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Increased conversion rate 300% by redesigning web site using Conversion Point Architecture

eVision offers an advanced site design methodology called Conversion Point Architecture that we have been developing for a couple of years. With Conversion Point Architecture we can significantly improve a web site’s conversion rate whether it is measured in sales, signups, information delivery or whatever constitutes a “win” on the site.

The Conversion Point Architecture strategy draws from many fields including psychology, the usability field, web-buying behavior research and web technology and typically includes usability/conversion rate evaluations, target audience analysis, defining site objectives, user testing, advanced site analytics, complete content reviews, site architecture design, and site development..  Most clients see returns of from $10 to $100 or more for every dollar invested in a conversion rate improvement project. For more information about the Conversion Point Architecture methodology see this post in our blog, eVision announces trademarked site design methodology to improve web site conversion rates: Conversion Point Architecture.

Case Study: Actual Results – Increased Conversion Rate 300%
Here’s a case study of actual results seen during a project. During this approximately 15 month project we helped redesign the site for both improved conversions (sales and leads) and organic search engine results.

This site was not in terrible shape. It was actually paying off pretty well. However, Todd Follansbee, an eVision Usability & Design Consultant (See our About Us page for more about Todd) helped them rethink the site’s content, organization etc.

This is a non profit professional membership organization. There are 4 or 5 key goals (conversion points on the site) that we worked on.  The two most important goals, of course, are the money goals, the membership signups and the sales of books and courses.

Below are the monthly conversions numbers for the combination of the two important money goals: membership signups and the sales of books and courses –

(Monthly Conversion Rates)

Month Conversion Rate
Dec-06 1.67%
Jan-07 1.81%
Feb-07 1.76%
Mar-07 (Site Relaunch) 1.94%
Apr-07 4.20%
May-07 5.27%
Jun-07  4.34%
Jul-07 4.78%
Aug-07 5.28%
Sep-07 5.37%
Oct-07 5.47%

The site was relaunched in March 2007. Look at the conversion numbers shoot up in April after the new site was launched. The conversion rate more than doubled after the relaunch.

Conversion rates continued to increase in later months as we continued making tweaks to the site’s conversion funnels etc. 

By October 2007 the conversion rate had increased by more than 300%, that’s 3 times what it was before the site was relaunched.

We focused on 4 key goals on the site, the two money goals and two goals that lead to future sales – a newsletter signup and an important document download.

At last check in October 2007 the overall conversion rate for the site (the combination of the 4 goals we are tracking) was 20%! That’s correct 20%.

That means that 1 in 5 visitors to their site are converting in one of more of the 4 goals – becoming a member, buying a book or course, signing up for the newsletter or downloading that document.

In addition their search engine rankings have improved and organic search traffic is a now a significant amount of their total referral traffic.
 

Estimate the potential ROI from improved conversion rates on your site
Try to estimate what this kind of conversion rate improvement could me for your business.

For example, let’s assume your web site’s overall conversion rate is 1%. To keep the math simple lets assume the site is an eCommerce site where sales are the most important conversion (If it’s a lead generation site you’ll need to add the typical number of leads needed to result in a sale into the calculation).

Now assume your web site currently converts an average 10,000 visitors per month to the site into sales at a 1% conversion rate. That’s 100 sales.

Let’s assume your average sales revenue is $200 and you make 50% gross profit on average. That’s $100 in gross profit per sale.

So those 100 sales you currently get from the web site each month result in about $10,000 a month in gross profit or about $120,000 in gross profit per year (100 sales X $100 in gross profit = $10,000 gross profit per month x 12 months = $120,000 gross profit per year).

Let’s look at what it would mean to you if the conversion rate on the web site was increased by 300%.

Those same 10,000 visitors per month that resulted in 100 sales at a 1% conversion rate would now results in 300 sales at a 3% conversion rate.

Those 300 sales would results in about $30,000 a month in gross profit or about $360,000 in gross profit per year.

In other words by improving the conversion rate on the site by 300% your gross profit over the course of a year grew from $120,000 to $360,000 dollars. You tripled your gross profit and generated an additional $240,000 dollars in gross profit just by improving the conversation rate!

Let’s look at the Return on Investment for your project.
It would not be unusual for a Conversion Point Architecture site redesign project to cost anywhere from about $15,000 to about $100,000. Let’s assume your Conversion Point Architecture site redesign project cost $50,000.

So for a $50,000 investment you made an additional $240,000 dollars in gross profit. In other words, every $1 invested in the project was turned into $4.8 dollars. Ask you CPA or CFO is this makes sense to invest in

Take a look at the potential ROI on your own web site with some real numbers and be conservative.

If your site has never been tested and worked on to improve conversion rates than see what the numbers look like if we can improve the conversion rate by double, or 200%.

If you have done some testing and conversion rate improvements on the site then you should be even more conservative. What if we can improve the conversion rates by about 10% or 20%?

Improved Search Results too
In this example we only looked at improving the conversion rates. In most design projects we also work on redesigning the site to improve search results. This is followed by a continuing effort to improve search traffic after the site is relaunched.

So you could also perform some “what if” ROI calculations on additional traffic to the site too. What if we can increase organic search traffic by 50% or 100% etc in addition to improving the conversion rates? What would that mean to the bottom line and the ROI?

For more information

For more information about the Conversion Point Architecture methodology see this post in our blog, eVision announces trademarked site design methodology to improve web site conversion rates: Conversion Point Architecture.

Conversion Point Architecture Web Site Design/Redesign Overview

More information about Improving Conversion Rates including a User testing video

See our About Us page for more about Todd Follansbee, an eVision Usability & Design Consultant

eVision announces trademarked site design methodology to improve web site conversion rates: Conversion Point Architecture

We released a press release this morning that describes eVision’s site design methodology called Conversion Point Architecture.

