Designing UX to Increase Conversion Rates
UX (user experience) is usually seen as the domain of web developers and conjures images of wireframing and storyboarding websites. While conversion rates are the domain of marketers and advertisers fretting over CPC and CPA metrics.
But these two goals should not be siloed and allowed to influence each other. UX has a massive effect on your website’s conversion rate – whether for good or bad. By tightly separating design and marketing teams, businesses risk losing valuable insights that grow out of an integrated design and marketing process. Before we jump into how good UX can increase conversions, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with a few definitions.
Defining UX and Conversion
The Nielson Norman Group defines user experience as encompassing all aspects of the end user’s interaction with a company, its services, and its products. That’s a good, broad definition; but we can narrow that down a bit when we’re talking about web design. I’d say that web-specific UX covers a visitor’s experience with your website – including usability, accessibility, usefulness, and aesthetics.
Or, put another way, UX is not just about building a beautiful site; but about building a beautifully usable site.
For marketers and advertisers, conversions are the life-blood of our industry. But many web designers aren’t in on the conversion party yet, so let’s cover a quick definition of customer conversion. We are always pushing people toward a goal (email signups, sales, engagement, etc.), and conversion rates tell us the number of people that are reaching our intended goal.
At its simplest level, website conversion rates are calculated by dividing the number of visitors who performed your desired action by the total number of visitors.
Why is UX Important?
We know that UX is about designing sites that are beautifully usable. And that sounds like a noble goal – but is there value in good UX beyond the aesthetic?
Of course there is (otherwise I’d be wasting my time here)! Creating a positive user experience is an essential part of your brand identity. It projects an image that is trustworthy and creates an experience that leaves customers happy to do business with your company.
Beyond creating positive associations with your brand, UX will also help your SEO efforts as it reduces bounce rates and increases time-on-page metrics. UX and SEO is a topic that warrants a whole course of study – but suffice it to say that UX is an essential element of your search engine optimization.
How UX Effects Conversion Rates
So, we all agree that UX is an important element of web development, but what does it have to do with conversion rates? Here’s the bottom line: good UX creates a happy experience – free of frustration and doubt.
Every step and navigation is an opportunity for users to bounce from your site and kill the conversion – so the user experience needs to be optimized for every stage or else you run the risk of losing potential customers. Getting visitors frustrated or feeling lost will cause your conversion rates to plummet. And ultimately, bad UX is going to make you look amateurish and that is the ultimate conversion killer.
Designing your UX around maximizing conversions is great when you’re building a new website. But what do you do if you have an existing website with a less-than-ideal user experience? You don’t have to totally give up – here are five easy ways to quickly improve the UX of your existing site:
1. Breaks and Errors
This should be priority number one. Take some time (or hire a professional) to go through your site and identify any broken links, missing images, 404s, or error messages and deal with them all ASAP. All the fancy experience in the world won’t help if your website is technically broken.
2. Simplify and Streamline
It is easy to let bloat set in on an existing website. Over the years new pages have been added and the original, clean navigation has become somewhat cumbersome. If that’s the case on your website, dig in and streamline your navigation – remove outdated pages, consolidate what you can, and make sure your site is easy to follow.
3. The Search Bar
Some designers are moving away from site-specific search bars, but I think that’s a mistake. The trusty search bar provides two benefits to your website. First, it helps users find what they’re looking for. I know, that sounds obvious, but the search bar is often the last stop before a user bounces from your site. Don’t let customers leave in frustration because the search bar isn’t trendy. Second, the search bar gives you an insight into what customers can’t find on your site and allows you to refine the process outlined in fix number 2 above.
User experience extends beyond the website, and today’s consumers expect easy communication with businesses. This means that your website should provide easy and direct methods of communication. Contact forms are all well and good, but your customers are asking for more – including email addresses, phone numbers, and social media accounts.
5. Mobile Friendly
If you don’t already know this one, you might have been living under a rock. But it is so important, that it bears repeating – make your website mobile friendly. Responsive design is certainly the most popular route to go here. But whatever direction you choose, make sure that your website looks great across desktop, tablet, and mobile browsers.
Unified Web Design
By encouraging design and marketing teams to work together, website UX can be tailored to encourage and increase conversions. Even existing sites can be UX optimized without going through a full re-design. At Fusion Group USA, every team works closely to ensure that marketing goals aren’t an add-on to web development or that web design isn’t sacrificed to collect more conversions.