I frequently design websites for small and local businesses and they normally want something really nice to represent them and their business. That’s cool, I get it – having a nice looking site promotes you and your business in a positive light right? Don’t get me wrong, I always aim to give my clients something that they can be proud of.

However, when I am doing affiliate campaigns (selling products on behalf of other people), I always go for REALLY simple designs. Why? Because they normally convert better. I have some theories on why they convert at a higher rate, and the top of the list is that there are less flashy elements to distract them from taking action.

Don’t Make Assumptions – Split Test & Try Things

Long story short – if you are serious about maximizing conversions on your website then you can’t assume that one web design is superior to another one. The only way to tell for sure is to split test. If you want to try doing some of this split testing stuff yourself then checkout google’s free split testing tool: Google Website Optimizer.

Here Are Some Things to Split Test

Headlines and call-to-action links or buttons are probably the most important place to start when you are improving the conversion of your web page.


A strong emotive headline with a lazer targeted appeal to your ideal customer is going to pull a lot better than a generic low key headline not targeted to anyone in particular. I was running a campaign once where I changed the headline and my conversions shot up by 500% (I couldn’t believe the difference, and wouldn’t have believed it if it hadn’t happened to me).

Call to Action Buttons

I always try to use orange call-to-action buttons. Split testing results time and again confirm orange buttons as the most clickable by visitors to your websites. I honestly have no why orange buttons typically out-perform blue, green, or grey buttons – but they usually do.

If you don’t believe me then just head on over to Amazon and take a look at their add-to-cart buttons. There is so much money at stake, do you think they would choose an orange button by random chance?

Warning: you can’t assume that orange call-to-action buttons will always work best for you, you actually have to split test this stuff to know for sure.


The most obvious color to test besides your call to action buttons is the background color of your website. It does make a difference, and it depends on your target audience and the industry / market that you are in.


Test the font, font-size, and paragraph layout & spacing on your pages. The bigger the better in my opinion (hmmm, it’s dangerous having opinions!). Anyway, I always go for a minimum of 16 pt font, and try to aim for 12 words per line as a general rule (give or take a couple words).


If you are a builder then test using images of construction sites, builders in action, builder’s tools,  or try using no images at all. The point that I am driving home is that you just don’t know for sure unless you’ve properly tested things.

Anchor Text Color

One thing that you should really try not to do is change the color of anchor text . Anchor text is a word or phrase that is typically blue and underlined, and when you click on it it takes you to another page on the internet. People have gotten used to blue underlined links and changing the color could confuse them.

People Don’t Like Surprises

Contrary to popular opinion people REALLY don’t like surprises when surfing the web. They are there to solve a problem, watch YouTube videos, read the news, or whatever. What they are not there to do is spend 5 minutes trying to figure out how to navigate your site. Any surprises will drastically hurt your conversions.

And If It is All Too Much for You…

Then go and have a coffee.  Just Kidding. If it is all too much then I recommend doing the following:

  • Simplify your web page as much as possible, reduce clutter and confusing elements on the page
  • make the call to action stick out like a sore thumb and have one call-to-action
  • use a compelling headline aimed at a specific segment of your market (ideally the segment with the most buyers

Once you’ve done that, then you are in a good position to start split testing things with Google Website Optimizer, or alternatively hire someone who knows what they are doing to do it for you.