by Tommy Walker | Conversion XL

In a study by Google in August of 2012, researchers found that not only will users judge websites as beautiful or not within 1/50th – 1/20th of a second, but also that “visually complex” websites are consistently rated as less beautiful than their simpler counterparts.

Moreover, “highly prototypical” sites – those with layouts commonly associated with sites of it’s category – with simple visual design were rated as the most beautiful across the board.

In other words, the study found the simpler the design, the better.

But why?

In this article, we’ll examine why things like cognitive fluency and visual information processing theory can play a critical role in simplifying your web design & how a simple website could lead to more conversions.

We’ll also look at a few case studies of sites that simplified their design, and how it improved their conversion rate, as well as give a few pointers to simplify your own design.

What is a Prototypical Website?

If I said “furniture” what image pops up in your mind? If you’re like 95% of people, you think of a chair. If I ask what color represents “boy” you think “blue”, girl = pink, car = sedan, bird = robin, etc.

Prototypicality is the basic mental image your brain creates to categorize everything you interact with. From furniture to websites, your brain has created a template for how things should look and feel.

Online, prototypicality breaks down into smaller categories. You have different, but specific mental images for social networks, e-commerce sites, and blogs – and if any of those particular websites are missing something from your mental image, you reject the site on conscious and subconscious levels.

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