Here’s a summary:

eVision offers an advanced site design methodology called Conversion Point Architecture. Although the value of driving traffic to web sites remains high, effective site design that helps ensure visitors turn into leads or sales is just as important. With Conversion Point Architecture, eVision helps organizations optimize and improve their sites’ conversion rates. Conversion Point Architecture can significantly improve a organization’s conversion rate whether it is measured in sales, signups, information delivery or whatever constitutes a “win” on the site.

Read the complete press release here
http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/06/prweb533873.htm

Or download the press release as a PDF

Good Navigation Is Essential to Your Site’s Success: How to design a good Nav bar

In this article you will learn what makes a great primary nav bar. Our user testing shows that ignoring nav bar guidelines will cost you sales and customers. You cannot create a good user experience without a good nav bar.

The nav bar plays an essential role in creating good first impressions and setting site expectations. New visitors will scan the primary nav bar when they first arrive on your site home page. When nav bar link labels are confusing, or important visual cues are missing, visitors are less likely to engage. If visitors have only come for a quick comparative look, confusion equals exits.

Most nav bars typically violate one or more basic usability guidelines. It is easier to build a good nav bar on a new site then to repair a poor one on an existing site. If you are considering a major redesign, assemble all your usability guidelines including these before starting the project. You wouldn’t fail to understand safety codes before building a house; it’s no different with a web site.

Commit to a great nav bar UX and you will gain an immediate competitive advantage over the majority of sites which currently fail to achieve even basic usability (you must cite your exact sources whenever you quote numbers like this.)

 

Nav Bar Guidelines

Before deciding whether you should locate your primary nav bar on the top, left or right of your pages and how the nav bar submenus will work, first consider the basic characteristics of a good primary nav bar.
Guidelines – A good nav bars must:

  1. Use recognizable link labels which set a clear and accurate expectation for the page content.
  2. Be in a consistent location on every page.
  3. Provide visual cues that tell you what page you are on, where your cursor is and what pages you have visited.
  4. Avoid active links which only refresh the page you are on.

On existing sites you are trying to improve it will be easiest to make changes to comply with the first two guidelines, so address them first. Guideline 3 and especially 4 will require some tedious page by page revisions for an existing site. In a new site design, compliance shouldn’t add time to the project.

Let’s review each guideline above in more detail.

1. Use recognizable link labels which set a clear and accurate expectation for the page content

Examples of simple, recognizable labels which set clear expectations include: About Us, Contact Us, Home, Products, Services, FAQs, and Testimonials. Our sample nav bar below immediately tells you a great many things about this site from only a 3 second glance. These nav bar labels successfully tell the visitor that the site content will be easy to explore. Alt tags and submenus may provide further details but it is risky to count on these hidden elements; you need simple, clear, unambiguous terms in your primary nav bar. Graphical nav bar links need alt tags for visually challenged viewers. Alt tags should include the nav bar link label, but it is best to expand on the content with a few additional key words.

Nav Bar link labels such as Great Stuff, Point, XYZ Fittings, Advertising, Free and Joe’s Picks, raise more questions than they answer. When we ask users to describe what these pages are likely to contain, we hear a wide variety of responses. This is not what a nav bar should do. Also avoid cute labels such, Mystery Deals or Special Bonus designed to “intrigue” people to click; they seem only to annoy the people in our user tests. People may click but they do so begrudgingly and may then feel less motivated to buy.

If finding information about the company behind a site is difficult, many won’t even bother to search through the products or services it offers. With a well designed nav bar, your visitors will be comfortable searching for a product of interest, reassured that they can easily go back and answer important questions before buying such as: “who are these guys?”

2. Be in a consistent location on every page

This is simple. The nav bar should be in the same place on every page and should always include a link to the home page. Most but not all sites meet this guideline.

The most common example of missing or incomplete nav bars is in shopping cart sequences or links out to sites which provide some special functionality. Shopping cart templates often try to eliminate any possible distractions by excluding primary nav bars. While there is some evidence that this may result in higher conversions, it also limits the chance to add additional products to the cart. We prefer access to consistent navigation throughout the entire site. It isn’t like being in the grocery store checkout line where suddenly remembering a needed item will hold everyone up while you dash to dairy. Good navigation throughout the cart process makes it easy to add products and ensure you are ordering the right items. It also allows people to answer other last minute questions before check out such as: “how secure is this cart process?”

Do not assume that a practice which works for a very well established and already highly trusted brand like Amazon will also work for you. Keeping the nav bar in a consistent location and clearly visible reduces anxiety and confusion and makes the site more flexible in meeting the visitor’s needs.

If you offer a web service which may engage users for extended periods of time on one page (webinars or online courseware comes to mind) it is permissible to hide the nav bar and header with a show/hide option to deliver a full screen experience.

3. Provide visual cues that tell you what page you are on, where your cursor is and what pages you have visited.

In the example below, the Nav Bar gives a clear visual cue to show you which page you are on, where your mouse is currently pointing and which pages you have visited earlier.

 navbar2

 

This visitor is now on the Overview page within in the Services Section. With this clear cue, the page needs no bread crumbs You will never feel lost with good visual cues.

In the above example, if you were to move the cursor over Testimonials, it should take on a “you are here cue” (which could be, for example, a different color or reverse video). Also the Testimonials submenu is will soon display, replacing the Services submenu for as long as your cursor remains on Testimonials. As soon as the cursor leaves the Testimonials tab, the Services submenu reappears since it was only hidden momentarily by the cursor movement to Testimonials. The Services tab remains highlighted while in this section, until you click on another tab.

This example displays visual cues to show that you have visited the Contact Us page (the text color changes from blue to purple). After leaving the Overview page that link will change to follow the same convention. Typically visited links will display in a slightly different color, to differentiate them from the unvisited page links. Note: some browsers allow visitors to set their own options for showing visited links in a settings form.

