The Ultimate Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) Checklist

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links then we'll get a small commission.

You've got a beautiful website that contains tons of useful information, your products and services are second to none and you're getting floods of traffic from search engines, social media sites and blogs. But you're not getting any sales.

Sound familiar?

If it does, you're not alone. In fact, according to HubSpot's "State of Marketing Report", only 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates (Even more staggering is the fact that only 17% of marketers use landing page A/B tests to improve conversion rates!).

So how do you become one of the 22%? Simple: you follow my ultimate conversion rate optimisation checklist!

I've crammed everything I know about optimising websites into the CRO checklist you'll find below (well, it's not everything I know about optimising websites, but I'll get to that later).

Not everything in my conversion optimisation checklist will be apply to every website, but the majority will. And if you go through each point and apply the recommendations to your own site, you'll gradually turn it into a lean, mean sales machine.

I've also added a handy feature that tracks your progress as you check off each recommendation, which you can find at the bottom of the page.

Some of the CRO checklist recommendations will take minutes to implement, while others will take much longer. Some will also require web design and development expertise.

If you don't have the time or resources to optimise your website yourself, our conversion rate optimisation services could be just what you need.

See also: The Ultimate Trust Signal Checklist


Does your page have a particularly important section, such as a calculator, interactive quiz or booking form? If it does, make sure it's distinct and separate from the rest of your content. It's what your visitors have come for.

In most cases, you should avoid using jargon or overly complex words wherever possible. As a rule of thumb, try to aim for a reading age of approximately 9 years old.

Check your content for any spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Poorly written content makes your website look unprofessional, erodes trust and can have a negative impact on conversions.

Explain what you sell/offer in the first paragraph. People have a shorter attention span than goldfish, so you need to get to the point immediately.

Use images, videos, graphics, slides and any other visual elements to tell your story. 91% of consumers prefer interactive and visual content over static text, and you need to give your audience what they're looking for.

Nobody wants to be greeted with a wall of text. It's overwhelming and puts people off. Split up any large chunks of text using page headings, shorter paragraphs (3-4 lines), quotes, pull quotes, tables and lists.

Your headings and subheadings should summarise the content immediately below them. Roughly 80% of people will skim your copy. If your headings give them a summary of each section, they'll at least pick up the essential points.

Include contextual links to important, relevant content. Surfacing other content your audience might be interested in will help to keep them on your site longer and give you more opportunities to convert them.

Keep your line length to around 50-75 characters and avoid text that spans the width of the page. Your content will be easier to scan as a result. Check out Baymard Institute's research study on optimal line length for more info.

Make sure your font colour contrasts with the background and is readable. Dark grey on a white background is best, and avoid white text on a dark background for longer content (like blog posts).

Call-to-Action buttons

Choose a button colour that contrasts with the rest of your website. Your CTAs should stand out from the surrounding content and be unmissable.

There's no universal "best colour", but orange, red and green buttons are popular. Remember: just because orange buttons work for Amazon, doesn't mean they'll work for you too. It's all about contrast.

Each page on your site should have a single objective and one primary CTA. If you have two primary CTAs that look alike, they'll compete with each other.

If your page has a secondary goal, you should add a secondary CTA – but no more. Too many CTAs can confuse your visitors. Consider making your primary CTA a button and your secondary call-to-action a link.

Ensure that the copy for each CTA is clear, actionable and distinct. Tell your visitors exactly what you want them to do.

Rounded corners help to draw users' eyes to the button text and take less cognitive effort to visually process. The Barrow Neurological Institute's research paper on corner perception provides further reading.

Experiment with big, bold buttons that are impossible to miss. There's nothing wrong with understated design principles, but CTAs and buttons are usually not the place for them.

Experiment with anchor text CTAs, as they're less "salesy" than buttons and can help to increase conversions. UX Movement's article on when to use a button or link makes for interesting reading (if you're a nerd).

Make sure your buttons change colour when a visitor hovers over them. This helps to enforce the fact that they're clickable elements.

If you include photos of people near your CTAs, orient their gazes towards the call-to-actions. It helps move visitors towards your buttons.

A study shared by Michael Aagaard of Unbounce discovered that changing button text from second person ("Start your free trial") to the first person ("Start my free trial") resulted in a 90% increase in clicks!

