Every web developer gets a thrill from increased traffic. Who doesn’t feel a sense of pride knowing that something you did attracted more people to your site? It’s proof that you made a smart decision.

good web design example
by DSKY for Steve.wood

While increased traffic makes us feel good, we shouldn’t rely on it too much. Unless you exclusively earn money by displaying advertisements, getting more people to visit your site doesn’t necessarily mean your company is making more money.

You have to convert them from visitors to buyers, which is often difficult to do… unless you take advantage of design elements that encourage visitors to spend more money. There are a lot of theories on how designers can do this, but the following five stand out as relatively simple options that we’ve seen work wonders for a lot of companies.

1. Keep your web design as simple as possible

Clutter makes it difficult for visitors to comprehend what they’re looking at, so you need to keep your design as simple as possible. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you want to follow generic layouts that millions of other sites use. You also want to have a unique, fresh aesthetic!

The Lobster movie website
The Lobster is a quirky movie with a simple aesthetic. They used what makes the film stand out to design an equally unique website, with a simple color scheme that makes it very clear where the visitor is supposed to click.

There are nearly unlimited ways to create a strong design. The one you choose, however, should say something about your brand. If your site sells music or movies, you can take a bold approach like The Lobster website. By using a text-based, interactive design, you can suggest songs, movies and other products to your visitors. If your site sells homemade crafts, then you will probably want to take a visual approach that uses a well-crafted aesthetic to emphasize the quality of your products.

2. Build an intuitive navigation tool

Few things will chase away potential shoppers as quickly as a bad navigation tool. You can get creative with navigation, but it has to make sense to first-time visitors. If it isn’t intuitive, then they won’t trust your brand.

Consider choosing a bold color that separates the navigation buttons from the rest of the website. You may also want to give them distinct shapes that make the buttons stand out from other design elements.

Hunter's wine website
Hunter’s navigation very clearly indicates where a visitor is on the site, what the other navigation buttons will give them and gives a tool for visitors to easily filter for the product they want.

Using clear labels is perhaps the most important thing you can do when designing your navigation tool. Use words that anyone can instantly recognize. In most cases, it doesn’t pay to get fancy. If clicking a button will take the shoppers to a page about shirts, just use the word “shirts.” The clearer you can make it, the more likely people are to understand it.

modcloth mobile website
Modcloth simplifies their interface and offers clear ways to search and refine results on the mobile version of their website.

3. Don’t forget about mobile visitors

Mobile devices become more popular every year, so you need to think about how your website looks on a variety of screens. According to Pew Research Center, 10 percent of Americans own smartphones but don’t have any high-speed ways to access the internet at home. When those people shop online, they don’t use desktop computers. They use their smartphones. If you don’t optimize your website for smaller screens, you’ll automatically lose 10 percent of your potential customers.

Since Google places a high value on mobile optimization, designing your site to work on smartphones and tablets will also improve your search engine ranking.

Ideally, you should test your design on several devices, including tablets and smartphones made by various companies. That level of testing will reveal problems that prevent shoppers from using your site.

4. Call attention to special deals

A lot of designers have stopped using pop-ups. For the most part, pop-ups are annoying and intrusive. Your visitors don’t want to see them, so you don’t want to use them.

The rules change slightly when you’re telling a customer something he or she wants to know. For instance, if your store offers free shipping on all orders over $50, you can use a pop-up to let shoppers know how to take advantage of the deal. If you’re offering 25 percent off for a holiday, pop-ups are good ways to let people know that.

If you have an inherent distrust of pop-ups, then display the pertinent information in large type and surround it with a boldly colored outline.

reebok website sale
The Reebok website uses their home page to make it very clear they have a sale going on.

5. Suggest other products during checkout

Once you have converted a visitor to a buyer, take an extra step to try to increase the amount of money that person spends at your site. Suggesting other products the shopper might like works pretty well. That’s why Amazon recommends everything from books to lawnmowers based on each customer’s shopping profile.

You may not want to spend the time and money building a tool that will analyze each shopper’s behaviors. That’s okay. You can still suggest items related to what the person just bought. For instance, if he or she just purchased a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s book Cat’s Cradle, your website should suggest other books the person might want to read. That probably includes other Vonnegut books, but it could also include books by similar authors such as Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick.

Make these suggestions immediately before sending the shopper to your site’s checkout page. It’s your last chance to advertise a few more products that might get put into the shopping cart.

related products
The Chivery “handpicks” other products you might be interested in when you shop on their site.

Most e-commerce platforms have add-ons that will suggest products to shoppers. If you use Shopify, try options like Recomatic Related Products or Linkcious Related Products. Other platforms have apps that do similar jobs.

Your website’s design can influence how much money visitors spend. We’ve all seen sites that make us cringe. They look amateurish and untrustworthy. If you follow these suggestions, more of your shoppers will spend extra cash.

Matthew Thompson is a freelance writer based in Louisville, KY. He writes about a lot of subjects, but enjoys technology, politics and dogs. Dogs should really be at the top of that list.