It is common for visitors to make several site visits and for some time period to pass before making a purchase. When you show visited links, returning visitors feel “welcomed back” and know where they’ve already been on the site. Visited link cues ensure that they can easily find their way back to relevant information.

4. Avoid active links which only refresh the page you are on.

The links for the page you are currently on should be inactive and provide a cue that they are inactive. This indicates which page you are currently on. For example, any home page links should be inactive when the visitor is already on the home page.

When we first adopted this guideline years ago, we did so because pages loaded slowly and it was especially annoying to click on a self-refreshing link only to wait 10 seconds just to redisplay the page. Self-referential links still waste time but nowadays there is evidence that self-referential links also confuse your traffic analytics by increasing page view counts, distorting page duration times and more. Rather than struggle to adjust your analytics, the better choice is to comply with this guideline and avoid the problem. Self-referential links are time consuming to correct on an existing site so you may you choose to live with them for now but ensure that any new design complies with this guideline.

 

Nav Bar Graphics – Look and Feel.

As long as your nav bar meets the four guidelines above, it will be usable. Feel free to experiment with creative graphic effects but always test with representative users.

A UX consultant is responsible for insuring a good user experience but graphic designers need the flexibility to insure compliance with branding elements and corporate style guides when building the look and feel of a nav bar. We do not want all nav bars to be identical.

Ensure that the text is clear and readable. Dark text on light background is more readable. Link “hot spots” must be large enough to easily keep the cursor over links. It is annoying when the submenu links disappear when the cursor strays the slightest bit so be sure to test the worst case scenario – a laptop without a mouse.

What Kind of Nav Bar and Where?
Our personal preference is to locate primary nav bars at the top of the page when possible but we are more concerned about how it works and what it says than where it is.

The choice of vertical or horizontal submenus is driven by the number of second level choices. With less then approximately 6 second level choices, you can choose either vertical or horizontal submenus. More than 6 second level choices require a vertical submenu. We would not mix vertical and horizontal submenus from the same primary nav bar for aesthetic reasons and because any kind of inconsistency tends to confuse users.

If you choose to locate your primary nav bar at the top of the page, horizontal submenus are good because they don’t hide site content and can stay in place to provide the visual cues to which page you are currently on as well as make other links at the same level readily available.

Vertical Submenu Behaviors – Left or right side primary nav bars (we prefer left) work best with vertical submenus which can expand or contract as you hover over the primary nav bar link.
Bread crumbs are an acceptable visual cue for complex sites with vertical submenus which must disappear after selection from them. Bread crumb guidelines will be discussed in a later article on “navigation elements outside of the nav bar”; they do have a valuable role in certain circumstances.

 

How to Test Your Nav Bar.

Whatever choices are made, they should always be subject to user testing. Test early before extensive coding is done.

For a quick user test of your nav bar, sit a new visitor your home page for 10 seconds and then read them each term in the primary nav bar asking them to describe what they would expect to find on each second level page.

Are they clear on what each term means?
Are their expectations for page content on target?
Can they suggest better terms?

Next, bring the home page back up and give them the task of finding a specific product/service. Ask them to share their thoughts and reactions out loud while you carefully watch their behavior for signs of confusion including back button clicks, resorting to ‘search” or the site map, or frustration. At no time should you offer any verbal prompts to help them complete the task. Consider testing seniors or teens if they are part of your market as well. Can they find what they need? Is it the fault of the nav bar, your information architecture or something else? This is only the most basic of user tests but testing just 5 users will show you the effectiveness of your nav bar (and much more).
For more testing instructions, read Zero Budget User Testing.

Begin now to plan out your nav bar improvements but before making wholesale site changes, be sure to read the upcoming navigation articles on Information Architecture and Non Nav Bar Elements,. Improving the UX by building a good nav bar will not earn rave reviews from your visitors; in fact most won’t even notice it but you will see it in the bottom line. Ensure that your new visitors become repeat customers with a great UX starting at the nav bar.

 This article was previously published on Web Marketing Today


Increase Business From Your Web Site!

Usability Expert Todd Follansbee

Usability Expert
Todd Follansbee

User Experience and Conversion Point Review

The goal of a User Experience and Conversion Point Review is to help you insure that your web site delivers an effective conversion path, provides a successful branding experience, and communicates the information in a way which serves you best to deliver leads or sales

More Info >>

6 SEO steps for a website redesign

Many companies wait till after a web site is redesigned and launched before getting a search engine optimization expert (SEO) involved. Unfortunately this can lead to expensive site design changes that could have been more easily implemented during the initial design process.  

Sometimes it’s impossible to correct issues after a site is designed and launched without essentially rebuilding the site again.  

In addition traffic from search engines can be severely reduced for months after a redesign. This impact can be reduced by taking the proper steps.  

Here are some search engine optimization steps you should consider during a site redesign.  Some of these steps you can perform yourself. However many of these steps will require someone experienced in SEO.  (Some of these steps also apply when designing a brand new web site.)   

1: Site Audit: Develop a Search Engine Friendly Web Site
Having a search engine friendly site, a web site with no barriers to the search engines, a site designed to help improve search engine results is critical to success with “organic” search engine results. The best time to ensure a search engine friendly site is during a site design or redesign.  

If you have an existing web site perform some level of a Site Audit on it. In a Site Audit an SEO examines the current web site. They’ll point out problems with the site design or other limitations that might impede organic search engine results so that they can be addressed during the design of the new site, including:   

  • Site Navigation, Link Structure, Page Layout – Effective site navigation and link structure as well as page layout for search engine friendliness.
  • Dynamic Site Elements – If there are any dynamic pages (such as pages generated by a Content Management System, dynamically generated product pages, etc) that ideally should be search engine friendly a SEO can consult on the best way to accomplish this.
  • Design reviews – An SEO should examine wire frames or storyboards and site prototypes or development test sites at various stages in the design and development process to ensure search engine friendless etc.
  • Duplicate content issues – Having essentially the same content on multiple pages within your site, your vendors’ sites, or your resellers and affiliates’ sites can lead to problems. An SEO can consult on duplicate content issues that are common in ecommerce and affiliate sites. 

