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  • Increase blog conversionsHow much do you think the design of your blog or website matters in your conversion rate?

    Of course, you want it to look professional. But you can install plenty of professional-looking WordPress designs.

    But what most people neglect, beyond just aesthetics, is the functionality.

    Let’s talk about what I’ve done here recently, and why it matters to you.

    My “Design” History

    I used to be one of those people that would tweak my design just because I got bored with the old one.

    I would change small features like the background image. Or the navigation bar.

    I wish I could say that I did these things to test out how they would impact my conversions. But I’d be lying.

    I did them just to do them. There was no purpose. There was no testing.

    But if you have been here before, you may have noticed the look has changed.

    This time, I am happy to say, that I did not do a re-”design” without purpose.

    I put “design” in quotes because I am far from a designer.

    This may not be the best looking site you’ve ever visited. But I can assure you…it’s pretty damn functional :) .

    A lot of thought (and procrastination :) ) went into redoing the look.

    This particular re-design was done based on previous experimentation to optimize the conversion rate.

    So what changed?

    Updated Theme

    One of the first things that I did was move my site over to the latest version of Headway theme.

    I’ve been using the previous version for a very long time and was really trying to avoid updating to the new version (it’s a bit of a pain).

    I use Headway because it allows me to make design (read: layout) adjustments without having to do any coding.

    This is perfect for a non-coder, non-designer like me. I can do enough CSS to make minor adjustments. But I don’t want to spend weeks making changes (because that’s how long it would take me).

    I could outsource the design. Or I could just adjust it myself with a few drags of the mouse. I prefer that option.

    Here are just a few of the awesome features the new version of Headway gives me:

    The pitfall of the theme move:

    I was using Headway’s built-in SEO feature. This was a mistake. The new version of Headway is like a different theme. It is completely different form the old one.

    In other words, you can’t just click the update button and have your preferences carry over. That means that I have to re-apply my SEO data.

    A hard lesson learned: don’t use the built-in SEO features for any theme in case you decide to change it. Rather, use a plugin like Yoast SEO. That way, when you change themes, you don’t lose your SEO data.

    Overall, switching to the new version of Headway allowed me to change the layout of my blog very quickly.

    So now you know why I switched. But what did I switch for? What changes did I make?

    Let’s jump into that…

    Navigation

    I have been meaning to test this out for a very long time.

    I moved the navigation bar up into the header next to the logo.

    Why did I do this?

    If you have a copy of my Strategic Content Launch Pad book then you may have already guessed why.

    If not, you should probably pick up a copy. I think you’ll find it very useful :) (click here to get your risk-free copy).

    This layout move was based on heat-maps that I show in the book, and the fact that I want people to navigate to my new consulting page.

    Feature Box

    Did you know that the top of your right sidebar is often a blind-spot for visitors?

    Crazy, right?

    That’s where most people put their opt-in forms. Unfortunately, that’s not really the best place to put it.

    I used to have a feature box with an opt-in form that was collecting a ton of leads for me.

    But curiosity got the best of me and I decided to test out this “blind spot” theory.

    I got rid of the feature box and changed my sidebar opt-in form to have a black background on a completely white site.

    You would think this would stand out and catch people’s attention.

    It didn’t.

    I have a ton of opt-in forms on the blog. And the sidebar was by far the worst performing one.

    The new design brings back the feature box. But this time it has the dark background, front-and-center on what is otherwise a pretty white site.

    It should be the first thing that catches people’s eye (I hope :) ).

    Mobile Version

    I already mentioned that the latest version of Headway has a responsive option.

    That means my site no longer needs a plugin to make it mobile.

    This eats up fewer resources and makes it faster.

    Moreover, the design on mobile devices now actually looks like the design on desktop versions of the site.

    This wasn’t true before. The mobile version looked like a standard mobile theme that many WordPress blogs use.

    Individual Pages

    With Headway I’ve been able to quickly create different templates for different pages.

    The homepage of the blog, and the individual blog posts, look much different than some of the individual pages.

    My consulting page, for instance, has no navigation and no header.

    My about page has no navigation, but it has a header logo which you can click on to get back to the homepage.

    This is all in the name of increasing opt-in and sales conversions.

    Will it work? I guess we will wait and see. But I have a feeling that it will have a pretty profound effect.

    So does design matter?

    I’ve written about the importance of design in increasing your conversions before.

    Again, not from an aesthetics standpoint, but from a layout, navigation and user experience standpoint.

    The details matter.

    I have a few more ideas for things I want to cover in terms of design and optimization for future posts.

    But I’ll stop here for now and leave you with a few questions.

    How often do you redesign your blog or website?

    Do you take business goals into account when you do redesigns?

    Have you tested which layout and design features improve your conversions?

    Think about it. Act on it. Test it.



    7 Responses to Improve Conversions: Is Your Design Sabotaging Your Success?

    1. Robin Ooi says:

      Great post. This is exactly what we normally tell our clients when it comes to redesigning their website – DO NOT get emotionally attached to your website. A lot of the times people tend to blame on their traffic source when the conversion is low but what they tend to overlooked is the most important part of the equation – their website! If a bucket is full of holes, no matter how much water you pour in, it’s going to leak out.

      • Eugene Farber says:

        Hey Robin, thanks for stopping by. I already responded to this on LinkedIn, so you already know I love that analogy. It’s not always the biggest changes that lead to the biggest results.

    2. Patrick Montes says:

      The title of the post says it all. It’s one thing to get clicked at due to SEO. It’s another to get the visitor to interact with the sites content and elements. I guess good content and functionality then SEO should follow to become a success.

      • Eugene Farber says:

        Thanks for stopping by Patrick. That’s exactly right. Getting traffic to your site doesn’t do you much good if it doesn’t drive action once people are there.

    3. Megan Peterson says:

      This is an extremely informative post – thank you! Of course, now you’ve got the obsessive-compulsive web designer in me twitching to play with a new theme for my site, but… :) Seriously, though, this information will help me streamline things on my blog much more efficiently. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and the reasons for the changes you made.

      • Eugene Farber says:

        I’m glad you found this useful Megan. I think design should stem from your business goals. Decide what you want people to do once they land on your site, then optimize your website to encourage those actions. I think that’s something a lot of people ignore. I, on the other hand, prefer function over aesthetics in this case :) .

    4. Is Your Web Design Sabotaging Your Success? - Blog | SOS Development says:

      [...] See the full article from Content Strategy Hub here. [...]

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