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Can you trust website design best practices?

My Post131.jpgYou have to test every proposed change to your website to see what actually works for your business and your audience. Without good testing, your website is just a collection of guesses.

If you want advice on how to design your website, you don’t have to look very far. There are countless articles out there with “best practices” and even more case studies where someone made a specific change to their website and produced incredible results.

The assumption is that if it works for someone else, it should work for you, too.

While there’s nothing wrong with trying these recommendations, not every business will get the same results from the same tactics. In some cases, a tweak that changes someone else’s website for the better could actually hurt your site’s performance.

To avoid this sort of problem, you can’t just change your site on blind faith. You have to test every proposed change and see what works for your business, your audience and your site. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at a few tests we’ve run at Disruptive Advertising that yielded counter-intuitive results.

1. To stick or not to stick?

Most web designers encourage the use of sticky nav bars. Their logic isn’t bad, either. Your navigation bar makes it easy for people to get around your site, so if the nav bar is always easily accessible, people won’t get frustrated.

As a bonus, you can use your navigation bar to guide people towards the most important pages on your site, so they should be more likely to convert with a sticky nav bar, right?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.

One major site we work with wanted to add a sticky navigation bar in the hopes of increasing their conversion rate. But when we tested adding the bar to the site, it cut their lead volume by two-thirds!

As we eventually discovered, this client’s customers placed a high priority on screen spaceespecially on mobile. The nav bar reduced screen space, so it actually caused frustration rather than reducing it.

2. Is your value proposition worthless?

When it comes to web design, conventional wisdom states that you should make your value proposition immediately obvious — above the fold, if possible. After all, you don’t want people to come to your site and then leave because they don’t know what makes your business special.

That sounds good in theory, but “conventional wisdom” doesn’t necessarily mean “universally applicable wisdom.”

For example, during another test on the site in the previous section, the client wanted to place various relevant awards that they had received near the top of the page. These awards were proof that the company was dependable and skilled – which was a key part of the client’s value proposition – so everyone thought that putting the awards front and center would increase conversions.

However, just like the sticky nav bar, this logical tweak actually dropped the client’s conversion rate. It wasn’t a small drop, either. Including the awards reduced form submissions by almost 20 percent. – Read More