2: Determine important keyword phrases
It’s very helpful to have an understanding of what the important keyword phrases (search terms) are for your web site in the design process. This understanding can come from a few sources:  

Keyword Research – In Keyword Research a SEO determines what phrases people are searching on to find your products and services as well as related topics in the major search engines.  

Search Engine Advertising – If you have run a search engine advertising campaign (a PPC campaign such as Google AdWords) an SEO can examine the campaign results to see what keyword phrases brought significant targeted traffic to the site and more importantly which phrases resulted in engaged visitors (as measured by metrics such as Time on Site, Page Views, Bounce Rate, Views of key pages, etc) and conversions (signups, leads, sales etc).  

Keyword phrases that pay off in a search engine advertising campaign are ideal candidates for improvement in organic search results.  

Web Site Analytics / Reports – Using web site analytics (such as Google Analytics or ClickTracks) you should be able to determine what keyword phrases brought significant targeted traffic to the site by keyword and again, more importantly, which phrases resulted in “engaged” visitors and conversions.  

If advanced analytics are not available you may have site reports that will at least show you what keyword phrases are bringing significant traffic to the site.  

Important Note about relying only on analytics and site reports If you only use analytics or site reports to determine what keyword phrases reached the site in the past you may be missing many important keywords. You site may not have the relevant content or the link popularity to have attracted search traffic for many important keywords, especially competitive keywords.  

We’d recommend considering delaying the site redesign if possible in order to perform keyword research and possibly run a search engine advertising campaign for a number of months to determine which keywords bring engaged visitors to the site.  

Of course you may be redesigning the site because it does a horrible job of engaging and converting visitors in which case getting some of these metrics from a search engine advertising campaign on the current site may be difficult or impossible.   

3: Use important keyword phrases in the site design
Once you’ve determined the important keywords for your site and the approximate numbers of people searching on them in the major search engines, in the territory your cover, here’s how to use the data:  

Are enough people searching on your keyword phrases? If this hasn’t already been determined in the past then use the keyword data to help you estimate if there are enough people searching within your anticipated territory so that search marketing might become an important marketing channel for you. This will help you decide how much effort to put into search marketing during and after a site design.   

Add content to the site? You should consider adding content to the site to better focus on important keyword phrases if needed. In addition, do you see people searching for related topics? It may make sense to include that content on the web site to make the web site more useful and to help get the web pages found by people searching for that information. Then during the site design and after the site is launched work on ways to get theses visitors interested in your products and services.  

Optimize pages – It may make sense to optimize some site pages to improve search results for some important keywords during the site development process. In many cases optimization of specific pages can be performed after the site is launched, and often has to be because of time constraints, as long as you’ve developed a search engine friendly web site.  

Develop Tags – Develop a short list of keywords to focus on to develop tags, such as HTML Page Title tags and Meta Description tags for web pages that you may not be completely optimizing until after the site is launched, if ever.  

4: Develop the navigation and linking structure
Once you’ve determined the content for the site you can develop a navigation structure that allows site visitors to easily navigate through the site.  

In addition give some thought to organizing your site around important keyword themes which can help improve search engine rankings. (Internal site linking also affects search positions).  

For more about organizing your site around important keyword themes, also called Siloing, see this article on Bruce Clay’s site.  

However, remember that your visitors come first. The site must be designed so that visitors can find what they are looking for and so that the site effectively engages these visitors and persuades them to move along to a conversion. Thinking about keyword themes can help you accomplish this and improve search engine rankings at the same time.  

5: Determine which pages of the live site bring traffic for important keyword phrases
Using web site analytics or manual searches determine what pages on your current web site are reaching high positions in search engine results and bringing significant traffic for many of the keywords that are important to your web site, i.e. traffic that is engaged and converts.  

 For these pages you’ll want to consider one of the following:  

  • Reuse Important Content – If possible reuse much of the content from these pages on the new site pages, ideally using the same URL structure if possible.
  • Minimize the Impact of URL changes – If the URL structure must change it can impact your search results for months after the site is relaunched as the search engines need to recrawl the site to find the new pages etc. You can minimize the impact of changes to URL’s for important pages by applying 301 redirects to as many of these pages as possible.

6: Determine the incoming links to the site from other web sites
An SEO can examine the links to your web site from other web pages on the Internet to see which ones are bringing targeted traffic to the site and which ones may be helping the pages on your web site reach higher positions in the search engine results.  

If any of these incoming links point to inner pages of your current web site and the URL’s to those pages will be changed they can suggest the correct course of action from among a few options. Usually they’ll suggest applying 301 redirects to these pages so that they redirect to the most appropriate page on the new site.  

You’ll want to try to contact as many of these site owners as possible after the new site is launched to ask them to update their links (this also gives you a way to start a relationship with these sites if you don’t already have an ongoing relationship).  

Important note about links to the home page. Some incoming links to home pages may include the complete URL, http://www.domainname.com/index.asp rather than just http://www.domainname.com for example.  If the URL to the home page will change when the site is relaunched, for example from http://www.domainname.com/index.asp to http://www.domainname.com/index.php, you’ll want to apply a 301 redirect in this case too. Then, after the new site is launched, contact any site owners whose incoming links point to the old home page URL and ask them to update their links.  

Extra Tip – Don’t forget to setup an effective custom page not found error page (404 error page) before launching the redesigned site. This is very important to have in place as the site is launched as many people may be clicking on search results that link to pages on the site that have just been moved or deleted. Learn much more about an effective custom page not found error page in this Video/Text article. 

