*Updated on 9/6/2023
Learn more about five important aspects of the user experience and how to optimize it.
The Importance of Onsite Optimization
When evaluating the web analytics of a major U.S. fashion retailer, it was discovered they were spending millions of dollars a month on PPC, yet their overall site conversion rate was only 0.78% (the average e-commerce conversion rate is 2-3%). This same company didn’t spend anything when it came to on-site optimization strategies like A/B testing. Had they allocated some of their marketing spend to on-site optimization, they could have improved their yearly revenue by several million dollars.
Onsite Optimization and the User Experience
Onsite optimization focuses mainly on the user experience. Is the user able to find what they are looking for or is the functionality of the site causing unnecessary friction?
If you can find ways to improve the user experience, you'll find that your visitor task completion rate increases and that means more money and more leads. But what are the elements that make up what the industry refers to as UX (user experience)? In my opinion, there are five main ingredients:
Let's look briefly at each of these elements.
Most of us will judge a website after a cursory five-second scan. During that time, our brains quickly assess whether the site is trustworthy. A clean professional design is the first step in reducing a visitor's anxiety. As you look at your own website's homepage, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does your homepage look trustworthy? Is the design clean, open, and easy to scan? A clear and easy-to-use navigation, along with a visually appealing design, customer testimonials or reviews, providing contact information, search, and other elements are all signs of a trustworthy design.
2. Does it communicate purpose and function without words? Colors can provide a pleasant user experience and will impact how your brand is thought of, and the fonts and images used can also affect your image to the user. Apple.com is a great example of not utilizing a lot of words, yet still communicating what they do well.
3. Do page elements that are clickable look different than elements that are not clickable? It’s important to ensure the user can easily find and click on certain areas that are clickable and not get confused with other areas that aren’t, but appear to be.
4. Does the homepage communicate your brand? Your logo, color scheme, and copy should all clearly communicate your brand image.
5. Does the homepage design help direct user's attention to the right places, or is attention dispersed among the various page elements? A clear, intuitive design that guides the user’s eyes to the important sections of the page is crucial in conveying trust.
6. Do the colors, fonts, images and shapes help guide visitors in finding what they are looking for? Using the right colors, fonts, images, and shapes can play a significant role in guiding visitors on a homepage to find what they are looking for, greatly enhancing the user experience and increasing engagement.
In a basic sense, web usability refers to how "user friendly" a website is. This includes things like whether the site is responsive (works equally well for desktop and mobile) and whether the navigation is streamlined and helps visitors get to areas that are most important to them.
As you are looking through your website to assess overall usability, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Have you provided everything the user needs to know? Make sure your content is organized in a logical manner, making it easy for users to find what they are looking for, with clear headings, categories, and a search function.
2. Are pages loading fast (Hint: Use Google's PageSpeed Insights tool)? Optimizing images, minimizing code, and using caching techniques to deliver a smooth and quick browsing experience ensures fast loading times.
3. Is there any functionality on the site that can be simplified? Simplifying functionality on your website will improve the user experience, making it easier for users to navigate the site and complete their desired actions.
4. Is your content readable (font, size, contrast)? Thoughtful use of colors, fonts, images, and layouts creates an inviting and engaging vibe, making it more enjoyable for users to explore the website.
5. Does your site function across all devices classes (desktop, tablet, phone)? A user-friendly website design ensures that the website functions and displays properly on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices, providing a consistent user experience.
Copywriting is perhaps the most neglected strategy of every website I assess. It would be a mistake to underestimate the power of words to improve user motivation and decrease purchase anxiety. As you read through the copy on your top web pages, ask yourself the following:
1. Is the copy free of technical/industry jargon? Don’t leave a bad first impression! Use clear language and keep the industry buzzwords offline.
2. Does your copy focus enough on user benefits? You should have a clear value proposition throughout your website.
3. Is your copy clear, direct, simple and functional? Keep it concise and make sure it’s easy to understand and it provides a clear message to your users.
4. Does it inform and educate the user or does it assume they already understand? Good copywriting clearly communicates the purpose of the website and the value of the products or services offered.
5. Is your copy easy to scan (e.g., bullet points) or difficult to wade through (chunks of paragraphs)? Excellent copywriting involves clear and intuitive labels for navigation menus, buttons, and forms, improving the website's usability for a better user experience.
6. Are you clearly organizing page copy using headlines and sub-headlines? This is important because it clearly communicates to the user what the information is about so they don’t have to read further if that’s not what they’re looking for.
