Increasing Conversions by Removing Usability Roadblocks

Posted by Kristina Allen - August 13, 2010 - SEO - 5 Comments

What is conversion optimization

Conversion optimization is the process of testing your website and landing pages to improve your conversion rate. A conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who complete the desired action on a page (example: submitting a form or making a purchase). So, if 100 visitors land on your page, and 10 of them complete your form, then you have a 10% conversion rate (which would be good!).

Visitors are either compelled to respond to your call to action, or they aren’t. The best way to increase the number of people responding is through testing, analysis and optimization.

What is the user experience (UX)?

The user experience is made up of all positive and negative feelings a user has when interacting with something (software, a web page, etc). The ultimate goal for a usability engineer is to produce a page that is so intuitive to use, there are absolutely no negative feelings. To get to this point, most usability engineers conduct tests to generate user feedback.

A recent post on Test-Driven Marketing included a great quote on the importance of user experience (UX) testing in conversion focused design: “Marketing has become like software. You run it, test it, and it either works or it doesn’t.”

The user is persuaded to convert, or they aren’t.

How do conversion optimization & UX work together?

Usability testing is often wrapped up within your conversion testing, because the number one way to increase conversions is to remove usability roadblocks. If your analytics show a high bounce rate at an odd point within the conversion funnel, there is likely a usability issue.

For example, a user may be persuaded to convert but after clicking your button they are presented with an error page. The user is confused (Did the submission go through or not? Was my card charged or not?), and you may not be receiving valuable data.

In “Always Be Testing,” Bryan Eisenberg writes, “The goal of usability is to remove any obstacles impeding the experience and process of online interactions.”

Marketers today need to be empowered with the ability to make usability and conversion focused changes to pages – in real time – without the help of IT. Without this ability, removing obstacles will take much longer than it should (which is no time at all).

Common usability roadblocks that impede conversion

Here are five common usability roadblocks that will prevent conversion:

  • Links that don’t look like links and are never clicked on
  • Accessibility issues – visitors with impairments are unable to convert
  • Unreadable font color or sizes
  • Confusing navigation that leads away from conversion
  • 404 or other page errors

Be sure to run through your pages and look for these obstacles before launching. Then after launch, begin running tests immediately to discover user patterns that lead to and away from conversion.

“Marketing has become like software. You run it, test it, and it either works or it doesn’t.” And if it doesn’t work you must look to user feedback/analytics to figure out why. Nothing is more important than the WHY, except maybe the HOW: how to fix the why.

About the Author

Kristina Allen

Kristina Allen is the online marketing manager for @ioninteractive where she handles social media and PR initiatives. You can read her daily blog posts at The Post-Click Marketing blog, or connect with her @allenkristina on Twitter.