Digital marketing is an insane battle today. The competition has got tougher, strategies crazier and marketing tactics louder. And yet, amidst all these frantic efforts, a particular outcry from a lot of marketers and websites stand out, that of increasing Bounce Rate.
A bounce rate simply means the rate or percentage of viewers, who leave a website after viewing just one page. Diverse interpretations show that an increased bounce rate can be good or bad, based on the aim of the landing page; but largely, a high bounce rate alludes to an ineffective and mundane web page and calls for instant attention.
The troubleshooting phase, however, should not run in every direction and instead, target the little essentials that make the bigger picture first. Something I discovered while addressing the same issue in my company and it worked like magic.
That small bit of wonder was Website Design. We gave our website a total uplift while leaving our marketing strategies as it is, and what came out statistically, was nothing short of a wonder.
How? Let me share our very own case study and break down our hits and misses for you.
Back to the Past
The month of September, 2013, had us suffering from acute bounce rate fever. The percentage was close to 46% and we were having a tough time acknowledging the fact that half the people that stumbled onto us, were just not interested in further interaction.
This is how we looked like back in 2013
With New Year just months away, we decided on a total overhaul for a stronger, more meaningful existence. Thus begun our R&D for a new identity.
After several brain wrecking sessions and subsequent hypothesis, we decided to kick start the process by giving our website a complete face-lift. The challenge was to rise above the current SEO oriented design into a user oriented one, while keeping it fresh, beautiful and responsive at the same time.
In the March of 2014, after seven months of several resurrection upgrades, our website looked like this,
And the bounce rate? Well, it came stumbling down to a stunning 12.81% from 45.69%. According to Kissmetrics, the average bounce rate for a website is 40.5% and we were doing 28% better. How? Follow these tips, with examples from my company's case study, and you shall be sailing in smooth waters!
Analytics showing the decreasing bounce rate over the period of one year, i.e., from September 2013 to September 2014
A Revamped Design, with twists
01. Strategic Play of Design
For your home page, variety is the keyword! Remember, a visitor is on your page not because he has no other option to resort to but, because he wants to give you a chance. Make his stay rich and beautiful and give him a taste of how wild your creativity can run. Keep it sober though!
How we did it – We experimented with a variety of graphics, fonts (even typographical variations were introduced) and multimedia. We worked out on a catchy and flat user interface design and incorporated soothing color palettes. We tried to summarize our entire site in one (home) page for their ease, so they could keep on scrolling down and discovering about us.
Next we worked on our home page content strategy. The ‘5 good reasons why you should hire us’; and ‘what are we capable of’ segments gave them more reasons to trust us and worked as a sublime promise. This way, they know that if we fail on these parameters, they can hold us accountable.
As a result, the bounce rate for homepage came down to a meager 1.4% from a pathetic 43.9%.
02. Each Page, a Landing Page
While advertising, websites usually develop alternate landing pages which are mostly awful, not echoing the quality of its parent site. Users thus drop out from there. Try to make each page as unique and informative as possible.
How we did it – While redesigning, we ensured that each page holds on to its aesthetics and relevance. We introduced Calls to Action/ contact forms on each of our service's page along with several other supportive information chunks.
03. Make it Humane
Human beings absolutely love emotions and momentum. While designing your website, be sure to drop that human touch here and there. Introduce elements that incite emotions.
How we did it – Upholding this very idea, we introduced elements of multimedia that would give emotions to our site. Almost every panel was embedded with a slider effect and made interactive. We also put a pulsating heart at certain places, like here.
As for our CTA panel, we tried to make them as much fun as possible. If you hover over them (at the bottom of the home page), you'd realize that these are interactive icons and the circles keep rushing around if you hover over or leave.
The About Us page too took a ‘tale-of-a-superhero’ leap with illustrations and an engaging narrative.
04. Integrate Reasoning and Reminders
The consumer usually navigates around a lot of pages before making up his mind if whether to avail your services. It isn't surprising thus, if he forgets about your USPs by the time he reaches the contact us form. Your aim should be to instill reasoning and remind him why he should choose you.
How we did it – We designed our service pages as a soft reminder of our service-features to our visitors. This was done by designing graphic bullets springing out from the contact us forms. We then hyperlinked each bullet and used auto scroll to direct a person to that term's explanation. You can have a peak here.
05. Build Brand Identity and Awareness
It's very important to build your Brand's identity through logos or taglines so that a viewer can relate to your products and services if exposed to in future. Such brand awareness will give you a psychological edge over your competitors.
How we did it- We tried to establish our brand identity by using WebReinvent logos wherever possible. For example, for Captcha, we put in a logo of our own company instead of the traditional numero-alphabetical one. We also changed the traditional help@*company's name*.com to help@*WebReinvent's logo*.com (preview here). All this made the user interaction easy and unique while creating brand awareness at the same time.
All these experiments and changes saw a lifespan of seven months before we finally achieved what we were aiming for. Once tested and proven, we sat down to apply these changes to our sister company which saw a tremendous fall in bounce rate in just two months from 69.49% to 3.67%. Based on our experience and suggestions, you too can tweak around your design bit and see the improvement yourself. Please remember to share your views and experiences. We'd absolutely love to find out if we were of any help. However, before we break up, just the last bunch of cheat sheet tips from our very own diary.
a. Let a non-technical person dream the design and concepts while developers and coders execute. A technical person will know too many design limitations to dream. To think out of the box, you need to be out of the box. Follow the Steve Jobs model which states that ideation should start with what customers may want/ like. The technology to deliver that can be invented accordingly.
b. To create a website, use WordPress which is one of the most gorgeous open source platforms. It's stunning, flexible and fast, and puts you in total control of its features. With a plethora of plug-ins that WordPress provides, both paid and free, you can just keep on adding to the site's functionality.
c. Moving on to the tools, you can use Bootstrap to make sites adaptable to multi platform devices. However, just a word of caution, it's more of a developer's tool and a designer may find limitations in it.
d. For content management on WordPress based websites, we recommend ‘Pods’. It's a beautiful framework that allows you to create and manage custom fields and content types. It also lets you extend the features of your existing content type.
e. To build fully responsive theme option panels, we liked how OptionTree works. It has many advanced features to suit a user's need and is easy to work on.
f. Contact forms are probably one of the most important features of your website. To manage and customize several of them with ease and flexibility, we recommend Contact Form 7. It supports CAPTCHA as well