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Website Graphic Design Standards – Image Based Essential Sales Driver or Just Window Dressing?

Many people think of graphic design as fairly subjective – beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that.

But can graphic design, or more importantly, the standard of graphic design on your website help or hinder sales, and if so, by how much?

Graphic Design

I have to confess I am a graphic design standards advocate. In my formative years I cut my teeth with one of the world’s largest Advertising Agencies and learnt all about typography, imagery, quiet space and messaging.

In fact, everything you need to create a compelling visual canvass that people will lock onto.

I’ve tried to instil a culture of persuasive design in D. Agency and its fair to say its one of our strengths. We have a reputation for creating websites with strong visual identity but its not all plain sailing.

On many an occasion, our design work has been dismissed by a minority of people as “eye candy” or “window dressing”.

This tends to happen when companies approach us for work with an “Organisation Centric” approach to web design, or comments come from people who don’t deliver particularly high standards of design, choosing the “a flashy looking website is useless  if it doesn’t deliver what the customer wants” defence.

So how valid is the argument for strong design identity on a Website?

The easiest way for you to demonstrate this is by using one of the fantastic low cost testing tools from companies like usertesting.com or whatusersdo.com

User Testing

If you haven’t tried these tools yet, you really should – they can tell you why people might be leaving your Website and lots of other things as well.

These tools provide you with a real life video recording of how people interact with your Website. You can discover what the initial impression is of your site when a visitor lands on it for the first time, and you can also learn about problems or ‘friction points’ that users find irritating.

Here is a transcript of three responses from a test managed by conversionrateexperts.com on behalf of one of their clients.

“The site seemed kind of amateurish. There was a feeling that the company did not take the Website seriously.”

“In general, I think the home page needs a refresh to make it more attractive – it is now more like a virtual storefront than one from a company as well established as [company name].

“It was unprofessional and amateur looking and hard to find the correct link to use. Regardless of what size company you might be, a website can make you look as though you are the largest company in the UK… in any industry.”

Now see how a small improvement in graphic design gave an overnight 7.4% improvement

In response to similar feedback, conversionrateexperts.com carried out a very simple page re-design. There were no changes to the copy, or to elements on the page or their position – just a re-design of existing elements.

The result was an instant 7.4% increase in conversion rate from 1.78% to 1.91%.

If we take a B2B website with 10,000 visits per month and an average customer sale value of say £5,000, then the new webpage will generate £65,000 more revenue per month or £780,000 more revenue per annum.

All for the right design updates.

Conversion Table

Our message

If your visitors are concerned about the appearance or professionalism of your Website, you could get a massive boost in leads, sales or advocacy if you re-design it.

What could an increase of say 0.5% in conversion rate mean for you?

Use our conversion rate comparison tool and enter data for your own business case – it’s free to use and you don’t have to register.

The results will demonstrate the increase in revenue from 0.5% increments in conversion rate. Go on, try it now and see what it could mean for your business.

Still not convinced?

Why not try usertesting.com or whatusersdo.com

Try using Likeart based statement responses to prime your testers. Likeart responses normally look for a response to a question based on six levels of response ranging from “Completely Disagree to Completely Agree”.

You can adapt this for user testing to get responses based on peoples “perception” of your company through your website, which is exactly how new visitors learn about your business.

Brief your testers along the following lines:

“Please visit the following website [your website], spend no more than 5 minutes navigating the site and record your response to the following statements:

  • “[Your company] is a Top 3 company in its field”
  • “[Your company] can help you increase your sales”
  • “[your company] can help you become more efficient”
  • “[Your company] can help you reduce costs”
  • “I would definitely buy from [your company]”

You can tweak these questions to suit your own business but remember this important point:

All sales begin with a person’s perception about your business. It’s impossible for a person to form an in-depth assessment of your company from the first interaction.

The progression of the first interaction comes down to the person’s perception of your business and for that you need image.

An image of trust, integrity and reputation is all you need to flow a contact through to a lead, sale or advocate.

And a professional image starts with a high standard of graphic design.

Related Articles:

Planning to Invest in SEO or AdWords? See How Conversion Rate Optimisation Could Help Give You a Bigger Bang For Your Buck

Photo Shoot Services

If you need quality images for your business or products, D. Agency has access to the very best facilities located on site at our offices.

