How to Design a Website That Generates Leads
Lead generation is among the most crucial functions of any website. After ensuring traffic through online visibility, generating leads fuels one’s sales funnel and dictates final revenue.
However, perfecting your website is no easy task, as an array of design choices factor into it. To explain this challenge, and suggest ways of overcoming it, let us explore how to design a website that generates leads efficiently.
Lead generation and lead acquisition
First and foremost, let us distinguish between lead generation and lead acquisition. Because those two terms carry very similar meanings in everyday language, they often see interchangeable use. That’s incorrect; however, as in digital marketing, the two refer to different customer acquisition phases.
ActiveProspect’s illustration visualises the difference very well:
Then, the two terms carry different meanings, and each requires different approaches and practices to succeed. Specifically:
- Lead generation addresses the initial discovery phase, typically following Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). At this stage, the website attempts to court visitors into becoming leads and entering the sales funnel. Micro conversions such as signups may occur here.
- Lead acquisition secures leads, nurturing them into qualified leads that may warrant further targeting through content marketing. More micro conversions like media engagement and additional signups may occur here.
- Lead conversion finalises the acquisition process, typically concluding with macro conversions. Exact conversion types will, of course, depend on each website, page, and campaign.
Nonetheless, a successful website addresses all three of these stages with equal efficiency and care. Each of them represents a step toward conversions, so shortcomings in any of them will sabotage the whole.
Designing for generation, acquisition, and conversion
To stress this overlap further, let us cite Neil Patel’s findings on lead generation priorities among marketers:
Evidently, marketers approach generation and acquisition as two synergistic fronts, if not as an outright seamless sum. Indeed, email marketing aside, the most popular options span multiple phases, not just generation.
For example, SEO principles that facilitate generation also enhance acquisition rates – and even conversions. Landing Page Optimisation (LPO) does so, too, even overlapping with Conversion Rate Optimisation (LPO) at times.
To cement this assumption, let us cite FinancesOnline’s findings on this topic as well:
As you can see, the same overlap occurs here. Marketers’ top 3 lead generation priorities are, in order:
- A focus on lead quality over quantity, which prioritises acquisition over the generation
- Improved conversion rates, which strictly concerns the lead conversion
- Increased lead volume, which hinges on lead generation
Thus, it does not suffice to design a website that generates leads. Instead, one must cater to each stage of the customer journey for optimal results.
Designing a website that generates leads
That said, let us begin this exploration with the qualities a great website should exhibit to generate leads efficiently. As we do, we too will briefly delve into subsequent phases, for the reasons outlined above.
First and foremost, a visitor must immediately get a sense of security – which begins with HTTPS. Should your site not have such security, you may work toward installing a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate.
One may argue this element affects conversions more so than lead generation. However, Google Chrome has steadily become the most popular browser in the world, as Backlinko notes. Its market share did slightly dip in 2021 compared to 2020, but it remains dominant:
Specifically, citing Backlinko,
- “Chrome has a worldwide browser market share of 63.58% [across all devices].”
- “Among mobile users, Chrome has a slightly lower market share of 62.48%.”
- “In the US, the Chrome share of browser usage is 46.32%.”
The reason why this is crucial is simple; Chrome notifies users when they’re about to enter an unsecured website. This alone can severely diminish your lead generation and undermine all further efforts, so it’s a fundamental first step to address.
#2 Visual appeal
The following quality lies in visual appeal. Once your visitors have made it to your website, it must immediately appeal to them and incite engagement.
This is far from an arbitrary, subjective metric, as you can readily measure it through such tools as heat maps. You may examine your visitors’ behaviour to acquire such insights as:
- Which elements do your visitors hover to or interact with?
- What actions do they take?
- How far do they scroll down?
Visual appeal does, of course, also hinge on aesthetics. However, it typically relies on
- Perceived professionalism: what brand image does your design project?
- Perceived functionality: does your design make your pages look functional?
- Proposition framing: does your design frame your proposition in an optimal light?
Design is indeed crucial, as it shapes your visitors’ very first impression. Brand image aside, it should primarily convince your visitors to stay and interact with your website.
#3 Usability and responsiveness
On the subject of visuals and perceived functionality, web design should immediately project and practically ensure usability and responsiveness. The reason should be evident; if a website looks jagged, leads will fall off.
Here, however, there are two notable points to be made, outside of simple visitor behaviour.
The first lies in visitor psychology, and UserTesting dubs it the “aesthetic-usability effect.”
In essence, even if unintentional on the designer’s part, positive psychological connotations from visual appeal benefit perceived usability. UserTesting explains this phenomenon in simple terms:
“[Visitors] assume that if the website is appealing, the product and service will also work properly[. If] it looks good, it must be good.”
This, of course, has a notable impact on final results that a website that generates leads directly benefits from. Where actual usability will push leads into conversions, perceived usability will first convince them to stay.
