April 24, 2018

The Ultimate Guide To Improving Website UX and Conversion [11 Actionable Tips]

So you’ve been dominating the marketing game—creating industry-leading content, optimizing your website’s technical SEO, and driving tons of traffic to your site.

Good for you!

But there’s one problem:

The form submissions just aren’t rolling in and all your new traffic isn’t translating to tangible business results.

What gives!?

Well, it seems as if your website is struggling in the conversion department.

This is a common issue in the world of digital marketing, and fortunately it’s one that can be rectified if you know what you’re doing.

The “know what you’re doing” part is what this post is all about: You’ll walk away with everything you need to know to turn your website into a conversion and lead generation machine!

Let’s get started!

What is UX and how does it impact conversion?

In order to understand why a website isn’t converting as much as you’d like, it’s important to have a handle on the meaning of User Experience (UX), and how UX impacts your site’s likelihood of converting a given user.

[Before we get too far: Feel like you have a solid handle on the definition of UX and the metrics used to analyze it? Skip straight to the tips!]

See what I did there? I improved the UX of this piece by giving expert readers an opportunity to skip straight to the actionable tips. Pretty cool, huh?

As you’ve probably guessed by now, UX—as it pertains to your website—is a term to describe how a user feels when interacting with your site.

Later on, we’ll talk about some tools you can use to generate data that can give you great insights on your site’s UX.

But it’s also important to note that you can do a high-level analysis of your site’s UX by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  1. How do users feel when they navigate my website?
  2. Is my website easy to use?
  3. Is my website portraying a clear idea to users of how my company can help them?
  4. Does my website make it easy to get in contact and request my services?

These are just some of the questions you should be mindful of when building and/or managing your website.

At the most basic level, they can help you form a baseline for the type of site and user experience you want to create, based on what your website is built to achieve.

As you can see, the concepts of UX and conversion are incredibly interconnected:

UX encompasses all user behavior from the time a user gets to your site to the time they fill out a contact form (or leave without doing so).

Which Metrics Matter when it comes to UX?

Now that we know about the basics of UX, we can focus on maximizing our knowledge of the data linked to it.

UX can’t be measured with one number: There’s no magic UX metric or user experience signal that provides every answer you could possibly need.

However, there are metrics that provide a window into how your website is performing and how user perceptions may be shaping its conversion rates.

Before we start, it’s important to note that UX metrics and marketing metrics are not the same thing.

Even so, metrics that track the nature and quantity of site interactions go a long way in demonstrating user behavior on a given website—which in turn gives us insights to address when optimizing for conversion.

Let’s explore some of the most compelling metrics:

Pageviews

Think about it:

If a user visits multiple pages on your site, something is keeping them there.

Generally (but not always), more pageviews means users are actively engaging with your website.

The “not always” part: If your pageviews are high and your conversion rates are low, it could mean that your website is built in a confusing way, pushing users from page to page in search of the information they need.

Dwell time

Dwell time is a different metric from pageviews in that it factors in the total time a user spends on a given website before returning to SERPs, rather than the amount of total pages a viewer visits.

Higher dwell time is a positive ranking factor, and it’s an integral part of Google’s RankBrain machine learning algorithm.

But since we’re not talking about SEO here, it’s also important to note that Google perceives higher dwell time as correlated to a better user experience.

If that’s how Google feels, that’s probably how you should too.

Time on page

Time on page is a very similar metric to dwell time, but it refers to the total amount of time users spend on your site between interactions before going anywhere else, whereas dwell time only kicks in as a metric if users return to SERPs after viewing your site.

The UX implications are the same, however. More time on page means a higher level of engagement and a higher likelihood for conversion.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is a measure of the percentage of single page sessions on a given site without additional pageviews or interaction events. If a user gets to your website, views one page, and clicks the back button, it counts as a bounce.

Bounce rate can be a misleading metric, because while a higher bounce rate is typically considered bad, a conversion driven page such as a sales landing page is often meant to work independently from the rest of a website.

In these cases, a higher bounce rate should be expected, but overall, a high bounce rate is often a signal that a page isn’t giving users what they’re looking for.

