Do you know your bounce rate? That is to say : do you know what percentage of your precious visitors leave your site after a few seconds?

If Google sends you the majority of your traffic, expect more than 75% of your visitors to vaporize immediately.

But it’s not the worst yet…

Because among this 75%, there are perfectly qualified prospects for your product or service.

In other words, you lose sales because your customer slams the door on you before you can explain what you have to offer.

I’m the ax man

Portrait of the author in Phase 1 of conversion optimization
Portrait of the author in Phase 1 of conversion optimization

Suppose you came to me and said to me:

“My good Stanislas, I want you to improve my conversion rate on my new visitors – presto. Here is a purse of coins for your troubles. ”

Here is my first reflex: I would take an ax, and I would start to cut your site into pieces.

Clarity above all

My first reflex in front of a page whose conversions I want to improve is therefore to ask myself:

“What can I remove from this site?

Let’s say I’m a new visitor to your site: when I’m scanning the page for at most 5 seconds looking for something interesting.

If nothing catches my interest … poof, I’ve already closed the tab.

So you only have 5 seconds to communicate your USP (Unique Selling Proposition – see definition).

If I am distracted by a secondary element of the page during these 5 seconds (automatic slider, Facebook plugin, sidebar…), you are lost.

And if the USP brings any gram of confusion into my mind: it’s kaput.

The LIFT model developed by WiderFunnel is a good illustration of these strengths:

The LIFT model developed by WiderFunnel
WiderFunnel’s LIFT model

Your conversion rate is guided by your Value Proposition (USP), and powered by the Emergency (which prompts your visitor to act now).

It is pulled up by the Relevance and Clarity of your offer, and down by the Anxiety and Distractions that assail your visitor.

Today we’re going to focus on the opposing forces of Clarity and Distraction.

Note: at the end of this article, you will be able to download a chekclist to easily apply these tips to your own site.

1) Choose your USP: Unique, Clear, Desirable

I’m going to assume that as readers of this esteemed site, you already know what a USP is, and that you have one made of reinforced concrete.

Your USP will retain your visitor in the first 5 seconds, explaining why your site is important.

The site of Nest, a manufacturer of designer thermostats, is exemplary in the presentation of its USP:


(Click on the image to see it larger)

I added the numbers in red to analyze the different elements:

  1. The value proposition is crystal clear: energy savings + design, and is communicated by both the title …
  2. … and by image.
  3. The caption is as explicit as possible on the product: “Meet the Nest Smart Thermostat”
  4. The most important action is clearly highlighted: “Buy Now”

You can’t miss this value proposition, or that buy button. There is no distraction to catch your eye.

2) 1 page = 1 goal

Even with excellent USP, you can still trip if you try to do too much at once.

Remember: as a visitor, I am reluctant to do anything. So if you ask me both:

  • Subscribe to my newsletter!
  • Read my “About” page!
  • Like me on Facebook!
  • Follow me on twitter !
  • Here are the links of my partners!
  • Marry me !

… I’m going to be spinning quickly and go back to watching cute kitten videos on YouTube.

You can’t keep me on your page by bombarding me with options. You have to decide what is the Most Important Action, and make it perfectly obvious to the exclusion of everything else.

3) Communicate by design: the Visual Hierarchy

Now that you know what the Most Important Action is on your page, you need to communicate it clearly to your visitor.

To do this, you will use a design concept called the Visual Hierarchy.

The Visual Hierarchy allows you to make the most important elements of your page unmissable, using visual signals such as:

  1. The colour ;
  2. Size ;
  3. The placement ;
  4. White spaces.


The home page of the AirBnb rental site is a fine example of Visual Hierarchy (the yellow numbers have been added by me):

Vacation Rentals, Homes, Apartments & Bed & Breakfasts for Rent - Airbnb

(Click on the image to see it larger).

