Do you think a website’s design and usability are the same things? UK retailer Mark & Spencer made that mistake in 2014 after spending two years and $200 million to revamp and relaunch their online store. After an unexpected 8.1% drop in sales, the CEO pointed the finger at the new website.
M&S began user testing to find the errors. It turns out that various technical issues prevented testers (and real shoppers) from getting to the checkout page and completing their purchases. Solving the technical problems improved the user experience and increased their sales.
Like brick-and-mortar stores, online stores need to be attractive, organized, and easy for people to find what they want. With more than 1.75 billion websites and counting, the competition is stiff. A unique website is a good start but improving the user experience (UX) will make your consumers stay longer and buy your products.
We’ve compiled some tips and best design principles to improve UX for higher revenue, sales, and a better brand image.
Defining User Experience Design and Why It Matters
UX design is a process of providing customers with a fun, valuable, and easy-to-use website. When customers have a positive experience, they view more products, add items to their shopping cart and hopefully stay loyal to your brand.
75% of people form their opinion of a company solely based on the appearance of their website. A positive user experience and the website’s design are critical to any eCommerce store’s success.
How do you provide a UX design element that motivates consumers to purchase your products? A knowledgeable UI/UX design services company or individual designer will improve your website’s functions, such as accessibility, usability, values, features, and aesthetics, to provide a meaningful experience.
eCommerce design companies use proven methods to increase the flow of visitors and conversions like website speed, mobile-friendliness, and user-friendly URL structure. To learn more about eCommerce web sites, check out this resource on tips towards successful eCommerce website development.
To summarize, quality UX design keeps customers shopping and improves organic traffic flow. But how can you improve your store or website? Let’s start with UX design basics.
The Basics of UX Design
Having a “user first” perspective puts the designer directly in the shopper’s shoes. That way, they can experience page and design elements as customers. Does a change make it better for the end-user, or is it just different? Designers should always keep the target audience in mind before changing something and making it difficult for users.
Why Does It Matter?
As you know, your shoppers and visitors are the lifeblood of your business. If your website is difficult to navigate, pages load too slowly, and hard to read, they will leave. You lose the opportunity to make sales. If they abandon your website due to a poor experience, chances are they won’t return. Successful companies like Facebook, Apple, Google, and others invest heavily in UX design for good reason.
When we began using UX design as a business practice, revenues increased by 895% in only three months. By focusing on UX, we have cultivated a highly-engaged user community and internal workforce.
- Raffaela Rein, founder of the UX School
A brand’s design is also an essential part of the user experience and should integrate into every possible touchpoint. They should work together as a strategic approach to entice and engage customers.
UX Design Delivers Multiple Benefits
UX design is not just about keeping users happy. It’s an investment that delivers a positive return. Forbes reports that every $1 invested in UX design returns $100. While that number may seem slightly high, it’s still a worthwhile investment. Across the eCommerce realm, companies that invest in UX see sales increase between 60% to 75%. It’s easy to understand why. When users value and like something, they are bound to do it again.
Brands that provide a better user experience can charge a premium over their competitors, have higher customer retention, and grow more existing customers into advocates.
Every UI/UX design agency will have various ideas of what constitutes the best UX design for an individual eCommerce store. It depends on current design trends, what is relevant to your industry, and your target audience.
Here are eight design principles that you can use as a guideline.
8 UX Design Principles That Improve Conversion Rates
UX design is not a one-and-done process. It constantly evolves using A/B testing to understand customer likes and dislikes. However, there are eight principles that every UX designer should follow to shorten the time and see the best results:
- It’s About the Customer - If there is one primary design principle, it’s keeping the user’s interest as the top priority. Consider the user’s goals when they enter the site and interact with on-page elements to achieve them. Make every button and navigation link easy to find, use and that they work.
- Keep Things Simple – British and American psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman came up with a theory about choices. Known as Hicks law or the Hick-Hyman law, they observed that the more options someone has, the longer it takes to decide. It seems obvious. Confusing consumers with too many choices makes them leave sooner. Simplify the page by reducing navigation tabs and other distractions.
- Uniformity Across the Site - This principle, a.k.a. brand consistency, maintains the same look and design across the site and all marketing channels. With the identical font, color scheme, and visual content, shoppers gain trust and become more comfortable with your brand.
- Organized Content – Each page of a website should have a logical order, just as a sales letter follows a proven and logical sequence. Web designers refer to this principle as having a clear hierarchy. Structure each page with the most critical information at the top, followed by additional, less critical content. The entire website should follow a logical flow from the homepage to the contact page.
