User Experience (UX) is concerned with how a user feels when they use a website or application. For a web design to be considered effective it usually needs to encourage some type of conversion, this might be an inquiry, an online sale, content download or maybe just increased engagement. Here is why effective UX design is critical to your website’s success.
How Can Effective UX Design Help Drive Conversion?
There are a number of tools and techniques that a UX researcher/designer can use to inform decision making when planning how best to optimize a site to enhance a user’s experience and ultimately grow conversions.
The Role of UX Research
By having a deep understanding of the people who use your website, their goals, motivations, influences, predispositions, and expectations, you can build up a picture of what is important to them and ensure that the solution you are creating fulfills their needs.
Research can be gathered through focus groups and interviews, raw data such as Google Analytics and speaking with customer-facing stakeholders such as sales teams and customer services.
UX Analysis to Provide Actionable Insights
Once the research has been gathered, it needs to be analyzed and transformed into actionable insights. Creating personas (or profiles) of ideal customers provides a focused reference guide to the audience that your website needs to effectively communicate to. This helps when putting together the content strategy and site architecture.
Knowing more about your site visitors means that you can deliver relevant content that engages them and makes them want to explore more of the site.
Task Mapping Analysis looks at the step-by-step actions that users take to achieve their goals. When put in the context of different personas, goals, and scenarios you are able to review the end-to-end online user journeys to ensure they are optimized to be user-friendly and efficient. This insight also helps to manage the user’s experience, ensuring that there are no dead ends.
Anthony Nolan the blood cancer charity, wanted to review the experience of their online donor recruitment process. Some website visitors that were not eligible to become donors were being faced with an abrupt dead-end during their online journey. With the help of a UX agency they reviewed and redesigned the journey to ensure that relevant, alternative options were displayed so the charity didn’t lose the enthusiasm of their eager supporters.
UX Design Decisions
Once the research and analysis are complete, the next step is to review the structure and content of the site. Rather than making assumptions or just copying from other sites (which may not even be following best practice), you can plan your site based on what your users want and expect in the context of their situation and what is important to them.
Once the structure and content of the site have been defined, the next step is to look at the page layout design. By using wireframes you can cost-effectively plan the content hierarchy, images, and link positioning and the location of key calls to action.
For more complex online processes, prototypes can be useful to provide a working example of how the site works. Gaining feedback from stakeholders or end-users at this stage can be extremely beneficial, as making changes after development can cost up to 100 times more!
UX Testing Options
Watching your actual consumers using your site can reveal usability issues and give you insight into how people actually interact online. The most optimal way to do this is in-person so you can ask questions to the user as they are using the site, as well as notice their body language and the moments when they hesitate. Another option to consider if you are on a tighter budget is remote testing, it may not give you the same depth of feedback, but it will likely highlight any significant issues that are facing users.
Does UX Really Matter? If the Website Looks Nice, Isn’t That Enough?
Yes, a good visual design is important. Designing a user-centric interface is crucial, the look of a site can influence whether someone decides to stick around and explore. However, if the site is slow to load, not well optimized for mobile, the content doesn’t meet expectations, the structure is confusing or the key journeys aren’t optimized to help the user achieve their goals, then a nice design won’t be enough to save a poor experience.
The Value of a Good Online Experience
When a website is easy to use and people can achieve what they want to do easily and quickly, they are much more likely to return to that site and recommend it. This, in turn, will lead to increased conversions and also improve your SEO.
How Can I Improve My Website UX?
If you manage an e-commerce site, take online bookings or your website is your business (i.e. an online subscription service or SaaS product), it is worth undertaking a UX audit to identify any potential issues. Who knows, you could be overlooking a massive opportunity to increase your revenue, like when Jared Spool identified the $300 million button. Whilst that is an extreme example, just a few tweaks to your site could reduce your attrition rate, increase sales and have a massive impact on the bottom line.
A UX audit takes a broad, user-centric approach to review a site. In the example of an online booking site, a UX auditor would look at the immediate online booking process and beyond, analyzing the wider site and business context, as well as understanding the users, their goals, tasks and the context of their activity.
When conducting a UX audit a variety of UX tools, techniques and data are used, including conversion metrics, web analytics, usability UI inspections (known as Heuristic Evaluation), stakeholder and user research and UX best practices.
The output of an audit would be a set of recommendations designed to improve the user experience of your site aimed at achieving your particular objectives.
If your website is a simple brochureware site designed to convey information to users without any real online conversions, a light-touch UX audit can help identify areas for improvement to achieve a better user experience and can put you ahead of your competition.
Final Thoughts: Want to Improve Your Website’s UX, but Don’t Have the Budget for a UX Agency?
It is amazing how many businesses create a website and just launch it without taking the time to get any feedback outside of their organization either before or after the launch.
Budget restrictions shouldn’t prevent you from gaining feedback from users and improving your site.
Here are some cost-effective ways to gain feedback on your website:
- Perform User Acceptance Testing (UAT).
- Invite some of your regular customers to go on to the site and report back on their experience – maybe you could offer an incentive such as a discount or voucher.
- Ask friends and family to undertake a particular task on the site and give feedback on how easy or difficult it was to complete.
- Once the site is live, look at the analytics data. Are people dropping out on a particular page, have bounce rates increased on certain pages, are some pages no longer viewed (perhaps because they can no longer be easily found)?
- Add a feedback survey to your site asking people to rate their experience – this would most likely highlight areas where people have issues that really irritate them, as this is often when people take the time and effort to share their opinion.
In conclusion, creating a website that is based on user insight will provide a better experience, which in turn will drive conversion rates. A UX design audit can help you identify and prioritize the actionable opportunities that will affect your website’s performance in the eyes of your consumer and ensure your site is the best it can be.