June 2, 2024 | Bryan Brkic

The Secret Behind Why Some Ugly Websites Outperform Aesthetic Website Designs

As a web developer, I used to put a lot of importance on website layout and design when first building websites...

I used to think that these were the factors that played the biggest role when it came to website visitors converting.

I'd think having a beautiful aesthetic website design with a nice layout and high quality photos would make the business look professional and have a large impact on the conversion rate of the website.

It does have an impact, but not nearly as much of an impact as what I'll be going over shortly.

There is a key behind high converting websites that most don't know about...

When this key is leveraged on a website, it moves the needle like nothing else.

That's why you can have visually ugly websites that absolutely slap the breaks off of any aesthetically sleek website design that it's competing with.

Perhaps you have one of these websites that isn't converting well and are scratching your head wondering "What gives? Why is this not converting well?".

This is the same thought I had for years when building websites, and it was all because of having the wrong frame of mind when putting together a website design.

Here's how the website design process typically goes...

You go to a web designer, you have in mind how you want your website to look, you give some examples from competing websites, and the website is put together in a way that meets your vision as closely as possible.

The thing is, the design itself is nowhere near being the most important part when it comes to the results that the website brings.

It's still important and plays a role, but it isn't necessarily what will move the needle when it comes to what you really want out of your website, which is prospects converting so that you get more customers and revenue.

Before I give you the answer to this important key that makes all the difference, let me paint a picture for you that will illustrate this key to you.

Imagine for a second that you have a bucket list with a bunch of activities you want to do...

Let's say one of these activities is that you always wanted to go horseback riding.

Now you tell yourself, today's the day when I'll look into making this happen...

So you open up your computer and start searching online for places where you can do horseback riding near your area.

You're specifically looking for a place that can take someone that's never done horseback riding and go on a guided trail ride, and you're hoping you can get some nice pictures from the experience to keep as memories.

You land on one website, it tells you about how it's a family owned business in operation for over 40 years giving you a full equestrian experience.

Then you're sitting there wondering "Ok great, but I just want to go on a guided horse trail and get some photos of the experience.".

You browse the website a little longer, and seem to find something that seems to be about trail rides.

But now you're wondering if beginners are allowed, if you have to fill any kind of waiver, if you can book online, how the process works and what you need to do next...

And it all seems too confusing, and so you decide to jump to the next website...

The next website has details around where they're located and the surrounding areas that are closeby, and you see your city listed there.

Next you see "Trail Rides" and click on that because it's exactly what you're looking for.

Now you see all the details, that it's a 1 hour trail ride, that it's suitable for any level of rider over the age of 10...

That there's qualified and friendly staff that will ensure you're equipped and will enjoy the ride...

You see a section on the rate that says "$80.00 per person - photos included!" and you think "Wow, I don't even have to worry about photos being taken of the experience, it's going to be included!"...

You see details on exactly how to book a trail ride, and that you can either "Book Online (scroll down!)" which tells you that there's an online booking section if you just scroll down the page, or that you can call them at their number...

You see what times they have rides, how far in advance you need to book, that you need to make a reservation to go on the ride, that you need to give a 24 hour cancellation notice, that payments are made in full in advance, that free helmets are provided, that you can't be over 225lbs to ride...

That the rides are scheduled to have the first 30 minutes have a demonstration, mounting and photos in the barnyard followed by the 1 hour long trail ride, and that you can either fill out a digitial waiver or that you should plan to arrive 15-30 minutes earlier if you want to complete the waivers on site...

They even have a video trail ride demonstration that you can watch at the bottom of the page so you can see exactly what you can expect...

And after all of this you're just thinking "Wow, this is exactly what I'm looking for, everything is simple and clearly laid out for me, I know exactly what the whole process will look like, I know exactly what I need to do next to register, I already know that photos will be included, there is no confusion on what I need to do to go on my guided horseback trail ride. This is great, this time works well for me so that's when I'll book".

What was the difference then between the first website and the second?

You got it! Clarity.

There was no ambiguity, no confusion...

Everything was clearly spelled out and every question that someone might have was answered.

Nothing was left to chance.

