Using Persuasive Web Design to Increase Conversion Rates

People have this mindset that effective web design is all about the visual when it should also be about the usability and function of the site. Although the visual appeal is equally important, web design should also factor in good user experience (UX). Both factors – form and function – composed a persuasive web design.

Integrating the concept of persuasiveness in design is crucial in increasing conversion rates. This will entice the user to act on what they see. Of course, the most important conversion is a purchase wherein the persuasive web design converts casual visitors into paying visitors.

How a person comes up with a purchasing decision

Convenience, familiarity, trust, and more

Humans are wired to look for the best in everything including a website. This is the same reason why a user would hit the close button within just 5 seconds or less. In fact, experts say that it takes 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about the website’s design.

Convenience matters and so are instant gratification and the path of least resistance, among important things. A great experience thereby starts with a relatable and comprehensible design that requires minimal effort.

As users, we look for certain things before we even contemplate the idea of purchasing from a website. Familiarity must be established first. People look for patterns and elements that are familiar to them.

If these are nonexistent, trust will not be built and would only lead to confusion. Prioritize reassuring experiences instead. A user who feels safe while on your website is more likely to transact with the business.

Visual stimuli and the possibility of loss

Individuals may feel more secure when there are visual stimuli. This is particularly true when there’s neat and clear navigation that guides the user in finding the thing that made him land on the website initially. This contributes to making the design less complex and thus, compels the visitor to buy.

A person also buys when there is a possibility of loss. In other words, the sense of urgency is another reason why a user may be persuaded to complete a sale. Fears, uncertainties, and doubts (FUDs) are utilizable elements in creating a sense of urgency.

Repeat purchases, furthermore, can be explained by the sense of delight. It is not enough that the individual is satisfied with his purchase. There should be an emotional appeal to the entire experience. For example, things that delight customers are a well-packaged parcel or advanced delivery with freebies.

In terms of web design, a delightful visual experience forms part of the persuasion process. That is, if the web design is familiar, safe, clear, appealing, and has a sense of urgency and a sense of delight, it can be easier to persuade visitors to become buyers.

Importance of designing for conversion

Design to convert is the mantra. If you won’t do this in the first place, there is no point in web design. The attractiveness of the website will be useless if it is not good enough to affect conversion. It also means that the website fails to provide solutions to the problems of its target users.

Consider the numbers below in addition to these digital marketing statistics.

  • About 94% of a website’s negative feedback is design-related
  • About 38% of the users stop engaging with a site with an unattractive layout
  • Approximately 88% of the buyers will not return to the site after a bad experience
  • About 77% of agencies mention that poorly designed website is one of the client weaknesses

With this said, designing for conversion also helps in building trust and confidence among the users. These must be established first for the users to respond positively to the calls to action present.

While there is no perfect website, it would help to develop a site that is optimized as possible design-wise. Toward this end, it would help to understand the principles behind designing for conversion.

Deciding on the conversion rates

Digital marketing efforts are typically designed for conversion. Thus, it is a goal that is founded on transforming passive observers, sometimes referred to as digital lurkers, into active participants.

What conversion rate is the most applicable and realistic depends on your current goals. The industry average is 2.35%, so targeting between 2 and 3% is feasible. Then again, look into your present conversion rates. If you already hit the 3% rate, by all means, amp it up to 4%.

Bottom-line, do not proceed with your online marketing efforts without deciding for the appropriate conversion rate.

Principles of persuasion

These principles are the motivation behind persuasion.


Users engage with websites that blatantly offer something valuable to them. Even before they take action, it is clear to the visitors what’s in it for them – a small freebie, personalized content or exclusive offer.


Visitors make a decision and commit to that decision moving forward. Reinforcements are necessary to push the users down the sales funnel, for instance, so they act on the commitment they initially made.

Social proofing

The trustworthiness of a website is important. One way to do this is through displaying social proofs. Users can easily detect if the social proofs are fake or not, so don’t dare try to bloat the numbers. Aside, social proofs can be easily verified.

Trust seals such as these proofs as well as reviews and testimonials influence the human brain to believe that the website is safe. This sense of security is, at times, all the assurance that the users need to complete the buyer’s journey.


People follow their heroes, their leaders or the authoritative figures in their lives. There is inherent trust among these people in our lives. And leveraging trust can be achieved in as simple as putting an image of the site’s owner or celebrity endorser.

When it comes to persuasion, authority influences credibility.


Consumers can get easily influenced by recommendations. Target users have the propensity to listen to the people they like and act on this. This likeability makes the process more humane.


In persuasion, more is not always good. Limited choices are more appropriate. People are averse to confusion. Thus, the preference is a direct path to decide to make a purchase.

Scarcity may also mean clutter-free that drives the individuals to act more quickly.

Benefits of persuasive web design

Thousands of websites are launched on a daily basis. Virtually all these sites want to attract, engage, convert, and finally, retain visitors. Unfortunately, not all websites are able to do all these because they do not take design and functionality seriously.

These websites fail to recognize the fact that the first impression is critical even in the digital world. This is especially applicable in having a website that is the face of the brand digitally.

With this in mind, the power of persuasion lies in understanding and analyzing the intentions, motivations, needs, and preferences of the target audience as well as integrating these factors into the design. Only those websites who understand the how and the why of the users are the ones who can successfully persuade them.

A well-designed website will, therefore, receive 1) convert-ready users, 2) users who enjoy the experiences presented, and 3) users who become repeat visitors and thus, loyal customers.

Ways to increase conversion rates

There are specific ways to optimize the design to minimize the flaws that drive the visitors away and to your competitors.

