How to Increase Conversions by Avoiding These 7 Navigation Mistakes

I see this problem all the time when I’m consulting businesses. They are getting tons of traffic to their websites, but visitors just aren’t converting.

If this sounds like your situation, don’t hit the panic button yet.

Look on the bright side. At least you’re having success when it comes to driving people to your website. But if you want to design a homepage that converts, you have to look at how visitors navigate through your pages.

Every day I see websites with design flaws.

Brands spend much time trying to improve their SEO rankings and don’t spend enough effort improving their websites. Creating a website that converts isn’t an overnight process.

This takes time, effort, and patience. You need to learn how to run A/B tests and analyze your design elements so that you can make calculated improvements.

That said, there are certain changes you can implement sooner rather than later.

I’ve taken the time to identify the top 7 navigation mistakes I see on a regular basis. Use this list to analyze your existing website to make sure you’re not making the same blunders.

1. Labels and headlines that don’t drive conversions  

When someone visits your website, it’s all about making a first impression. Think about what people see on your menu bar and headline tags.

I don’t like to throw businesses under the bus. So I’m not going to show you a specific example of a website that’s doing this wrong. But I’m referring to headlines and labels with terms like:

  • who we are
  • what we do
  • about our hiring process
  • places we work

While this information should be included on your website, it shouldn’t be the focal point of your design. None of these will lead to conversions.

Let’s take a look at a brand that understands this concept and has appropriate labels and headlines on its site. Check out the homepage for Knockaround:

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The navigation menu has only four options, which is perfect.

We read from left to right, so the first two choices we see are “shop” and “design your own.” Both of those labels were written to help drive conversions.

Information about the brand’s history, staff, and operation are reserved for the “about” headline.

I don’t want you to think your brand story isn’t important. In fact, I’ve written an extensive guide on how to create an about us page that generates leads.

But when it comes to driving conversions, you need to shift your focus. Nearly all the clickable links in the example above from Knockaround will drive conversions.

The website has a clean and simple design, so it’s easy for visitors to be drawn to these conversion buttons. The result is increased sales.

2. Using a non-standardized layout

People have been browsing the Internet for years. Over time, there are certain standards we have grown to expect when we land on a web page.

It’s important for you to come up with a differentiation strategy for your marketing campaigns to help you stand apart from your competition. But when it comes to your website navigation, stick with a standard layout.

For example, where do you expect to see a navigation menu when you visit a new website?

You’ll assume it’s at the top of the screen. Burying your menu in the middle of the screen will look strange for your visitors.

They may not spot it right away, and it’s not something they are expecting to see. Here’s an example of a standardized website layout from Unbounce:

image8 7

As you can see, it follows the format of most websites you see on a daily basis. The standard typically follows this progression:

  • menu bar at top of screen
  • large headline
  • short description sub header
  • CTA button

You might be thinking this is too boring. Think again. Using a standardized page layout will help you drive conversions. Visitors will know exactly where to navigate without having to think too hard.

Let me give you an analogy to further illustrate the point. When you are looking at a picture on your smartphone or tablet, how do you expect to zoom in on the image?

You use two fingers on the screen and spread them apart. That’s what you’ve grown accustomed to.

But what if that command didn’t work for certain websites? You’d be thrown off and probably wouldn’t convert. Plus, you’ve been using smartphones for far less time than you’ve been browsing the Internet.

So stick with what people are familiar with, and don’t stray too far from a standard layout.

3. Conflicting CTAs

Having call-to-action buttons on your website is necessary to drive conversions. But too many CTAs not related to each other will confuse the visitor.

Most people think that adding multiple CTA options to each page of their websites will increase the chances of one getting clicked. But it actually has the opposite effect.

These are the typical CTAs:

  • buy now
  • sign up today
  • join our email list
  • refer a friend
  • click here to receive your discount

What’s wrong with these CTAs? Nothing. Unless they are all on the same screen at the same time.

Take a look at the BuildFire homepage:

image10 2

BuildFire specializes in custom mobile app development. When you land on its website, you’ll see two call-to-action buttons.

Although the wording of each button is different, they both drive the same type of conversion.

