February 20, 2015 Porter Simmons

Using UX to Increase Conversion Rates

2 Questions for Better UX

Every business in the 21st century needs to answer two important questions. If answered correctly, they’ll tell you what you need to do in order to increase conversion rates and gain more loyal customers online.

First, “How are people interacting with my website?” This question is a way to measure how much interaction is actually taking place on your website — how people find your site, where they go when they get there, and what page they’re leaving from.

Second, “Why are people interacting with it in the way?” This last question is a means of measuring the quality of users’ interaction with your site. While the first question tells you what happens on your site, this one tells you why.

The Need for User Experience Research

Answering the second — and more important — question comes down to testing user experience (UX), or how people interact with, behave around and feel about your business on the web. While there’s no way to directly influence UX on your website, you should constantly be testing the impact of specific design changes on users to evaluate experience and, in turn, make more changes to continually improve users’ interaction.

Effective UX is achieved by moving beyond the hypothetical. Website design shouldn’t just be completed through intuition — UX testing needs to take place. These tests produce and subsequently rely on concrete data, gathered from hundreds and thousands of site visitors, to tell you what you need to change in order to increase conversion and sales. While Google Analytics can tell you a lot about your users’ behavior, without actual UX testing, at best, you’re just guessing at why conversions aren’t happening.

Faulkner’s Perspective

There’s a phrase that applies here — “kill your darlings” — and it’s one every English major will be all too familiar with (myself included). It’s usually attributed to William Faulkner — probably incorrectly — but means, in essence, that even if your favorite sentence doesn’t fit well with the rest of whatever you’re writing, you need to get rid of it, or “kill your darling.”

Likewise, businesses, designers and developers get attached to certain aspects of their web design — things like sliders, color schemes, etc. — that might actually end up hurting their conversion rates. UX testing reveals clues as to which of those things we need to get rid of in order to get more clicks or sell more products, and to be successful, we need to follow through on that. Don’t just keep the slider on your homepage just because you like it. If UX testing recommends it, get rid of the thing. Doing this right requires design to be an open process. Closing the door will often mean lost customers.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that your website will or even should look dramatically different tomorrow than it does now (or maybe it does). UX testing isn’t about what would be called “big” changes — rather, it’s a process of fine-tuning the smaller aspects of your site to maximize impact on users and increase conversion rates. Unless your site has a whole lot of unnecessary bells and whistles, you won’t be experimenting with much more than the color of your call to action text, but it all depends on your design — and on your customers’ expectations for your industry.

The Virtue of Meeting Consumer Expectations

That’s why, to be most effective, you need to choose a designer or an agency for your website that’s seasoned in your specific industry. Think about it this way: if you’re trying to book a hotel room online, your expectations for a hotel’s website are going to be significantly different than if you were, say, trying to customize a new shirt for your softball league. Users’ experience on your site will be influenced by their prototypical expectations for your industry. The more experience your agency has with your industry, the more effective your design will be — and the more productive UX testing will be.

Growing your business online requires a lot more than just a website — if customers don’t find what they need on your site, they’ll find it somewhere else. The core focus of every website should be to create the best possible experience for your users, so don’t just leave it sitting after it’s been launched. UX just might be the best lead generation tool you have.