Improve the visual appeal

Before the site may capture the heart of the users, it must catch their eyes first. Such a stance is the very reason why the site’s visual appeal must be emphasized. A person processes visuals 50x faster compared to text, which also means a user only needs at least 5 seconds to judge the site. Thus, putting more visual elements – the hook – would do the trick.

While at it also, do not forget that first impressions matter. If the site has an overall look and feel that is relatable enough for them, they will instantly like the website. Hence, striking a balance between visual appeal and quality content is important. The visual appeal shall support the site’s usability.

This may explain why the minimalist web design is considered the most effective right now.

Prioritize clarity

Speaking of usability, the design must be simple and clear for it to convert. If it is not clear enough, it won’t be as functional as you want it to be. The layout and design must not only be attractive but convey the right message.

The persuasiveness of design is also based on the clarity of the message. It must be stated directly and succinctly. The thing is the visual should direct the users to the textual message. In this way, they would find the information they need as quickly as possible.

Put simply, a clear web design helps the users ascertain what the brand and business is all about, the product and service offerings, and how these can be useful to them as consumers.

Emphasize user-friendliness

The user-friendliness of the design is textbook. Again, visual and usability should exist side by side. A stunning website is a crowd drawer but its unusability can easily turn them off and away too.

To be persuasive, therefore, the design must allow the users to find the information they are looking for in a few steps or clicks. Guide them throughout their journey until they are able to complete it.

A user-friendly website also minimizes abandonment, which is typical on websites with complicated processes. When a user abandons the website, it means the design is only frustrating them, not convincing them enough to complete the purchase, for example.

With that said, the overall friendliness of the site carries on to the checkout page. Don’t expect to see them check out if the product pages are initially confusing them due to its lack of information, untappable buttons, unreadable texts, and so on.

Use trust signals

Only those authoritative websites can command users to do this and that. If you are not one of these sites, at least not yet, you may integrate features that build trust among the audience.

For instance, you may use the languages that your target users understand. Another trust signal is giving price options and in the currency that users are familiar with. Celebrity endorsements may also do the trick. Just make sure that your choice of celebrity will provide additional value to the brand.

Avoid choice abundance

The principle behind is simple: present the users with plenty of choices and the decision-making process will be longer. Simply put, it is paralyzing while also deviating from your desire for the visitor to complete a sale quickly.

Too many choices are a noise that may cloud the person’s judgment. This is the paradox of choice that you must minimize in the design to make it more persuasive.

Create an urgency

Mentioning scarcity a principle of persuasion, modern online marketing may rely on the fear of missing out (FOMO) phenomenon. Users are convinced to buy quickly due to loss aversion.

FOMO tactics are common among e-commerce websites, imbibing urgency by exclusive offers or flash sales. Another tactic is the on-site push notification.

Utilize the decoy principle

Consumers have their preferences, and this will reflect on their choice. The decoy principle refers to deploying a third comparable option with the first two options. The user will definitely choose the superior product and not the inferior ones.

This is mostly applicable for upselling such as pop up advertisements that present the third option. Nevertheless, designs with pop-ups must be used sparingly because they basically annoy the users.

Use positive reinforcement

Humans, as consumers, are naturally inclined to reinforcements especially those that enhance the overall experience. Although this is mostly apparent on thank you pages, there are many other ways to integrate positive reinforcement.

Examples of positive reinforcements are free recipes, consultant referrals, etc. Anything that can make the buyer happy can be considered as positive reinforcement.

Appeal to emotion

Consumers are emotional buyers. Well, the majority of us. Affecting the people’s emotions can be done by highlighting happy customers on your design. It is important that you make the buyer feel proud of his purchase.

Community bias applies here wherein the norms of community is central to making all the members feel safe and comfortable. The shared agenda makes people feel that they belong, they are important, and thus enhancing confidence.

Publish clear information

Users visit your website for a reason – learn about your product offerings, buy something, obtain more information, etc. Whatever their reason may be, the information presented on your website must be clear enough.

If the users cannot figure out where the information is, they will leave your website and look elsewhere. There are many other websites out there, so they have no reason for putting up with the complexities of your navigation.

Understand behaviors

Buyer’s remorse is real. People struggle to buy more so when we are talking about big purchases and luxury items. It is even more difficult to persuade people to complete the sale.

The design should respect the buyer’s intelligence. Careful wording is important here. For instance, in selling luxury items, the justification is crucial and so is the use of words such as “investment,” “state-of-the-art,” and “exclusively yours.”

Target expectations

Consistency is key. People do not go to your website to convert in one to two clicks. They will explore the website first. Consistency in design and message is essential to build confidence.

Guiding their expectations is as easy as using the same pattern on all pages for all products, for example. Actions will be reinforced by a sense of familiarity.

Use clear calls to action

Do not bury the CTA buttons. Make them as big and bold as possible to make them stand out and for the visitors to notice them easily.

Make sure that the user will find the button within 3 seconds. The longer it takes for the user to find the right button, the longer the delay towards conversion.

As such, it would be impossible for your website to drive conversions if there are no effective CTA buttons.

Persuasive web design best practices

  • Arouse the audience’s interest. Use visuals where appropriate.
  • Make textual elements readable. Do this for all browsers and devices.
  • Highlight the success of the business. Shift the focus on the products or services by highlighting them at first glance.
  • Show, don’t tell. Minimize the text on the homepage and landing pages.
  • Minimize complications or remove them altogether.
  • Minimize experimentations on a live website.
  • Help the users to convert. Put CTA buttons on all pages applicable.
  • Stick with the standard format. Do not try to reinvent through complex designs.

Learning how to harness the power of persuasive web design is one of the key factors of achieving online success, helping the site convert visitors into purchases.