Three UX Tips to Avoid the Snowball Effect in your Digital Experiences

This time of the year is all about staying cozy and warm, sheltered from what is going on outside. While this may be a good remedy against the cold December days, brands shouldn’t get too comfortable when it comes to their digital strategy. The last thing you need as a business is to land in a digital stagnation cocoon. 

Every now and then, companies are exposed to external or internal factors that can hamper their efforts to deliver a great customer experience (CX) and get in the way of them meeting their digital objectives.

There are several things you can do to avoid the pitfalls of a poor customer experience:

Customer satisfaction begins with team synergy. Getting everyone aligned around the same customer intelligence is the first step to being able to tackle CX improvements in a holistic, impactful way. 

The ability to create (and maintain) a deep connection with your customers is another key challenge for brands. Understanding what visitors are trying to achieve on your site or app is crucial to building trust and delivering an online experience that is helpful and ticks all the boxes.

Companies spend a tremendous amount of time, energy and money on acquisition strategies, but once traffic objectives are reached, you need to give your audience a reason to come back. Getting complacent is very easy, especially when site elements, and sometimes entire pages, are being neglected. 

The impact of neglecting some of these details is often underestimated, and what is initially perceived as a small thing can have disastrous effects on revenue and retention. 

Here are some examples of the snowball effect, and 3 tips on how to prevent them.

Don’t stagnate, innovate 

Stagnation is often characterized by the tendency of a company to rest on its laurels after meeting a period of success and growth. Once expectations are being met and results are being generated, the risk for your website is to stagnate and remain where it stands.

Keeping your customers excited and enthusiastic starts with making sure you always provide them with innovative digital experiences. As in any kind of relationship, users don’t like to be taken for granted — keeping it fresh will help keep the engagement up. 

The big disruptors are leveraging digital innovation and technology-powered convenience to build seamless digital experiences. Autonomy, speed, the ability to visualize products before buying… these are just some of the things technology has facilitated for consumers. 

Adobe Stock, via Instagram.Com/_alfil

 

Keep the communication lines open

As the saying goes,“either you follow up or you fold up.” Not being responsive to your users’ needs will annoy your customers, and even worse, lead them to write or voice bad reviews. Known as VoC, this method of airing out bad UX can have a tremendous impact on your bottom line, as is often emphasized by our digital strategists. 

Reviews make up the most commonly used VoC method. Positive reviews can boost a company’s reputation, but bad ones can severely damage a brand’s credibility. According to Inc, it takes roughly forty positive customer experiences to undo the damage of a single negative review. Communication is also making the customer understand that their needs are being prioritized and their voice is being heard. 

Adobe Stock, via Wei

 

Don’t let your digital strategy be an after-thought

In most cases, implementation is simply about what the future strategy of a company will be to increase conversion rates and boost visits on your site. 

When it comes to your website, you need a solid plan to minimize interferences and remove pain points to enable easy customer journeys. The success of your digital experiences rests on their ability to meet the expectations of your customers. While most businesses have embraced digital transformation and understand that customer intelligence is the foundation for a great CX, implementing a digital mindset remains a big challenge for many brands.

So, make sure your team is equipped with the right tools to implement a data-first approach to experience building and business decisions. 

The good news is, if you’re guilty of one of the above, it is not too late to react. A good way to counteract these snowball effects is to first acknowledge what has been neglected, take into consideration what could have been done earlier, and come up with a stronger digital implementation strategy. Understanding customer expectations has never been easier, nor has dropping intuition in favor of data.

 

Hero Image: Adobe Stock, via Maria Medvedeva

How to Identify and Fix a Broken UX with User Behavior Analytics

Some website users undergo a bad UX, which leads them to exit — or worse — bounce from a website, possibly to never again return. Understanding what causes premature site exits is key to improving the customer experience (CX), and delivering journeys that help customers meet their wide-ranging digital expectations.

Making use of data for a UX analysis is the most practical approach to scrutinizing customer journeys, including high-level views that locate friction points and counter-intuitive navigation patterns. Once you’ve identified your problematic pages through a high-level view of user behavior, you can make more fine-tuned changes by assessing individual pages and elements.

Achieving a fulfilling digital experience is attainable, but you have to identify what constitutes a broken UX in the first place, and establish the visitor segments that come across one. Once you have this insight on hand, you can prioritize optimization efforts to improve your digital experience and make your visitors crave more.

Identifying What’s Amiss in the Customer Journey

We quizzed Ying Yang, our Lead Product Experience Manager, to get her thoughts on where to start. “The first thing you must look at when identifying a poor UX is the customer journey,” she said. “You should be able to break it apart page by page to see exactly how users traverse your site during each session.”

A well-built customer journey analysis tool will show you each step a customer takes during their time spent on a site, help uncover what they are trying to do, and how they went about doing it. You ought to be able to detect where the first UX friction lies on a high level; to find this, you have to pinpoint where users are bouncing or leaving the site, and what led to this outcome.

“You need to identify the last page that a segment of users stayed on during their journey before leaving your site. It is this page in which their UX was disrupted,” explained Ying. 

However, in longer customer journeys, note that a page from which a user has left the site may not signify a bad experience. Instead, the user may simply feel that their stay on the site is complete, and requires no further browsing.”

As such, observe the pages that contain bounces initially, as there is some shortage of retaining the visitors’ interest. Furthermore, since a bounce is more caustic than a regular site leave, it requires immediate attention. (Bounces reveal a non-existent journey, or one of one step/page visit).

Now that you’ve found the page with the UX culprit of bouncing or exiting, let’s delve further. 

A Further Analysis of a Crippled UX

Entering step two of making corrections, you will need to work out the cause behind particular site exits or other behaviors indicative of frustration or unmet needs. In order to spot individual obstacles in the customer journey, you’ll need to analyze specific elements within a page. 

Through this approach, you’ll be able to catch the exact cause of friction (whether it’s a CTA, image, product description, form field, etc), as opposed to guessing what regions and elements of a page led users to leave.

So what do you do when analyzing a particular page element? You take a hyper-focused turn in your UX analysis. “This is a more granular step,” says Ying. “As such, you’ll want to look at a robust batch of behavior and revenue metrics. These present a deeper dive of your UX to follow up the customer journey analysis.” 

Here are just a few of the metrics you can appraise for a granular UX performance check:

Hover Rate: The percentage of pageviews in which visitors hovered over the zone at least once, determining which zones are consumed the most. This helps you rank zones and assess if they are consulted properly, by weighing in factors like averages of other zones and the page length. 

Click Recurrence: represents the average number of times a zone was clicked when engaged with during a pageview. This exposes either engagement or frustration. For example, a high click recurrence on a carousel is good news, as it shows a high engagement with an element offering many clickable areas.

It can also point to frustration. For example, if users click on the same element multiple times — such as an image or link, it means the element is drawing up errors; it’s either unclickable or not performing its function correctly. 

Conversion Rate Per Click: Applying only to clickable zone, this metric relays if clicking on a zone impacts the user’s behavior or conversion goal.This helps you determine which elements contribute to or deter from conversions. A conversion can be any behavior you set. 

Exposure Rate: identifies how far down a page a user scrolls; it’s accounted for when at least half of a zone is viewed. This helps you understand how much users scroll, allowing you to make empirical sizing adjustments.

Attractiveness Rate: Relays the percentage of visitors who clicked on a zone after having been exposed to it. This informs you on optimizing the placement of content on your page. For example, if more users click below the fold, you should move that content further up for more of them to see it quicker. A high rate proves the high performing attractiveness of an element.

Segmenting Your Users for UX Comparisons

After you analyzed the elements of your page with granular behavior metrics, you’ll need to analyze further, by conducting comparisons. This will help you determine what comprises an underperforming UX more clearly. To do this, you would need to compare a good behavior with a bad behavior.

Comparing the experience of visitors who accomplished the goal of a page with those who didn’t, will further confirm what needs fixing. You can carry out a zoning analysis on these two segments as well as make comparisons on each metric. 

This allows you to catch where non-converting visitors tend to hover and where they are more inactive. But most importantly, it allows you to weigh this data against the users who did convert/ achieve what they came to your site to do. 

“For example, you can build a segment for the users who saw a 404 error page and compare it with the ones who had the same issue across different journeys or those who didn’t run into it,” explained Ying. “Additionally, you can create a segment around users who clicked on a CTA, deepening their journey against a segment of users who didn’t, or worse, ended their journey on that page.”

Main Examples of UX That Cuts the Customer Journey

One of the attributes of a broken UX is content that doesn’t engage users or is not seen, thus prompting visitors to exit the site. Pages that require too much scrolling, for example, may yield low engagement or little to no views.

For example, a particularly wide banner that takes up much of the screen may be obscuring other content that’s crucial to generating revenue. Some users may not even be aware of the content below the fold. 

“Most high-performing content should have real estate above the fold,” Ying advises. “Does your business have a major campaign or sub campaign running? Post more than one type of content about it above the fold. These can exist as tiles, a carousel or both.”

This source of friction is especially damaging to mobile UX, which has a much smaller screen size than desktop. As such, some functionalities aren’t well suited to be crammed in. “Big banners, images and accordions (vertical menus) push everything down below the fold, so don’t overuse them. You will probably need to scale back on some of these elements to avoid a UX that has turned sour.” 

Another example of poor content occurs when banner usage is slight and/or doesn’t achieve the goal of a page. For example, a banner can send users to a PDP (product details page) that cuts off their browsing journey.

“PDPs, in general, have high bounce rates, as in the case of our retail clients, so you need to be careful what products you send users to, should your banner send them to a PDP (or even a product landing page). Landing on a PDP is especially detrimental to the user experience when the real goal was to send users to a PLP (product landing page), which shows several product options as opposed to a PDP.”

Adobe Stock, via studiostok


Fixing Customer Journeys

Now you know how to move the needle from a high-level UX analysis to a granular level to spot what caused your customers to struggle or give up with your site. After you identify what leads to bad digital experiences, you are all set to start optimizing. Customer experience analytics are your best friend when it comes to augmenting your content ideation strategy.

Since it allows you to meticulously identify digital experience issues, it fastracks you to brainstorming sessions to rectify the issues in a data-backed way. Some things will be clearer than others. For example, if you find 404 errors and other dead-end pages, the quick fix is the get rid of them, or replace them with the proper pages. 

“For example, if an item is no longer in stock, or no longer being digitally offered, make sure it doesn’t yield the 404 error. But if it’s a product users can purchase, or if a page offers any other type of conversion (signing up for content, etc.), make sure your page is functional and devoid of any confusing elements,” said Ying.”

 

Hero image via Adobe Stock, by Marvi7

Boo! 5 Examples of Scary UX to Avoid on Halloween — and Always

Halloween is creeping in on us as the October days tail off. But that doesn’t mean your user experience (UX) should be frightening. While frights are fun for haunted houses and other ghoulish festivities, they shouldn’t trickle into your customer experience. 

Alas, as our clients can attest, bad UX has reared its head like a zombie rearing out of a tomb many a time.

Scary. We know. That’s why we’ve compiled a horrifying list of poor UX design examples and ghastly digital experiences, right before Halloween, so you don’t scare off your potential customers. 

Even your most loyal customers will be put off by a bad digital experience. Sometimes, this bad UX arises out of something seemingly minor — a missing image, unclear text, an element located a little further down the fold… That’s what makes bad design particularly scary, in that what seems trivial and inconsequential gives rise to dire consequences.

But fear not! Our 5 scary examples of poor user experiences include very specific cases of how simple elements can go awry. Let’s see what scariness our clients underwent. (SPOILER ALERT: although these real-life UX horror stories seem grim, they all have a happy, data-driven ending). 

Unclear Filters Dampening Sales 

Clicks are great, right? So naturally, a hearty dosage of clicks should be a good thing, shouldn’t it? At face value, it may seem so, as when a zone or an element on a webpage receives a lot of clicks, it signifies ample interaction.

But as our client learned the hard way, click activity, or the study thereof, is not enough when UX is concerned. Studying clicks is crucial, don’t get us wrong. But it offers only a faint glimpse of the overall portrait of your UX.

Our client, a purveyor of men’s fashions, had recently developed a new mega menu. So when it recorded high click activity on the menu, this appeared to be nothing but positive. But it was bearing something sinister; the client noticed a major discrepancy on their site regarding attitudes towards clicks: when clicks increased, sales slumped. 

How was this possible? A UX analysis of in-page behavior presented some incongruity between the mega menu and search/category filters. While menu interactions were high, filter usage was stagnant. With unused filters, shoppers weren’t seeing all the products relevant to them, so sales took a tumble. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

Frightening Sliders Causing High Homepage Bounce Rate

Every mega menu — filled with panels, categories and text — ought to be complemented by visual elements. It would thereby seem natural to include sliders to accompany a mega menu, especially on the homepage, where such elements typically exist.

In the case of our beauty client, this placement wound up being a design fright, much to the detriment of their customers’ user experience, as the customers bounced.

Featuring a wealth of merchandise pushes, the homepage is the gateway to pique product awareness and interest for our client. But it was beset with high bounce rates. With a seemingly healthy swath of products on the homepage, the client was bewildered by what the UX culprit could be.

When analyzing the homepage, with special attention to the mega menu and sliders, the client found that the sliders were generating little to no engagement. Instead, these sliders overwhelmed the mega menu, leading many to bounce before engaging with either of these elements. Spooky.

Confusing Label on the Store Locator Causing Fewer Web-to-Store Visits

A store locator is a handy UI feature for click-and-mortar brands, especially those seeking to uplift web-to-store visits. After all, netizens won’t visit a physical store if they don’t know where it is. 

Instead of looking to Google, visitors ought to trust your brand enough to know that any useful location info exists on your own website. So when our client, a luxury click-and-mortar brand discovered high exits on their store locator, they were beside themselves.

Through granular analytics, they learned that for many site users, the store locator was the main reason behind their visit. Its button, however, had a ghastly label, one with even ghastlier results. It read “product search,” which befuddled users.

To the client, it appeared to be a nifty feature, an add-on to a traditional locator functionality. But it produced high hovers and low clicks, turning users away from the store locator, and as such, from completing their objective of a store visit. This worsened sales for items only available in-store. Creepers.

Disappearing Checkouts Angering Customers and Reducing Revenue

Conversions. Every brand wants them, but few products or even brands at large can trigger them. As such, users who reach the checkout — the final phase of both the customer journey and the sales funnel — signify a UX victory in itself.

Unfortunately, our retail apparel client was racked by bad UX on this holy grail of pages. Our VoC integration had gotten word of users’ ghostly experience when they reached the client’s checkout page.  In fact, a whopping 1,500 customers were afflicted by the ghostly checkout, leading them to complain via the call center, and as our UX analysis showed, leave the site.

When we say ghostly, we mean it. Session replay caught wind of the sudden onslaught of blank screens when users reached the checkout page. This, in turn, led users on the cusp of converting to abandon the checkout and the site, which reduced revenue for the clients. Yikes!

Simple Missing Image Impairing Conversion Rates

The above examples elucidated how site content led to a bad UX, with scary repercussions ensuing from each such case. But sometimes it’s the missing content that creates scary UX chaos.

In the case of our hospitality client, a missing image made all the difference for the conversion rates on their property pages. 

During a granular UX analysis, the client discovered high click rates on the links to property pages, i.e., pages with hotel offerings. The problem was, despite the clear interest in these hotel pages, users would abandon the site after landing on them.

This caused conversion rates to plummet and an addled brand, as it was unsure of the culprit behind the bad UX, since the images were crystal clear and the deals were showing.

A deeper UX analysis — one on journey analysis, revealed a major gap in the UX of these product pages. Visitors were looking for rooms that included a complimentary breakfast, commonplace in European hospitality, but were struggling to find this information. A simple image notifying free breakfast, even an icon of food would have prevented the loss of this conversion stream. The horror!

UX Analytics: The Bad UX Buster

Any brand can fall prey to scary bad UX. But bad UX need not uphold its reign of terror on your website; there is a solution.

This mighty antidote is granular user experience analytics, the kind of data that can back up the hidden trappings of customer frustration and its digital origins. Whether on its own or paired with VoC, granular data gives you indispensable knowledge on your UX.

The metrics and other capabilities (heatmaps with metric overlays, customer journey analysis) of these analytics do not merely point out the scary monsters causing a bad UX. They also deduce the changes and additions your website needs to rectify the issues caused by the poor UX and improve your sales figures. 

In short, a unique set of UX analytics combat these UX monsters so they can never rear their ugly heads again. Not even on Halloween.