According to Ad Age, U.S. advertisers’ spending on digital advertising will overtake TV spending in 2016. With the explosive growth of digital advertising, comes an increasing amount of websites that customers will visit to make purchases and better inform themselves about future purchases. In other words, an increasing amount of customers are also users of digital applications like websites and mobile apps.

Enter the "websites that suck" phenomenon: if your business’s website or app is poorly designed, it will most certainly hurt sales. In fact, well-designed websites can have up to a 200% higher visitor-to-customer conversion rate than a poorly designed site. The better the user experience (UX) of your site is, the more likely visitors are to become customers.

But how do you build an awesome site that attracts and retains customers?

1) Focus on conversion

Conversion refers to how many new customers you get divided by the number of visitors your site gets. So, if ten new people visit your site, and one of them buys something, your conversion rate is 10%. Figuring this out is pretty easy. Just hook up some analytics to your site (I like Google Analytics) and keep track of your sales through your site every week or month. And don’t freak out: your first week or month is your baseline. Your goal should be to increase that number every time you see it.

2) Retain the customers you have

Another key number to consider is how many repeat customers you have. Keeping track of this can be a little trickier, and usually involves working with your sales department (or keeping track of orders in a nice spreadsheet if you are your sales department). You’ve got to figure how many people continue to buy from you. Your repeat customers are your best leads to new customers.

3) Optimize = make better

By now, if you’re new to running a website or thinking about UX, you may be freaking out a bit. That’s okay. Start simple: think about the pages that are most relevant to your sales. Those are called “landing pages,” or the pages users will land on when they visit your site to make a purchase. Essentially, those pages need to be clean, well-designed, and should include a clear call to action. 

4) Test different stuff out

Great websites are also not built in a day. Along with all this other stuff, you need to be testing out different things to see what works best for your specific customer base. This is called A/B testing. Essentially, you compare two different variations of your website and see which works best. Here’s a guide to doing that.

5) Talk to people

You have customers, right? Talk to them. Ask them why they keep coming back for more. Interviews and focus groups about your website (what they like, what they hate, what they’d like to see done better) can be invaluable at uncovering insights into what you should be doing. People love swag. Email them and ask them if they have 20-30 minutes in exchange for a free coffee mug… or a t-shirt.

6) Ask for help

If you are a small business owner (I love the term “solopreneur”) or are new to any of this stuff, don’t be afraid to ask for help outside your organization. Check LinkedIn, connect with some new people, and repeat as necessary until you find someone who has sensible advice and a reasonable asking price for that advice.

About the Author

FGuiseppe Getto is a college professor based in North Carolina who does freelance writing, UX consulting, digital marketing, and custom WordPress websites. He consults with a broad range of organizations who want to develop better reach for their target audience. He has taught at the college level for over ten years. During that time, he has also consulted and formed service-learning partnerships with many nonprofits and businesses, from technical writing first to homeless shelters and startups Follow him on Twitter @guiseppegetto or visit him at

  2015 State of Marketing