Conversion rate

There are different ways to measure a website’s conversion rate.

At the most basic level, it’s a measure of how many total visits a site receives relative to how many of these visits turn into a conversion.

This “conversion” can be a form submission, an online purchase, a phone call, or any other form of “opt in” by a user. Ultimately, it depends on the goals of the website.

Conversion rates are the most significant metric when it comes to understanding how your website is performing.

Shopping cart abandonment

On ecommerce websites, providing a great user experience can be more complex than on the average site.

Ecommerce sites are often built with a user experience geared toward selling products, but the UX work doesn’t end there. Often, companies selling objects online underestimate the importance of a user’s experience between the time an item is added to an online shopping cart and the time the item is actually purchased.

In fact, Baymard Institute has shown that shopping cart abandonment occurs at a rate 69.23% across the entire ecommerce space. That’s a huge number!

Why does it happen?

The reasons for abandonment range from high shipping costs to declined cards. Here’s a graph from Baymard Institute that shows top reasons:

shopping cart abandonment
No! Don't leave!

For ecommerce companies, it’s essential to pay attention to these reasons and be sure they aren’t causing friction for users.

Sales, leads and subscribers and registrations (Duh)

This is similar to conversion rate, but it’s just a number, not a ratio.

Think about the amount of total conversions—whatever the form may be—that you want your site to generate.

Are you hitting that number?

Of course not! That’s why you’re reading this.

Something tells me the tips below will help.

11 Actionable Tips To Improve UX And Drive Your Website’s Conversions Through The Roof

Without further ado, here are the 11 tips. Implement these today and you’ll be amazed by how quickly your website starts pumping out leads.

1

Use Hotjar to produce heatmaps and scroll tracking

Since we’re talking about improving the way users interact with your website, it only makes sense that we would start by implementing a tool that helps track, visualize and interpret user interactions on websites.

Hotjar is an excellent software solution in that it helps you visually understand how users interface with your site.

Start by signing up for a free account:

hotjar signup

And add your site.

hotjar add site

You’ll be prompted to add a snippet of code to the head code of your website.

Note: We won’t go over this in great detail because every platform has different ways of doing this. On many platforms, it’s as simple as copy and paste.

If you don’t know how, your designer or developer will be able to take care of it for you in a matter of minutes.

Once the tracking code is in your site, you’re in!

While Hotjar offers many UX Analytics tools, the ones that will help you the most are Heatmaps and Funnels. These can both be easily set up by clicking on their respective tab in your Hotjar dashboard and then clicking “+ New Heatmap” or “+ New Funnel”.

Heatmaps are a fantastic way to understand how users interact on page with your site. Below is an example of a click-based Heatmap:

Hotjar heatmap

The darker areas have been clicked on more, where as the lighter areas have received a fewer amount of clicks.

By analyzing a heat map like this, you can understand which of your CTA’s are getting clicked on and which ones are not.

Hotjar Heatmaps also track scroll depth, which is extremely helpful.

Below you’ll see an example of a scroll-based Heatmap:

hotjar scrollmap

Notice that you can see the percentage of users that reach certain points on your website.

How is this useful?

Well what if your big money Call To Action is toward the bottom of your page and you notice that only 10% of your users are getting to it? A situation like that could put a major damper on your conversion rates.

By tracking scrolling behavior, you can make sure that problem never happens again.

You can also use Hotjar to view site interaction Funnels and see where users drop off.

Here’s an example:

hotjar funnel

On this particular site, we can see that 51.6% of users are dropping off after adding an item to their cart.

Remember earlier, when we talked about shopping cart abandonment? It’s real folks!

By setting up Funnels, you can figure out where your site’s biggest drop-offs are and then work to remedy the issues on those pages that may be causing users to leave.

2

Use video to spice up your sales landing pages

You’ve probably heard a great deal about the power of video when it comes to driving up conversion rates.

The truth is, videos build trust and elicit emotions that spur positive action.

They may in fact be the single best way to dramatically influence conversion almost immediately.

