Scientific Approach to Web Design (Or Why Most Websites Suck)

It is a sad fact that most websites are not the digital marketing powerhouses they could be.

They fail to generate traffic, engage users, or generate leads and sales for the business they were created to serve.

This is a somewhat bold statement, but with 22 years of experience in web, search, digital marketing, and helping thousands of small businesses, it is an observation I make with some confidence.

If your website is failing to generate leads for your business then read on and we will show you how to start winning online.

Free Audit: If you would like to know how to double your conversion rates then get in touch for a free conversion rate optimisation audit.


Web Design – Form vs Function


Why do most websites fail to perform?


The main reason here is that most websites are designed with a focus on how the website looks rather than how the website performs.

Of course, this is not to say that websites should not look the part, but, it should never be more important than how the site performs its primary goals (typically to generate leads and sales).

Consider the titans of Internet commerce: Google, Amazon, and eBay for starters – are their sites good looking? Go and have a look now. They are okay, but they are no design powerhouses.

Google is the best example here, as it is just a logo and search box in the middle of the screen.

But have you ever visited Google and thought that it was an ugly site?

Google's home page - just a box

The reality is you don’t even see the design.

The single focus of the page is the search box so you just do what you are supposed to do – you search.

And, rumour has it, they seem to be doing okay as Google is the most visited website in the world with approx 90 billion visits per month.

90 billion. That is a big number, 90,000,000,000. There are only 7.5 billion people in the world and not all of them use Google (yet). Suffice to say, Google is a popular site.

If we also look at Amazon and eBay. They are much busier in regards to the content on the page, but they are still very much designed for functionality rather than to look good.


A Better Way to Build Websites

Fortunately, there is a better way to build websites.

This approach is just as applicable to small businesses as it is to the titans – possibly even more so.

This approach uses scientific principles to test and measure the results of small changes and the impact they have on the metrics that matter for you – your conversion rates (which are typically leads and sales).


How Did We Get Here?

To understand the problems with modern website design it helps to first look back over the recent history of website design:

  • In the 1990s, web designers were still very much trying to figure out how to build websites (painfully – from experience).
  • In the 2000s, websites were built with SEO being the driving factor, to snag that good, free search engine traffic.
  • In the 2010s, people focused on snazzy effects and the early stages of mobile-friendly websites (digital drip).
  • In the 2020s, things are now hyper-competitive, looking good is not enough, and you need to focus on conversions to keep marketing costs realistic.

In 2021 and beyond, websites are now a commodity.

There are tools like Wix that you can use to build a website for free.

The majority of small business websites built this way are based on a theme or template.

This approach simplifies the development of a website but locks the site owner into whatever functionality is built into the theme.

In most cases, you will end up with a site that looks great but, unfortunately, does not deliver the goods.


Scientific Web Design – A Better Way

A better way to build websites is to use constant experimentation to drive functional, customer-focused website design that strives for constant improvement through the use of conversion rate optimisation (CRO) techniques.

You build a site that is focused on the goals of your prospective customers.

Then you ensure that the site is well put together, customer-focused, user-friendly, well-written, clearly communicates the benefits of your service, has great offers, is trustworthy, and has a direct response component designed to generate leads at multiple stages of customer interest (good marketing has a few moving parts).

The site must also have a solid analytics installation, typically built using Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.

Then the real fun begins

Then you start to run small-scale experiments to improve individual aspects of the site.

This is measured against your conversion goals. Leads, sales, sign-ups. Form fills, email clicks, phone clicks. These will be personal to your business but are your primary website success KPIs (key performance indicators).

You are looking to run experiments to determine what changes lead to improved conversion rates.

This gives us a simple process:

Hypothesis > Experiment > Measure Results > Implement > Repeat

Conversion rates are often forgotten about whilst marketers focus on SEO, PPC, or some other tactic, but this is back-to-front:

  • Your site converts at 1% and this costs you £100 per lead, then simply moving your conversion rate to 2% of visitors will halve your cost per lead to £50.
  • You can move your conversion rate to 2%, 5%, and 10% then this continues to bring that cost per lead tumbling down to £10 at 10%.
  • Once you have a conversion rate much higher than your competitors you can out-market them as leads cost you a fraction of what they are paying – despite likely paying a similar figure for the clicks via paid advertising.

Conversion rate optimisation should be the centrepiece of your marketing efforts and the foundation upon which all other tactics are built (and upon which tactics like Google Ads become affordable).