The second lies in Core Web Vitals, Google’s user experience initiative. In brief, these metrics gauge technical aspects of a user’s experience in terms that web design can substantially benefit from. These are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP tracks the time it takes for the most prominent image or text block within the visitor’s view to finish rendering. Google suggests an LCP of 2.5 seconds or less, and achieving it requires some careful design decisions.
- First Input Delay (FID): FID tracks how long it takes a browser to respond to the user’s first input, such as scrolling down or clicking on a link or button. This metric is invaluable in the context of lead generation, as it specifically gauges first input impressions. For reference, Google suggests an FID of 100 milliseconds or less, which requires very snappy, well-designed pages.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS tracks overall shifts of a page’s layout within the visitor’s view as the page loads. Google calls these “unstable elements”, and they too require some informed design decisions to address.
In essence, Core Web Vitals offer actionable insights into user experience and can help pinpoint shortcomings in specific areas.
#4 Clear conversion paths
Lastly, generation and acquisition aside, your website must offer clear conversion paths to your visitors. Not only does this let it turn them into customers, but it also enhances the user experience itself.
A straightforward conversion path does require prudent design across all phases, of course, as its qualities are:
- Immediate visibility. First, consider if your conversion paths are immediately visible. Is vital contact information above the fold? Are relevant CTAs featured prominently and enhanced by your design? If leads are convinced to convert in any way, they should clearly understand what actions they should take.
- Accuracy. Next, examine your conversion path’s accuracy as regards the customer journey. Does each image and video, link, form, and CTA do precisely what it promises? Inaccuracies have leads taking unexpected turns, which hampers the user experience and reduces conversion rates.
- Value. Finally, does every step along the conversion path offer clear value? As in, does the visitor clearly understand the value they get out of their actions? This is, arguably, the key benefit of great CTA design.
Naturally, these practices address conversions, not generation per se. However, they too are invaluable as they conclude the optimisations that lead generation initiates.
Page design and lead generation
Finally, let us consolidate all of the above into actionable suggestions toward designing a website that generates leads. Each website will differ, but the following suggestions underline universally useful practices.
#1 Speed and responsiveness versus visual appeal
As a core tenet of SEO, your design must initially secure speed and responsiveness. This holds a twofold benefit, as it both.
- Enhances SEO, thus increasing raw traffic to fuel lead generation, and
- Encourages visitors to stay and engage, thus increasing the likelihood of conversions.
As regards the latter, consider that, according to Google themselves, website speed directly affects bounce rates:
As such, you must reconcile your website’s visual identity with functionality. You should, by all means, use media to attract leads’ attention, from landing pages to conversion pages, but you must do so prudently.
Some ways to do so include:
- Image optimisations. Large images are among the primary on-page reasons for slower loading speeds. To address this, remember to keep your image files smaller than 100kB and use CSS sprites wherever possible.
- Theme and plugin cleanups. Heavy plugins and themes are another notable technical cause of website sluggishness. Here, examine what each asset you use offers and whether its impact on performance is worth it.
- Caching. Finally, pages that dynamically generate ample content may also drive leads away. To address this, and improve your CLS in the process, examine which pages can afford to be cached.
#2 Contact information
Moving on to tough design choices, you may begin by examining your contact information. To design a website that generates leads means to design a website that immediately offers value and conversion paths, as we highlighted above.
As regards contact information, examine the following:
- Availability. First, is your contact information available in all crucial spaces? These should include your website’s header or footer and all converting pages. This principle should, of course, apply outside of your website as well, such as for social media profiles and Google My Business (GMB) listings.
- Visual clarity and appeal. Next, consider how readable your contact information is against its background colours. Many leads may overlook this aspect if they’re already engaged, but projecting professionalism through such details can certainly help.
- Accuracy. Information inaccuracies, in contrast, are a very crucial issue that can debilitate conversions. Not only do such inaccuracies denote a lack of professionalism, but they also actively sabotage your conversion path. Your website aside, you should ensure your contact information is accurate and identical across all online platforms and listings.
#3 Contact forms
On the same subject, contact forms are among the best ways to encourage and leverage lead generation. In many cases, this is where lead generation begins.
For visual reference, consider our homepage:
Other design choices illustrated here are worth discussing, but let us begin with the contact form. Here, this form exemplifies the qualities outlined above:
- Availability. First, the contact form is immediately available on the homepage, not just on landing pages. This helps leverage branded mentions and backlinks for other lead generation.
- Readability. Then, it is immediately readable, as it uses a web-safe font and contrasts with its background colour. Should visitors look for it, they will find it with ease.
- Placement. That’s in no small part because it is placed at the top right. This is typically the optimal placement, as visitor reading habits tend to focus on the header and follow an F shape.
Of course, contact forms don’t just belong on a homepage. Thus, consider contact forms across your website:
- Volume. First, use ample contact forms across your landing pages and other pages your insights deem valuable. This will offer a clear conversion path for your leads and present their options.
- Linking. Next, minding the customer journey, you may link to your contact form even where it is absent. This ensures visitors have the option to contact you, should your content convince them to.