Studies have shown that the inclusion of video on landing pages can increase conversion rates by up to 80%.

But all of this doesn’t mean you should rush to pull out your iPhone’s camera and start shooting.

“But it shoots 4K video!”

Doesn’t matter. In fact, 62% of consumers are more likely to have a negative perception of a brand if it publishes a low quality video.

What does this mean?

Ultimately, it means that brands should invest in professional video production.

High quality videos should be used to build trust, elicit emotion, clarify a product or service offering and spur action.

If your budget won’t allow for a big video production project, that’s ok too! Plenty of large companies and small businesses refrain from using videos and opt for images and custom graphics that illuminate their value proposition and clarify their offering.

While video has numerous benefits, you can still present those benefits to a user by creating a well-designed website with quality visual aids and excellent copy.

3

Pay attention to your CTA button placement

A lot of these tips are pretty easy, but it’s surprising how often they are not embraced on the average website.

CTA button placement is probably the most logical and simplest tip of them all: Put it where your users will see it.

More specifically, put your CTA buttons in the natural path your users follow when they navigate your website.

Notice how I didn’t say “the natural path you think your users follow.”

Why?

Because you should already know that path.

Through Hotjar recordings and Heatmaps, you can gain a valuable understanding of the most common paths taken on your website. You can also figure out how far down the average user goes on a given page.

The rest is simple, really. Just make sure the CTA button is early on that path.

Let’s look at a couple examples.

Here’s an example of a well-placed CTA button from Basecamp:

well placed CTA

If you can’t find that CTA, contact your nearest eye doctor

Here’s an example of less effective placement:

Bad CTA Placement

The Slumberland homepage just pulls users in so many directions.

Part of this is due to the diversity and quantity of products, but I count 5 calls to action, none of which are well emphasized, and that’s enough to make my head spin.

4

Choose CTA colors and designs that are proven to convert

There’s a lot of fuss around the internet about the significance of color when it comes to influencing buyer behavior. It’s common to hear that green CTA buttons are more effective than red ones because green means go and red means stop.

While there may be some truth to this, and a brand’s color scheme can definitely influence how it is perceived, when it comes to conversion, color doesn’t matter as much.

What does matter? Contrast and visibility.

Let’s take a look at Gant’s website, which uses multiple, low-contrast CTAs:

low contrast CTA

Nothing really sticks out, and it’s unclear to me as a user which part of the page I should really gravitate to.

Now let’s take a look at Hammermade’s homepage:

High contrast CTA

Notice how the large, higher contrast CTA makes it obvious what your logical next click should be, creating an easier path to conversion.

5

Write CTA headlines that create urgency and scarcity

CTA copy is a vital element of conversion optimization.

Companies often forget to pay attention to what their CTA headlines and buttons say.

How many times have you seen a button at the bottom of a page that simply says “Submit”?

While this may be appropriate in some circumstances, CTA buttons and headlines provide a massive opportunity to increase conversion through great copy.

Headlines that are particularly effective tend to include words that elicit emotion, create a sense of urgency and demonstrate scarcity.

Why? Because a CTA written in this way will make your on-the-fence users (often a majority of your total users) more likely to pull the trigger and convert.

Here’s an example of a great CTA that shows urgency:

urgency CTA

While Uline’s website isn’t necessarily the prettiest, the company does an amazing job creating urgency. I would venture to guess Uline gets plenty of orders before that 6PM deadline.

Here’s an example of a CTA that uses scarcity to encourage action:

Scarcity CTA

Leesa’s popup offer has an actual timer that shows when the offer will expire, and clearly shows the benefits of purchasing the item within that time period.

Urgency and scarcity aren’t the only tactics involved in creating great calls to action.

There are specific words that tend to elicit emotion when used in a CTA headline or on a button. According to David Zheng, here are some of them:

  • Start
  • Stop
  • Build
  • Join
  • Learn
  • Discover

That’s quite a bit better than “Submit,” right?

6

Set up goals in Google Analytics

Your analytics report is more than just a weekly or monthly snapshot of site traffic and keyword rankings. It’s also a way to gauge the conversion success of your website.

Every business is different, so it wouldn’t make sense for every business to measure success in the exact same ways.

Google Analytics understands this, and it gives you the tools you need to truly understand how your website is performing through Goals.

Goals are a configuration setting within Google Analytics that allows you to remove the barrier between your actual business objectives and your analytics.

Let’s learn how to set goals within Google Analytics!

First, in the “Admin” menu in your Google Analytics account, select “Goals”.

admin menu

When you get to the Goals page, click on “+ New Goal”.

You will be given the option to name your new goal and set the goal up as a Destination, Duration, Pages/Screens per session or an Event.

In this case, let’s say I really want more users to spend a longer period of time on my site. I’m going to name the goal “Users who spend 2+ minutes on site” and set it as a Duration.

goal description

Once I’m done with the description, I’m prompted to set up the goal details.

In this case, since I’m setting a goal that revolves around time on page, I set the duration to 2 minutes.

Goal duration

Click “Verify this Goal” to test the set up.

And that’s it!

goal final form

I can now see my list of goals in the “Goals” menu, and will be able to see how my goal is performing in the “CONVERSIONS” menu in Google Analytics.

Why do goals matter for UX and Conversion Optimization?

Goals are absolutely critical when it comes to analyzing your website’s user experience and improving conversion rates.

They can be applied to just about anything:

Want to track how many form submissions you get on your “Request a Quote” page every month? That can be set up in Goals.

Most importantly, setting goals within Google Analytics helps you to link your desired business results up with user interaction metrics.

7

Check your website speed and optimize your images

Did you know that one of the most significant conversion-killers is high load time? In fact, studies have shown that 79% of web shoppers who notice poor website performance say they will not return to that website. Perhaps even scarier, 44% of say they would mention the poor experience to a friend.

That’s a great way to lose a lot of steam in a short amount of time. Oh, and to be exact, that short amount of time—according to research—is about 3 seconds.

So what’s the solution?

Conduct a speed test

That would be the ideal first step. Here’s a tool for checking the speed of your website.

Having trouble with slow speeds?

Optimize your site’s images

Large image files are often the culprit behind slow-loading web pages. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to fix using an online image optimization tool like this.

Problem solved!

8

Ensure your website has high readability

Text size, quantity and spacing can have a major impact on readability. And in order to convert, users need to be able to understand a web page’s content and consume it easily.

Let’s check out a couple examples from the world of makeup and beauty products, starting with Ulta Beauty’s homepage:

low readability

I see a lot of text, font colors and options. It may be difficult for the average visitor to get through all of the offers and product types on the page without being overwhelmed.

Now let’s take a look at Birchbox’s home page:

high readability CTA

Notice the simplicity, prevalence of empty space and clarity inherent in the messages conveyed through the copy.

Sales pages vs. Content pages

In the context of conversion, it’s important to mention that the sales pages and content pages of a website should differ significantly in the amount of content they contain.

For example, creating long-form, detailed marketing content to house on your website is extremely beneficial for user engagement and SEO. It’s not necessarily beneficial on a conversion-driven page.

Pages that focus on sales and conversion should be well written and compelling but also concise, keeping a user’s attention and reducing opportunities for that user to leave the page.

9

Reduce friction on your website

Earlier we discussed pageviews as a valuable marketing and UX metric. Logically, if users are viewing multiple pages per session on your website, search engines see that as a good thing.

But increased pageviews per session that don’t end in conversion can be a sign of friction.

Points of friction are essentially anything that stops a user from converting on your website. They can run the gamut from having too much descriptive text on a page to too little, a design distraction, an overly complex form, or wording that doesn’t make sense.

Ever wanted to sign up for a free trial on a cool site but stopped when the site for some reason asked for your credit card number? Yeah, that’s friction.

In other words: just about anything could be causing friction on your website and causing conversion rates to suffer.

Eliminating friction

The best way to get rid of friction on your website is to examine user behavior. Chances are, your users are repeatedly dropping off at specific points throughout your website.

Once you use your analytics tools (hello Hotjar Funnels!) to figure out where those points are, ask yourself some questions:

  • Are the areas users are dropping off particularly loaded with content?
  • Or… are they lacking in details that would help a user make a purchasing decision?
  • Are you asking for information a user may not want to provide?
  • Do all of your offers make sense?
  • Are you using images or video to keep users engaged?

Your answers to these questions will work wonders in eliminating unnecessary friction from your website.

Another simple friction-reducing tip

When you create sales landing pages that are campaign-specific and can operate independently of the rest of your website, try eliminating your website’s navbar from them.

The assumption here is that you’re giving the user everything they need to know about what you’re trying to sell them on one page. Why give them more options than they need?

You can still have links to the other pages on your site in the footer, but give the navbar-free landing page a try!

10

Create better, simpler web forms

Speaking of friction:

Have you ever started filling out a web form or purchasing an item online only to find that it seems to go on forever?

Researchers at Google conducted a study finding that the structure and format of web forms can have an extremely significant impact on how dedicated a user will be to finishing and submitting the form.

Here are some pieces of advice based on their findings:

  • If there are specifications for a particular form field—like special characters in a password—they “should be stated in the form, prior to submission.”
  • Error messages should appear near the erroneous fields rather than the bottom of the page after submission.   
  • It should be obvious which fields are mandatory and which are optional.
  • Labels tend to be more effective above the form field rather than beside it.

Beyond the Google study, here are some additional tips:

Don’t obsess over getting all of your CTAs and contact forms above the fold.

While it’s true that typically, only 20% of website users read below the fold, that doesn’t necessary mean that those users who leave your site before scrolling are more likely to fill out a form.

According to Neil Patel:

“Higher conversion rates have nothing to do with whether the button is above the fold, and everything to do with whether the button is below the right amount of good copy."

Pending any testing you may choose to conduct on your site, that’s an important thing to keep in mind.

Make sure your form’s headline is a Call To Action

Whether your form is above or below the fold, it will only convert if it’s compelling. Remember to elicit emotion, and whenever possible, create urgency and scarcity in the headline.

11

Use A/B testing to take the guesswork out of UX and conversion optimization efforts

Everything you’ve read so far leads us to this. Really, you have two options when it comes to UX and conversion optimization:

  1. Make changes based on the insights you’ve gotten from analytics about user experience and hope that they work.
  2. Test changes based on the insights you’ve gotten from analytics and then choose to move forward with the option that proves itself to be successful.

Option 2 seems to be a no-brainer, right?

Well Option 2 is the premise behind A/B testing.

So far, we’ve talked about eliminating friction, creating better CTAs, forms and readability, and increasing engagement through video, compelling copy and images.

Guess what you can use to test these improvements before you formally implement them?

A/B testing.

Here’s a list of some (not all) things you can use A/B test using A/B testing:

  • CTA button size, positioning, color or wording
  • Contact form position
  • Contact form fields
  • CTA headline text
  • Inclusion of video, images or custom graphics
  • Length of content on the page
  • Overall page design and layout

Here are some great examples of companies that have increased conversion rates through A/B testing.

Great design and great copy are essential to a digital presence—Analysis and testing are critical to its success

The single best thing you can do to improve the user experience of your website and improve conversion rates is to have a well-designed website with compelling, relevant copy.

In 2018, design quality influences the perceived credibility of a brand. Similarly, copy has the ability to make or break a website’s success in converting users.

If you don’t have these two things down pat, that’s your starting point.

From there, there’s typically a process you should follow in order to improve your website’s effectiveness at producing happy users that turn into business leads or customers:

Set up, analyze, test, succeed

First, be sure you have every tool possible in your arsenal. Know how to access your website’s analytics and set up goals. Track user interactions on your website with heatmaps and conversion funnels.

Next, it’s time to analyze. Based on your analytics and site interaction data, produce insights and hypotheses on why conversions in certain areas may be lower than you want it to be. Frame these questions through the lens of the tips you’ve learned today.

Finally, test your insights out and move forward with the options that prove to be more effective.

The result?

A better user experience, higher conversion rates, and a more successful business.

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