In the eye of the beholder
“Customer is king,” Amazon boss Jeff Bezos once said, thus simultaneously revealing probably the greatest secret to his success. After all, customer orientation is not only a core corporate value of Amazon, but also the major differentiating feature and biggest revenue driver of the online trader.
Obviously, this does not just apply to Amazon. All leading companies in the IT and online business sectors—Google, Facebook, YouTube, Apple, and many more—adopt this position for exactly the same reason: because they focus unconditionally on the customer and his user experience (UX). UX is therefore a key issue. This is because an increasing number of companies in B2C and B2B are recognizing—even across industries—the huge impact the UX quality of their website has on conversion rate or lead generation. However, this goes far beyond a smart design. So what makes for good UX?
Less is more
In the internet in particular, attention is a scarce resource that is becoming increasingly scarcer due to an overload of stimuli and information. Thus, web design must strike precisely the right balance between form and function. A good UX is easy to use, intuitive, and saves time—reflected in a lean design that allows a few or even just one activity.
One good example of this is the landing page, which, as part of a campaign, should limit itself to presenting one product in the most convincing and focused way possible. In contrast to a traditional website, it deliberately avoids unnecessary information and selection options. It does not distract the user, but picks up on his interests, which may have been entered in a Google search and led him to the landing page.
But there has to be one more: the +1 choice effect
An important factor in the user-oriented evaluation of a landing page or website is the attention ratio. It helps determine the relationship between the actions available to a website visitor and those that he should be limited to in order to generate a lead, for example. An attention ratio of 1:1 is ideal. A menu with four selection options and two related links already causes the attention ratio to drop to 6:1. It becomes even worse—as does the conversion rate—if social media links and teasers for other articles are added to the mix.
However, there is one exception: the +1 choice effect. This improves the conversion rate, despite the addition of an extra decision. And this still applies if the user is given another option on top of “purchase,” such as “find out more” or a link to another product. The additional selection option makes the user feel less pressured to purchase the item. Even if he decides not to click on the +1 alternative, it creates a feeling of confidence. It also means that communication does not end prematurely due to a lack of alternatives.
These few examples already show that other factors beyond a lean, neat web design come into play when establishing a good UX.
This includes psychological expertise or knowledge about how the brain influences our decisions unconsciously. Many e-commerce websites therefore intentionally make use of the scarcity principle and indicate restricted availability to force the user to make a quick decision, for example. This causes stress to the user, but it is true that scarcity improves the conversion rate because our brains work much faster than we can reflect rationally and make decisions. By understanding how our brains work, many factors can influence the path to conversion, such as the way in which we perceive prices, our reaction to the views of others, the benefits of opt-outs that can easily reverse a decision, and many more.
An in-depth brand knowledge in conjunction with extensive cross-channel expertise that offers a seamless and consistent customer experience across all end devices—from desktop computer to smartphone, tablet, and smartwatch—is just as important. This also increasingly applies to the change from online to offline and back again—if orders are collected from the local subsidiary or glasses from “Mister Spex” are adjusted by the optician around the corner, for example.
Another area of competence for a good UX is the required data expertise for targeted tests and tracking analyses—from crowd usability tests and subsequent design and coding sprints through to the use of Google Analytics and the like for the ongoing recording and optimization of the user experience.
However, the best outcome is only achieved if all these factors interact and high-performance marketing automation tools can also be used to output personal content.
Especially in view of the requirement to reduce complexity by limiting the available actions, there is no way around the intelligent real-time selection and presentation of content that takes into account the context of the user, such as place, time, and previous browsing behavior, as well as his interests and needs at any stage of his customer journey. This is because personalization achieves two things: a good UX thanks to truly relevant content and an improved conversion rate due to the extremely economical usage of the limited attention span of the user.
For companies and agencies, it is increasingly important to fully cover any potential factors and areas of competence in order to create a design approach that is becoming more and more significant: persuasive design. In some ways, this strategic approach can also be described as neurohacking, because it relates to psychological customer guidance, which, in conjunction with cleverly engineered interaction elements, aims to convince the customer about every crucial decision.
To this end, any scenario that is important for conversion—the download of a white paper, subscription to a newsletter, or arranging a consultation appointment—unfolds gradually and is designed in such a way that each step appeals to the desires, emotions, and behavior pattern of the user. The aim is to never give the user the impression that he is acting against his will or under pressure when clicking, but to convince him at all times that the click corresponds to his own desires.
These desires are generated by means of various methods: the above-mentioned scarcity, the principle of social reliability through authentic reviews or customer evaluations, the persuasiveness of authorities, or the effect of reciprocity, which makes people more likely to give when they have received something first, as well as sympathy and emotionality.
Good design and perfect usability underpin persuasive design, but it does not end here. This is where the work truly starts.