The “get started” button is intended for people to start building their mobile apps. If they click the “build an app” button, they’ll be accomplishing the same thing.

In fact, both CTAs bring the website visitor to the same landing page. So it’s all about which button speaks to the user. Those are the only two options they need to choose from.

If this website had additional buttons, e.g., to try to get email subscribers, sign up for a free trial, or receive a coupon code, it would hurt its conversions.

It’s all about your priorities. For some of you, getting more email subscribers may be the priority of your current marketing strategy. If that’s the case, eliminate any other CTAs on your page that conflict with your conversion goals.

4. Too much clutter

Your web design needs space to breathe.

Don’t try to fill every inch on the screen with text and images. Empty space can be just as effective.

Empty space in your web design will ultimately help direct the visitor’s attention to your focal points. Now they won’t have a problem spotting your value proposition.

Websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.

Having too many elements on your website will slow down the page loading time.

Pages that take more than four seconds to load can expect to see bounce rates increase by 100%. Websites that take eight seconds to load will have an additional 150% increase in bounce rates.

Consider removing images from your pages. Research from Google Analytics suggests that websites with fewer images have higher conversion rates.

image1 8

Based on everything we just discussed, this makes sense.

Lots of images will slow down your page loading time, increase bounce rates, and ultimately kill your conversions.

But if you remove clutter, simplifying your design, users won’t have an issue navigating through your pages.

5. Not accounting for scrolling

Most pages will require the visitor to scroll.

That’s fine. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have scrollable pages, but it’s important you recognize how your screen will change as the visitor navigates by scrolling.

Think about the current placement of your CTA buttons.

When someone scrolls down a page of your website, are the CTA buttons still visible? If the answer is no, it’s going to hurt your conversions.

Scrolling through a page is great because it gives the visitor more information about your brand, products, or services. But let’s say they get halfway down the screen and decide they want to convert.

If the conversion link is all the way back up at the top of the screen, they’ll need to scroll back and go hunting for it. That’s not a good scenario for you.

Each additional step people take to convert is going to hurt you. Let’s take a look at the Square website to give you a great example of what I’m talking about:

image9 3

This is its homepage. As you can see, it follows a standard layout and doesn’t have any clutter, which are two of our previous discussion points.

But what happens when you scroll lower on this page?

Let’s see if you can still locate the CTA button at all times:

image4 8

This screenshot is from the same page.

The way the CTA fits on the screen makes it appear as if the visitor is on a new page. As you can see, the CTA button is still clear and visible.

Now, as the visitor learns more information about the product, they can click on the link and convert.

But that’s not the end of the page. Let’s continue scrolling to see whether this pattern continues:

image6 8The pattern is indeed the same.

Keep in mind we’re still looking at Square’s homepage. I haven’t navigated to another screen yet or made any clicks. But as I continue to scroll, I always have an option to convert.

This statement holds true all the way to the very bottom of the homepage.

image3 8

I think I’ve made my point clear.

Square has perfectly designed its navigation to ensure that website visitors always have an option to convert.

Use this as a reference for your pages as well. Keep in mind that each scrolling screen should almost appear as a completely new page to be as effective as possible.

You could also consider implementing a fixed menu bar with a CTA button at the top of your screen. That way, when a visitor scrolls, the menu is visible at all times.

6. Complicated checkout process

If you sell products or services on your website, you need to put shopping cart optimization at the top of your priority list.

Consider all the design elements on your checkout page.

If the buttons required to complete the transaction are hidden or mis-written, it’ll kill your conversions.

Furthermore, you need the checkout process to happen in as few steps as possible. Take a look at the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment:

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A checkout process that is long and complicated ranked third on this list.

Your navigation elements play a huge role in how customers finalize their transactions. So analyze your site, and figure out where customers are abandoning the page.

Make sure your purchase buttons are big, bold, and clearly displayed on the screen.

7. Forgetting about mobile users

Navigation on smartphones and tablets differs from navigation on computer screens.

Just because you implemented changes on your desktop site doesn’t mean your navigation is perfect. You still need to optimize your design for mobile users.

