Action-Focused Website Design: 3 Steps To Increase Conversions

Aug 03 2023

Your website exists to propel your audience toward meaningful action. And that means no matter how smart your content strategy is or how beautiful your website looks, your site isn’t doing its job unless it’s producing the leads and conversions that drive your business forward. 

Are your users taking the steps you want them to take?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to creating a website that will support your business goals. But by following three best practices, you can meet your audience where they are and thoughtfully lead them where you want them to go.

1.  Decode Your Users’ Decision-Making Journey

It’s impossible to create an effective website conversion strategy if you don’t understand your users’ decision-making journey. After all, you can’t create the path that leads your prospects to their ultimate destination if you don’t know which direction they’re most likely to take. 

What Does a Typical User Journey Consist Of?

The user journey (aka buyer’s journey or decision funnel) is the series of steps your prospects take before taking an ultimate action. It's the behind-the-scenes process your prospects go through, consciously or unconsciously, before deciding to take you up on whatever you’re offering. For example:

  • In higher ed, a prospective student’s decision-making journey might involve searching for a particular major or course of study, reviewing financial aid information, checking out housing options, and researching application requirements. Each part of the journey should lead the student toward clicking the “Apply Now” button.
  • For a nonprofit organization in the midst of a capital campaign, a donor’s user journey might include watching a video that shows the impact the campaign will have, downloading the organization’s case for support, and reading compelling stories of people whose lives will be affected by the donor’s generosity. The nonprofit’s content strategy should lead the donor toward making an online gift or contacting the development office.
  • For some businesses, the buyer journey might start with a referral or a conversation at an expo or event. In a situation like this, the prospect might personally speak with the company’s partners or salespeople to learn about the company’s services. Then, they might visit the website to review key pages and quickly verify specific information before completing the contact form or calling the company directly. 

As you can see, there are many possible ways users might progress on their journeys. Creating an ideal solution requires you to get to the heart of your users’ wants and needs. And that begins with research.

The user journey should lead the student toward clicking the “Apply Now” button, but figuring out how to lead them there require research.
The user journey should lead the student toward clicking the “Apply Now” button, but figuring out how to lead them there require research.

The Value of Persona Research and Journey Mapping

Who is your audience? What are their needs? And what are they searching for?

If you’ve never delved into who your personas are, it’s time to do it. Audience and persona research is an essential part of developing an action-oriented, user-focused content strategy. 

Employing a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods will help you find answers to questions like: 

  • What is motivating visitors to explore our site?
  • Where are they coming from, and what led them to us?
  • What stage in the journey are they in when they arrive? 
  • What information do they need to feel comfortable taking the next step?

It’s also important to consider whether or not your audience is experiencing a sense of immediacy to find answers to their questions. In situations where they want to speak with someone right away, utilizing a chatbot can be an effective way to meet their needs and quickly point them to your contact form. 

But of course, if they want to take their time browsing your site, it’s also important to give them a chance to take a more passive approach without being hounded by chatbot popups.

2. Create a Seamless User Experience Across Platforms

Once you know who your users are and what they need from your site, it’s time to break down any barriers that might keep them from progressing on their journey. That means paying close attention to the user experience you’re delivering across each of your platforms. 

Google Analytics and Hotjar Heatmaps can provide you with valuable insights into how users interact with your content. If you notice they’re not visiting key pages essential to the buyer journey — or if they’re abandoning their journey quickly — that often indicates a problem you need to address. 

Common UX issues include:

  • Confusing information architecture. Unintuitive information architecture is the number one cause of user frustration and the primary reason visitors abandon websites prematurely.
  • Poor mobile performance. If the data suggests a significant proportion of your users access your site via mobile, make sure your content is easy to read and conversion forms are easy to fill out using a phone or tablet. 
  • Accessibility roadblocks. Designing a positive user experience requires you to think of the accessibility needs of everyone in your audience. Forms, in particular, are often problematic for users who navigate the web using a keyboard alone or who rely on accessibility aids like screen readers and switches. 

Again, understanding your audience, including how they typically arrive at your site and their behavior once they get there, is a vital part of creating a positive user experience that leads to higher conversions. 

3. Enhance Key Elements of Your Website’s Design to Maximize Conversions

You may think it’s necessary to redesign your entire website to achieve the goals you’re after. But that’s not necessarily the case. With smart, targeted tweaks, you can incorporate design strategies that will persuade your prospects to take the actions you desire. 

Hone Your Headlines to Deliver a Clear Value Proposition

Your headlines should tell users exactly what your content and related forms offer them. Avoid generic headlines such as “Contact Us” and CTA catchphrases like “Submit.” Strive for unique, engaging, and descriptive wording in headlines, subheads, microcopy, and CTA callouts.

Be Mindful of Your Aesthetics 

Aesthetically pleasing pages are more likely to entice users to take action. 

When it comes to designing conversion forms specifically, channel your inner minimalist. Incorporate plenty of white space, make sure fonts are clear and easy to read, and keep mandatory fields to a minimum. 

Embrace a Scannable Content Structure

Long walls of text are hard to read and can frustrate your users. So don’t make readers wade through endless paragraphs to find the actions you want them to take. 

Limit your text length and make liberal use of scannability helpers such as subheads, bulleted lists, microcopy, and pullout quotes.

Let the User Know What They’re Committing To When They Convert

Before users will convert, they need to know exactly what they’re signing up for. It shouldn’t be a mystery or a leap of faith. So whether they’re:

  • scheduling a demo,
  • initiating contact with a sales representative,
  • starting an application process,
  • making an online gift, or
  • converting in some other way,

…make sure the user is aware of what they’re committing to before they hit submit.

A/B or Multivariate Testing

Superior website designs aren’t created in a vacuum — they’re carefully crafted for the end user. So to make sure your contact forms are truly doing their job, don’t neglect the important step of incorporating user testing into the process.

A/B or multivariate testing can help you understand what language and design elements resonate most with your audience and make changes that will have the largest impact.

Unleash Your Website’s Conversion-Yielding Power 

Your website is not just an information hub. It’s a key player in your action-oriented marketing strategy.

So take time to understand your user’s decision-making journey and the behaviors that lead them to action. Ensure you deliver an excellent user experience, whether your visitors find you on a desktop or explore your website on their phone. And pay particular attention to how you design the areas of your site that have the largest impact on conversions. 

When you do, you’ll make significant strides in turning your website into the powerful lead-generation tool you need it to be.

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