- Relevance. However, relevance is crucial as well. Contact forms on strictly informational pages, or links to ones with no appropriate context, may not offer value and thus diminish the user experience.
#4 Structure and layout
Still, regarding design, you may then consider the overall site structure and unique page layout. A website that generates leads requires appealing, inviting, and functional design across its pages, from landing to converting ones framed by logically structured website architecture.
To address this factor, we may begin with the overall site structure. Fundamentals in this regard include:
- Ease of navigation. This quality dictates how many pages your visitors may wish to visit. This doesn’t just affect the crucial SEO metric of pages per session, but it also incites engagement which nurtures your leads. Such elements as drop-down menus for mobile sites, HTML sitemaps, and search bars with keyboard focus can enhance navigation.
- Breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs offer additional ease of navigation by letting visitors know exactly where they are within a site. Depending on your site and audiences, you may typically consider either hierarchy-based or history-based breadcrumbs.
- Hierarchy. Finally, a logical content hierarchy reflected by your breadcrumbs will help refine the customer journey across your funnel. Adobe identifies top-down and bottom-up as the two prominent architecture approaches for designers.
Then, we may discuss individual page layouts in similar terms. While abundant elements make up effective layouts, consider examining the following fundamentals:
- White space. Perhaps the most common suggestion in terms of layout, white space allows for easier reading. It helps strain the eyes less and prevents informational overloads and decision fatigue.
- Image distribution. While image quality and quantity both factor into lead generation effectiveness, image distribution also plays a strategic role. Consider image distribution as a means of dividing large, unformatted blocks of text into more readable sections.
- CTA placement. Finally, consider CTA placement individually, depending on the page’s purpose and the surrounding visual elements. Using heat maps should offer excellent insights in this regard, identifying if CTAs – or their adjacent elements – need to be relocated.
Having touched on CTAs, these are the final arbiters of conversions by definition. Design-wise, your CTAs should allure leads you’ve generated and acquired into converting.
While CTA optimisations typically fall under the broader CRO umbrella, you may begin with the fundamentals of effective design:
- Placement. First, as highlighted above, examine your CTA placement. CTAs should be immediately visible and have as few distractions near them as possible. In addition, you may limit each page to one CTA to avoid decision fatigue – and reconsidering the number depending on your analytics.
- Readability. Visibility aside, your CTA should be highly readable. Here, examine its shape, font, and colour and how it contrasts with background colours. The psychology of colours is crucial here, as Hubspot has found that red CTAs noticeably outperform green ones.
- Copy. Finally, carefully craft your CTA copy for maximum efficiency. First, you may choose strong action verbs that incite action more effectively, such as “buy” and “get”. Then, you may consult your analytics and insights to refine your tone to better resonate with your audiences. Finally, consider inciting urgency through timers and declarations of exclusivity to increase your offer’s perceived value.
#6 Social proof
On perceived value, few elements foster trust and encourage conversions as effectively as social proof does. Social proof serves as an honest, true testament to your offer’s quality from prior customers.
Social proof may typically include:
- Product reviews
- Endorsements and media coverage
Similarly, a solid, prominently featured portfolio can serve as additional reassurance – as you can see on our homepage above. Case studies offer confidence in your ability to meet a customer’s expectations and serve as content.
As regards reviews and testimonials specifically, it is noteworthy that images notably boost their credibility. Neil Patel notes this factor as well and makes an excellent case for social proof used in the following video:
#7 Consistent monitoring
Finally, as with all marketing endeavours, designing a website that generates leads once does not suffice. It is never a one-time effort, as customer behaviours change and new design trends emerge in response.
Thus, the final point should be to monitor your efforts consistently and readjust accordingly. Some assets in this regard include:
- Google Analytics. Google Analytics offers an excellent web traffic monitoring tool through which you can acquire audience behaviour insights. You may, of course, couple it with other analytics software and plugins for enhanced depth and accuracy.
- Heat maps. One such behavioural analysis tool, which we’ve addressed before, is heat maps. Heat map software monitors visitor behaviour relevant to its type, from scrolling down to mouse hovering and clicks. Coupled with analytics tools, they can offer immense help throughout the customer acquisition process.
- A/B testing. Finally, no two websites or audience segments are the same. Thus, A/B testing should always inform any changes you implement, as many marketers above also note.
To conclude, it is no easy task to design a website that generates leads and nurtures them effectively.
It requires keen attention to detail, from one’s brand image and visual identity to functionality and visual clarity.
It spans SEO, LPO, CRO, and other optimisation subsets and requires adjustments to its unique audience tastes and sensibilities.
Finally, it requires consistent monitoring and readjustments over time as digital marketing evolves in strides and audience behaviours change.
Hopefully, this article should help get you started. Should you need further assistance, feel free to contact us – we would be happy to work toward bringing your goals to life.
Author Bio: Lawrence Miller is a web design enthusiast and aspiring SEO expert. He primarily writes articles in these two fields but also dabbles in different programming languages. When he isn’t behind the computer, Lawrence enjoys playing darts and going wine tasting.