- Mobile Responsiveness – Mobile responsiveness is critical for a positive user experience. Google reports that 94% of shoppers use their phones to search for products which is why they use mobile responsiveness as a deciding factor in its ranking algorithm. Global online mobile traffic is about 57%, surpassing laptops and desktops.
- User-Friendly Usability – User interface (UI) design is related to user experience. Having easy-to-use controls and navigation on a website naturally provides a positive experience. Make CTA and navigation buttons easy to see, understand, and use. You want visitors to feel comfortable, so use clear, concise text, familiar icons, and buttons. The goal of usability is to improve speed, accuracy, and engagement.
- Color Affects User’s Behavior - Color plays a vital role in the website’s overall experience. Colors trigger different emotions and influence people’s opinions of a website or a brand’s image. User testing reveals that some colors will increase a user’s positive reaction to a page or product more than others. Designers need to match the color palette to their target audience because various genders, age groups, and cultures respond to colors differently.
- Use More Whitespace – White space breaks up large walls of text and rows of images. White space on a page helps readers find what they want faster, and it’s crucial when reading content on small screens like smartphones. The page and website look organized by optimizing the balance between the white space, text, and graphics.
Knowing these design principles can help any website increase conversions. They also add to building a trusting relationship with customers. Check out how you can create trustworthy online stores through web design. To improve sales, here are a few more ideas on how effective UX can boost revenue.
Tips To Improve UX and Sales
The goal of a UI/UX design company is to generate revenues by providing shoppers with a functional site that is nice to look at, easy to navigate, contains helpful information along with a fast way to checkout. Testing has shown that improving your UX design can double sales quickly.
These are tips to improve the user experience of your website or eCommerce store:
- Increase Loading Speed – Shoppers and visitors are an impatient lot. They want instant gratification and expect pages to load in 2 seconds or less. If it takes much longer, they have no problem going to your competitor. A UI/UX design services company has speed optimization tools pinpointing bottlenecks that slow down page loads. Elements to look for include optimizing images, using a mobile-optimized theme, fixing broken links, and caching files that don’t change, such as the logo.
- Highly Visible CTA Buttons – When visitors are ready to take the next step toward conversion, make it easy by providing a large, bold CTA button. Add high-contrasting text inside to clearly state what happens when they click, such as “Buy Now.”
- Use Original and High-Quality Images - Don’t skimp on image quality for your website, especially product photos. People want to see details of the products before they buy. High-resolution images can slow down the page load speed. Fortunately, designers have various methods to overcome this issue, like reducing the file size and other tricks.
- Infographics Work – When people need information fast, infographics provide the facts they want in a hurry. They are the perfect tool for communicating ideas effectively without slowing down page loading times.
- Scannable Content – Make your content scannable by using subheads and adding captions to images. As we mentioned earlier, adequate white space makes your content easier to read, creating a better experience. White space is not necessarily white. It can be a brand color for the background, but it breaks up the visual content for better usability. Less text or images also helps pages load faster.
- Remove Clutter – Website users prefer a clean page. 54% of shoppers revealed that ad clutter is the biggest obstacle in achieving a good user experience. A cluttered, messy page is confusing, hard to navigate, and increases bounce rates.
- Fix Broken Links – Broken links can happen to any site, and they are a real turn-off to visitors. Files can get corrupted, and pages can change due to a redesign. Add plugins or use tools to monitor for broken links.
These common fixes improve UX and conversions. However, you should test continuously to find what works best for your target audience.
What is Better: In-House or Out-Source UX Designer?
Are you torn between going with an in-house design team vs. outsourcing to a UI/UX design agency? Here are a few pros and cons that may help.
One consideration is the depth vs. breadth of experience. An in-house team may understand your products and target audience better. Internal design teams usually work only within the confines of the company’s products and market. Typically, the in-house designer will have a limited budget and fewer tools at their disposal.
The agency will have the latest tools and processes to improve any UX, regardless of the product or target audience. Various client exposure helps agencies stay relevant and up to speed with the global design scene. An experienced UI/UX design company simultaneously focuses on the user and proven conversion techniques to achieve higher sales.
Outsourcing to a UI/UX design agency combines fresh ideas with the best website and eCommerce design practices. UX design companies have talented people with various skills that they combine depending on the project. Hiring an experienced agency provides the skillset you require without the commitment of a full-time employee.
Whether using in-house designers or hiring an agency depends on your budget, project complexity, and timeline. Following the eight principles and tips above should help your designer improve UX and conversions. For additional tips, check out this resource on web design that increases conversions.