Experiment with changing your CTA button during a visit. Try changing the button colour on scroll, for example.

Experiment with exit intent popups, where a CTA is displayed when a visitor goes to leave your site. When used correctly, 10–15% of lost visitors can be "saved" by an exit intent popup.

Repeat your primary CTA multiple times. A phenomenon known as "mere exposure effect" can help increase clicks.

Use box shadows, borders and arrows to ensure visitors know the button is a clickable element.

Make sure there's plenty of white space around your CTA buttons to help separate them from other elements.


Remove unnecessary form fields and keep the total number of fields to an absolute minimum. Conversions are more important than capturing data.

Check that your form labels are simple and clear. Use "Full Name" rather than "Name" if you want their full name, etc.

Reduce user frustration by validating the data that's being entered into the form as the user types it in. Adding real-time form validation can help to increase your conversion rate too.

Ensure that error messages appear directly above or below the field they relate to, rather than at the top or bottom of the form. This makes it much easier for visitors to correct their mistakes.

Make sure that your error message is clear and helpful. Tell your visitors how to correct their mistakes.

Check that your form displays perfectly on mobile and that your fields are large enough. It's likely that the majority of visitors to your site will be viewing your forms on a mobile device. Make life easy for them.

Add an asterisk ("*"") to required fields, and keep the number of required fields to a minimum.

Capture the most important information first (like the visitor's email address) and store it if the form isn't completed. You may need to ask permission to capture your visitors' information if you add this feature to your forms.

Place fields under each other, not side-by-side (unless they're closely related, like "First Name" and "Last Name").

Breaking up longer forms into small steps makes forms less intimidating and easier to fill in. It can also help to increase conversions, as Conversion Fanatics' study on multi-step and single-step forms demonstrates.

Consider adding a progress indicator to multi-step forms. It gives visitors a much better indication of where they are in the form submission process.

Start with the easiest fields first, like "Name" and "Email". Don't add a VAT number field right at the top of the form, for example. Starting with simple fields creates momentum, which means more form submissions.

Don't place labels inside form fields. If somebody forgets what information they need to enter, they'll have to delete everything to see the label.

Only use dropdown fields when absolutely necessary. If there are less than five options, use radio buttons instead.

Make it clear why you need information the visitor might feel is irrelevant or too personal, like a phone number.

Allow visitors to enter data the way they want. Any formatting should be done on the backend. Being unable to submit a form because your phone number isn't formatted correctly is not a great user experience.

Avoid using visible CAPTCHAs to protect your forms. Visitors hate them. Use an invisible CAPTCHA or honeypot field instead.

Include a "Show password" eye icon next to password fields to allow people to see what they're typing.

Don't have too many restrictions for the password. You own a website, not a bank. And if you do have restrictions on which characters can be used, make it clear upfront what they are.

Auto-fill as much information as possible, such as the user's location. This can save a huge amount of time and reduces user friction.

Position the form as high up on your landing page as possible. If there's a form on your page, it's there for a reason. Make it visible.

If your form is a newsletter subscription form, make it clear to your visitors that they can unsubscribe at any time.

As with your CTAs, allow plenty of white space around your form to help it stand out. You don't want your main source of leads and conversions obscured by surrounding elemments.

Ensure that your form fields don't delete the user's data if they click or tap on the field again. This is more common than you might think and is extremely frustrating for the user.

Keep your navigation menu consistent across all of the pages on your site. Different menu positions and styles on different pages can be confusing to visitors.

Try to limit the number of links in your navigation. If you give them too many options, it could make it harder for them to choose where to go. A good rule of thumb is 5-7 menu items.

Don't get creative with the positioning of your primary navigation. Place it at the top or down the left of your site.

Be descriptive with your menu item names. If it's a link to your "About" page, use the text "About" or "About Us".

Include navigation links in your footer. It's an effective way to ensure people don't miss your important information.

Ensure your navigation reflects the main objectives of your business by including links to your most important content.

Try to avoid using generic labels like "Products", "Services" and "Shop". If you have space, list the names of your products/services or the categories by which they are organised instead.

Avoid dropdown menus wherever possible, and avoid multi-level flyout menus at all costs. Flyout menus in particular can be frustrating to use. Mega menus, however, provide an excellent user experience.