Remember earlier when I discussed the importance of speed? Well, speed is even more important when it comes to mobile browsing.

Mobile sites that take longer than three seconds to load have a 53% abandonment rate. Furthermore, 50% of mobile users expect pages to load in less than two seconds.

If you have an ecommerce site, this is extremely important for you to recognize. That’s because 70% of all mobile transactions are completed from smartphones.

When you optimize your mobile site, you need to make sure it encompasses all the previous design elements we discussed:

  • labels that drive conversions
  • standardized layout
  • similar CTAs
  • no clutter
  • scrolling-friendly

To check whether your mobile site is properly optimized, you can use tools such as the mobile-friendly test from Google:

image2 8

But just because the site is mobile optimized doesn’t mean all your navigation elements are perfect.

It’s up to you to manually make all those design changes if you want to increase your conversions.


Having lots of website traffic is great.

But traffic doesn’t automatically translate to conversions. If you think your page conversions are below satisfactory or have room for improvement, you need to take the time to analyze your navigation elements.

Recognize how visitors browse on your site. What do they see?

Their eyes will be drawn to your labels and headline options. Write them so they drive conversions.

Your website design isn’t the place to experiment with your differentiation strategy. Use a standardized layout for a smooth navigation. That’s what people are used to, so don’t confuse them.

The CTAs on your screen need to be related to each other. Too many conflicting CTAs will lower your conversion rates.

Remove clutter on the screen. Use blank space to your advantage.

Check what the users see when they scroll through your pages. There should always be a CTA button visible to drive conversions.

Simplify your checkout process. Don’t ignore mobile users.

If you avoid making these 7 navigation mistakes, you’ll see a significant improvement in your website conversion rates.

What navigation elements on your website need to change to increase conversions?

Quick Sprout

Value Proposition: Avoiding the curse of the ‘Why Bother Brand’

Tidal. Yahoo Screen. “Speed 2: Cruise Control.” Your brand?

Some brands are so undifferentiated from other options, so derivative of competitors, the reaction they get from consumers is a shrug of the shoulders and an “Eh, why bother?”

Let me give you an example.


The “Why Bother Brand”

A burrito/Tex-Mex/Southwestern place recently opened in my neighborhood called Barberitos. I’d seen a few ads for it while flipping through local publications, and every time I did, I had the brief “Eh, why bother?” thought. After all, there were already enough perfectly fine burrito places, and this one didn’t seem any different. I always secretly thought about it as the perfect example of a “Why Bother Brand.” But just today, I got some data to back up my assertion …

Walker Ragland, Marketing Operations Specialist, MECLABS Institute (you may remember Walker from his social media test we wrote about in April), posted a Barberitos printout in our office and was boasting about just how good the food was there. That prompted Marketing Events Specialist Susan Warren to look it up on Yelp.

Out of 24 reviews, 15 compared Barberitos to a similar quick-serve restaurant, Moe’s Southwest Grill:

“It’s just like Moe’s Southwest Grill down to the T. The price is the same as Moe’s and so are all the food options (including the salsa bar).”

“Pretty much just seems like a dupe of Moe’s.”

“It’s very similar to Moe’s.”

“I thought it was an off brand Moe’s.”

Ah … so I wasn’t the only one who thought of Barberitos as a Why Bother Brand!

Now according to Walker, the food is exceptional. So much so that he printed out coupons and handed them out to everyone in the office. Every restaurant should make food that’s so good that it creates ambassadors like Walker. And as our research has shown, word of mouth is one of the most popular ways customer discover new products.


You can’t taste an ad

But if you’re running prints ads (like the Barberitos ads I saw), or have a website, or do any other form of paid promotion, good food and a quality product isn’t enough. The goal is to communicate the perception of that quality, along with the exclusivity of your offer. Potential customers don’t know what the resulting experience of purchasing your product is really like, they only perceive what you communicate with your marketing.

This doesn’t mean I think Barberitos print ads are a total failure. After all, they do raise awareness. When Walker mentioned Barberitos, I had seen enough of the ads to know they had a location in my neighborhood, so I was curious what Walker thought.

