The goal for most websites is to boost conversion rates, whether that is to drive an enquiry, an online or offline sale, an ebook download or a newsletter sign-up. However, the goals for your website visitors might be to learn more about your product or service, find out more information about your company or to compare prices.
The discipline of user experience seeks to understand what your visitors are trying to achieve and to create an experience which is easy and pleasurable, allowing them to achieve their goals effortlessly, without confusion or frustration.
When embracing user experience as part of your web design and development strategy, it is important to understand that to optimise your online conversion, the most effective methods aren’t achieved by simply applying surface level User Interface (UI) changes such as changing the colour or size of a button. User Experience is a concept which delves much deeper into the whole process a user goes through to get their tasks done, it considers the sequence of actions they take, their emotional and sensory responses during their journey, and the final and lasting impressions of the interaction.
That said, with the right knowledge and understanding you can apply the insights and make changes on your website that can have a significant impact on conversion rates.
1. Know your users
Sound obvious? But is your knowledge based on what you and your colleagues ‘think’ about your customers or based on actual research and insight gathered directly from your audience? How can you begin to fulfil their needs if you don’t really know them!
UX tools such as user personas are often used to represent the voice of the user throughout the design and development process, ensuring that you continue to meet the needs, wants and expectations of your different user types.
When you have this understanding of your consumers, you can can begin to review the types of content that is relevant and appropriate for them. Your personas will identify the types of information they want, how knowledgeable they are about your product or service and what things influence their decisions. You can use this insight to decide the formats of your content for example, would an infographic be better than a detailed whitepaper, or would a video be best. Would you need to convey the more technical aspects of your offering or would a simplified version be preferred, or is both required to address the different needs of your audience?
UX change to boost conversion: Research your customers to ensure you provide the right format of content.
2. User journeys and goals
Having insight into your users is just a part of the puzzle, this element feeds into the all-important User Journey. The User Journey considers the goals of your different users, the tasks they undertake and the context (or scenario) in which they interact with your website, app or portal.
Once you plot the different possible journeys, you can begin to identify what additional information is required to help someone convert. Would a sizing chart be helpful? Does the returns and delivery information need to be accessible at a certain point in the journey? Could an FAQs or customer reviews section help avoid visitors going to another website?
UX change to boost conversion: Include the relevant supplementary information at the right point in the journey to keep users on track to conversion.
3. Be relevant
When you understand your visitors and their goals you then have the opportunity to provide them with content that is relevant. Today, web technologies can enable you to personalise your content for your visitors based on their interests, their previous visit behaviour and where they have arrived from, making their online journey a more tailored experience.
UX change to boost conversion: Personalise your content so it is relevant to the individual visitor and what they want.
4. Design Mobile-First
Having the insights on when, how and why your audience interacts with you online will indicate the extent to which designing a great mobile experience really matters to your business. When designing mobile-first, you consider the experience within the limitations of a smaller screen size, and this helps to focus the design around enabling the user to achieve their goals most efficiently (usually with just their thumb!).
Also, when designing mobile-first you will consider the best ways to capture information for example, when the user needs to complete a form or undertakes a buying process. You can prioritise reducing the number of steps and using relevant input fields, such as displaying the numeric keyboard (rather than the fiddly alphanumeric keyboard) for credit card details or having an easy-to-use calendar date picker rather than annoying drop down fields.
When you design for desktop first which is responsive for mobile, it may adapt to fit on the screen, but that doesn’t mean that the experience is optimised for the mobile user. If you are considering a website redesign, ensure that mobile is considered as your first priority.
UX change to boost conversion: Design mobile-first and optimise processes and input fields for the mobile user
5. Design intuitively
When you are designing your digital experience it is important not to be different just for the sake of it. Web visitors have an expectation of how things work, through their experience of other sites; they will expect menus and inputs to work in a certain way. A feature or functionality that is different can make an experience awkward or confusing if the visitor doesn’t know what to do.
Keep content in manageable sized chunks and if you are introducing features like gesture control (which are notoriously inconsistent across the web) it is important that you educate your users on how to use them.
UX change to boost conversion: Be consistent and clear on how things work.
6. Observe your users
Research and insights are an incredibly important part of UX. Watching your users interacting with your website, app or portal can uncover a whole range of issues you hadn’t before realised were a problem. There are so many ways you can gather this insight, either face to face, remotely and installing software like HotJar on your site, all of which can begin to reveal obstacles and hurdles which are hindering your conversion rate.
Combining this observation with your website insights means you can begin to build up a picture of what changes you need to make on site. Is the need for an account registration becoming a barrier? A rather dated but relevant example, is how UX Expert Jared Spool attributes a $300 million increase in revenue by giving customers the option of not having to register for an account in order to buy something. This valuable discovery was made as a result of user research.
Are your calls to action in the right place? Are there too many distracting messages confusing the user to what their next action should be? Are visitors missing vital information that can help them along their journey?
UX change to boost conversion: Watch how your customers interact with your site to find out what needs to change.
7. Test, Learn, and Iterate
Changes that work for one site won’t automatically work for another, as the best conversion rates will be achieved by the sites that ‘listen’ and ‘respond’ to the needs of their own audience.
To create the optimal online experience you need to use insights and feedback to inform changes. A/B testing and Multi-variate testing are commonly used methods to live test different hypotheses on how to improve conversion. Making changes and comparing two live versions will determine which changes have the most impact on conversion.
Regular testing and improving a website should be an ongoing process. Users expectations will evolve as they interact with different websites, and the only way to ensure that your site keeps up, is to maintain a culture of continuous improvement. If you don’t, there is a real danger of needing a significant capital investment to do a complete ground-up redesign and build.
UX change to boost conversion: Invest in a continuous improvement programme to ensure your site remains relevant and up-to-date.