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Paul Thornton - Friday 30th October 2020


The Real Impact Of UX On CRO: The “What” & “Why”

Whenever we discuss website performance, we tend to see a lot of parallels between conversion rate optimisation and user experience. It does seem like CRO and UX are interchangeable as they both seek to help users do things easily and use many of the same tools to achieve that goal. However, they are not one and the same as they also have many differences.

Despite these differences, CRO and UX complement each other very well. Before we find out how these two methodologies work together, let’s learn what UX and CRO are and what they are not.

The Basics Of UX and CRO

To understand how CRO and UX operate together, we need to define each term first. I’ll quickly do that below, so at least we can agree that we’re talking about the same things.

CRO

Conversion Rate Optimisation is the process of designing a site that increases the percentage of visitors that become subscribers or customers. Let me give you an example.

Let’s imagine that you have a landing page where site visitors could sign up for your email newsletter. As you look through the site traffic, you see that over 1,000 users have gone on the landing page in the past 24 hours, yet you only have 10 new newsletter subscribers. You have a conversion rate of 1%.

When you do CRO, you make changes to the site that increases the conversion rate to 2% or more. For example, you could make the call-to-action button more visible by using a colour that contrasts with the rest of the landing page, change the image into something that’s easier on the eyes, or replace the blocks of copy with just a few lines that go straight to the point.

Seobility
Source: Seobility

CRO uses techniques such as A/B testing, form analytics, and visitor recordings to trace the behaviour of website users who are more likely to become customers. You then use these insights to make changes to a page, hoping to improve the conversion rate.

UX

User Experience focuses on what users need, what they can do, and what they cannot do when they use a website. A UX team’s job is to ensure that the website is intuitive, which is another way of saying that the design considers how users are more likely to behave when they land on a page. It is also aimed at improving the site’s accessibility. Improving site accessibility includes putting specific elements where users expect those elements to be placed and reduce confusion among site visitors.

UX designers use various tools, like heat maps, user feedback, and usability studies, to gain insights. Comprehensive knowledge of usability can provide significant insights into what actions you could take to improve the customer experience.

For example, a groundbreaking study found out that users tend to look at websites from left to right and from top to bottom as if their eyes were making an “F” shape-pattern on the page. If you understand this, you can design a page that accounts for this action.

Flickr
Source: Flickr

UX involves not just the design of the site but also the flow of the experience. For example, trying to get a visitor’s personal information might feel like an unnecessary request during a purchase. A potential customer might decide to leave your site before making a purchase. If you understand this, you could remove the input fields. This would improve the conversion rate.

You can probably see why the terms UX and CRO get muddled up so often.

3 Reasons Why UX Is Key In CRO

When visitors land on your website, they expect it to be functional, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to use. Their experience with your site plays a major role in their decision to become your customer. Here are three ways UX supports your CRO initiatives.

UX gives you insight into user behaviour.

Before you implement changes to your site, you need to justify why your site needs to be changed in the first place. Short of sending surveys to every person who visits your site (and getting responses from all of them), doing UX research is the most reliable way of tracking and analysing user behaviour.

For instance, if your CTA button is located at the bottom of the landing page, using heat maps could tell you the exact moment a site visitor stops scrolling down and exits the page instead. From there, you could start identifying the possible causes for such an action, such as a link to your home page, misleading copy, or social proof content that covers the CTA.

Once you analyse the data you collect, you can use it to determine the next course of action, such as removing the elements that lead the visitor outside the page. UX takes a lot of the guesswork out of doing CRO.

UX aligns website design with your business goals.

Good website design focuses on the site owner’s business goals, whether they involve sales, subscriptions, or a consultation. UX strategy considers these goals during the different website design stages, such as wireframing, colours, branding, and conversion point positioning.

Before defining a UX strategy, you need to understand the purpose of the website and what the user should do when they visit. You then continue by defining the desired user outcome: a purchase, a download, or a registration for a virtual event. After defining the desired user action, you can design a UX that makes it easy for the user to get to the conversion point.

Your website design, user experience, and business goals should all be aligned. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a very expensive website that doesn’t yield the results you desire.

UX shows what makes users fill out forms.

I’ve never met anyone who likes filling in forms. However, they are just impossible to avoid – especially in the world of B2B email marketing, which depends a lot on opt-in forms to get site visitors to submit email addresses. Performing UX optimisation on these forms will help improve form conversion rates.

Most of the time, an opt-in form comes with some sort of offer. For example, a content upgrade could include a free trial of a service, a free software download, or exclusive content. Users will choose to fill out a form if the offer is appealing enough, or the form isn’t that difficult to fill out. However, many landing pages fail to convert even with a great offer, most probably because the opt-in process is not user-friendly.

Other pages that do not offer anything free, using UX principles to design registration or opt-in forms, might mean the difference between getting subscribers and pushing them away. Facebook was very successful in attracting new users at the start because it only had eight fields in its form, and users found it easy to accomplish it:

Facebook Registration
Source: Flickr

Using UX tools will allow you to detect where users decide not to push through with the registration process. For example, a date field might be very difficult to populate, or a question might be too complicated to answer. These same tools will also be able to help you fix your online forms and determine your next steps.

Why UX And CRO Should Go Hand In Hand

Now we’ve defined CRO and UX. I want to discuss how to improve the relationship between these branches of marketing. It could be described as a cycle, starting with defining business goals, followed by CRO optimisation, and culminating with UX optimisation. Then the cycle begins all over again.