"Am I too old for this?", it clearly stated that this was for any rider over the age of 10.

"I'm 200lbs, am I too heavy?", it clearly stated that as long as you're 225lbs or under that you're fine.

"Can I go on this trail ride if I'm a beginner?", this was clearly stated too.

"Will there be photos?", clearly stated.

Everything was clearly stated, even the fact that to book online you need to scroll down the page. Nothing was left to chance.

This is what makes the difference between a website that converts well versus one that doesn't.

This is the frame of mind you want to have when putting a website design together and what should come first.

The layout and aesthetics of the website should come after.

You can have an ugly website, but if it can more clearly articulate the offer, everything that's included in the offer, answer any questions you have even before you have them, clearly articulates how the whole process works, states exactly what you need to do to get started, addresses any doubts you may have around if this is for you, then it will wipe the floor with any website that doesn't do these things to the same degree, even if the design aesthetic is miles ahead.

This is really important to drill home, an aesthetically sleek and professional website design that doesn't have simplicity and clarity throughout the entire sales process is going to fall flat against any website that does these things right.

Confusion and ambiguity are a death sentence on a website's conversion rate.

Clarity is what you need to strive for.

You need to understand your prospects extremely well and be able to put yourself in their shoes when navigating your website.

You need to know the problems and desires they have, you need to clearly show that you offer what they're looking for, outline the process in a clear and simple manner, make it clear what the next steps are, and handle any questions and objections that they may have before they even come to the front of their thoughts.

This is the goal your website should be striving to achieve.

There are many levers that you can pull to increase your conversion rate, but every lever you pull will be miniscule when your website clarity isn't at the level it needs to be.

Clarity is the lever that when focused on will carry the most weight in bringing your conversion rate up.

This means that the words and photos on your website need to work together in harmony to bring as much clarity as possible when it comes to what you have to offer.

Remember that it's impossible to have this clarity without first truly understanding your prospect.

You need to know their pains, barriers, uncertainties, dreams, desires, the language they use, the thoughts they have in their minds, objections that they have, and everything possible that you can find, otherwise achieving clarity on your website will be impossible.

You cannot create clarity without clearly understanding your prospect on a deeper level.

Here is the framework to follow if you want to bring more clarity into your website and skyrocket your conversion rate:

  • Thoroughly research your target prospect
    • Uncover their pains, barriers, uncertainties, dreams, desires, their thoughts, their objections, and everything possible about them
  • Create a customer avatar based on your understanding of your customer from the research you've conducted
  • Next, put yourself in their shoes while going through your website
    • Does your website messaging hit on their pain points accurately?
    • Is your offer messaging clear and does it align with what they're actually looking for?
    • Is it clear exactly what's included in your offer and how it works?
    • Is it clear exactly how your offer will give them what they're looking for?
    • Is the dream outcome clearly demonstrated?
    • Is your entire process clear?
    • Is every step of the process clearly outlined?
    • Is it clear what the prospect needs to do next in order to get started?
    • Have you answered every possible question they might have?
    • Have you addressed any possible doubt or objection they might have?
    • Is anything confusing or ambiguous? And how can you remove this confusion or ambiguity?
    • Are there any unnecessary hoops that the prospect needs to jump through to get their hands on your offer? Can they be removed entirely to make the sales process more streamlined?
  • Finally, fix your damn website and maybe go through this process a few more times so that people stay on it and convert

That is everything for this one. Hope you enjoyed the letter and have a fantastic rest of your day.

- Bryan

P.S.

If you want to build websites that convert well, then there are many strategies you'll want to implement that all help move the needle in bringing your conversions up.

If you want a detailed breakdown of what these strategies are, I put together a resource that goes over 23 powerful strategies that will drive your conversion rates up.

You can find this resource on the right column of this page (or down below if you're on a mobile device), or you can click the "resources" button in the navigation menu at the top of the page to get your hands on it.

It focuses on a dental website in particular, but most of the concepts apply to any other type of website.

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Who is Bryan Brkic?

I specialize in digital marketing for dentists and am obsessed with uncovering the most effective strategies that get more patients coming through the door.

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