Also, you can have a viable business as a Why Bother Brand, at least for a short time. If the demand is high enough to consume all of the supply offered by your brand and the other Why Bother Brands, you will see profit … at least for a time. For example, during the fro-yo craze, there were frozen yogurt shops everywhere.

But your margins will be challenged. And if demand drops, or a disrupter with a strong brand enters your industry, your business will be doomed.

Another example where Why Bother Brands can be successful is when a convenient location is more important to the customer than a unique value proposition. Nail salons and laundromats are a great example. However, in this case too, a disrupter with a unique value proposition can upset the apple cart. For example, Starbucks.

Plus, if you’re running marketing and advertising and have a website, you should optimize them for effectiveness and not settle for good enough.

So, what ingredient was missing from Barberitos print ads?



How to avoid being a Why Bother Brand

According to MECLABS Institute’s patented methodology, the higher the appeal and exclusivity of a brand, product or offer, the more impactful the value proposition.


In Barberitos’ case, the appeal is pretty high for its ideal customer. How much do I desire this product? I love burritos, so a whole heck of a lot!

However, the exclusivity is almost nonexistent. Where else can I get this product? Several other places, including Moe’s.

To increase the exclusivity, and therefore the force of the value proposition, Barberitos must not only advertise its appeal but also its exclusivity. This may already exist, and there is hidden value that isn’t communicated in the advertising. Or it may make sense for Barberitos to tweak its business model to create exclusivity that is valued by the customer.

To give you an example in the same industry, look at Chipotle. The Mexican grill chain has recently had a few challenges with food safety that have to do more with operations than marketing and value proposition. But if we look back a few years to 2011, the chain reported a 25% profit margin! According to the “2010 Operations Report” by the National Restaurant Association and Deloitte & Touche LLP, the typical profit margin for a limited service restaurant was a mere 6%.

Why the huge difference? I would argue that a great deal of Chipotle’s success could be attributed to its value proposition. It had the same appeal as other burrito joints, but oh the exclusivity – food that’s a little higher quality: “food with integrity,” “real ingredients just taste better” and “simple, fresh food without artificial flavors or fillers.”

In fact, if you go to the Chipotle homepage today, you are clearly and boldly greeted with a message derived from that value proposition, which, when you click on it, leads to further support of that value prop – “Process not Processed: Step into our kitchen and see how it’s done.”


Do you have a Why Bother Brand?

How about your brand? Could your customers pick it out of a police lineup? Is an exclusivity factor pervasive through all of your marketing – from prints ads to website? If you’re unsure, here are a few steps you can take:

  • Create a competitive analysis to understand what other brands offer and how they message it
  • Check review sites, social media and forums about your industry to understand how customers talk about and perceive your company’s brand in relation to other brands
  • Categorize your products’ value, test different value focuses, formalize what you discover into a value proposition and distribute it within your company and to your agencies and other business partners to make sure it is infused in everything you do

By doing this, you’ll give people a reason to get up off their couch, get in their car and try your unique burrito.



After writing the rough draft of this blog post, one of our research analysts came by the content area and noticed a Barbaritos mention on a white board.

She said, “Oh, yeah, I used to eat there because they were the only place with ground turkey burritos. But not anymore, since they got rid of it without saying why.”

Ironically, this would be the perfect example of what I discussed in this blog post — some element of exclusivity.

In fairness, Barbaritos might have found the ground turkey option unprofitable, so I only mention it as an example. Her instant, unprompted reaction when discussing the ground turkey — they offered a value that I couldn’t get elsewhere which made me want to be their customer — is the resulting experience of a successful value proposition with exclusivity and what our brands should elicit from our ideal customers.


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Value Proposition Optimization Webinar: 7 real-world B2B and B2C webpages analyzed to help you best message your “only-factor” [MECLABS Institute, Webinar]

Search Engine Marketing: Finding appeal for your PPC Ads

Do You Have the Right Value Proposition? How to test, measure, and integrate your Value Proposition online [From MarketingExperiments Web clinic]

Value Proposition Development online course [From MECLABS Institute, parent company of MarketingExperiments]

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