Updated September 21, 2022

As marketers, ecommerce managers, and merchandisers, we keep a watchful eye on our messaging, pitches, and style guides, but are we addressing our customers’ underlying user experience questions when they visit our websites?

Well-defined customer personas help us dial in our voice and value proposition with laser focus. Shopping platform plugins are implemented to boost lifetime value (LTV), average order value (AOV), and lots of other acronyms. However, the question remains. Are we putting the proper emphasis on user experience?

While all of these metrics are important for providing a consistent brand experience for prospects and customers, they can be rendered ineffective by simple design mistakes.

Before your customers even have a chance to learn the merits of your product or service, within milliseconds, they’re making snap judgments while trying to figure out how to use your website. Good design decisions reduce friction and frustration and ensure that your message lands every time.

*COVID-19 + User Experience Update

Corona Virus has affected many aspects of business today. Should user experience updates be made as a result?Have conversion optimization best practices shifted much during COVID-19? Not much. The fundamentals of UX and consumer psychology still apply. There are, however, some important notes to keep in mind when testing and optimizing a site with regards to the coronavirus.

COVID-19 only needs to be addressed if operations are tangibly effected. A banner at the top of the site denoting delivery updates for a local produce subscription makes sense and is helpful to users. The same banner at the top of a SaaS company website, not as much.

There is no need to distract a user who may have otherwise been motivated to convert.

If your response to COVID-19 doesn’t effect operations significantly but speaks to your core values or a unique selling point of your business, try A/B testing your messaging. Keep in mind any changes you test will likely be most impactful near where users are making decisions, like near an add-to-cart button, form submission, or similar.

Be transparent about availability and shipping times. Users are understanding of delayed shipping times and availability issues. Shipping delays can be communicated either sitewide in a banner or on product pages. Communicating shipping delays upfront can reduce order cancellations.

With widespread supply chain issues, many retailers are experiencing stock issues. Product availability should be visible on the product list page and users should be able to filter for only in-stock products. Making users click into a product only to find out it is not in-stock is a bad experience.

To capture some lost revenue for out-of-stock products, consider offering a pre-order option for popular out-of-stock products. Alternatively (or in addition) to preorder, offer users the option to sign up for alerts when the product is back in stock. This is a great way to build email and phone lists.

7 User Experience Questions Your Customers are Asking

In the rest of this post, we review seven common questions that your customers are asking when they first arrive at your site (whether consciously or subconsciously) and how those questions impact your site design and overall user experience.

If the answer to any of these questions is unclear, you have identified an area for user experience optimization.

Question 1: “What Am I Supposed to Do on This Page?”

Common Design Mistake: Unclear Call to Action

cell phone display webpage with image attributes and call to action at the bottomThe call to action (CTA) is the primary action that you want the user to take on the page.

For example, on a product page, the CTA would likely be the “Add to Cart” button. On a landing page for a lead generation site, the primary CTA could be to start a form submission or make a phone call. For the homepage of an ecommerce site, it might be to click on the top navigation or visual navigation.

Think about the action you want users to be taking on the page you’re optimizing.

Best practices:

Question 2: “What Am I Supposed to Do First?”

Design Mistake: Too Many Choices

People are less likely to make a decision if they are overwhelmed with choices. High-converting pages limit choices to a few clear options and clearly display the relevant details of each choice. Overwhelming your customers with options may seem like a good idea but will ultimately not benefit your conversion rate.

Best practices:

Question 3: “Where Do I Focus?”

Design Mistake: Visual Distractions

Similar to overwhelming your customer with choices, you can overwhelm them with visuals. Keeping the site visually uncluttered guides users to taking the desired action.
cell phone displaying image attributes

Best practices:

Question 4: “Does This Page Contain What I Expected It To?”

Design Mistake: Not Keeping Your Promises

Chances are, most of your users aren’t visiting your site by random chance. Most visitors likely clicked on an organic or paid link in a search engine, an ad on social media, or a link on another site. What language, verbiage, and promotions are you using in upstream marketing? Does that match what is communicated on your landing page?

Best practices:

Question 5: “Do You Really Expect Me to Read All This?”

Design Mistake: Too Much Text

It takes 0.05 seconds for users to form an impression of your site and 2.6 seconds for a user’s eyes to settle on one section of the page. During a study where participants were asked how they formed their impressions of webpages, only 6% of the feedback was about the actual content on the page.

Move long-form text to detail and informational pages. Focus on marrying headlines, calls to action, and critical information with solid visual design.

For more information, check out this great blog post from Conversion XL.

Best practices:

Question 6: “Why Should I Give You All This Information?”

Design Mistake: Asking for Too Much Information

It is difficult to avoid the temptation of asking your visitors and users for more information like job titles, phone numbers, how they found you, etc. Each additional piece of information that you ask from users can decrease your conversion rates. This effect is especially strong if you are not a household brand.

Avoid asking for any information that isn’t absolutely necessary. Ask for information as late in the funnel as possible.

Best practices:

Question 7: “Why Should I Trust You?”

Design Mistake: Lack of Trust and Credibility

If the user is not already familiar with your brand, it is all the more important to communicate the trustworthiness of your site on the landing page. Consistent modern design and social proof like reviews and testimonials will build trust with your users.

Best practices:

Questions Answered = Less Friction

If you happen to be in the middle a redesign or replatform project for your site, now is the perfect time to factor these very important user experience questions in to your layout. If your site’s design is set in stone, there’s always a little room for some extra chiseling.

And if you’re somewhere in the middle like most of us, any time is good time to review these user experience questions to see whether your site is presenting subconscious friction to new visitors. Give your content a jumpstart by eliminating barriers to entry!

But don’t just take your word for it or your employees’ word for it. Utilize user experience testing with individuals that match your target customers. This can be done in person or remotely using various testing methodologies and services.

This type of feedback can be invaluable, especially when you are intimately familiar with your site (which can lead to issue blindness). A true, first-time instinctual reaction is where you’ll get the most useful answers to the seven questions detailed above.

Looking for more content on conversion rate optimization? We’ve got you covered! Check out some of our CRO resources below:

 

Updated January 13, 2021