The Relationship between UX and Conversion Rates

Developing an appreciation for how the user experience influences conversion rates on a website is important. There’s a back and forth problem with how poor UX and conversion rate optimization interact. Many UX-heavy websites and apps end up narrowly focused on looking good and providing excellent navigation and conversion rate optimizers often overlook the advantages of UX. In doing design work, you should always be mindful of how a particular choice may positively or negatively impact conversions.


Load Times

The simplest source of trouble in producing good conversion rates, through the proper application of UX principles, is fairly easy to appreciate. A site that creates problems for users will naturally lose them quickly. Internet users are notoriously impatient creatures, typically quitting if a site fails to load with 9 seconds.

Further complicating the problem, search engines, such as Google, penalize sites that load slowly. This means that notably bad UX can mask conversion rate failures by installing a low baseline. The conversion rate for a site that’s receiving the penalty may seem relatively high, as the site drives only the most determined visitors. Operating from a low baseline of total users, though, the volume may be limited to the point of harming profits.


Ease of Use

Once you’ve had a user to click through to a website and stick around for more than 9 seconds, you still need to provide an experience that’s fulfilling. The site itself needs to be laid out in a logical fashion. This typically means conforming to a common design model that includes a search bar and navigation at the top. Navigation also needs to empower users to get what they’re looking for. The navigation menu for a retailer should point customers to specific departments that are easy to understand. Lifestyle brands should have high-quality pictures that entice users to click. An internet user doesn’t want to spend time becoming familiar with a new interface.


Appearance and Structure

The appearance of a website matters. A sparse website without much imagery can seem bland and disappointing. A cluttered website can seem busy. Both styles can create a desire to look elsewhere, lowering conversion rates.

Structure matters a lot. You want to have the most important elements above the fold. If a user has to scroll in order to find something, that’s likely to decrease the chance of it being found, ultimately eroding conversion rates. The structure of a site should be relatively consistent. If a product-driven site uses a three-by-three grid, it should always do so.

It’s also important to utilize responsive design principles since the world is increasingly using mobile devices to connect to websites. Even if you already have a mobile app, you shouldn’t assume all customers will be utilizing it. If your three-by-three grid runs off the right-hand side of a smartphone screen, that’s worse than having navigational elements below the folds.
Should a specific type of screen only support a single-column layout, your three-by-three model needs to adapt on the fly to accommodate it.


Driving Action

Allowing users to move around a site or an app in an orderly fashion is nice, but UX elements should be used to drive desirable actions. An online store’s checkout process should be simplified to allow as streamlined of a process as possible. This will ensure that cart abandonment rates are kept low. The same idea applies to sites that are focused on signups. If the process of setting up an account or adding your name to an email list is too drawn out, a large number of users will simply quit midway through.


A/B Testing

It can be hard to determine for sure what approach works for a specific application. A/B testing allows you to use two similar interfaces and see which ones drive conversion rates. By assigning specific UX layouts to users in Group A and Group B, you’ll be able to assess which elements are simple and appealing enough to empower users. Once you’ve gone through several hundred or thousand iterations with each group, you can make statistically grounded comparisons.

User experience and conversion rate optimizers tend to not run in the same circles, and that’s a bad thing. Both groups have contributions that can be made. The UX crowd can help sites and apps become more appealing and functional. The conversion crowd can keep the focus on the bottom line figures. By appreciating how each aspect of good design works, you can see that your audience will have an amazing experience.

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