User Experience (UX) is something that’s gained a lot of traction over the last few years. What started out as a term solely used by high-end web designers has now become an industry norm and occasional marketing buzz word. 

It makes sense too. Designing a visual journey or interaction that pleases visitors can only have a positive impact on ROI, reducing bounce rate and increasing conversion – and in turn, profit. No wonder so many businesses are trying to utilise UX then.

Unfortunately, many businesses (too many) are making pretty basic and fundamental errors with their website’s user experience. This article is going to go through the 5 most common mistakes in a bid to help those businesses out.

1. Not Considering UX.

Let’s start with the very basics here. The biggest and most damaging mistake you could be making with User Experience is to simply not be doing it. 

I get it. UX seems like something that huge companies pay lots of money for and at their level, it’s for the marginal gains that still make millions – but it’s not going to help SME’s or smaller businesses much. I used to think the same. I was wrong.

There are affordable and effective ways to test the usability of your website. 

If you’re not at the level where you can afford an onsite, full-time UX expert and the costs of outsourcing testing. You can use a technique called ‘Coffee Shop Testing’ or ‘Guerrilla Usability Study’. In layman’s terms, this is simply taking your site out with you and asking people to review it for you (perhaps in exchange for a coffee). 

*I would add here, the key to success with this tactic is to be very specific about what you’re asking people to review. 

Don’t ask your friends or your mum – they should love it anyway. Ask strangers (or at least people with no positive bias towards you) and where possible ask strangers that align with your target audience. There’s no use in asking a 94-year-old what they think of your rollerblading e-commerce store. 

This takes a little courage – but it’s well worth it. You can do this at coffee shops, with people you meet networking, just about anywhere. The data and insights you get will be vital and if utilised, will improve your website’s UX.

Wherever possible, get the opinion of someone that specialises in User Experience. UX experts are usually pretty happy to help out and very passionate about their specialism. If you don’t know anyone already, dig around on Linkedin and make a new friend. Just make sure they actually know what they’re talking about…

2. Doing UX Badly.

This is likely going to become a bit of a theme for the rest of the article but it’s super important – UX is a data-driven science. If you take one thing away from this it should be that.

 If you speak to a self-proclaimed UX expert and the first thing they want to see is anything other than data… run a mile. 

Even with the tip above – ‘Coffee Shop Testing’,  you’re gathering data. You speak to 10 people and 7 of those people did ‘action X’ then you have quantifiable information you can use to improve your site. AKA… data. 

Data

If you’re not using Google Analytics, you really should start today (it’s free and incredibly powerful). There’s also a host of other marketing tools out there that will help you measure and illustrate how users interact with your pages. Use them, because trying to create a positive, high-conversion User Experience without data is like trying to paint a masterpiece blind-folded. It’s not entirely impossible – but you’ll do a much better job if you whip the blindfold off.

3. Testing Too Many Things at Once.

Great, you’ve realised the importance of brilliant UX! You’ve also gathered data and understand that your checkout page needs work. This is fantastic, go you!

So… you change the colour of the main button, make the background image more audience relevant, reorder text layout and amend the sub-heading copy. And, you decide to test this new page iteration against the old one. 

There’s a problem here though. 

You’re testing too much at once. If, after a month your conversion goes up on the new page by 11%. That’s a great result but what’s the cause? Is the background image boosting relevance or is the text copy more enticing? How do you know what to replicate on other pages? How would you know if it couldn’t be 15% if you hadn’t changed something but had something else?

User Experience without data is like trying to paint a masterpiece blind-folded.

The only way to know for certain is to test specific variables one by one – in what’s called design sprints. Focus on one suspected problem area/feature at a time and test changes until you know for certain (because of data) that you have the optimal iteration. Yes, it takes longer but having a strategy like this is going to remove guesswork long term and deliver much better results. 

It’s important to understand your strategy and that changes made will offer value to both your customers and your business. Good UX, like any kind of marketing improvement, is there to provide ROI.

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4. Not Knowing Your Audience.

Your audience is going to be a huge factor when it comes to designing a website that is optimised for them (obviously). This goes way beyond simply age and interests too (though those are important), their expectations, budget, lifestyle and much more should all come into play as well. 

It’s vital to have detailed audience personas, in order to tailor your website to them – having this information will also help you create more successful advertising and content too, it’s highly valuable to your business. 

I’ll explain using the travel industry as an example. 

Potential buyers (A) are a couple looking for a honeymoon destination – they don’t have a massive amount of money to spend and are part of the generation that travelled a lot in their youth. They’re also more tech-minded and value choice and customisation when making buying decisions.

Potential buyers (B) are an elderly couple going away for their 50th wedding anniversary. They have a much higher amount of disposable income, are familiar with a more old-fashioned travel agent orientated approach and value consultancy and a sense of ‘being looked after’. 

To create a page that’s completely optimised for both buyers A and B would be impossible. If your brand aligns with consumers A more, then optimise your page for them and watch conversion figures go through the roof. 

5. HIPPO Priority.

HIPPO stands for ‘Highest Paid Person’s Opinion’ and is often given too much importance across many areas of business. With UX; opinion (whether it’s the MD’s or the unpaid intern’s) is useless. I’ll write it again… with User Experience, data is all that matters. 

Even the features you should be testing come from data. You’re improving weaknesses. There’s really no point testing a different submission button colour because the MD ‘isn’t keen’. That’s not good practice and it won’t deliver results as frequently – if at all.

If your UX expert has a theory based on real information that your site is generating then test that theory. Even in this case, however, remember this is a science. There’s no room for confirmation bias. See it as though your aim is to disprove any theories you might have. If you do the testing and you absolutely cannot disprove it then congratulations! You’ve improved your website’s UX. 

In some cases, testing will come back as inconclusive. For example, none of the metrics really change. Where this is the case, I’d always advise not implementing the change on your site. Whilst development is more exciting, it can also cost money. If you’re not going to get a return on that spend (which inconclusive data implies you won’t) then why do it? You’re testing for value – added to your customer and your business. Change without real results to base it on offers neither. 

Summary.

Understanding the importance of UX for your business will transform conversion rates and increase revenue. 

Just remember that data is your friend, there’s no guesswork, hunches or opinions when it comes to optimising the user experience. Get to know your audience, study their behaviour and test theories for failure before making any changes. Wherever possible consult an expert and you won’t go far wrong.

For more tips on how to grow your business, check out the blog at www.keyk.co.uk/blog we have much more content in the pipeline too. Thanks for reading.

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