I’ve written a lot about user experience over the years: how to improve user experience, when to implement it, and how to test for it.
If you owned a brick-and-mortar store, you would worry about things like end cap displays, signage, aisle navigation, and sales support. Those things matter online, too, except they’re more difficult to observe and track without specialized tools.
Many marketers turn instead to guesswork, making suppositions based on other companies’ data or their knowledge of their audiences.
That might work. But it’s just as likely to leave you with low conversion rates and poor sales.
At Crazy Egg, we offer tools that allow you to look over your customers’ shoulders — but not in a creepy way. Instead, we enable you to take snapshots and recordings of website visitor activity, then draw conclusions about that data.
Where do users click most often? When do they stop scrolling? And what referral sources drive the most traffic — and the highest quality traffic?
Seeing points of engagement based on actual visitors’ behaviors can open up a whole new world of data.
So, let’s dig into the best ways to improve user experience and how it all ties together with conversions and sales.
Here’s what I’ll cover today:
What Is User Experience?
More specifically, user experience defines users’ impressions of your website or other application based on how easy and pleasant it is to use. When you improve UX, you create a more desirable place for customers to interact with your brand.
When you improve user experience, you reduce friction between your website and your target audience.
For instance, if you streamline the checkout process, visitors will find themselves more likely to buy your products. They don’t feel like they have to jump through proverbial hoops to buy products or services they desire.
I’m known for creating simple, easy-to-navigate websites that focus specifically on conversions. I post a ton of content for free on my blogs, but I also provide plenty of opportunities for visitors to get in touch with me, give me their contact information, or set up a meeting with my team.
Here’s the homepage for Quicksprout:
You only see the information necessary for users to navigate to another part of the site or convert on the offer.
This doesn’t mean you have to take a minimalist approach to web design. However, UX best practices involve paring down the information you present to visitors so they don’t get distracted or confused.
The Importance of Improving Your User Experience (UX)
When you improve user experience, you help guide your website visitors through the conversion funnel. Customers encounter fewer obstacles on their way to make a purchase.
The conversion funnel turns prospects into leads and leads into customers.
A prospect visits your website for the first time. He or she might read a blog post or poke around the main navigation pages. If that person has a favorable impression of your business, he or she might follow you on social or sign up for your email list.
Once you have the prospect’s contact information, you have a lead. You can begin nurturing that customer toward a purchase by providing exceptional value through tips, advice, discounts, and free tools.
If you haven’t take the time to improve user experience, however, your prospect or lead might grow cold. He or she decides not to give your business more time — or money — because of friction that person encountered while navigating your website and other online presences.
Why is User Experience Important?
According to Braga and Teixeira, consumers have come to expect immediacy and ease of use. They’re easily frustrated by obstacles like product backlots and feature update announcements that never come to pass.
User experience goes well beyond a pretty web design. If your website doesn’t give users what they expect and help them make choices that are best for them, you’ll likely lose revenue.
More importantly, brand credibility and recognition have become increasingly important among consumers. They look for things like social proof even if they don’t know what it’s called. Failing to publish testimonials and other evidence of brand popularity can hurt you.
UX has also become more granular. Adding just one unnecessary field to your checkout form can result in abandoned shopping carts. You have less than one minute to hook your visitor, but even if you’re successful, you can lose the sale because of UX obstacles.
User experience is important because it provides insights into what customers want and expect from your website. Failing to deliver can prove disastrous for your brand, so you have to pay attention to the smaller details as well as the big picture.
UX Generalists VS User Experience Specialists
You don’t have to learn how to improve user experience on your own. UX generalists and UX specialists consult with businesses to improve user experience and generate more conversions.
A UX specialist has an incredible degree of mastery over one area of UX, such as website design or conversion funnel optimization. He or she will focus on that one area to help you improve the user experience for everyone who visits your site.
UX generalists have broader knowledge, but they’re not skilled in one particular area. They take a more holistic view of user experience, helping you improve and tighten each aspect of your website’s form and function to maximize conversions.
You can do this yourself using a tool like Crazy Egg, which provides several ways to make snapshots and recordings of visitor activity on your site.
A Crazy Egg List report, for instance, gives you a broad overview of areas on your website that receive clicks. You can see what type of element each line is (such as a link or form) and its percentage of clicks relative to the rest of the page.
If you find yourself stuck, you can hire a generalist or specialist to help you overcome specific obstacles.
My advice is to work with a generalist first — someone who has broader knowledge of user experience. Ask that professional to recommend a specialist if you have a deeper problem with some aspect of UX.
If you’re using Crazy Egg, ask those professionals if they have experience with the tool before you hire them. That way, your working relationship can progress more easily.
How to Improve User Experience and Get More Conversions
If you’re just starting to improve user experience across your site, you might feel overwhelmed. Don’t panic. Take the process one step at a time and give each area of your site your full attention until you’re satisfied with its appeal to your target audience.
I’ve compiled a guide to helping you improve user experience without hiring a professional. Save money and boost conversions so your business continues to grow.
Many websites put more than one CTA right next to or on top of another. That can confuse readers and reduce clicks for both CTAs because the user doesn’t know what you’re asking him or her to do.
If you run a heat map on your website, such as the examples above, you don’t want to see too much clicking activity in adjacent elements. You can see above that the clicks center around the logo and the primary CTA. There are also bright spots on the navigation links.
