Secrets of Contrast in Page Design

January 12th, 2009 | Posted in Design, Landing Page, Sales Pages, SEO, Websites | Comments Off

There’s an interesting pattern in internet marketing that, if you take time to look for it, you will see repeating itself all over the place. I’m talking specifically about how a lot of so-called ugly sites will convert better, often far better, than a lot of their competitor’s much prettier designs. Again, this is one of those things that applies to any kind of product you’re selling from information / ebooks to houses or ten cubic foot cabinets or english saddles.

First, what’s “Ugly” and what’s “Pretty”?

“Ugly” sites are those that the designers spend very little time and effort on coming up with fancy layouts, color schemes and graphics. There is little or no flash and the use of graphics is generally at an absolute minimum. These sites use plain flat solid color backgrounds and text colors that are easy to read against the background. White backgrounds with Black text are very popular among “ugly” sites.

“Pretty” sites are the ones that you can tell even before the thing is finished loading that somebody spent a lot of time coming up with the page design, layout, color scheme, graphics, flash elements and so on.

Two reasons ugly sites convert better

Remember that your visitors aren’t stupid. While it’s true that most of them know little and care less about design, they can tell when somebody has taken time to work on a site and when a site was put together in the most basic manner possible.

1. People trust ugly sites more because they feel that the owner has put their effort and focus into their product rather than trying to the site that sells the product.

2. A lot of the the success of so-called ugly landing pages comes from a more basic feature they have that only a few of the pretty sites can manage easily. In a word, contrast. Human vision values contrast far more than it does color. We can spot changes in brightness a lot faster than hue. Sites with strong contrasts between elements tend to do better, even if that contrast is ugly, as long as it’s sharp and well defined.

A sort of golden rule in increasing conversions is to remember that people don’t always know precisely why they prefer one thing over another. Often preferences are something that is felt on an instinctual level. For example, people can say all they want against so-called ugly long sales pages but the fact remains that they exist for the simple reason that they work and in the working they convert better than the seemingly more obvious preferred choice of graphic designer type websites.

Remember to keep a high degree of contrast between the elements of your sales page but at the same time be sure to hang onto good style and composition.

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