Lesson 5:

5ish Myths about increasing conversions

Beetle costume designed by Charles Briton for the "Missing Links" theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University Source (some potential restrictions on reuse).

“I want a slider on the homepage.”

That’s a classic signal from a client that they’re basing their design choices based on what they’ve seen other sites do, not what their own customers have requested.

Want to increase your average revenue per customer? Then you need to optimize your digital marketing efforts to maximize impact.

But as it turns out, there are some myths I’ve seen that get in the way of finding what REALLY impacts your business.

Myth: Green buttons convert higher
Truth: It depends.

The colors that perform best on your site are highly dependent on your audience’s preferences, your brand design language, and other factors.

Want proof? Take a look at some of the web’s top sites.

Otherwise, we’d see Amazon, Facebook, Verizon, Comcast, etc. all using the same color scheme.

Myth: You should always only have one single CTA above the fold
Truth: Generally yes, but it depends

Ideally, the first thing your audience sees when visiting your site lets them know they’re in the right place. Your copy and visuals should clearly confirm “Hey, this is what you want!” and “Here’s what to do next!” This often gets translated to “Have a big fat button on top.”

But buttons aren’t always the answer. Look at a longform landing page from companies like AWAI or Agora Financial. Or the Basecamp homepage, which has a ton of stuff above the fold because they’re ballers.

Myth: Case studies are a good place to learn what will work in your industry
Truth: It depends

Sometimes you’ll learn how to solve one of your specific problems via a case study.

But like the color of your buttons, what happened in a case study was highly subject to its unique circumstances. Even in the same industry, product/market fits vary. There’s enough space that your company can target a slightly different audience than your competitors.

Myth: Best practices exist for a reason
Truth: It depends

The real truth I wanted to write was, “Best practices exist because middle managers are lazy and afraid,” but that’s a can of worms. Best practices are often shorthand for “I don’t want to find out for myself” (though they can help course correct if you’re way off where you should be).

Myth: Optimizing your conversion rate means running headline tests
Truth: It depends, but probably no

Headline tests are great… when you’re at the point to test headlines. Conversion rate optimization work begins by understanding your audience, mapping their journey, and making sure you’re targeting the right audience for your business. It’s a much bigger exercise than split testing headline variants.

Myth: I should focus on increasing conversion rates first
 It depends (but very likely no)

When most people start paying attention to optimization, they often try to follow the advice of the case study “wins” they’ve read about.

“Changing this button color helped X site improve conversions by 10%!”

“Making the page longer/shorter/wider made conversions jump 2x!”


That’s all fine and good… if you have decent traffic and have already fixed the low-hanging fruit. But most people still need to take care of the most important factors harming their conversions, including:

  • Unoptimized image sizes (using images that are too big for the screen)
  • Confusing user journeys (too many competing calls to action)
  • Messaging mismatch between what users expect to see and what they actually see
  • …and more

What does this all mean?

You’re smart, so by now you see what I’m doing with these myths. Your site’s conversion rate optimization strategy will be highly dependent on your audience. Your traffic sources. Your offer. How long you’ve been around. The size of your list. The preferences of your audience. And so on.

Thinking like a conversion designer means you’re not just using your intuition to Design; you’re considering how you’ll measure and optimize your Design work based on performance.

Learning these basic myths about conversion rate optimization is a good start.