At our head office building, at D. Agency, we’re very lucky to have a high-quality Photographers studio tucked out the back, with impressive, modern facilities. The larger studio occupies what used to be the main projection screen of the original, art deco-style picture house.

Photoworks have been operating for over 20 years and owner & lead photographer, Andy Cahill uses the very latest cutting-edge equipment and rigs to achieve a top professional finish.

New Photo Studio Available for Hire 

Recently, a couple of us from D. Agency muscled in as background-extras, on a demo shoot to promote a newly opened additional studio, which is now available for hire.

D. Photo shoot with Paul Querol

Above: D. Agency's Drupal guru, Paul (‘Q’) Querol working the laptop role with vigour, on a culinary-themed setup.


D. Photo shoot with Paul Barnes

Above: D. Designer, Paul Barnes takes up a coffee and provides the rough edge in this, otherwise beauty-themed setup.


Main Photo Shoot Studio

Photoworks Studio at Picture House

Above: The main studio housed in the main screen area of an old, converted art-deco picture house.


Create Web Design colour themes in less time with this great free tool called Adobe Kuler

Adobe Kuler is a FREE web based application that lets you quickly create colour themes for any project.

Experienced designers will already have a strong grounding in the complexities of colour theory, but everyone can save time using this great tool.

Create Web Design colour themes in less time with this great free tool called Adobe Kuler

Once you register with Kuler, you can create your own colour themes and palettes in far less time than it takes by using reference books.

You can log back in at any time to view and retrieve themes saved in your personal MYkuler space.

Kuler is a great product because it encourages you to experiment with different colour combinations. You can even tag a colour from an image or corporate logo, and Kuler will build themes around it.

Why not have a play and create your very own colour theme.

Planning to invest in SEO or AdWords? See how Conversion Rate optimization could help give you a bigger bang for your buck

Read this real-world comparison of two Websites selling an identical product range.

Planning to invest in SEO or AdWords

Comparison table: Real world comparison of two live websites selling exactly the same products

You’ve got a Website and you want it to contribute more to your bottom line. The site generates business for you, but you want more.

The logical thing to do is push more traffic to the site by using tactics such as SEO, AdWords, Social Sharing, Backlinks, Affiliate Programs etc.

But hang on a minute; traffic is actually quite expensive to develop. It’s also progressive so you won’t quite be leaping to Position 1 in Google’s organic listing in the next few weeks.

In fact, a well-defined online marketing strategy could take several months to get everything implemented and up to speed.

Of course traffic is important, but is there a way of complimenting SEO and AdWords to gain faster results? 

Yes there is, and it’s called conversion rate optimization, the logical process of ensuring more people who visit your Website convert.

Conversion rates apply to all sorts of businesses. You could be measuring the volume of product sales, the average basket value, the number of leads generated in the case of B2B, the number of paid subscribers, or the number people signing up for anything from an event to a clinical trial.

Here is a real work scenario that demonstrates the power of conversion rate optimization and the effect it can have:

A company operates two Websites in its market. They both sell the same products. Website A was purchased as a going concern and has been live for over a year, whilst Website B was commissioned as a new build to run in parallel.

It’s a scenario that provides an opportunity to directly compare the performance of both sites.

Now, Website B hasn’t been live for long, so it can’t yet compete with the traffic generated from the more mature Website A, but its already producing a higher volume of sales.

What’s the reason behind it?

Website B has a visitor-to-sale conversion rate of 3.29%, whilst Website A has a conversion rate of 1.39%.

To realise the full implication of this, I compiled the comparison table at the top of this post to demonstrate. I replaced the actual traffic with a constant of 10,000 visits a month because it’s the implication of conversions that’s important.

So every month, Website B will generate 190 more sales and £9,500 more in revenue based on this model.

Of course in your industry, the average sale might be £100,000 if it’s a large item of capital equipment or the value of a long-term account.

Another important point to make here is that I’ve also kept the average sale as a constant to make the illustration easier, but in fact, the average basket value is higher on Website B as well, but I’ll save that for a different post.

