Your Conversion Problem May Actually Be a Design Problem

UpTop uses data to inform design decisions

Your organization’s sales projections are flat-lining. Your marketing department has tried countless promotional offers on a variety of products, you’ve got an active social media presence and analytics show that there hasn’t been a dip in your site traffic. It would seem that you’re doing everything right, but for some reason people just aren’t completing transactions. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, you might be under the impression that your organization is having a problem with online conversions. But in actuality, your conversion problem may be a design problem.

In her article “How Good UX Leads to Conversions,” Jennifer Winter uses a familiar metaphor—you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink—to examine the relationship between conversions and design.

“Getting the horse to drink in this example, would be a conversion. You can’t force the horse to drink the water any more than you can force a user to take a desired action. Conversion isn’t about making someone do something, it’s about providing an environment that makes doing that thing irresistible.”

For businesses operating in brick-and-mortar locations, creating a tactile, physical space to entice customers is relatively straightforward. In the digital economy, however, your website or application is your storefront. In lieu of congenial employees and a comfortable and inviting interior, you’ve got to work within the constraints of the medium to persuade potential customers to make a purchase.

That’s where your investment in user experience design comes into play. Shopping remotely from behind the screen of a computer or mobile device, cultivating a connection with users is incredibly difficult. In fact, studies have shown that it takes only .05 seconds for a user to form an opinion about your website, which means that your users’ first experience of your site needs to cultivate trust, expertise, professionalism, and whatever emotional responses make sense for your brand.

But winning the first .05 seconds does not mean the hard part is over. That’s only the beginning of the sales funnel, and in order to achieve better online conversion rates, you’ll have to succeed in all the micro-moments that complete the journey as well.

What impact can design have on the journey to online conversions?

Landing Pages

Starting with your landing page, you need to make sure that it elicits trust, explains what your product/service is and what makes you unique, show social proof (are other people interested in them), prove your value (case studies, testimonials, example projects, wins), and have a gift and an ask. Your gift is something you can offer the users in trade for your ask. Usually this is a free guide, quote, or discount in exchange for the user’s email address.


The navigation of your site needs to match the hierarchy of what users will want to accomplish on your site. It needs to guide them through content that both gives them value and allows your business to pitch them on why they should find what you offer irresistible.


As users move through your pages, they’ll need additional information about your products or services in order to make an educated decision on whether or not to convert. Again, this is about making what you have to offer irresistible. Show how much other users/clients love your product. Give them an irresistible deal. Freebies do a lot to gain trust and push sales online. Try using infographics, videos, and imagery that demonstrates the value of your products. Keep your content clear and compelling.


When it comes to completing an online transaction, things sometimes get tricky. Many businesses will require that you create a user profile and fill out numerous forms in order to proceed. While this may pad your lead generation statistics, it is a design element that can dissuade users that are on the fence. Users’ attention is sparse online these days. They’ll leave quickly if they don’t see immediate value in what you have to offer.

User Experience

If you’re having a difficult time seeing your website or application through the eyes of your users, it might be in the best interests of your organization to invest in user experience research. By conducting user research your organization can figure out exactly which site elements are making your product/services irresistible and which ones are leaving them confused or uninterested.

Measuring usability and testing continual improvements is key to your online success. We can help get you set up; contact us to learn more or view examples of how user experience testing can influence design to optimize online conversions.