  

For More Information  

“Basics of Search Engine Friendly Web Site Design for Web Designers & Developers”  A Guide we put together that you can download  

Mark Johnson’s “Redesigning Your Web Site? Don’t Neglect SEO” article in SE Watch  

Jill Whalen’s “6 Website Redesign SEO Secrets Your Developer May Not Know” covering site architecture, avoiding duplicate content, changing page URL’s, navigation systems, custom HTML elements, and tracking (such as Session IDs)  

Jill’s Whalen’s Best SEO Practices During A Website Redesign. Jill’s tips for a site design inclduing changing URL’s, Flash, adding/changing content and tags  

An article in Search Engine Watch about “SEO During E-Commerce Application Development.”  

For more about organizing your site around important keyword themes, also called Siloing, see this article on Bruce Clay’s site.   


     

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This is the best place to start improving search engine results! We examine your web site and compare it to 1-3 of the competitors that keep you awake at night. Then we outline the next steps to consider to improve search engine results — $1,500  

www.evisionsem.com/marketing/seopakcages.htm


Please welcome Dr. Deborah J. Mayhew, eVision Usability and Design Consultant

Dr. Deborah J. Mayhew, an internationally recognized consultant, author, teacher and speaker on user experience design and usability engineering has joined eVision as a Usability and Design Consultant. Dr Mayhew will work with eVision clients to implement the Conversion Point Architecture process, helping insure that visitors who arrive at a web site will be inspired to convert (take some desired action) and can complete conversion actions effectively.
 
Dr. Deborah J. Mayhew was one of the early pioneers (early 1980’s) in the emerging field of software usability engineering, and since 1986 has been offering a wide variety of user experience services on a consulting basis. Clients have included IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Ford Motor Co., American Express, Apple, American Airlines, The New York City Police Department, Cisco Systems, the IRS, The World Bank and many others. In the last decade of her 25+ years in the field, her work has focused primarily on web sites and web-enabled applications.

Dr. Mayhew’s expertise lies in insuring that the total user experience of a web site or application includes ease of learning and ease of use. Whereas search engine optimization (SEO) and advertising expertise insure that traffic will arrive at a web site, and Conversion Point Architecture insures that visitors will be inspired to contribute to site conversion goals, ease of learning and use expertise contributes to conversions by insuring that visitors can complete conversion interactions successfully, with minimal errors and frustration and in minimal time. This in turn minimizes bounce rates and customer service contacts.

Dr. Mayhew holds a B.A. in Psychology from Brown University, an M.A. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Denver and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Tufts University. Dr. Mayhew has authored or co-authored four books on topics in usability engineering, and has contributed chapters to many other books in the field. One of her most popular and widely used books is The Usability Engineering Lifecycle. Another is Cost-Justifying Usability, co-edited with Randolph G. Bias, first published in 1994 and then completely updated in 2005 to reflect the internet age. Dr. Mayhew is a frequent speaker at professional conferences.

For More Information

 

ROI Calculator Download: Calculate the Potential Return on Investment from Improvements in Web Site Conversion Rates

I put an Excel spreadsheet together for a client to use to estimate the potential return on investments from further improvements of the conversion rate on their web site.

You can download load it. I think it’s pretty simple to use and can be used to estimate ROI from many types of campaigns.

Download the ROI Calculator

Here’s an explanation of the columns etc -

Visits In period: To the estimate potential ROI from conversions from all sources of traffic insert the number of visitors (ideally unique visitors if available) from your web site stats/reports or from site analytics .

Or if you have the approximate number of conversions from a particular source of traffic, AdWords or an email campaign for example, then you could insert the number of visits (or “click-throughs” or “message opens” etc) from that source.

Number of Days in period: The number of days in the period is used later to estimate the increase in value from conversions for a year (which of course doesn’t apply to all sources of traffic such as email campaigns).

Approx Conversions: The approximate number of conversions, whether it’s a single conversion goal, such as onsite purchases or lead inquires, or a total of two or more conversion goals.

This number could come from Analytics or PPC conversion tracking for example, or it could come from an actual count of conversions from the web site. Or it could be just a rough guess.

Conversion rate: The conversion rate will be calculated for you. It’s,  Approx Conversions / Unique Visits In period.

Approx value each conversion: This should be an estimate of the value for a conversion to you. It could be the immediate revenue or gross profit for an online sale, or the estimate of first year or life-time value of a new customer etc. For lead generation you’ll need to figure your approximate leads to sales number to get the estimated value (See the posts mentioned below for more on this)

Approx value of conversions: This will be calculated for you. It’s, Approx Conversions X Approx value of each conversion, i.e. the total value of the conversions during the period.

What if improve conversion rate to: Enter a “what if” value here to see the effect of improving the conversion rate to this amount.

The Results Columns –

Then Approx conversions: This column will be calculated. It’s the approximate number of conversions that would have resulted if the conversion rate had been improved to the “what if” conversion rate.

Then Approx value of conversions: This column will be calculated. It’s the approximate value of all the conversions that would have resulted if the conversion rate had been improved to the “what if” conversion rate.

Approx Increase in conversion value for Period: This will be calculated. It’s the approximate additional value you would have seen from the additional conversions in the period.

Approx Increase in conversion value for 1 year: This will be calculated. It’s the estimated additional value you would have seen from the additional conversions over a year (which of course doesn’t apply to all sources of traffic such as email campaigns or may not be valid because of seasonality etc).

Multiple Conversion Goals – You can estimate more than one type of conversion goal. The calculator is set up to accommodate two conversion goals. For addition goals select and copy an entire row then paste into a blank row.

Download the ROI Calculator

 For More Information



We Use Traffic Travis

Keyword Research | SEO & Online Marketing Tool

"We switched from a well know keyword too because it had become too cumbersome to use. And for the second time I can remember, instead of steady evolving the product, they completely changed it forcing a large learning curve on existing users (not smart!)

