Your website is your digital storefront, regardless of whether or not you are an ecommerce business. Moreover, the specific landing pages you choose for your social media, blog, and other digital marketing efforts are key in generating leads and converting visitors to customers.
Naturally you need great products and services, competitive prices, and five-star customer service for an overall positive customer experience. No amount of time and effort on web design will make up for a shoddy business structure. But do not underestimate the necessity of a strong, positive first website interaction and the follow-on user experience with your products or services.
Visitors leave, or “bounce”, from a website for numerous reasons such as slow loading times, non-mobile friendly pages, irrelevant content, and outdated or poor design. While what constitutes a “good” or “bad” bounce rate varies by industry and type of website, a high bounce rate means fewer leads and conversions.
User interface (UI), user experience (UX), and customer experience (CX) all work hand-in-hand to generate leads, convert visitors to customers, and retain those customers for a lifetime.
To help illustrate the differences between and importance of UI, UX, and CX, we’ll explore each one in-depth and look at some good—and not so good—examples of each.
UI deals with the presentation and interactivity of your website. UI design should enhance a customer’s experience on your website and make the path to conversion simple and intuitive. Therefore, the main goal of UI design is to help the user accomplish their purpose as quickly and efficiently as possible. This means the look and feel of the landing pages and website must match the company, industry, and user. Nothing about the fonts, colors, messaging, or page load speed should confuse or frustrate the user or create any sort of barrier to accomplishing the task at hand.
You should A/B test various styles and formats of your landing pages in order to understand your users’ preferences. Make forms and checkouts as simple as possible. Use plenty of white space to attract the user to the desired button you want them to click or action you want them to take.
Twitter has, perhaps, the easiest signup form on the internet, which is amazing considering the level of complication they could easily justify on their signup form. Twitter requires just three fields and you’re on your way:
Of course after you sign up you need to choose a Twitter handle and provide some other profile information. But with this simple initial form, Twitter removes any barriers that might cause hesitant visitors to bounce.
Another example of removing complication from a sometimes-complicated process is Amazon. With their one-click checkout they remove numerous pages of checkout details that other ecommerce websites require.
Sometimes a one-click checkout isn’t an option. You may need to capture multiple pieces of information in order to best serve your customers. A good example of UI design that encourages visitors to “stick” through a multi-page process is Fiverr. As a user searches for a particular service on Fiverr, the website collects a set of information on a series of pages. In order to avoid losing users in the process, Fiverr’s UI design implements three features:
- A progress meter (three grey circles that turn green as the user advances pages, indicating the short nature of the process and how few steps remain).
- A very simple and quick choice on each page that features simple images and captions.
- A note on the final page indicating to the user that this is, in fact, the last page.
UX is broader in scope and includes UI, sometimes creating confusion and causing people to think UX and UI are synonymous. Rather, UI is the look and feel that coats the UX structure and strategy.
One definition of UX that really resonates was given by Emily Stewart from UserTesting:
“UX design is the value you deliver at every touchpoint. These values—whether negative or positive—are stitched together to shape a user’s perception of the product.”
UX optimizes the product for effective and enjoyable use. It’s the process of developing all of the facets of a product or service that the user interacts with–including the landing page and website visits. Therefore, UX design requires intense research, development, testing, analysis, and repeating in order to optimize the process and create the ideal user experience for every touchpoint along the way.
Airbnb is a good example of UX design that has been optimized at every touchpoint.
The search function is simple and only by choice can a user include additional search parameters. The booking process features a prompt to open a dialogue with the host. After the booking is made, Airbnb continues to encourage dialogue. The review process once the trip is complete is equally simple and intuitive.
Each touchpoint: searching, booking, communicating with the host/traveler, reviewing the details of the booking (address, wifi password, etc.), leaving a review, is simple and straightforward. This is a result of proper development of UX and then skillful execution of UI design.
Khan Academy is another good example of UX design. The UI is simple and easy to understand. The content offered is top-notch, users have the ability to track their progress, the content is served in a variety of ways, and users can navigate anywhere they desire quickly and intuitively. The entire experience from start to finish is enjoyable and void of frustration.
Now take an even wider step back in order to understand customer experience. CX focuses on all interactions with a company (not just with the company’s website or products/services) over the lifetime of the customer relationship. This includes customer service (in-store, online, and post-purchase), pricing (are you competitive?), marketing activities (do you sent spammy emails after capturing a customer email address?) and anything else that relates to customers.
In short, CX is how your company exceeds or falls short of customer expectations at every interaction. For good or ill, CX is what prompts people to share their experiences with you and doesn’t always relate to a specific landing page interaction. (United Airlines customer service, for example…)
We won’t discuss this further since volumes have been written and could be written about customer experience. Our focus is the experience around your landing pages and website in order to generate leads and increase conversions.
Certainly some exceptions exist to the principles discussed above. Amazon and Craigslist are good examples of poor user interface but great user experience. Amazon pages are increasingly cluttered and busy, which is a major UI design faux pas. But since Amazon has been around for so long, they have conditioned users to adapt as they add more and more features to their pages. Additionally, features like Prime, low prices, and the ability to find almost anything encourage users to overlook the poor UI design. The Craigslist idea simply gained popularity so quickly and now has become institutionalized in our culture that people don’t care about the lack of UI design.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, websites like Ryanair have great UI but offer a poor user experience. Ryanair makes finding and selecting flights quite simple. The navigation buttons toward checkout are clear. But their constant add-ons and requests for upgrades make for a poor user experience through checkout. However, the poor UX works for Ryanair because their prices are so incredibly low that users continue through the process and return again in the future.
What UI, UX, and CX Mean For You
First and foremost, you must provide a good customer experience. Most examples of beautifully-done landing pages and websites with poor CX don’t last long. You need the whole package and CX must be your primary focus.
Then, and in order for people to even choose you and learn that you provide a great customer experience, you need UI that draws people in and UX to back it up. Remember, your website is your storefront and often users’ first impression.
You must optimize your landing pages and incorporate UI design that removes all barriers and attracts people to stick. Your social media, blog articles, and other digital marketing efforts all point to landing pages and your UI can often be the deciding factor between a conversion and a bounce.
Make the conversion process smooth, efficient, and intuitive. Research, understand, and develop the process and then design the interface. Then you can increase conversions, lower your bounce rate, and create lifelong customers.
What are some good (and bad) examples of UI and UX that you’ve seen?