SEO, Google Ads, social ads – all will drive leads at an improved cost once your conversion rate is optimised.

When your site converts better than that of your competition you have a strategic advantage. This improves your ROI and boosts profitability.

You can now be a dominant force in all forms of digital advertising in your industry whilst your competitors look on wondering just how you do it.

Better still, with the right tools, this approach can be applied to your existing site or to a new site built as a conversion engine.

Nutshell: CRO adds value to all of your marketing and boosts your profits.


What is CRO?

The first step to world domination building a conversion-focused site is to get a basic understanding of conversion rate optimisation.

Simply put, conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is the process of improving your conversion rates through experimentation.

Typically, this involves A/B testing which is simply comparing one element (A) against another element (B) and seeing which works best.

If I change this headline, this offer, this image – do we see a statistical improvement in conversion rates?

If we add a pop-up chat box does that improve conversion rates?

You develop a theory or hypothesis and then run a small-scale study to measure the results.

This is all measured against your primary conversion goals.

The primary benefits of CRO are:

  1. CRO gets you more customers – crazy right? But, if you currently generate 5 leads per day from all channels and you double your conversion rate then you get 10 leads per day. You double your opportunities without increasing your spending. So, you can use CRO to save money. Or you can use CRO to grow your pipeline and business.
  2. CRO boosts your profits – with twice as many customers and no increase in marketing costs, your profit margins increase. For small businesses, this shift can be profound and unlocks the true potential of your business.
  3. CRO makes all marketing tactics viable – with a killer conversion rate, tactics that would previously have been too expensive are now on the table. This means you can buy more traffic, you can outbid competitors who don’t convert at the rates you do, and you can experiment with new marketing channels. CRO opens the door to the world of digital marketing tactics.

The most important thing you can ever do for your small business is to become lead-rich. Once you have more leads than you can cope with, you can become choosy. You can flip things around so you get to choose who you work with. Better jobs. Less haggling on price. More profits. Win-win-win.

The specifics of CRO could fill a book (and does – see our references below) but the first step you need to make is to understand the role that CRO should play in your marketing.

You then build a site that focuses on the conversion goals and is built to enable constant improvement through conversion rate optimisation.

Alternatively, drop us a line and we will conduct a free audit of your website, digital marketing, and CRO to show you how to double your conversion rates today!


The Tools of the Trade

There are three main classes of tools that help you improve your conversion rates:

  1. Analytics tools – these are the tools that let you measure important actions on your site, typically form fills, sales, phone number clicks, email clicks, downloads, and anything that indicates a meaningful interaction with your business from a potential customer. The key tools here for small businesses are Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. We are also pretty keen on tools like HotJar that help you understand how your visitors interact with your site through heat maps, scroll maps, click maps, etc.
  2. Measurement tools – typically, for small businesses, we favour Google Optimise as it is free and allows up to 5 concurrent experiments on your site. These tools let you run your experiment and measure the results against your conversion goals so you can strive for constant improvements and build your conversion powerhouse.
  3. Conversion tools – finally, there are many tools all aimed at helping you generate more conversions on your website – landing page software, live chat, surveys & forms are just some of the tools you can add to your site and then measure to see if you can improve conversion rates.

Your site should also be considered a primary tool and you need to ensure you have a site that is easy to edit and add to so you are not limited in what you can test and the experiments you can run by your web platform. Here, we tend to favour WordPress and the Elementor page builder as it gives us all we need to quickly set up and run experiments.



Your website is the most important marketing tool in your entire business.

Yet, most websites have terrible conversion rates. This drives up your marketing costs and impacts how competitive you can be.

The good news here is that most small businesses are still not doing effective conversion rate optimisation.

If you start now you can boost your traffic, improve your profitability, and crush the competition.

This opens the door to a range of marketing tactics and traffic – all of which helps you grow and become stronger.

All of this is built upon solid conversion rate optimisation.

So, forget about SEO, PPC, or social – firstly, ensure your website is a lean mean conversion machine.

Is your website or digital marketing failing to deliver the goods?

Get in touch today and our team will provide a free audit to analyse your site and your marketing to let you know the 5 key activities you can perform to improve your conversion rates.

References (and recommended reading)

  1. Making Websites Win by Dr Karl Banks & Ben Jessonif you want to grow your business then read this book


  • CRO – Conversion Rate Optimisation
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimisation

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