Let’s follow step by step what is happening on this page:

  1. The two-step value proposition: a headline to capture attention, and a sentence to accurately describe the service;
  2. This is our Most Important Action: the “Search” button is clearly distinguished from the rest of the page by its red color;
  3. If you have not yet used the search function to find your accommodation, you may still have questions: the next step is the “Instructions for use”. Note the gray color clearly indented compared to the “Search” button;
  4. Among the links in the menu, “Publish your ad” is highlighted by a colored button. This is probably a high value goal for AirBnb;
  5. Finally, the registration and connection buttons are indented. On AirBnb, they only become important later in the shopping tunnel, once the visitor has already chosen accommodation.

(The AirBnb example is taken from my article on website design, which you can read for more examples).

4) Eliminate the lingo

You’re badly crossed out if your USP looks like this:

“The Dupont & Dupont agency helps you generate multi-channel engagement through a social storytelling strategy”

Believe me, even if I was smart enough, I wouldn’t bother to decipher your technical terms.

Remember: you only have 5 seconds, during which I’m probably thinking about the last episode of Secret Story.

Don’t expect me to use my precious brain time available to reflect what you can bring me.

The home page of Mailchimp email marketing software is a good example:

Send Better Email MailChimp

(Click on the image to see it larger)

Instead of knocking out your visitor with the long list of features, Mailchimp simply promises to allow you to “Send better emails”.

(Little game: can you determine which menu option Mailchimp wants you to click? The Visual Hierarchy does not deceive!)

Improve your conversion rates with Marketing Mania

As you get to know each other, you know I love to talk about myself.

And indeed, I encountered this damn jargon problem by creating Marketing Mania.

Optimizing conversion rates is a technical area, filled with terms like “Split-test”, “Cohorts”, “Funnels” and other “Statistical significance”.

How to attract the interest of my visitor on the home page with such a specialty?

This is the title that I ended up using on my home page: “Turn more visitors into buyers”.

5) Use heatmaps to eliminate unnecessary options

You have now highlighted the most important elements – and you are communicating them clearly.

What to do with all these secondary options which are now relegated to the background?

Now is the time to bring out our ax and eliminate unnecessary options that only distract your visitor from the Most Important Action.

But here’s the big question:

How do you know which options are helpful, and which options are just a distraction?

And here is the answer:


If you’re not familiar, a heatmap is a visual representation of your site that tells you where your visitors are clicking.

For example, here is a heatmap of a Google search result page.

Heatmap example: the more red an area, the more it is clicked.

By generating heatmaps for your own site, you can find out which options are popular with your visitors, and which are unnecessary.

In his article on the redesign of his site, the American blogger Pat Flynn shows a good example of this elimination process.

Following the launch of its new theme, here are two screenshots of Pat’s sidebar heatmaps:


Nobody clicks on all of these options in the sidebar!

In this case, you might as well get rid of these distractions to lighten the site and focus the attention of visitors on the content.

This is what Pat ended up doing by removing the 4 ads from the right screenshot and removing all non-essential links.

If you want to generate heatmaps for your own site, I would recommend tools (including a free one), in the pack that you can download at the end of this article.

6) Use the Law of Entertainment to Convert Better

Law of distractions: The closer your visitor gets to the sale, the less options you offer them.

The Law of Distraction is the reason why we always remove the navigation menu and the sidebar on a squeeze page: we want to focus the visitor’s attention on the email collection form.

You can see the Law of Distractions in action as you go through the buying process on Amazon:

amazon-loi-des-distractions (Strongly advised: click on the image to see it larger).

The more you sink into the sales tunnel, the more the options offered by Amazon are reduced.

At the time of seeing the basket, almost all the elements have disappeared.

And the checkout page only gives you one option: Buy.

What you should do now:

Now it’s up to you to apply what you’ve learned on your site.

To help you, I have created an easy to use checklist to analyze your site. I also added links to practical tools (including a free one) to generate heatmaps.

Click on the link below to download the pack:

Download “The Checklist and List of Tools to Simplify Your Site