The common rule is: the more visitors you get on your site, the better your conversion rate is.
But what matters the most when you visit a website?
Is it the headlines? The nice pictures? The fact that it’s offering you exactly what you want and have been looking everywhere for?
Actually, according to countless studies – not so much.
User experience, or UX, is possibly the single biggest factor in the success of most websites. This means how easy it is to navigate the site, how clear the message is, and how its design aligns with the behavior patterns of the visitors.
Improving UX comes from a combination of marketing savvy and an ability to relate to your visitors, to get out of your own notions and see the site from their perspective.
It might call for some radical changes to your design, but the potential payoff is huge. In this article, I’ll take you through the most important elements of UX and how to improve them. Your visitors – and your conversion rate – will thank you for it.
UX is extremely important for your site’s conversion rate
It’s hard to overstate the importance of user experience.
Keep in mind that the Internet is full of websites very similar to yours, and your users aren’t obligated to you in any way. If they have any trouble navigating your site and getting what they want out of it, they’ll be gone and onto your competitor’s site before you know it.
And 88% of customers won’t return to a site after a bad experience.
The good news is, getting in your users’ shoes and improving the website from their side can mean stunning increases in conversion and revenue.
Just ask ESPN.com: their revenue jumped by 35% after they incorporated community suggestions into their homepage.
Or Time.com. Their bounce rate dropped 15% after they adopted continuous scroll.
The funny thing is that often, our educated, experienced, sophisticated marketer-minds will actually get in the way of design a website that people like to use. I’ve seen so many marketers stuck with websites that look great and should convert like magic, but… they don’t. Usually, it’s a flaw in UX.
UX vs. Design
UX is not the same as design aesthetics. It’s a common pitfall. Designers and front-end developers might come up with a beautiful, elegant site, but it will still be hard to use. And you’ll lose visitors for it.
You can think of it as a conflict between subjective and objective performance.
On the subjective level, you would think that the beautiful site will perform better. It’s what most people will say they prefer, but the numbers tell a different story.
On the objective level of data, you might find that the plainer site with simple, clear design elements offers a better experience to users, and that’s what gets the best UX metrics: lower bounce rate, more page views per visit, longer sessions and ultimately, higher revenue.
Just look at Wikipedia for an example. It’s not a good-looking site. It’s mostly text, and even the logo is black and white and kind of ugly. But it’s so easy to use that everyone uses it.
That’s why it’s so important to let go of your preconceived notions of what the site should look like and get into the nitty-gritty of split testing.
How do I measure UX?
It sounds like an elusive thing to measure. How do you put a number on someone’s experience?
Actually, there are a few metrics that will consistently give a good sense of how visitors feel about your site and how much use they get out of it.
The three most important are:
- Bounce rate
- Pageviews per visit
- Session duration
The elements that make the most difference in UX metrics are:
- Ease of navigation
- Background color
- Ad density
- Page loading time
These are the elements you’ll want to test most intensely.
Page loading time is probably the biggest factor in many cases. Studies show that 40% of users will abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load, and every extra second costs your site a 7% decrease in conversion rates.
That said, it all depends a lot on your users. If you have a lot of users on mobile, page load speed is especially important. Most mobile users won’t wait more than two seconds on average for a page to load.
However, if you have a lot of desktop users, loading time might not be so critical but color and design will make more of an impression.
What works best might be counterintuitive, so be systematic in your testing.
Bounce rate is the number of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page.
This will be either people who get to your site and realize immediately it isn’t what they’re looking for, or people who get there, are confused by it and bail for the next option on the search page.
You can measure it on Google Analytics.
The average website has a bounce rate of 40.2%, but what’s an acceptable rate depends on your industry and type of site.
For a retail site, a bounce rate of 20-40% is normal. For a service site, the average rate is only 10-30%. A content site might be anywhere from 20-60%. For a simple landing page with one call to action, you’re looking at a 70-90% bounce rate – and that’s fine, because those visitors might already have converted.
If you’re looking to improve your bounce rate, I recommend:
- Build a clear navigation path
- Get rid of pop-up ads
- Speed up load time
- Provide relevant content
- Place a search feature prominently on your first page
Pageviews per Visit
This is simply how many pages your visitors go to while they’re on your site. Usually, the more pageviews the better, because this means they’re engaging with your site and connecting more with your brand.
To get more pageviews, make sure your website loads quickly. Many of your visitors will be browsing on their phones or over a slow connection, and they won’t have the patience to wait again and again for pages to load.
Include plenty of links in your content. Internal links naturally are a great way to get more pageviews. But whether they’re internal or external, they should direct your users to the most important information.
Ultimately, getting high pageviews is about having a quality site that answers your users’ needs. If you follow Neil Patel’s 7 keys to a good user experience, you’ll naturally get more pageviews per visit. More pageviews per visit mean a better conversion rate.
A site with good UX is:
So if you give your visitors what they want and open their eyes to new information, they’ll be interested and keep exploring your site.
This is also measured by Google Analytics, but it’s a little trickier to interpret.
If you have a site with a lot of content, you’re doing a good job if your viewers spend a lot of time on it.
However, if it’s a simple landing page, where you just want to get your visitors towards one action, it’s not such a good sign if people are lingering. They might be confused or not fully trust your site.
It might seem like UX is a maze of numbers, statistics and design tweaking.
That’s certainly how you can approach it. But at the end of the day, it’s an art as much as a science.
It’s all about seeing your site from the visitor’s perspective, understanding what they’re looking for and how they think. That’s why your designer/marketer mind might actually hold you back!
If you’re stumped for ideas, ask a friend who knows nothing about marketing to look at your site. There’s nothing better than fresh eyes and unbiased feedback to help you make your site more user-friendly and improve its conversion rate.