The importance of an excellent online user journey.

Every day we make many steps in customer journeys. Both in the physical and the digital world.

Years ago our travels were limited to stores and physical goods. Today we live in a multimedia world of websites, social media, chat sessions, newsletters, e-mails and advertisement. These digital journeys have fundamentally changed the way we interact with companies and products.

Physical journeys

Last week I decided that I would visit a new sports store. A somewhat stressful experience, because I could not find half of my shopping list in the store.

So what went wrong? A few mental notes;

  • Clothing items were not ordered by activities, but brand.
  • The line of hiking gear on the back wall seemed to last forever and I had no idea how I got to the running shoes.
  • Sports accessories were divided into several areas and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find my tennis balls.

The above is an illustration of a customer journey in the physical world. A very negative that will make a lasting negative impression.

The same journey could easily take place in the digital world. In today's world, a digital adapted journey does not only happen on the website. Instead, it talks about multiple types of communication methods from email and chat boxes to social media and apps. We have a number of options for communicating with the customer and giving a lasting impression.

In the physical world, a store owner or salesperson can observe interaction between the customer and store. They can see a person's responses to a product, display or event. They are present in the here and now and can receive customer feedback. This provides valuable data and allows the seller to optimize and fine-tune their processes. However, how does this translate to the digital world?

Digital journeys lack visual emotions

As the world shifted to digital, we were presented with a tremendous amount of new challenges. The digital world is completely different from that of the store front. We cannot "see" anything. Instead, we have to use alternative methods to get feedback.

Google Analytics gives us a lot of feedback and although some of the reports are great, this data is biased and lacks the emotional factor. They are a good starting point, but they are very limited.

This forces us to look for emotions and feedback in other sources. And I already hear you think “these don't exist”, but there are really alternative data sources. The user journey can cross multiple types of communication channels. With a little effort, we can get feedback from a number of different sources:

  • Search engine results click results
  • Website analysis such as top pages, bounce rates and exit inquiries
  • Website offer response rates
  • Email open rates
  • Social media shares, likes and comments
  • Customer reviews
  • User interviews
  • Surveys and polls
  • A / B test results

The trick is to monitor, analyze and take action to improve the customer journey. And of course to record to be able to analyze the results.

What if you could translate a physical experience into the digital world?

Website design is not just about headers, footers or sidebars. Good design is about asking the right questions and making sure that these questions apply to your website visitors. It's about finding solutions to your visitors' problems and presenting these solutions within a coherent design. It is about mapping a journey for your visitors and creating clear paths for them to follow.

People naturally tend to subdivide people. Friends, family, neighbors, up to the branding community or customer group x. This natural urge, however, is the key to success for effectively mapping and optimizing the user journey.

Marketing messages or funnels can be tailor-made for each persona (read segmentation) of visitors. Once you have defined the personas, you can create unique messages and experiences that are focused on those characters, so that the offer can be formulated better and thus more conversions or sales are achieved.

The customer journey

The customer journey is not just the website. It is every interaction that your customer has with your brand / company. Rarely does a visitor come to your website and immediately makes a purchase or other converise. They may do research, visit the Facebook page, or will not return until much later. They come and go and they touch at various points within the buying cycle.

This simply comes down to; make sure that every interaction with your brand is a positive one. We will touch on how to achieve this in a next blog post.

5 tips for more conversions on your website

Your website is often the first interaction that a user has with your brand. That is why we give so much attention to impressions when we get started with a strategic foundation, UX design and the front end design. First impressions are crucial, emotional design, mobile friendliness, an intuitive interface and usability are paramount.

Even with all these issues in mind, the website cannot live up to its potential if it does not encourage visitors to take action.

Conversion Rate Optimization

The conversion rate of your website directly influences your return on your investment. It is therefore worth investigating and discovering how much your current website encourages its users to take the next step in your business relationship. Conversions are simply actions that you want the user to take on your website, such as filling in a contact form or pressing a call to action button.

1. A clear Value Proposition

Our goal is to quickly and effectively convince the visitor that your company is the solution they are looking for. Companies often fall for the “peacock” trap - they try to fill their home pages with what makes them different and effective, causing you to lose the user (and thus your message / objective).

A better approach is to write a clear, concise value proposition for your homepage. Add this to a minimalist, well-designed homepage with an attractive graphic, and your user is encouraged to continue to the next step.

2. Demographic responsive design

Nowadays everyone is familiar with the concept of responsive design and the importance of this on conversion rates. According to eMarketer, more than half of respondents reported to a recent survey that they would not buy from a brand that offers a poorly designed mobile experience. In our era of data and personalization, designing goes far beyond mobile web design; demographic-responsive design. Considering that each generation has unique characteristics that we can respond to. For example, we know that in general millennials are idealists and generation Z is more cynical. With the power of demographic responsive design, we can take both features into account.

3. Is the homepage dead?

We are already through this paradigm shift, the homepage is dead. In today's marketing landscape, the homepage has become less relevant, especially when combined with demographically based responsive design. Rather than a central home page, consider creating landing pages that are indexed around demographics, location, or other relevant metrics. In practice, landing pages are made for different goals and demographers, so you can be sure that you are providing relevant information.

4. Clear Call To Actions

If your website does not make conversions, it may just be because your Call To Actions are not clear enough. A good CTA leads the user to the next step in the goal they want to achieve and tells them that they are on the right track. There can be several reasons that your CTA is confusing or ineffective;

  • It's too confusing. If you put too much information in your CTA, your users may wonder if they are doing the right thing. Even worse, they can be convinced that you are not what they are looking for.
  • It's too random. "Find out more." "Contact us." "Get on." While these CTAS are simple, they don't offer as much to a user as a more descriptive CTA opportunity. Enticing users to continue is an important aspect of your CTA.
  • They are too hard to find. Suppose you have a well-worded, descriptive CTA, but your design gets lost due to poor design. This problem can be solved by using dominant colors, animated buttons or typography that distinguishes it. Don't let your user search.

5. Keep it simple

In design, we talk a lot about simplicity and how important it is for a successful website or user experience. The reason for this, in addition to aesthetics, is scientific evidence.

The people of marketing or design background are no doubt familiar with Gestalt psychology and principles, which aim to explain how our brains maintain order and perception in our chaotic world. One of the main principles of this discipline is Pragnanz's Law, or literally translated from German, “the law of conciseness”. This principle says that we desire a logical order, and thus organize our experiences in the simplest way. Instinctively, we like simplicity because it leaves less room for the element of surprise.

If you want to have an example of this concept, you can take the “fear” associated with a major purchase, such as a house or a car, which requires a ton of paperwork and which (especially for someone who has never done it) often the steps are unclear compared to a purchase on a website like bol.com or amazon. Here you can view the order history, print return labels and even set the delivery time, even for large purchases or orders arranged by third parties without further insight.

Final word

The internet increasingly focuses on user behavior and real experiences; understanding users and engaging in dialogue with our users is more important than ever. Websites must be more than functional, while remaining attractive and clear, with a user experience that focuses on conversion optimization.

Simplicity will always win from pages inundated with information, this "information overload" will confuse the user. Of course, we always include this quest for simplicity (less is more) and the importance of conversion optimization in our design process. For us that is a “website that works”.