Make sure your most important links are at the beginning or end of your menu. A phenomenon known as the serial position effect suggests that the human mind recalls items placed at the beginning and end of a list.

If your website is an ecommerce site or has a multi-level structure, include a breadcrumb navigation for your visitors. It provides them with a visual indication of where they are in your site hierarchy.

Try not to hide your menu behind a hamburger icon as it can have a negative effect on content discoverability.

Visually separate your navigation from the rest of your content using white space or a border / drop-shadow.

Save space by removing the link to the homepage. Link back to the homepage using your logo instead.

If you have an ecommerce site or a large, content-heavy website, include a search box near your menu. If you do add a search box, it's best to avoid placing it inline with your menu links.

Differentiate icons that are links from icons that are just text using distinctive colours.

Try to keep your information architecture – and site navigation – as flat as possible. It has numerous SEO and UX benefits.

Ensure that your navigation has a different visual design for each level. Subtle but distinct enough to separate them. This helps to reinforce to return visitors where they are in your site hieararchy.

Make the active menu item a different colour to help people orient themselves on the site.

Mobile experience

Make sure your website has a mobile version! It needs to be either responsive (the layout adapts to the device), have a mobile version (a separate version of the site designed for mobile devices) or a mobile app.

Get your site loading in under two seconds on mobile. For task-oriented mobile users, website speed is vital. To check the speed of your site, use Google's PageSpeed Insights tool or GT Metrix.

Make sure your important information, products and website features are easy to find and use for mobile visitors.

Enable mobile users to email their shopping cart to themselves, as many people still prefer to buy on desktop.

Make sure your search function shows the most relevant results first. This is particularly important for mobile users.

Make use of click-to-call features. Make it easy for mobile users to call you. If your website is built with WordPress, check out the WP Call Button plugin.

Check for layout bugs, particularly alignment issues and wide elements that can cause horizontal scrolling.

Use a "Load More" button instead of infinite scrolling. Infinite scrolling can make footer links and other sections near the bottom of your page unreachable.

Use a "Load More" button instead of pagination, as mobile users tend to ignore pagination links.

Don't hide filtering or sorting options on mobile just to save space. Mobile users are task-oriented and will look for them (and use them).

Ensure there's enough space between clickable elements, otherwise visitors will make mistakes. This detracts from the overall user experience and it could even have a negative effect on your SEO.

On product category pages, make sure that product images are less than half the screen size in portrait mode.

Scale up your product photos if the user switches from portrait to landscape mode, ensuring they look crisp at all sizes.

Avoid using dropdown filters on mobile, as they generally provide a poor user experience.

Set the correct HTML input types on forms to ensure that the correct keyboard interface is loaded.


Visitors must immediately understand what the website offers. Why should they stay on your site and not visitor a competitor's? You have to answer the question: "What's in it for me?", and quickly.

The other main objective of the homepage is to get visitors off the homepage as quickly as possible and a step closer to conversion. The homepage doesn't usually convert, so you need to send your visitors to content that does.

Simple homepages often do a better job of sending visitors on the path to conversion than ones with complex designs and a ton of information. Review the sections on your homepage and remove what isn't needed.

Experiment with a shocking headline. It needs to be specific and promote a clear benefit, and it also needs to enforce your value proposition. If you're stuck for ideas, check out our headline formulas and templates.

Don't use sliders. The only thing they'll do is increase the load time of your page. Nobody sits there and cycles through the images, so they're a waste of space and resources. Use a static image with the value proposition instead.

A video background is a not a substitute for a slider. All it will do is distract your visitors and increase the load time of your page. Use a static background image instead.

If your website is an ecommerce site, you want people to instantly know it's an ecommerce site. Including easily recognisable elements such as cart icon, search box and customer account link can help achieve that.

If your site is a shop, visitors will usually gravitate towards a search box regardless of how well organised your site taxonomy is. Don't hide your search box behind an icon. Ensure it's visible and easy to find.

Match CTAs with the buying stage. A button with the text "buy now" on the homepage is unlikely to resonate with your visitors – especially first time ones. Instead, replace "buy now" with something like "Browse our products".

Try to use stock photos that competing sites aren't using. If a visitor has had a bad experience on a competitor's website, they might see similar stock photos on your site and subconsciously recall that negative experience.