If we were to add another CTA below the main one, you’d likely see dimmer spots in both areas.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t include multiple CTAs on a page. If you have a long-form blog, landing page, or sales page, adding intermittent CTAs can help boost conversions.
In the screenshot above, you can see activity in the heatmap on two separate CTAs. They’re not right on top of each other, though. They’re separated by lots of copy and sidebar elements.
The corresponding scrollmap on the left shows why we chose to put the second CTA where it is. People stop scrolling at that point, so we want to get another opportunity to convert the user.
Break up elements into separate parts
It’s easy to look at a website and see the whole picture, but what about the smaller parts? Every element on your website has several distinct areas on which users might be clicking.
This is a Crazy Egg Overlay report. Each plus sign indicates an area of user activity. This is just a simple web form, but there are seven distinct areas.
You can select each plus sign to figure out exactly how many clicks you’re getting. For instance, if we discovered that the graphic in the middle of the form was getting more clicks than anything else, we would want to make sure the image was hyperlinked to a valuable page — such as a landing page.
Gain a deep understanding of how people are navigating and clicking
The best way to improve user experience is to understand user behavior. If you don’t know what people do when they arrive on your website, how can you optimize for future visitors?
Scrollmaps, for instance, show you were on a long-form page people stop scrolling. You can see where the activity begins to taper off.
This long screenshot shows you varying levels of engagement, but you’ll notice that the truly “hot” areas stop pretty quickly. That’s likely because users find something interesting at the top of the blog feed and click. They have no reason to scroll.
Looking more closely at individual areas of your scrollmap can reveal more insights. Here, we have a little green at the top of the screenshot, followed by an ocean of blue.
Notice that there’s a CTA right there at the top. It’s a strategic area because we know that many people have scrolled down to that point, but that activity tapers sharply right there.
You need this same granular insight for your own website. User behavior should dictate user experience — you can’t have it the other way around.
Identify the potential changes and improvements with testing
You can run heatmaps, scrollmaps, confetti maps, overlay reports, list reports, and other snapshots with Crazy Egg, but you also have to do something about the results. Once you’ve compiled data, start A/B testing each area to figure out what works best.
If you generate an overlay report, you’ll see exactly how many elements you can potentially A/B test.
Here, we have a screenshot of a sidebar element with links to individual guides. Each one has a blue plus sign, so we know there’s click activity on each element.
You could A/B test shortening the list to determine whether you improve user experience by concentrating flow through your website and reducing choices. Without this report, though, you wouldn’t know what to test.
But don’t stop there. What if you reordered the list of guides. Figure out which guides are getting the most clicks, then move them to the top of the list. Based on the number of clicks, you know which links are most attractive to your users.
Check out this video I made to caution businesses against redesigning their websites. I offer an attractive alternative that can help optimize conversions and reduce your headaches.
Optimize the most important pages
Priorities are essential when you start to improve user experience. The most important pages might include your homepage, landing pages, sales pages, about page, and contact page.
It varies from one business to another. If you’re in e-commerce, for instance, starting with the sales pages might prove more prudent.
Begin with one page, run the reports, and start A/B testing. Focus on one area at a time. After you’ve optimized the most important page, continue moving down the list.
Will it take time? Yes. Improving UX can’t happen overnight because you need hard data if you want to make sound decisions.
Improve your customer service
I can’t emphasize customer service enough. If you don’t impress your prospects with quick action, kind treatment, and helpful tools, they’ll defect to the competition.
However, we often think of customer service in terms of that 800 number you call when a product arrives damaged at your home. Or you might think of your last visit to a department store.
What you might not realize is that you can improve customer service by improving user experience.
At Crazy Egg, we have an extensive help section. There are FAQs, video demos, and more to help our customers find answers to their questions.
It might seem like a simple thing, but it saves our customers from having to call or email us with questions they can answer on their own.
How to Use Crazy Egg Tools to Improve UX
I’ve covered lots of information about using Crazy Egg to improve user experience, but I want to touch on one other feature that might give you even more insight into your user base.
A user recording provides you with a glimpse into a single user’s activity while on your site. You’ll see exactly how the user interacts with your website, from clicks and scrolling to filling in form fields.
Recordings help complement the reports we provide by helping you understand blockages. For instance, if you’re experiencing lots of abandoned shopping carts, you might want to begin recordings on the checkout page.
You can see how far users get in filling out the checkout forms. If you notice that users balk during a particular part of the process, you can look into the issue more deeply to discover the root of the problem.
Consider how much more revenue you could drive by improving user experience and ushering more customers through the checkout process.
I’m passionate about user experience for two reasons:
- I like growth and revenue. I’m always competing to get to the top, so I’ll do anything to make sure my businesses are growing and generating more conversions.
- I care about my prospects and customers. I want them to enjoy interacting with my website and team.
If you adopt those same priorities, UX will become more clear. You’ll know what steps you need to take to boost conversions and help people feel more at home on your website.
Here’s a handy checklist to help you remember some of the finer points I’ve made:
- Separate CTAs
- Break up elements into separate parts
- Gain a deep understanding of how people are navigating and clicking
- Identify the potential changes and improvements with testing
- Optimize the most important pages
- Improve your customer service
Start with these building blocks, combining Crazy Egg tools with other customer data to figure out what you need to change or test to improve user experience.