So if you have an existing site and you’re considering upping spend for online marketing, why not look at the potential for conversion optimisation.

Alternatively, if you are putting a brief together to purchase a new Website, make sure you make a request that each vendor includes notes and evidence to back up how they intend to maximize conversions.

This way, when you get the proverbial three quotes back suggesting a build cost of £10,000, £20,000 and £50,000, you’ll be better placed to judge the value.

Incidentally, Website B cost around £10,000 more than Website A because ther was an investment in user-centred practices such as personas, UX analysis, experience mapping and prototype testing.

That said, its clear to see that not only could the difference be paid back in a very short space of time, but if we took a 2-year view using this illustration then Website B would generate £228,000 more in revenue without any extra investment in SEO or marketing.

If you would like to see the benefit even a small increase in conversion rates could have on your revenue, try out our FREE CONVERSION RATE TOOL - it will only take a minute and you don't even have to register. 

Related Articles:

Website Graphic Design Standards – Image Based Essential Sales Driver or Just Window Dressing?

The Drupal 8 Mobile Initiative

Drupal 8 is set to become the most capable version of the website CMS framework to date, with it’s new responsive features being among the most anticipated. What can we expect to see with regards responsive design?

Drupal 8 - Mobile Initiative

With an eventual release date earmarked for mid to late 2013, Drupal 8 will be warmly welcomed into the community. As well as a raft of developer upgrades (which wont be discussed in this post), there are some fundamental core changes, chief among which will be a responsive solution for front-end and admin, out the box.

Let’s first take a look at the new Admin bar. The ‘Seven 8.0’ is Drupal 8’s default theme and whilst a step-up in presentation is obvious from the outset, users of Drupal 7 will still find this a very familiar toolbar.

Drupal 8 - Admin Bars

It now has clearer, better-designed buttons with added icons to help spare the user’s cognitive load and aid in orientation. The new icons are also a big help at mobile size where things can become a lot simpler.

Improved Drupal 8 Admin for Responsive Websites

Whilst Drupal 7 could always be integrated to a responsive website, the actual Admin user experience on smaller mobile devices was not the best it could be. A lot of vertical and horizontal scrolling and bunching of content meant adding or editing content wasn’t the most pleasant of tasks.

Drupal 8 Desktop View

Drupal 8 - Admin Toolbar Desktop

On a desktop monitor, the Admin bar has room to stretch and now makes better use of the two strips. The top strip has shortcuts and user info whilst the bottom strip is now a contrasting white colour, purely dedicated to Admin sections. A blue pencil icon on the far right toggles between the horizontal and vertical toolbar layouts.

Drupal 8 Mobile View

Here, the toolbar is shown responding to mobile. It re-adjusts automatically depending on the size of the device you are viewing so whether it’s smart phone, tablet or desktop, the toolbar simply adjusts appropriately without you needing to think. Users familiar with Drupal 7 will note how much clearer the layout for mobile is now.

Drupal 8 - Admin Mobile


Responsive Images

Whilst properly addressing responsive serves up a laundry list of issues in general, one of the immediate problems most designers and developers will grapple with is how to deal with page-loading performance. As the size-range of devices becomes ever more extreme, we’re also demanding that we’re not dealt a half-baked experience on mobile - where connections are typically slower than desktops. At the same time, mobile devices are also ramping up in quality, like the iPhone retina screens, so now there is also a demand for 4 times the image.

Drupal 8 is also tackling this with responsive ‘Pictures’. This allows admin authors to add one large image (whether it’s a banner slide, a block image, gallery photo or a general picture on a page) and Drupal 8 will automatically serve up an appropriate size of picture for the device. E.g. full size for 1200px sites and over, and physically smaller versions for smartphones. This eliminates the temptation to ‘hide’ certain heavy pictures at smart phone size, which would normally penalise a smart phone user’s overall experience.

This will avoid a large image designed for say, 1200px wide desktop (like a banner) being served up and scaled down, on the fly, for a smartphone and hence unnecessarily hogging bandwidth and page-speed.


Related Links:

The Drupal 8 Mobile Initiative Lead – John Wilkins

The Drupal 8 Mobile Initiative Blog


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