Within this cycle, CRO and UX must go hand in hand to ensure that a page or site is high-converting and responsive to the user’s needs. These are not always the same. Here are some reasons UX and CRO should go together:

  1. UX allows you to gather user requirements: While CRO is heavily focused on how a site converts, UX deals with why visitors choose to convert. This is mainly built on understanding user requirements and pain points and focuses mainly on providing meaningful interactions with your site.
  2. UX reduces the need for random tests: CRO techniques sometimes involve changing random values and elements. However, UX eliminates this step by providing you with actionable insights based on the way visitors use your site, usually in the form of concrete metrics.
  3. UX helps you optimise for different devices: The number of mobile users will overtake desktop users in 2020. UX plays a major role in ensuring that users experience your site most properly for their chosen platform. For example, even if they visit the same site, iPad users on Safari expect a different set of behaviours and responses than Windows 10 users browsing with Chrome.
  4. CRO tools enhance the UX design process: Many CRO teams use visitor recordings and heat maps, which influence UX design by emphasising certain elements that need to be changed. Additionally, CRO teams can collect data from A/B testing to identify solutions that work, which UX designers can then use to develop visitor workflows that are not just intuitive but also high-conversion.

Coming up with a UX strategy that closely works with your CRO initiatives will help your site accomplish its business goals and increase revenues.

5 Powerful Ways To Improve Your CRO With These UX Tips

Since your online business depends a lot on maintaining good conversion rates, you need to start using UX principles to influence your CRO. As we’ve found in the previous sections, a CRO strategy that incorporates UX design elements will help your site visitors get to where you need them to go easily, increasing their chances of converting into customers.

Here are five ways you could harness the power of UX to improve your conversion rates:

1. Publish readable content

Most people associate UX with the design of a page; however, the content you post on your site will also affect the way your leads interact with your brand. If a user doesn’t understand what you’ve posted on your site, they are less likely to take the action you want them to take.

Just because your users are more likely to skim through your content doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put a lot of thought into your content. Make your content easy to read. Use commonly used fonts. Make sure the font is large enough to be easy to read.

2. Declutter the page to reduce user friction

Landing pages have just one goal: to get their visitors to convert. When a landing page features many distractions, these unneeded features take away the visitor’s attention from the desired action. Examples of these distractions include links to the company home page or social sites. The only solution to this problem is to declutter the page.

Why does decluttering work? From a UX perspective, whenever a user encounters an external link, they need to decide whether to click on it, which slows down the visitor flow; it could also lead to the user leaving the page altogether. Removing external links removes other decision points from the equation and ensures that the only decision a user has to make happens when conversion.

You could also apply these principles to pages that aren’t landing pages. When you search for “site audit,” for example, you’ll find a link to SEMRush’s site audit service right away, and that link leads to this page:

SEMRush Site Audit
Source: SEMRush

You can see that while there are many external links on the page, they are mostly on the left side of the screen and cannot be read easily. The content that matters, on the other hand, occupies a prominent space in the middle of the screen, and the CTA button is in a different colour, which means a user is more likely to click on “Start Audit” than to visit other pages within the domain.

3. Speed up your site

UX includes all aspects of your site visitors’ experience with your site, and the site loading speed is one of the factors visitors consider as they decide to stay or leave. As early as 2009, we’ve already known that a large percentage of consumers refuse to wait longer than 3 seconds for a page to load fully.

Now that a slight majority of internet users access sites through mobile devices, they still have the same three-second threshold for page loading speed. If a site takes longer than three seconds to load, your visitors might think that the rest of their experience will be slow. For this reason, they might abandon your site.

CRO and UX designers could make several changes to your site, such as reducing image size, removing redundant code, and improving server response times. These changes could result in higher page loading speeds and better conversion rates.

4. Add video to your landing page.

If your landing page has a lot of text, especially if they offer a very detailed unique value proposition, maybe it’s time to shift to video. Using videos on your site will help you convey the maximum amount of information in the lowest possible amount of time.

Videos work because our minds receive and process images and sound quicker than text. Instead of forcing the lead to imagine how your product can help them, a video that shows the solution in action puts them in the middle of the situation. It is the closest you can get to doing a product demo in front of the lead.

You need to be careful about the type and length of videos you post, though. We recommend posting videos that are 90 seconds long at most — just enough time to capture your audience’s attention without boring them out of their wits.

5. Place your CTA buttons strategically.

The positioning of your CTA buttons influences your customers’ experience of your site. If the CTAs are hard to find or click, it will not just affect your UX but also drag down your conversion rates. Because the CTA button is often the last step towards a conversion, you need to place them where the user can find them right away.

UX designers often talk about “the fold”. There’s nothing mystical about the term – it just refers to that imaginary line on the screen that divides everything you see without scrolling down and the things you could only see when you scroll down. Site visitors are more likely to read and interact with content above the fold, and this content includes CTAs.

The easier it is to find your CTA buttons, the more likely your page will yield conversions. If your visitors have to scroll down to click on a button, they are more likely not to click at all. Put them where visitors can see them right away — which is above the fold.

Bottomline

The acronyms CRO and UX have been so intertwined that many people tend to mistake one for the other. While they do have many things in common, they also have different sets of tools and practices.

Despite these differences, CRO and UX teams should work hand-in-hand to develop user experiences that result in site visitors making a purchase, downloading content, or registering for an email newsletter. These include creating site layouts that follow the way a user reads content online, improving the website’s loading speed, increasing the size of text, and finding a strategic position for CTA buttons.

It all begins with creating clear definitions of your business goals, removing everything that doesn’t contribute towards achieving those goals, and building a path through your site that leads to the CTA. When you take care of your site’s UX, your visitors are more likely to convert.

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