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.”
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 Marvi7How to Use Customer Journey Analytics to Eliminate Friction for Users
Friction is the number one impediment to a seamless customer journey — a must-have for any brand speaking to today’s hyper-connected and increasingly demanding consumer. Friction can occur anywhere along the customer journey, and even in the most optimized of user experiences, visitors will sometimes run into something that impairs their journey. At worst, these points of friction can lead visitors to completely abandon your website. If the experience leaves a bad taste, this could be the last time you see them on your site.
In order to rid your website, app or mobile site of friction points, you must first identify them, what’s causing them and where they’re most likely to hurt the experience. Only after you’ve determined this information can you undo the obstacles and up your users’ digital happiness. Customer journey analytics serves as the essential tool to understand how your visitors are navigating your site, revealing where friction points exist for your users.
What is Friction in UX?
Friction in user experience (UX) is defined as the instance or instances in which a visitor experiences difficulty with your website. The chief concept behind friction is the blockage of users from smoothly and painlessly completing an action. As such, points of friction are one of the main challenges in UX, as they preempt a seamless, intuitive journey. Sometimes they prevent a user from taking an action entirely. Friction can be described in general terms, or general problems within your site, while points of friction point to specific burdensome spots. It’s almost as if you’re doing a spot treat cleanse on your UX.
Friction: A Wide-Reaching Hindrance Customer Journey Analytics Can Tackle
- Long page loading times
- Confusing navigation
- Difficult-to-understand functionality of content
- Jumbled interfaces
- Inability to achieve a task
- Ineffective copy
- Overly complicated forms
Customer journey analytics can be used to detect these hurdles so you can make targeted, data-backed optimizations. Even some of the broader concepts behind friction points — such as hesitation — can be measured with customer journey analytics.
Where Friction Points Live on Your Website
Customer journeys will vary from user to user, but there are certain universal UX features that can fall prey to malfunction. Some of these are not readily apparent and will require trial and error, with your users running into points of friction when using these elements. It’s good to know where these points typically occur, so that you can zero in on them when perusing through the customer journey analytics. Here are a few places in which friction points can live on your website that you may have not known about.
- Breadcrumbs that aren’t straightforward/ intuitive
- Footers (mainly in mobile sites)
- Shopping carts
- Non-clickable elements that look clickable and vice versa
- Form fields that won’t let users pass
- Location-based fields that can’t properly locate a user’s whereabouts
How to Use Customer Journey Analytics to Discover Friction Points
It’s easy to conjecture that you should look at the user flow, aka the site path, to detect friction. After all, this shows you which pages your customers had visited and where they’re exiting. But as far as friction is concerned, a birds-eye view, which is essentially what you get when viewing the user flow, is too general.
However, it’s still an important first step. After you’ve viewed a visitor’s user flow, you should move onto a deeper read of how the user was interacting with your site within their journey, which brings us to the engagement rate.
As its name suggests, it shows you how well a page element is being engaged with, or — the percentage of visitors who clicked on an element after hovering it. Among other things, it relays how intuitive an in-page element is, i.e. its capacity to drive interaction.
This metric can detect the friction associated with a clickable element that appears unclickable. For example, if a CTA, i.e., a clickable element, has a low engagement rate, it isn’t doing its job. Conversely, if a non-clickable element has a high engagement rate, it too is a point of friction, as it shouldn’t generate any clicks, a waste of time for users that ultimately leads them to frustration.
Another metric that will shed light on the experience the hesitation time, which, as its name points out, reveals the friction point of hesitation. It shows if your content is easily understood, as it measures the average elapsed time between the last hover and the first click on an element. A hefty hesitation time shows that visitors hesitate before they click on what they need, a source of great annoyance, especially if they are short on time.
Then, you should look to the click recurrence, which, like the engagement rate, can point to issues with identifying clickable and non-clickable elements. This metric unveils the average number of times an element was clicked when engaged with during a page view and can discern frustration, another common conversion deterrent. A high or low click recurrence can be either good or bad, depending on the context. For example, a carousel with a high click rate shows no point of friction, but good engagement, while a banner with a high click rate is negative in that it demonstrates users expect to land somewhere after clicking on it, but stay on the same page. Also, high click recurrence in form fields is bad news, showing that users are trying to fill in a field that is not allowing them to, thus causing friction.
As a healthy conversion rate is established when users have a positive UX, a poor one usually paints a picture of friction points. There are several metrics that relate to the conversion rate, or take it into account. For example, conversion rate per hover is a metric that helps you decide if hovering over an area impacts a visitor’s behavior and conversion goal.
It is the number of users who achieved a behavior & hovered over a zone divided by the number of users who hovered the zone. Hovering over an area may not always lead to conversions and this shows you whether the hover was positive or a point of friction.
Take the product details. Does hovering over them lead to a high conversion rate? If not, perhaps there’s friction with understanding the copy, or the imagery of the product is not sufficient for the users to make a purchase or if they’re on a category page, to visit the product page.
Keeping Points of Friction at Bay
Customer journey analytics are a practical way to inspect friction points for your site visitors. Every step in the user journey, from landing, to signing up, to searching, has the ability to either create or remove friction. This friction can wreak havoc on your marketing efforts, firstly where acquisition is concerned. If you’ve successfully drawn visitors to your website, the last thing you want is for them to have a poor UX, which leads to exits, bounces and possibly, permanent abandonment.
That’s why a seamless, friction-free UX is standard in the current omnichannel environment users visit and brands rely on. The metrics in this post give you a snapshot of how customer journey analytics can be used to find friction. But there are far more metrics and capabilities (think AI Alerts) that can be used to identify friction points. The more measuring tools you have to pin down these points of friction, the more adept you will be at keeping them at bay.