Step away from the template! A better approach to lead conversion optimisation

September 15, 2016
By Chris

It’s easy to build a website these days, right? Just buy a template, purchase some stock images and copy and paste your brand values document straight into it. Job done. You now have a website that looks just like everybody else’s, and may or may not be suitable for lead conversion. Fingers crossed!

The traditional web design model is totally broken. Growth driven design is the new gold standard for delivering results and bringing measurable business value to clients through web design. If you want more information, read our blog 'Redesigning our HubSpot website with Growth Driven Design: Pt. 1'

We think there is a better alternative out there, and you don’t even have to add many days onto your project plan to achieve it. Interested?

How did we get here?

Lead conversion optimisation is still a relatively young industry. In the early days of the internet era, developers were allowed to run wild with design, wielding our primitive tools and creating whatever fantastical layout our minds could conceive. Then Flash came along and things got really weird. It was a creativity free-for-all, that college phase where we could experiment and nobody would judge us for it.

But eventually everybody realised that websites are not just a shop window, they are a primary sales channel. So we all had to get serious. We developed analytics, user experience, usability testing, heat maps and session recordings. As a result of all of this information, we discovered the phrase ‘best practice’.

That’s the reason why your site logo is always at the top left and your menu collapses into a hamburger icon on mobile. It’s why most ecommerce sites are a shade of blue and those buttons asking you to buy stuff are orange or green. It works. Analysts have proven it and originality is risky and difficult for designers to quantify and defend. Plus, Apple did it, so it must be right. Right?

Identikit Website Templates

Spinning templates

That’s where templates came in. It didn’t make sense to keep building the same elements over and over again, so clever developers came up with frameworks such as Twitter Bootstrap to take care of the basics for you. These starting points became more and more elaborate, and eventually became those end points that you could easily drag and drop content into.

The problem is that templates were never meant to be an end product. They were a starting point from which there are a whole bunch of decisions to be made. Only then can you find the design that will deliver the highest inbound lead conversion rate for your business. Marketers keep banging on about how ‘content is king’ - but when you have to fit that headline into a certain amount of space, or add a sub-heading you don’t have, or find one more thing to say about your product so you can fill the fourth column, your content becomes diluted and more likely to be skimmed over.

Users have started to become conditioned to ignore the elements they see over and over, in the same way they naturally ignore advertisement placements.

A better kind of lead conversion

At Six & Flow, we believe that you should write suitable and engaging content and build your design in tandem. Context should be king. Start your design with a wireframe layout, and consider your information architecture. Build a prototype if the site is big enough to warrant one. Consider what your imagery and colour palette will look like. Then, and only then, think about diving into a template marketplace.

You’ll probably still find one that suits your needs, because there’s no point in reinventing the entire wheel. But you should use it sparingly, borrow the elements that work for you and ditch the ones that don’t. Don’t let your content become superficial by hammering square pegs into round holes, the result will always look ugly and awkward.

If you tell a good story from the beginning, your lead conversion process will be easier to understand and easier to improve. Customers will understand your product offering better because your content will flow more smoothly. After you launch your site, the lead conversion optimisation process will be that much easier, because you will be testing variations of your content rather than figuring out what’s wrong with an unsuitable template.

Where are the risk takers?

We are not saying best practice principles are a bad thing. They are the ultimate expression of usability godfather Steve Krug’s ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ approach to web design. The homogenisation of the internet has made the learning curve for new users far smoother. Many clients enjoy great results from what would be considered a very standard web layout. But that doesn’t mean it will work for everything.

For startups and small businesses in particular, innovation is key. Use every available advantage to get people talking about your business. That’s the very core of inbound lead conversion, you can’t progress to a sale without starting the conversation in the first place.

The traditional web design model is totally broken. Growth driven design is the new gold standard for delivering results and bringing measurable business value to clients through web design. If you want more information, read our blog 'Redesigning our HubSpot website with Growth Driven Design: Pt. 1'

GROWTH DRIVEN DESIGN