except relevance, content and speed)

Typefaces and fonts (and their sizes)

Typefaces and fonts affect conversions because they render as visuals, and we are mostly visual learners by nature. Also, visuals have a way to persuade us.

A study by Dr. Kevin Larson of Microsoft and Dr. Rosalind Picard of MIT proved that typography affects moods and cognitive performance. For marketers and businesses, Ankit Oberoi nailed it down to this:

  • Use typography to complement and enhance your copy.
  • The right typography can affect moods, trigger the right emotions, and make visitors convert.
  • Don’t go overboard with variety. Put emphasis on legibility and readability.
  • Don’t let expressiveness affect usefulness.

Use visual design techniques for conversions

Designers love to talk about responsive design, flat design, and all sorts of design paradigms and techniques. None of them would matter to you, as a business.

Not as much as something called as “conversion-centric design.” Now CCD isn’t technology or a new design language. It’s all about how you apply design principles to enhance conversions.

Oli Gardner advocates using whitespace, suggestive directional cues such as arrows and pathways, encapsulation and contrasting colors, guiding visitors’ eye movement, and deploying interruptions.

Work on conversions. Not just design.

Every page has a purpose

Play a game, right now: pick any page on your website and figure out if there’s a single purpose for that page, right there. The purpose of the page doesn’t have to be monetary, but there still has to be a purpose. It could be:

  • Read the blog and share on social media.
  • Download a free guide.
  • Sign up for the newsletter, a webinar, or a podcast.
  • Buy something.

Now, what’s the purpose of the page you are seeing? If you can’t find a purpose, you have work to do.

Designers aren’t always smart

Don’t put the fate of your business in your designers’ hands. At the risk of stepping on an entire community’s toes, I will proclaim that sometimes, you have to bite the bullet and do it all yourself.

Depending on your location, budget, and the expertise of designers you look to hire, doing the website design yourself often or with an in-house team helps you get an edge over expensive (and inexperienced) designers who still don’t know what works and what doesn’t.

With DIY design tools at your disposal such as IM Creator and Wix, you have more flexibility than ever to make use of the exact design elements that work for your business. Don’t be at the mercy of a designer who wants to try out the latest or do what’s popular.

If “popular” makes money, every website should be making money by now. That’s not the case now, is it?

What design elements are sabotaging your conversions or your business? Have you identified any? Tell us about it!

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Posted by Rohan Ayyar

Rohan is a digital strategist at E2M Solutions, where he puts together long-term online marketing and content creation plans for startups. He also helps develop innovative brand imagery at Onlydesign.org. Catch him tweeting about everything astonishing @searchrook.

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