So far I find Traffic Travis is great for the main reason I switched, to easily get organic competition data for batches of keywords as we work on optimizing client web sites etc. This allows us to decide for which keywords a clientâ??s site/page has a reasonable chance of reaching top positions and which ones are currently out of reach.

I've been doing my raw keyword researching using Googleâ??s AdWords keyword research tool (itâ??s what Iâ??m used to) then copying batches of keywords into Traffic Travis to collect the organic keyword competition data as needed.

In time Iâ??ll explore more of the tool. Thereâ??s a lot there for online marketing including backlink checking (with strength data), raw keyword research, and more. And the price is only $97, much less than the most other tools"

George Aspland, eVision

Read More about Traffic Travis

eVision Selected as “One of The Most Dependable™ Web Designers of The Northeast”

eVision has been selected by Goldline Research as one of The Most Dependable™ Web Designers of The Northeast for 2008. The list of The Most Dependable™ Web Designers of The Northeast is scheduled to be published in the June 1st issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. eVision was chosen in this region to receive this prestigious award.

“eVision, LLC truly distinguished itself during our evaluation of the industry,” said Allen Scott, Research Director, Goldline Research. “The firm met or exceeded every expectation we have for holistic, client-centric firms.”

Goldline Research undertakes an extensive, in-depth research process to review all qualified applicants in a respective area. Its consumer-centric evaluation method is specifically tailored to evaluate firms for how well they service their clients’ needs. The proprietary research process we use includes individual company interviews and quantitative analysis of key company data, as well as customer reference checks to confirm exceptional levels of customer service. Those companies that ultimately earn Goldline Research’s Most Dependable™ designation show that they have the characteristics that are essential for continued success and leadership within their industry.

eVision focuses on designing web sites that turn visitors into business for our clients. We’re honored to be selected as one of the Ten Most Dependable™ Web Designers of the Northeast since this award depended on positive testimonials from our clients who have benefited from our Conversion Point Architecture web site design process.

We use our proprietary Conversion Point Architecture process to design user focused, search-engine friendly web sites that convert visitors into sign ups, inquiries, leads, and new business.

Conversion Point Architecture is a proven combination of art and science drawing from many fields including psychology, the usability field, web-buying behavior research and web technology and typically includes usability/conversion rate evaluations, target audience analysis, defining site objectives, user testing, advanced site analytics, complete content reviews, site architecture design, and site development.

For more information

Client Case Study: Site Redesigned using Conversion Point Architecture Increased Conversion Rate 300%

Conversion Point Architecture Web Site Design/Redesign Overview

Blog post: Current web site design is upside down! How to design web sites that convert visitors into leads and business

Download the above press release as an Adobe PDF document

Current web site design is upside down! How to design web sites that convert visitors into leads and business

The current “upside down” web site design process
Typically web site design starts with the home page, laboring over the look and feel. As designers wait for content, the site is built following standard formulas and the goal of selling a product or service often becomes secondary.

Deadlines are often missed between the unpredictability of the creative process and the struggle to gather content. The creative process is always unpredictable at best anyway whether you are writing code or painting a portrait.

However we believe that most of the delays in web site design are content related, which is typically the weakest point of the site designers skills. By carefully orchestrating the content, sales path and site architecture before code is written, we relieve the designers of the need to develop content thus accelerating the design process.

Otherwise as artificial deadlines pass, the management command usually becomes an exasperated: “Get the site up and fix it later!” Rarely is the essential testing or refinement process completed as everyone feels less enthusiastic about the site and instead of smiles, there is often finger pointing.

More importantly, the all important conversion pages receive minimal attention. Sales are lackluster and visitors abandon early. This is when conversion experts get involved. What we hear most often is: “The site is getting traffic but not enough sales…”

How to design web sites that convert users into leads business
We developed and recommend a completely opposite path to this design model. We call it Conversion Point Architecture . This model is based upon our usability and conversion experience and places primary design focus on the sale or conversion, regardless of whether you are selling a product or a service.

This approach helps sites launch faster and score higher conversion rates right out of the box. It begins at the “goal posts” not at the home page. We focus first on what is the site/business objective(s)! After all, what else really matters? Sites rarely win awards for beauty but they are all measured by their success.

We trust that a good designer will provide us an attractive site but in my experience far too many conversion decisions are left to the designers. Chasing clients for content is typically the designer’s least favorite job. Ask any designer how long it would take to build a 20 page site when the site architecture and page elements, including text are completely in place.

On the other hand, when designers are responsible for assembling content the time to build is either much longer or they are unable to make a firm commitment. This additional time translates to higher cost on the design side and lost opportunity for sales until the site is launched. Designers are rarely conversion experts.

