Absolutely yes. Let’s start from the very beginning:
When we think of UX (User Experience), we think of design, and when we think of design, many clients will roll their eyes. What does a visually pleasing website have to do with generating leads or making sales?
And I don’t blame them. With the concept of UX becoming ubiquitous and perhaps even a buzzword, many websites are optimizing design so that the user has a pleasant experience while browsing their online property. This process costs money and doesn’t always correlate to a bump in leads or sales. Wonderful if you want your product to look good but let’s say you’re selling plumbing services.
Who cares if a button adheres to best practices?
Just what you needed — a dark mode plumbing button, said no one ever.
Let’s start by defining what UX is. Here are some definitions from some sources which hit the mark:
- The goal of good UX is to help users do what they want to do when interacting with your business. (Google)
- User experience (UX) design is the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. (Interaction Design Foundation)
- And of course, Wikipedia: The user experience (UX or UE) is how a user interacts with and experiences a product, system or service. It includes a person’s perceptions of utility, ease of use, and efficiency.
Notice that there’s nothing in those definitions about buttons, aesthetics, or trendy colour palettes. Those components (or UI (User Interface) elements) play a part but don’t tell the whole story. Nobody buys a pickup truck solely based on how many flame decals they can fit on the side panel. Instead, potential customers look at how much that truck can pull and if it’s easy for the customer to do so.
Apply that same analogy to websites. For most clients, the website experience is less about those flame stickers and more about getting the user to do what they want. If the gears aren’t turning yet, here’s some grease to get them going: If executed correctly, proper UX can make or break the number of conversion or sales metrics that you are looking for. A website designed without the user in mind is heading for disaster.
Designing With the User in Mind To Capture Sales and Conversions
Okay, so we know what UX is — a combination of design and UI elements that help the user along on your website. How does that translate to leads or sales?
Think about your favourite product. Why do you like it? Why do you prefer that one over the hundred others that claim to do the same thing?
I like to eat at Chipotle. Is it because they have the best burritos on the block? No, taste is secondary. This is why I go there:
Source: Business Insider
Look at all those neatly ordered trays. My inner OCD is very satisfied.
I know exactly what I am getting because I see all my options in neat, ordered blocks. They construct my burrito right in front of me, in real-time, while moving me down the line in an orderly fashion. They make the act of ordering fast food borderline pleasurable as I part from my money. Many restaurants have adopted this type of line ordering system, but Chipotle is top-tier when it comes to efficiency and presentation.
This is UX. UX is not just about digital products but applies to everything you see, from doors to cars. The biggest companies have poured millions of dollars into this research, so they stand out from their competitors and grab precious, hard-fought market share.
You don’t need to spend millions of dollars to get UX working for you. You can always call us at TechWyse to spot UX problems and solve them, but I’ve also highlighted some best practices* below that should empower you to immediately boost sales and conversions.
Listing every UX best practice is out of scope of this blog post and to be honest, other websites provide exhaustive primers and courses to make you an expert. I’ve provided a cheat sheet below what I think is most critical to get you started on your journey.
4 Critical UX Best Practices
1. Research Sounds Boring but is Secretly Your Best Friend
No, I’m not talking about arranging ten rounds of focus groups and shuffling through everyone’s opinion to find consensus (Note: I’m not knocking rigorous UX research. If you have the resources for that, more power to you!). It can be as simple as asking a family member or a friend about what they think of your current website or a new mockup you’re developing.
Soliciting opinions might seem intuitive, but you would be surprised at how often people neglect to ask outside of their immediate circle. Humans, and designers, in particular, are prone to think that what we create is what users want. Here’s a recent example on WhatsApp:
Everyone’s imagination in this group chat is running wild!
Yikes! Instead of deleting the message, the message is actually being blocked. Now you look like you have something juicy to hide and are bringing attention to what you’re trying to do. A little bit of research would have solved this problem with the majority of people saying, “Yeah, this is awful.”
Here are some quick tips to get you started off on the right foot when researching:
- Start the process early: The earlier you start to solicit opinions, the easier it is to pivot. It’s a mood killer when you find out that a feature is no good at the end of a production cycle.
- Talk to potential customers about your website: Who better to ask than people who would consider buying your product? Although getting opinions from colleagues may be helpful, it’s the customer’s perspective you want to capture.
- Try some A/B testing: For the uninitiated, this sounds daunting, but all it really is comparing two versions and seeing which version gets a better response. UX isn’t as straightforward as math. Doing some testing will help you decide with data instead of grasping for straws in the dark.
2. Design for Mobile
Mobile, mobile, mobile. Did I say mobile enough times? With the majority of web traffic coming through mobile (source) devices, it might be common sense to design a website optimized for these handheld devices we are staring at far too often these days. Nothing turns off a user and potential conversion faster than a poorly designed website that has mobile responsiveness as an afterthought.
Common offenders include tiny fonts, untappable buttons, and navigation menus that boggle the mind. The cure for this is simple: Design for responsiveness (popup) first because although you may be using your desktop at work, most people are visiting your website on their phone.
Have fun trying to tap the links on the side or read the navigation menu without a microscope. (Source)
Not having your website optimized for mobile is a kiss of death, especially with Google’s core web vitals released in May 2021. Consider it a red flag when a designer does not hand over a mobile wireframe to you.
3. Build a Prototype or Staging Site
For a website launch, you do not want to do it live. Instead, you want to create a staging site first. A staging site is a living, breathing, and constantly evolving prototype where you do all your changes and experiments on. The live site is what your potential customers see, which is a static and polished sales/lead generation machine.
Imagine running a high-end restaurant and having your chef not taste anything before sending it out to customers. Making changes to a live site is equivalent to hoping for the best. You can do better than that through prototypes. Get your developer to make you one so you can fiddle with it to your heart’s content and to also make sure that all bugs are squashed and friction points eliminated. You want your final product to be as close as possible to perfect.
4. Keeping It Simple Is Hard Unless You Use Design Patterns
You’re excited. You finally have the budget for that new website launch, and you want all the bells and whistles and tell your customer every single thing that is wonderful about your product.
Hold on there cowboy, let’s pull back a little. There’s nothing worse than browsing a website with no clear design pattern. Scattered buttons, random links, and confusing copy are just the beginning of someone’s fever dream of what they thought a website should look like.
There’s a reason why most websites these days look the same. Users have been trained with common design patterns which they are used to. Take a look at the example below:
This layout should be familiar if you have browsed the Internet at all in the past year. (Source)
This page should look familiar to everyone because it is a common design pattern. You have your hero image, header copy that has your value proposition, and of course, your call to action button. This is an established design pattern that works and doesn’t require research or testing. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, look into design patterns to save yourself some time and headache. Here are some good design patterns from Hubspot to get you started.
Aside from design patterns, less is more. Clutter looks bad, and websites are no exception. Do some research to determine if that extra paragraph of copy is necessary or if that stale meme really works with your e-commerce site.
So That’s UX in a Nutshell
There’s a lot more UX out there, but these should get you pointed in the right direction.
For you digital marketing keeners, you may be thinking, “This sure does sound familiar to Conversion Rate Optimization” …and you would be right. There is a direct relationship between UX and CRO in the sense that with both methods, you’re trying to get users to act in the way you want them to. However, there is a fair bit of nuance between both concepts, which I will cover in my next post, so stay tuned and keep your eye on user experience!
Looking for experts to hone in on your UX problems and do the heavy lifting for you? Contact TechWyse today and set up a strategy session to make sure your customers are getting the best possible experience out of your website!