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Blog Post

4 Design Principles That Can Bolster Conversions

January 29, 2018
Table of Contents

SEO, social media, paid media, content and email marketing are all important cogs that make up the machine that is digital marketing. Frankly, your business doesn’t have much of an online presence without at least a few of these in your bag. Using these tools to drive users to your website or landing page is one piece to the puzzle in gathering conversions and leads. The other piece to the puzzle is what happens when users get to your site – do they convert or bounce?

According to a study conducted by Stanford University, 46.1% of people said that a website’s design is the top criteria for determining whether a company is credible or not. In that same study, it was also found that 38% of people will from websites they deem are unattractive. What these two stats tell us is that, well, looks matter, especially when it comes to driving conversions on your website or landing page.

Gestalt Principles of Design

The Gestalt Principles refer to the culmination of work by 1920s psychologists Kurt Koffka, Wolfgang Kohler, and Max Wertheimer. These principles focus on the cognitive behaviors humans enact when trying to decipher and organize pieces of information by grouping certain items together. Five principles make up Gestalt psychology, and they consist of the following:

  • Proximity: The grouping of related elements which are brought together, while elements that are unrelated are placed further away.

  • Similarity: The automatic assumption of a relationship based on shared visual characteristics. This can be exemplified through the use of color, scale, or shape.

  • Continuity: States that as the eye starts to follow a certain order or pattern, it will continue in that direction until it encounters another object.

  • Closure: States that so long as there is enough context clues and essential information provided, the mind will automatically supply the missing pieces. This principle is best used with easily recognizable objects.

  • Figure & Ground: This principle focuses on an object as well as its surrounding space to give the illusion of depth.

Gestalt Principle images sourced by How Design.


By understanding these principles and putting them into practice, you can leverage them to optimize your website and landing page designs for more conversions.



Hick’s Law

According to a Microsoft study, human beings now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish (8 seconds to be exact) – WATTBA. In the age of scrolling feeds of memes and internet videos with no substance (but at times are beyond the most hilarious pieces of content you’ve ever seen), digital marketers now have the added challenge of trying to capitalize on a very small window. When strategizing on how to keep users engaged with your landing page or website, it’s also important to get a good grasp on the importance of Hick’s Law.

Developed by psychologists William Hick and Ray Hyman, Hick’s Law states that “the more choices a person is presented with, the longer the person will take to reach a decision.” And now that you know the human race has the same attention span that lasts as much time you’d pop a donut in the microwave for, you want your users to take action as quickly as possible. It’s critical that you limit the number of paths you want users to take for your next web project. And this goes for multiple elements on a page, from the menu navigation to internal links. When it comes to conversions, you want to limit the bounce rate (when users leave your site without taking an action) as much as possible, and being cognizant of Hick’s Law is one of the best ways to ensure that.

Color Theory and Contrast

Color theory is as robust as it is straightforward. The use of colors can have a major impact on your website and can ultimately be the deciding factor between a conversion and a bounce. As it applies to web design and conversions, you basically want the conversion areas to stand out as much as possible on your webpage while still being easy on the eyes when you look at it. This is also where contrast, or the striking difference between colors, comes into play. Contrast is used in tandem with color theory to generate noticeability for the conversion points on your website or landing page.

The Kissmetrics infographic below is a great resource for designers and marketers alike who want to understand the nuances of using color for the web.

Rule of Thirds

You’ve probably heard of the “Rule of Thirds” as it’s mostly in reference to a photographic work or a film, but this can also be applied to web design as well to optimize conversions on your site. The Rule of Thirds suggest that if you visually divide your screen into thirds vertically and horizontally, you’re left with four intersecting points of interest that the mind naturally finds compelling.

Source: Digital Photography School

In web design, you can use this rule as a tool for placing the most important elements you intend users to convert on. This concept is particularly useful when designing the hero section of a landing page. The goal is to have either your call to action button or form placed on, or close to, these intersecting points to draw the most interest out of users.

Source: Lyft

Closing Thoughts

In the grand scheme of things, driving conversions is an ambiguous challenge. There can be a plethora of reasons as to why a page or site isn’t converting well, and an equal amount of other design principles out there in the ether that can address them. But by keeping these four basic design principles in your back pocket, you’re on the right track to getting your users to convert more on your website.



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