Here’s how we design or redesign web sites using Conversion Point Architecture

  • Begin the design process with an extensive client interview to understand the business, its goals and the prospective customer groups. Focus on identifying the final site objective(s), forget starting at the home page. Our interview format typically covers everything from analyzing the current site experience and frustrations to a thorough psychological understanding of their client(s) persona. Focus primarily on what they sell, how they currently sell it, and what people like and dislike about the product and the current web site (if one exists).
  • Brainstorm a list of everything a customer would need to know to be comfortable making a purchase. It may not all eventually make the site but if selling a house for example, include everything from area school details to landscape plans. I mean everything; take the time to do this right. Ask everyone. If you sell dozens of products, approach this from each product category. If in doubt, we err on the side of too much information.
  • Next organize this information into logical groups, in the example of the house: utilities, town, layout etc. These “information groups” may become pages. You can certainly include one element into several groups. Build in ideas for graphics which are not decoration but actively illustrate products.
  • Look at the sales process, and visualize how customers proceed to the objective; when might each information group arise? Sequence the information groups in a “ladder” which mimics the sales process. , start with this ladder. Confirm how complete your copy is by testing with either experts or prospects. The architecture now begins when we expand the ladder and begin organizing pages from the information groups. Since many of the information groups will be available via text links from even the first or second page in the sales sequence, it may not end up as “linear” as it appears during this organization phase. People actually do shop differently and take more of a “hub and spoke” approach to information gathering on the web but DO NOT overlook the basics such as: do you have credibility, do people need testimonials, do they need price comparisons, what is the warranty and how much does shipping costs, what is your client list etc.
  • Don’t spend time on the text yet, just gather information outlines. Start the page layout as a rough story board. I use Visio as a great tool for both the architecture and page layout but don’t spend more then 10 – 15 minutes per page and hand draw each page (or use Visio). I include placeholders for relevant images. Mark obvious links to other relevant groups. Insure that each page directly relates to the objective. I couldn’t expand on this in this post but what I mean is that each element be it image, headline or body text, must contribute to the sales objective and the call to action on each page must move someone along the sales path. Each page is information, but each page is also a step towards the objective. ALSO good navigation including bread crumbs is necessary since people often need to review earlier info so they can jump back and forth easily.
  • Now we review our understanding of the typical prospect. Can we make assumptions about preferred communication style, interests, motivations or focus? Tools like Myers Briggs and Learning styles research help understand this but the essential element is that most content developers assume that people read and learn the same way that they do. This is natural, but wrong. If you are dealing with a niche market, focus on improving your understanding of their psychological profiles. Sales training courses in the offline world work hard at reading and understanding clients, it can be done online as well.

The goal is to create content that speaks in the language of the reader, via the learning style of the reader and focusing on the motivations which most move the reader.

Also most people assume their sites speak to the public at large which is also false. By asking, testing and spending time with sales staff you can begin to understand how your clients think and how much narrower your market may actually be. Use this information to refine your communication style, or you can work with us.

Either way, every informed step you take will improve your site’s success. Don’t trust me on it though, make sure you keep accurate traffic metrics and you test your assumptions. As an example, when selling a house, which is more important, the investment value or neighborhood schools? We would build a different sales path (ladder sequence) for each of these motivators.

Test your assumptions with typical buyers or experts, they don’t have to be active buyers, you can work with friends but try to create the right atmosphere.

Typically we build multiple sales paths based upon each customer persona group. (Multiple paths are a topic for another article but are a key part of Conversion Point Architecture.)

  • With the path architected from beginning to end; we build out the architecture/navigation map with standard site elements that users expect like “About Us”, FAQ’s etc. Readers expect certain site elements like these. If you don’t include them, readers get nervous and doubt the professionalism of the site. If you fail to establish credibility for example, you have no chance of a sale. This is not the time to explore new creative presentation ideas unless you are selling creativity to a receptive market. With your visio or hand drawn site map, add these standard elements to the architecture.
  • Designers are called when content is set and architectural elements are clearly laid out. Discuss look and feel, content delivery and explain how to place the graphics to utilize eye tracking to support key messages. Remember for example the importance of captions. Over 90% of visitors will read a caption below a nice photo (assuming there are only a couple on the page), if you have something essential, find the right photo and use the caption to get your message across.
  • Color choices and images often follow our understandings of the persona groups when considering look and feel. Same thing applies to font and page complexity. Certain groups can only absorb information from a simple uncomplicated page layout. Others want lengthy narratives. Still others will only read bulleted text which back up all assumptions with facts.
  • Discuss this information with your designers and when the look and feel is done, build out the site. Designers deliver best when provided with detailed content and site plans and can focus on visuals.
  • With the right look and feel in place, the “beta” is tested on several prospective clients for: navigational confusion, sales blocks, functional problems like browser compatibility and finally, content problems or unanswered product questions. I can’t stress the importance of this enough.
  • Launch the site, note your metrics. Plan to continually monitor and refine site elements. Set conversion goals and explore new presentations and elements. Test, Refine, Improve.

Conversion Point Architecture is building the site with the objectives in mind and insuring that all sales elements are in place and clearly communicated. It is that simple and that complex.

Note: I should add that testing paper prototypes and early site iterations is something we support and recommend. We admit that we have not addressed that thoroughly here but we do believe it is a part of proper Conversion Point Architecture. Testing should drive all design processes.

For more information

Conversion Point Architecture Web Site Design/Redesign Overview

More information about Improving Conversion Rates including a User testing video

See our About Us page for more about Todd Follansbee, an eVision Usability & Design Consultant

Why Good Graphics is Vital to Site Success

User testing reveals that good graphics design is essential to improving conversions. In the early days of the web some leading usability experts claimed that graphics didn’t belong on web sites, how wrong they were.

 

Good graphics design does more then present an appealing facade.

 

The Stanford Web Credibility (http://credibility.stanford.edu/) studies show that 47% of users make buy decisions based upon the site itself. This implies that if the site is professional in appearance and supplies the essential information in a clear and complete manner; nearly half your customers will be comfortable making a buy decision without further off site research.

 

In my testing experience, when customers are searching for products or services thru a variety of sites in a competitive market, decisions about a sites’ professionalism are often made within 10 seconds of viewing the home or landing page. Ten seconds seems like barely enough time to get more then a quick view of the headlines, a look at the navigation structure and a glance at some key elements on the page. However in this brief time, customers gather a surprisingly broad range of impressions including: company size, product range, product offering, brand impressions, and often price. They demonstrate emotional feelings of connection or dissatisfaction, as well as feelings of anxiety and/or comfort. They often decide if they are in the “right place”.

 

Great graphics are essential to engage the customer and set up expectations and great usability insures that everything will be in place to complete the process, be it sale, sign up or education.