Social proof is a great way to establish trust between yourself and somebody you've never met (or has never visited your site). Social proof can come in the form of testimonials, brand logos and product/service reviews.

The homepage is a great place to display your most popular products/services. If you run special offers then you should consider making those visible on the homepage too.

Showcase your latest blog posts on the homepage. It's a great way to surface high-quality content that's buried deeper in your site, and it can help to get your content indexed faster by search engines.

Contact page

Not everyone has the time or inclination to wait for a reply to a contact form submission. By including multiple contact channels such as a live chat system and a telephone number, you're giving people more ways to get in touch.

Most businesses get asked the same questions over and over again. Including an FAQ section on your "Contact" page can help save time and money, and also encourage users to ask more specific questions.

If you're happy to receive customers (or potential customers) at your place of work, then it's a good idea to embed an interactive Google map. It makes it easier to find your business and also highlights nearby points of interest.

It's usually a good idea to include links to your social media profiles on your "Contact" page. It's another contact option, and it's also another opportunity to expose your visitors to your reviews and testimonials (social proof).

Although it's usually a good idea to include additional contact details, an FAQ section and an interactive Google map on your "Contact" page, you still need to make sure that your contact form stands out from the surrounding content.

Confirmation page

As with your "Contact" page, it's usually a good idea to include links to your social media profiles on your confirmation page. This can help to build a relationship with your leads and boost awareness of your brand.

Why should you display the user's email address on your "Thank You" page? Well, if they entered their email address incorrectly then your reply might be received by someone who has no idea who you are.

If it's a contact form "Thank You" page, let them know that their enquiry is being dealt with. If it's a newsletter confirmation page, inform them that they'll need to confirm their email address.

If you sell products on your site, it's a good idea to display your customers' order details on the "Thank You" page. This works well with the next recommendation.

If your confirmation page displays important information (such as your customers' order details), then it's a very good idea to make it easy for people to download/print the page.

Since you know that people arriving at your "Thank You" page are hot prospects, what better place to cross-sell your products/services? This could be a special offer for new subscribers or even affiliate advertisements.

The longer you keep visitors on your site, the stronger your connection with them is likely to become. Rather than viewing your "Thank You" page as an end destination, use it as a springboard to important sections of your site.

Total recommendations implemented = 0 / 108

Remember when I said that I haven't added everything I know about conversion optimisation to this CRO checklist? Well, that's because I'm adding it all to a handy downloadable spreadsheet! And best of all, it will be 100% FREE.

Not only will the spreadsheet be much easier to use and refer to when you're optimising your site, but it will also cover more pages and tons of additional criteria such as copywriting, design, retargeting, the value proposition and even buyer and pricing psychology.

It will also include everything from my trust signal checklist, along with 300+ ecommerce-specific conversion optimisation recommendations too!

And I almost forgot, you'll also get a FREE 7-day email mini-course to help you make the most of the ultimate conversion rate optimisation checklist.

I promise: it will be worth the wait.

Rob Carter
Rob Carter

Rob Carter is a digital marketing expert with a genuine passion for helping businesses thrive online. Rob has been building websites and crafting marketing campaigns for over 20 years, and his creativity and analytical ability are highly sought after by businesses and non-profits around the world.

Articles: 67


      • Not yet Michael, but I’m hoping to make both the spreadsheet and the mini course available by the end of September.

    • Not yet, Steve, but I’m working on it. It has taken on a life of its own as there are literally 500+ checkpoints now, covering a range of different websites. It’s extremely comprehensive, but the challenge now is to make it easy to digest.

      Client work has to come first, but I’ll post an update here as soon as I’ve finished the spreadsheet version and CRO mini-course.

  1. Have been using this checklist religiously to make updates to my website, but I’d love to see the full thing and the mini course! Any news?

    • It’s good to know that the CRO checklist is helping you to improve your website. That makes all the effort of putting it together worthwhile!

      As I mentioned above, it’s a bit of a beast now and needs to be streamlined, but it’s getting there. As soon as I’m happy with the CRO spreadsheet and mini-course, I’ll update this post.

      In the meantime, if you need any help with your website or just want to bounce a few ideas off someone, please get in touch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *