User experience optimisation

 

Knowing your users and designing your website experience for them is the key to unlocking a better ROI. As leading global UX designer Frank Chimero explained, “People ignore design that ignores people.” User Experience optimisation is the art and science of maximising the experience a user has with a website. 

In other words, investing in user experience (UX) improvements means you can provide users with a positive brand experience while they navigate your website. Customer satisfaction will soar, meaning you’ll spend less on your marketing channels while converting more.

This has a long-term impact too: By offering a frictionless user experience, some businesses have achieved a mammoth ROI of up to 9,900%. So how do you achieve the user experience your customers want?

 

User experience optimisation

Regardless of what you’re selling or where you are in the world, the needs of the users must come first.

Take a look at the statistics:

The bottom line is this: companies should invest money and time into user experience optimisation if they want satisfied and loyal customers. Unfortunately, user experience design is often an afterthought for many businesses: Only 55% of companies are currently conducting any user experience testing (Skyhook).

So, what is the process of user experience optimisation? What steps should you take? What tools and tips should you use? Read on for our ultimate guide to user experience optimisation.

 

What is User Experience Optimisation?

User experience (UX) optimisation is the process of improving the user experience on your website or app. Your goal is to enhance user satisfaction by improving the accessibility, usability, and efficiency of user interactions on your website. Several factors impact the UX, from web design and navigation to landing page design, form length to calls to action.

Importantly, the better your user experience, the better a search engine will rank your website too, which means more traffic. A common aspect of UX best practices is streamlining the content you present to site visitors so they don’t get distracted or confused as they try to achieve their goal.

For instance, if you make the checkout process more streamlined with simpler forms, clear calls to action and easy payment, visitors will be more likely to buy your products. They don’t have to jump over hurdles, so this seamless experience helps to increase customer satisfaction and retention. 

 

Why does user experience optimisation matter?

User experience optimisation is critical because customers expect it. No matter what you sell, or what industry your business is in, customers expect their online experience to be smooth, intuitive and personalised. Fail to deliver on your customers’ expectations and you will lose them to those brands who are.

No one is going to stick around for a bad website experience. Simple as that. On the positive side, companies that invest in UX see a lower cost of customer acquisition, lower support costs, increased customer retention and increased market share, according to a Forrester study. Optimising UX can also help you save business costs too. 

Look at the numbers:

Fixing a problem in site development costs 10 times as much as fixing it in web design, and 100 times as much if you’re trying to fix the problem in a website that’s already been launched (UX Planet). A lack of planning for user experience design can result in more time and money being spent on your site to fix problems down the track – only to achieve the same result: a seamless user experience.

 

Benefits of UX optimisation for your business

You don’t need to look far to find evidence that UX optimisation will bring staggering value to your business.

Take a look at the below UX statistics:

  • Intentional and strategic user experience has the potential to raise conversion rates for brands by as much as 400%. (Forbes)

A healthy conversion rate is the end result your business should be looking for, and UX can impact this metric in a massive way. User experience is the single most important factor influencing the potential customers visiting your website or app and helping them make buying decisions towards your products or services. 

If your site is not delivering what visitors want, it will discourage them from engaging further. If they can’t tell what you do or sell by looking at your website, why would they hang around? The second most frequently cited reason is a lack of contact information (46%), followed by animated ads (42%) and poor website navigation (37%). All of these reasons can be avoided in the process of user experience optimisation.

  • Every $1 invested in UX results in a return between $2 and $100. (Fast Company)

Need to put a number on the value of UX optimisation? This is the one to remember. Even at the lowest end of the scale, you are looking at an increase of 50% for an investment in UX.

  • 32% of customers would leave a brand they loved after just one bad experience. (PWC)

This statistic serves as a good warning against ignoring user experience. Why risk it?

There are endless examples of brands who have benefited from a better user experience on their website or app – take a look at these:

  • Airbnb attributes UX for taking them from being a near-failure to being valued at $10 million. (First Round Review)

Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said that they realised listings with bad quality photographs were performing poorly, so they hired a professional photographer to reshoot the apartments. The result? Weekly profits doubled. 

  • Evernote increased user retention by 15% after launching intuitive and helpful features. (UserTesting)

Some well-planned user testing informed a raft of changes that caused an increase in user retention across all devices. Product managers listened to customers describe their needs and experiences while using the product and watched how they were tapping and swiping on the interface. This customer data has led to better usability. 

  • Amazon is highly popular for its A/B testing methods of the shopping cart.

It’s not news that Amazon has a famously cluttered website, but the industry leader is dedicated to making improvements. Price, savings, product availability, customer reviews and ratings, Amazon gives the most crucial information users are looking for on web pages. The “buy button” stands out in a different colour on every web page, and the Prime membership offers free shipping. 

All of these improvements have come from testing, testing and more testing by Amazon marketers.

 

How to Optimise User Experience: The UX optimisation process

The most important part of the UX optimisation process is to understand and empathise with your users. Even if you think you understand them now, you need to go deeper. How do they act and think? What do they want from your website? How do they navigate your site?  All of the steps below will reveal more about your users, so you can make the changes to create the website user experience they want.  

Here are the four essential steps to build an optimal user experience:

 

1. Identify Core Tasks

What are the steps users need to take to achieve their goals on your website?

These are your user’s core tasks. Start by taking a step back and working out what their goals are. Importantly, these user goals should relate to the real world – not just the site.

For example, user goals could be to learn how to build a deck, buy a house or plan the perfect wedding.  It’s important to remember that these goals, and therefore core tasks, will likely be different for different user segments for the same website or app.

Then, it’s your job to figure out the steps for users to take to reach their goals. Map it out from the moment they arrive at your landing page or home page, through to the point where they achieve their goal.

Take time to do this so you know the critical tasks for that specific user segment and can make sure your website makes the journey as smooth as possible. 

How do you find out what the core tasks are?

1) Look at behavioural data to learn what your website users do now

2) Form a hypothesis about why this is the case

3) Test your hypothesis

 

2. Analyse Behavioural Data

Conduct a behavioural UX data analysis. Think of this as the “What is happening” data. This is as simple as looking at the quantitative data you already have from your web analytics, such as Google Analytics.

Here’s what you need to look for:

  • Session duration – how long users are on your website or app, which helps you understand the engagement of visitors
  • How long it takes for them to achieve their goal, i.e. convert
  • Bounce rate – percentage of traffic who land on a page and leave without action
  • Conversion rate – percentage of website users who convert or make a purchase
  • SEO keyword data – which search terms are attracting visitors to your website through SEO and are these visitors converting?

Now you know WHAT people are doing, you need to understand WHY.

 

3. Test, test, test

Testing is a critical step in the user experience optimisation process. 85% of issues related to UX design can be detected by performing a usability test on a group of five users. (MeasuringU) Testing takes the guesswork out of UX design. It ensures every decision you make about the call to action, button size, images, white space on pages, and so on, are all based on data-driven insights.

Answer these questions:

  • What drives a user to open the emails in their inbox or push notifications they receive?
  • Where do visitors drop off?
  • Which features are most used?

There are many ways you can test:

A/B tests and multivariate tests

Control groups

Random sampling

All this new data will help you understand why visitors act the way they do and make changes to the site design that improve their user experience. 

 

4. Implement and iterate

Next, you need to implement the results of your tests into your website. Take the insights you’ve gathered from behavioural data and testing, and use it to make improvements to your site and see conversion rates soar.

This might mean changing the colour of the call to action, changing the navigation, using more educational content, adding video content to pages, speeding up page load times, refining keywords for search engines, and much more. Importantly, this is NOT the end of the process.

The thing about user experience optimisation is that you are never done. It’s all about cycles of continuous improvement, or what’s referred to by developers as “iterations”. No website is ever perfect, but the sooner you start the process of UX optimisation, the sooner you can start reaping the rewards of a better UX.

 

User Experience Optimisation Techniques and Methodologies

There are lots of techniques and methodologies to optimise your website’s user experience and increase traffic, engagement, conversions and revenue.

Below are some of the best practices:

 

Conduct Task Analysis

This technique takes the first step above (Identify Core Tasks) and goes even further. A task analysis is where the UX team identifies the tasks that your website and apps must support. This can help you refine or re-define your site map, search and content.

Let’s say the task is to buy a product, what subtasks must a user do to complete this?

A task analysis would break it down into:

Search for the product category

Browse the product category

Add a product to the cart

Add delivery details

Enter payment information

Receive a confirmation message

Now you need to determine how these subtasks fit together and restructure or streamline subtasks to be more efficient. That’s where you can really work on creating a frictionless user experience.

 

User interviews

There are many tools that allow you to improve the user experience of websites and apps, even to the level of watching recordings of their mouse moving around on one page or blog post and seeing how they engage with content.

But nothing beats in-person interviews with those who represent your target audience and engage with your website. The insights you get from talking to the end user is impossible to match by simply staring at numbers and graphs in your analytics platforms. There’s a huge difference. These sessions could be one-on-one interviews or moderated focus groups.

How do you source users?

Start by making sure you have established clear selection criteria. This will make sure you test people who match your target audience and focus on understanding their user behaviour. 

Here are some tools to find users:

  • Use a tool like Mixpanel to send push notifications to your most active users and conduct interviews with them.
  • Use Facebook or LinkedIn to reach out to consumers, groups or individuals.
  • Use a platform like Upwork to source specific demographics.

 

One final tip – always offer an incentive, like a gift card or cold hard cash, to thank people for their time. Then, hire an experienced facilitator who is skilled in guiding the interviews and can achieve your goals.

 

Conduct UX and Usability Testing

Going a step further than user interviews, usability testing is a valuable way to understand how consumers use your website to achieve their goals. This is where you give the user a set of tasks to accomplish. You can either observe in real time or let them complete the task independently, then watch a recording.

There are various usability tests depending on what you want to achieve:

  1. Moderated test: A trained moderator is in the same room as a user or watching a user remotely. This is best for when you need in-depth information on how users interact with your website and content, and what issues and errors they face.
  2. Unmoderated remote test: Quick, remote and inexpensive user testing where test participants are asked to complete tasks in their own environment, using their own devices, without a moderator present. This means the website tends to be used more naturally.
  3. 5-second test: Measure your user’s  impressions of your site or landing page the first time they visit to see whether the design and content instantly communicates the desired message.
  4. First click test: See what a user would click on first on your landing page to complete the task. This is a great way to test designs, content and calls to action for different landing pages.

 

To get the best out of your testing, take time to PLAN. You need to be very clear on what you want to achieve from the testing, and therefore what tasks you want users to complete. The purpose of user testing isn’t to direct users to the finish line, but to give them enough information so they can complete the journey intuitively. If they make errors, this is all part of the insights you take away.

Be vague in your tasks scenarios, don’t give them any tips but share as little information as needed to complete the task.

Here’s an example of a task scenario:

Explore the website and buy a red bike helmet for a child using the credit card number provided.

 

Accessibility Testing

Technically, this is part of your usability testing – just for a very specific user group. Your goal is to ensure your website or app provides a seamless user experience for consumers with disabilities, such as those who are sight impaired, colour-blind, hearing impaired, physically impaired, and so on. When designing for disabilities, you’re solving for a few, but extending to many. All users can benefit from more accessible features. Take keyboard navigation for example. Users with limited mobility use the keyboard to navigate screens, but so do many other users who want to quickly navigate through pages.

For example, when testing for users with sight impairment, consider the following:

  1. Does all non-text content (media, figures, tables) have alt text so that screen readers can describe the content?
  2. Does text meet minimum contrast ratio requirements? According to the W3C, the minimum text to background contrast ratio should be 4.5:1.
  3. Can your layout accommodate zoom? If users choose larger font options, zoom, or use other assistive technology, does the website allow it?

 

Heuristic Evaluation

Invest in a heuristic evaluation. This is a detailed analysis of the website’s common usability issues. It’s often referred to as an expert review, because usability experts will judge your website against predetermined usability best practices (the ‘heuristics’).

What do you need for a heuristic evaluation?

At least three usability experts who can test your app objectively

Work out what criteria they will use to judge the website user experience

Someone internally to record the session on video or audio, and answer any questions

During the evaluation, experts assign a “severity rating” to each of the issues they identify. Then, you can work your way down from the most critical issues to the least critical.

There are more than 200 criteria by which a website can be evaluated, but typically experts will only use ten, which were developed by Jakob Nielsen and Ralf Molich in 1990 as general good principles for interface design.

Here are four criteria examples:

  1. Visibility of System Status

The system should always show the status of an ongoing operation to the users until it is done. This means the user will get a clear understanding of the progress of that particular process/activity. Never create a situation where the user is completely confused over certain progress/process.

For example, on a website this might be a progress bar to show people how far through the checkout process they are.

  1. Match Between System and Real World

Interaction with the user is a key point in product success. To make interaction easier between users and products, try using components that are familiar to them. Users tend to engage better when the content is more visually appealing. On websites, this means using language, texts, icons, illustrations, etc, that are familiar to the end users.

  1. User Control and freedom

Users need complete control and freedom over the entire system. The system should help them to undo an action that happened by mistake. On websites, this means having obvious “back”, “exit” or “start over” buttons.

  1. Consistency and Standard

The basic law of an UX design is to be consistent. This means consistency for website design elements, such as colours and button styles, as well as the overall experience for different task flows.

 

The Bottom Line

If you only take away one thing from this article, let it be this: UX optimisation is all about focusing on the user. Everything you do on your website should have the visitor and their needs in mind. If you put consistent effort into the steps and tools outlined above, you can skyrocket your conversions and ROI.

 

At Rysen, we can help you with every step of the process to unlock the real results of UX optimisation.

 

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