Dean Marsden

10 Fresh CRO Tests to Try for 2013

3rd Jan 2013 Analytics, Conversion Rate Optimisation 6 minutes to read

Elephant freshening upHappy New Year! It’s time to nurse those hangovers and burn off all that Christmas binge eating… it’s time for a fresh start to the month both for your body and your website! Here’s an easily digestible post with ten ideas for things you can test on your website to drive more conversions in 2013.

Some of these may be things you’ve tried before, but hopefully you’ll find some inspiration from these if they’re not fresh ideas for you.

1. Testing Responsive Design Layouts

2012 was a big year for responsive design and this looks set to continue as many big name brands still don’t have a website design that adapts for mobile device visitors. For those that do, don’t forget to test your designs in 2013.

Depending on how you’ve been testing your website so far, you may have already been affecting the design and content on the mobile optimised version if you changed the main source code for HTML and CSS. However, it’s important to be testing each version of your website as a separate experiment. Mobile/Smartphone and Tablet users behave a lot differently from each other and desktop users. Even users of one particular device can behave quite different depending on the make and model of their device, e.g. Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Apple iPad, Microsoft Surface, etc.

You should be looking at performing any CRO test individually on each layout/format of your website. My recommendation is to try rearranging the layouts of your mobile device versions. Responsive design is still relatively new and there hasn’t been much testing for what actually works for each type of website, instead people have just focused on making the information appear readable on a mobile device.

Try rearranging the order of blocks of text on the mobile sites. If you’re an ecommerce site try switching around the product specifications and reviews. If you’re a services based company, try testing the testimonials higher up in the service information pages and so on.

2. Utilising Different Typefaces

Typography is set to be a big website design factor again in 2013. Powerful font APIs mean that virtually everyone can see a fancy-pants font on your website; so how about making elements of your design more memorable and standout by implementing different font styles for headings. I don’t recommend changing the font on the body text as this will be unreadable on anything less than 18px font-size.

You can use Google’s free Web Fonts service or explore some of the premium services offering great typefaces for your website design.

Web Font Usage

3. Adopting a Human Voice

Is your website’s copy looking decidedly average and just like every other website out there? If so, it’s time to change it and make a big statement about your business with a new voice. I’m not talking about making your copy more punchy or more actionable, I mean changing the perspective of how your business is viewed.

Change the way you represent yourselves. If you’re a small friendly team of professionals, try writing your website copy to be less formal and more personal. Mention people and off topic things, make it more human. Testing this out may eventually lead to a full rewrite of copy on your website as it’s important to have consistency across every page.

The best example I can think of for using a different voice is our own Koozai website. We wanted to convey our own human voice in the same way we create strong relationships with our clients.

Human voice example

4. Using Real Photos and Imagery

It’s not the early 2000’s anymore; ditch those stock photos of call centre operatives and those images of computers connecting to the internet through blue neon waves.

The over usage of stock imagery and increase in ‘one man band’ businesses has led to people being less trusting of services that claim to be bigger than they are. It pays to be more unique, personal and human. Put up photos of your team or the persons who a client might be involved with. This can also motivate those employees by giving them a sense of celebrity and pride. Photos of your actual premises/offices would also be good to try on your contact page.

One rule of posting real photos is that they must be of good quality. Make sure they are straight, not over or under exposed and well composed.

Real imagery example with Koozai speaking

5. Reducing Backgrounds

Gradients, Patterns and drop shadows have all been popular background design elements. Traditionally website design has been about fixed widths and the need for a well designed background. With the even greater variety of high resolution screens, websites are able to display more information on one page reducing the need for a standout background.

Try reducing the design work in the background to make the content standout more. Stick with simple colours to retain a division, but the content must be the main focus.

6. Adding Videos

Videos are a great way to get across information to users with less time to read lengthy copy or descriptions.  You could invest some time into creating your own videos, however you may find some suitable content on YouTube for you to embed on your website. There are usually no restrictions on using Youtube videos on your website, however do check the content carefully to make sure it fits with your image and contains no promotion of other brands.

Video can help drive conversions and increase product sales through grabbing user’s attention.

Product video example on Amazon website

7. Adding White Space

White space has long been a print designer’s best friend to help make content more readable. The same trends are being employed in website design. Instead of trying to fill pages with graphics or widgets, focus on the content by creating more white space.

Test adding white space by increasing the padding between paragraphs and columns, even removing sidebar columns.

Whitespace example on Play website

8. Designing Skeuomorphisms

If you haven’t heard of this before but have used Apple products then you should already have an understanding of the basic principle. It is the idea of designing elements to relate more to real world items and feelings; address books looking like real world address books.

Test designing elements of your website from real world objects so that users can relate to their form and function a little more easily. This may be as little as just adding a graphic of a shopping basket to ecommerce basket section or it may be a grand as designing your website like a table full of polaroid photos, notepaper and digital devices.

Skeuomorphisms on Debenhams website

9. Reducing Banner Images

Big banner images have long been popular in displaying a brand message or grabbing a user’s attention. But what about your content? If you’ve got a banner image for the sake of having a banner image then either make it smaller or remove it all together to bring up the important content. It’s been publicised for some time that Google pays more attention content nearer the top of the page, so it’s a positive move for SEO performance too.

Test without a top banner and with a shorter banner making sure content appears high up and above ‘the fold’.

10. Site Speed

This may not be a fresh idea, but it absolutely needs to be tested in 2013 as part of Conversion Rate Optimisation. Site speed also matters for being rewarded with better search engine visibility as well as helping conversions.

How does improving website speed help with conversions? The shorter the time a visitor has to wait to perform an action on your website the less the chance of them getting bored and leaving the browsing or shopping process.

Test making your website faster through utilising image sprites, combining CSS and JS files, further reducing code size, enabling gzip compression and making sure your website is hosted in the target market’s country and has no downtime.

Get Testing!

I hope some of these ideas have inspired you to have a go at testing different elements on your websites. If you have any to add to the mix, please leave a comment below. Happy New Year!

Image Source: Cute Asian elephant splashing with water while taking a bath in Chitwan N.P. Nepal from BigStock

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