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How to improve your website's conversion rate

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Conversion rates are one of the key measures of success for any website owner, and that’s not just the case for online retailers. A user converts when they take an action that the web page owner intended them to take - that doesn’t have to be a completed purchase necessarily, as a web page can have a number of functions, from filling out and submitting a contact form, to answering survey questions or clicking through to the next page of a website and therefore learning more information about the business. The conversion rate is calculated as the percentage of total visitors to the web page that convert.

Website performance has a huge impact on the overall conversion rate of a website. Studies have consistently shown that a fast page speed will result in a better conversion rate. In other words, the quicker the webpage loads, the more likely a user is to convert, which makes sense. But this isn’t the only factor at play. Conversion rates are further impacted by page design, page layout and the strength of the copy and imagery on the page.

Here are our top five website performance factors to watch out for when asking yourself “how can I optimise my website conversion rate?”:

Web page load speeds

First and foremost, web page load speeds should be optimised in your quest for a higher conversion rate.

There are always things you can do to debug and improve the coding of your website to decrease page load speeds on specific web pages or across your whole website. Sometimes these codes can be fixed easily, but sometimes they need completely re-writing in line with best practice.

Improving page load speeds will have the added advantage of helping to improve your SEO, as it’s a key factor Google measures for its search engine results pages (SERP).

Cross-device testing

With ever-increasing traffic coming from mobile and tablet, it is vital that your website is responsive and performs across a number of devices and screen sizes.

Traditionally sites were designed around the desktop experience, which often meant the design of the mobile and tablet sites became an afterthought.

The shift towards mobile-first design isn’t always one embraced by agencies and brands alike, as many still place too much value in the desktop design and it’s what is measured first and foremost.

It’s also easy to say that the desktop version will just stack for mobile, which in some ways is true, but in reality it requires a lot more thought to do well. With changing consumer consumption habits, it’s vital to ensure that no device is left behind.

Mobile optimisation is another factor that will impact SEO as part of Google’s SERP criteria.

Cross-browser testing

It’s also a good idea to make sure your website functions correctly across a multitude of browsers. It’s possible to test on all browsers and even target key versions to identify issues that might impact the overall conversion rate from that browser.

Using analytics, brands can make informed decisions around any specific browser requirements - if one browser hosts the lion’s share of traffic, this could be one to prioritise in the design and build of your site, or you may identify a group of users with browsers that aren’t included in the standard testing process.

This could mean changing how things are built, or it may be necessary to provide fallback functionality.

On-site coding

Badly optimised code is one factor that can have a big impact on page loading speeds and the general health of a website. It’s important to review the quality and weight of your code to ensure it’s all set up in line with best practice.

Large payloads, unnecessary server requests and render blocking code can greatly increase load times. By optimising the loading of linked assets such as JavaScript and CSS, it’s possible to greatly improve load times.

Media assets

Media assets often account for the majority of a page’s transfer size and can have a huge impact on page loading speeds. One reason for this is often that image crops have not been implemented in the CMS, leading to in some cases very large imagery on-site, which naturally can be sluggish loading and can waste a user’s data allowance.

We recommend auditing all on-site media to ensure that images are correctly sized, have an appropriate level of compression and, where possible, are served in a next-gen format.

It’s also possible to further optimise the loading of assets by deferring any off-screen images to ensure users are only downloading data when necessary – this is something that many websites are not yet taking advantage of.

These are just some of the technical ways that your website’s performance can be improved to increase conversions. There are of course many other optimisations that your site may benefit from.

Front-end optimisations should always be considered alongside the overall UX of the website – to really have the greatest impact on website conversion rates, there should also always be relevant, useful content and a clear call to action for the user on the page, otherwise there is a strong risk that they may bounce, however quickly your page has loaded.

Steve Coventry, lead front-end developer, Avenue Digital

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