 

Small business sites often shortchange the importance of a good graphic look and feel for the site.  Template sites, “brochure” sites and many small business sites deliver unprofessional graphics design yet site owners wonder why so many abandon the site.

 

An independent graphic designer we work with recently completed the redesign of an eCommerce site. She was quick to note that it wasn’t simply a “pretty up job” – Usability was addressed as well. The redesigned site nearly doubled page views, time on site, and customers.

 

A good graphic web designer will: 

 

  1. Insure an attractive, comfortable color blend which engages (and addresses colorblindness).

  2. Include attractive product shots which are large enough to reveal important elements, (and won’t forget informative, benefit focused captions).

  3. Deliver a value proposition or branding statement in the initial eyepath.

  4. Present simple and effective navigation which shows what viewers can expect to find.

  5. Drive the eye path to the important calls to action.

  6. Insure that all graphic elements are optimized for fast loading and contribute to conversion goals.

  7. Keeps the page simple, clean and effective.

  8. Insures that viewers can “get it” in 10 seconds or less.

A good graphics presentation is too important to your success to risk an amateur look and feel. Unless graphics is in your blood, consider bringing in a graphics web designer to help get your site right. Good graphic web designers are usually less expensive then many programmers, usability consultants, and developers. 

 

Use your normal good business sense when choosing a designer BUT insure they pay more then lip service to great usability or better yet, consider a usability review at the same time. or you may exchange one set of problems for another.

 

If in doubt about your present graphics, user test your site on passers by. Ask for their impressions of your and your competitors’ sites with probing open ended questions about impressions and feelings.

 

 

Great graphics translate to increased sales, make the investment.  

 

 

For more information

 You may wish to review past articles:

 

Are Distracting Cycling Images and Messages Hurting Profits? 

 

How to Sell to Seniors Online.

 

The Sales Value of Strong Product Photos (This post links to an article on Web Marketing Today).

 

 

Related eVision Services

 

Improving Conversion Rates including a User testing video

 

Conversion Point Architecture Web Site Design/Redesign Overview 


 Usability Expert Todd Follansbee

Improve your web site conversions with a User Experience Site Review with Usability Expert Todd Follansbee

 

This is a great place to start increasing business from your web site! — for $425

 

www.evisionsem.com/marketing/User-Experience-Site-Review.htm

4 Initial Keys to Internet Marketing Success

Now in our 10th year, eVision has been helping organizations improve results from search marketing and related areas of online promotion while helping our clients improve the conversion rates of their websites.

Working with large and small companies in the U.S. and abroad over the past decade, I’ve seen a lot of what it takes to be successful in online marketing. I’ve also seen the pitfalls. Here are some of the critical “initial” keys to online marketing success:

Your Web site is an important source of business

One of these two statements is true:

(1) Your Web site already is an important part of your business, or
(2) Your Web site needs to become an important part of your business.

Converting your Web site into a source of business is what online marketing is all about.
 
Here are four keys to making that happen:

 + Estimating ROI before you start
 + Top level commitment and involvement
 + Implementing a tracking system
 + Coordinating Web changes and testing

Estimate potential ROI from online marketing campaigns before beginning
It’s imperative to estimate the potential Return on Investment from online marketing projects and campaigns as early as possible, ideally before starting. Without doing this, projects typically fail or stall.
 
Sometimes we find that the potential ROI just isn’t high enough to justify the initial projected costs of the campaign. This can happen for a number of reasons, including low margins, limited territory, the amount and level of competition, etc. When this becomes clear, it makes sense to lower the scope of the project to ensure an early profitable return.
 
However, when the estimated potential ROI is significant, it helps drive the project. For example, when you see that spending a $100,000 on an online marketing project could lead to an additional $1-million-plus in yearly gross profit, it helps keep management’s eye on the ball.
 
(See below links to articles to help you estimate potential ROI from online marketing campaigns)

Top level commitment and involvement in essential
Online marketing projects usually require the involvement and cooperation of multiple departments. For example, we might work on changes to product messages or suggestions to optimize pages with the folks in marketing, but then the techs in IT must implement the changes to the site.

Because of the cross-functional nature of most online marketing campaigns, it’s critical that top management be committed to oversee these projects as well as to drive them.
 
Implementation of a tracking system
As the saying goes, “If we can’t measure it, we won’t know if it’s working”.  If we can’t measure results reasonably accurately as the project progresses, we won’t know if the project is paying off. That’s why it is important to set-up a process to measure the results of any online marketing project.

Just as important, as the project is under way we’ll need the tracking system so that we can see the results of changes we make to improve conversion rates or to compare items we are testing such as multiple ads in a PPC campaign or variations of headlines, copy, images, “calls to action”, etc

 
Making changes to your Web site in a timely manner
Crucial to online marketing success is the ability to make changes to your Web site in a timely and efficient manner. At the very least, there will analytics or conversion tracking code to insert in the web pages. Periodically, this code may need to be moved and/or modified.

In addition, we’ll likely need to test variations of landing pages and modifications to web pages to improve conversion rates.

Sometimes more extensive changes need to be made to the web site to improve conversion rates. And sometimes, a complete website redesign is necessary.

Our most successful clients are those that can implement changes to their Web sites within days, so that we can continuously test changes to the site, make adjustments, and systematically improve results.

Perseverance
They say a bricks & mortar business needs 3 to 5 years to be successful. On the Internet, it can happen faster, but plan on between 2 and 3 years.

Becoming successful in online marketing is staying with it, monitoring the results, making adjustments, and continuing to test and tweak. With timing and a high-degree of cooperation and flexibility, we have seen online companies take off within a year.
 
However, new online marketing ventures and sites that have never been tested before can take longer as you may need to change and test your messages and your offers, fix conversion bottlenecks, or even redesign the site, etc.

For More Information
Here are a few blog posts that can help you estimate the potential ROI from marketing campaigns:

 
   
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