It can be easy to overlook the importance of design in website optimisation. Sadly, many digital companies focus all their attention on SEO and ignore the next stage of optimisation – what happens when a user clicks through to a landing page. A website needs to be optimised for design as well as Google’s spiders.
Good SEO can result in a page one ranking but it cannot reduce a high bounce rate. At theEword, we specialise in creating websites tailored for the user as well as the search engine. As creative director, it is my responsibility to ensure that a website's design increases conversion rates. A/B testing – creating two different designs and monitoring the conversion rate of each – is an important part of this.
A/B testing isn’t just a case of manufacturing two very different pages and putting them both live, but rather a complicated process which requires patience and restraint - adjusting a colour or moving a button in order to see which page elements and changes have a tangible effect on user experience. Even a small change can subtly increase click-through and conversion rates. For example:
A/B testing is website design with a scalpel rather than a hatchet; incremental changes made over a set period of time. It is a procedure which subtly alters a single element in order to achieve a higher conversion rate. A/B testing isn’t for the impatient and a test needs to run for a minimum of two hundred clicks in order to produce substantial results. It is a softly-softly approach to website design.
At theEword we have a number of ways to ensure a website fulfils its potential. We invest time and resources into building and discovering tools in order to optimise the design of a client’s website. Our latest instrument includes a ‘heat-map’; a program which show where on a page users are clicking. This allows us to see which elements of a design are attracting attention and which are not.
A/B testing is not a quick process and, much like SEO, it is not a concrete science. There are no laws and there are no set rules to website design. My experience in the digital industry has taught me that A/B testing requires patience and expertise. It is not enough just to drive people to your site; your designs have to motive them into action while they’re there.