There are many subconscious factors that ultimately cause a user to take a specific action on a website. Knowing some basic principles of psychology can help tip the odds in your favor. Here are some basic principles you can use to help better persuade your site visitors:
If you give someone something of value for free, they are more likely to reciprocate and become a customer. Look for opportunities to give away things like whitepapers, selection guides, trial offers, etc.
If you can get a site visitor to make a small initial commitment up front, they are more likely to follow through with a larger commitment later. Brainstorm ways to encourage visitors to make a small commitment (e.g., signing up for a newsletter, sharing content on social media, or getting them to enter a contest.)
As Amazon has proved over the years, third-party product testimonials can be a powerful way to convince consumers to make a purchase. In a study conducted by BrightLocal, it was found that 85% of consumers read up to 10 reviews before they could trust a certain business. Start collecting and posting reviews of your product/service today. It can be a powerful motivating force in the decision-making process.
Authority works at a subconscious level. When we feel a bit uncertain about something, a person of authority can usually tip our thoughts and perceptions quite easily. You can create a sense of authority within your website by using academic titles, listing certifications and using testimonials from legitimate authorities.
Scarcity is a powerful principle that is tied in to our reptilian brain stem, which evolved to serve the needs of survival. When resources are scarce, people can act quite impulsively, leading to irrational behavioral responses. Here are some ways you can use this principle on your own website:
- Limited number – Item is in short supply and won’t be available once it runs out. A limited supply drives up demand and market prices. The scarcity of products boosts their desirability.
- Limited time tactics – Daily deals. Clearly communicate limited-time offers to promote the urgency of making a purchase now.
- Holiday specials – Retail stores have limited time promotions for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and throughout the month of December, including one-day sales and holiday gift sets at discounted prices. These tactics tend to make us buy more than we planned.
- Clearance sales – Another way to use the scarcity principle is through clearance sales. Customers know they must act quickly because these items are usually from past seasons or are no longer being produced. As a result, the stock and sizes available are limited.
- One-of-a-kind specials – Consumers are willing to pay more for a product or service if they believe it’s rare or one of a kind. Psychologically, this is due to our innate competitiveness and desire to obtain resources.
- Anniversary specials – Having an anniversary sale is another way to create scarcity with a time-limited offer.
Analysis and data gathering are critical, not only in creating a new website design, but also in constantly improving your existing site. Here are some ways to analyze and collect data to better understand your current user experience landscape:
1. Use a page-level survey and ask the question, "What prevented you from taking action today?" This will help you identify and better understand the main user frustrations with your website and the barriers as to why they didn’t take the action.
2. Use an exit survey and ask the three greatest survey questions ever devised. Find out why visitors are leaving your website by asking:
- What is the purpose of your visit? Find out why the user was visiting your website in the first place. You can then pinpoint what they were looking for and focus on this aspect of their user experience.
- Were you able to complete the goal of your visit? You can use an exit survey to obtain contact details for future marketing campaigns that will hopefully lead to engagement.
- If not, why? To increase your conversion rates, it’s important to figure out what is stopping users from converting and eliminating those obstacles.
3. Perform a round of usability testing using a third-party tool like TryMyUI. Try five desktop tests and five mobile phone tests to start. This allows you to find out if there are any usability problems that are hindering visitors from experiencing your website as you intended, and you can gather ideas for improving the user experience from this group.
4. When looking at your web analytics data, ignore absolute numbers and concentrate on longer-term trends instead. Focusing only on absolute numbers can be misleading and not provide a complete picture of your website's performance. By analyzing trends over a longer period of time, you will be able to identify patterns in user behavior that can help you make informed decisions to optimize your website for your target audience.
In summary, your marketing strategy should include elements of both traffic acquisition and onsite optimization strategies. Spending large amounts of money to drive people to an under-optimized website is not a smart marketing strategy. Start evaluating your user experience today and put a plan in place to make UX improvement a daily part of your marketing efforts.
When websites are not user-friendly, they can lead to frustration and reduced conversion rates. To improve this, we use various tools to gather important user metrics. By analyzing user behavior and motivations, we will create a plan to enhance the user experience on your website. Our user experience services utilize a variety of qualitative and quantitative data sources and work with your marketing team to put an effective strategy in place.
Contact us today and we’ll evaluate your website's user experience and discuss ways to improve it. We look forward to speaking with you on how users can have the best experience on your website!