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20 June 2018

The drivers behind conversion rates: meet UX and UI

You might find that your website is fashionable and trendy, or even better, that it truly stands out from the crowd. As a result, all the stats look great and sales as such should follow, but then they don’t. Why isn’t there a perfect correlation between the number of visitors on your website and sales performance?

Meet UX and UI

Well, it all comes down to three words that any marketer should hold dearly: customer conversion rate, or to use the industry jargon, the number of prospects turning into customers. This article focuses on the drivers behind conversion rates and how businesses should focus on user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) to understand the true impact on e-commerce.

What is website conversion?

Conversion is expressed as a rate or score defining to what extent website visitors complete a desired goal. For the sake of clarity, conversion in this article means buying. Conversion rate optimization is the process of measuring, improving and testing the conversion rate. A high conversion rate depends on three key factors.

The first one is the visitor’s level of interest which is to be maximized by tailoring your website content to the targeted customer. The second relates to the attractiveness of the offer: to what extent the user is connecting to the company’s value proposition. The last factor measures the usability of the platform by identifying metrics such as loading time and time between entering the platform and achieving the prospect’s end goal. I believe any business should put the majority of the weight on this last factor.

How can you make your good-looking website lead to sales?

UX and UI both stimulate sales. I know there’s a lot of confusion about the difference between UX and UI. Although they seem to overlap, they are not equal. UX is a very large category of which UI is only a small part. Imagine designing a button on your website. UI design will focus on the graphical layout such as size, shape and color. UX design, however, will consider how and where to place the button thinking from the user’s perspective and for their convenience.

Think simple when setting up your interface

Businesses think conversion rates, users think usability. You should always remember that usability has the strongest causal relationship to conversion rates. The main goal of UI design is to enable users to accomplish their goals in the most efficient and easy way possible. This is achieved by concentrating on the graphic design of a website. Indeed, the designer should be able to think like the user by creating an intuitive experience for the visitor. Any inconvenience encountered that disrupts the smoothness of the user experience will lead to a higher fall out of the conversion funnel.

Think simple when you set up your user interface

Where user interface design stops, UX continues

The core principle of UX is that your users find value in the content you provide. More and more, UX is becoming an important differentiator in the browsing process of a potential customer looking for a product to buy. As there are so many of us out there striving for the same user’s attention a good user experience can help in attracting customers and making them loyal.

Loyalty can only be stimulated by offering a real problem-solving experience. Moreover, customers feel it when making profit is given more importance than experience. Focusing on increasing revenue through intrusive advertisement may bring fruitful results in the short term, but will most likely not be sustainable as the customer experience is not optimal. Although this might seem straightforward, it is still easy to fall in the trap of just pushing ads out of the window without understanding the long-lasting impact on the user.

Therefore, pay attention to your user’s feelings, preferences and needs and put these in the first place in your website design. Let’s wrap up by remembering this line: ‘If they can’t (easily) find it, they can’t buy it!’

Best practices

Let’s go through some useful examples to optimize your conversion rate based on UX and UI best practices. As mentioned, it all starts with knowing your users. Once you understand their goals, skills and preferences you can start designing. In any case, you should consider these five best practices. However, these are just a starting point!

  1. Keep it simple and speak the language of your users
    • Every letter matters! Create clear call to actions and focus on simple messages in words that are familiar to the user. Make sure you only use necessary elements which you want your user to focus on.
  2. Create consistency
    • Consistency is key in teaching your user throughout your website. Therefore, use common UI elements and create returning patterns in language and layout. It will speed up and facilitate the browsing process of your user.
  3. Be purposeful in page layout and hierarchy
    • Structure your website based on importance and highlight significant items by using color, light, contrast and texture. This will enable the user to be guided easily through the website and facilitate readability.
  4. Create defaults where possible
    • Pre-chosen and filled out fields help in fasten the conversion process, especially when it comes to forms.
  5. Don’t compromise on speed
    • Always keep in mind, people are not patient. Make sure they get not frustrated because of slow-loading webpages. Increase the loading speed by removing unnecessary large images and videos and by compressing images. You can also enable browser caching to your visitors. Through plugins, you allow your visitors to keep the downloadable files from your website stored in their browser. This way, the webpages will load faster the next time they visit as they do not need to download everything again.

Learn from your users

Asking yourself what to attain with your website and then hope the user will like your ideas is clearly the wrong way of approaching it. Rather the other way around makes more sense as you try to understand what the user expects from your business. Indeed, there is preliminary research needed before setting up an e-commerce platform but once the set-up is done, daily performance tracking is key to optimizing your online business. Be aware, it’s not a one-shot effort. 

Therefore, let’s go through three useful tools you need to track your conversion performance, find the leaks in the funnel and enable optimization.

Google Analytics collects all your website usage data and is a fantastic tool to discover who your users are and what they want to achieve. It can be used to start your user research and optimization process by spotting the general trends.

Once you want to dig a little deeper, Hotjar can help you reveal a more detailed view and share insights on how visitors interact with your website, like where they click, how far they scroll and how their mouse hovers over the page. It combines analysis and also customer feedback.

Once you have gained insights into the browsing behavior of your users, you should start comparing different creative elements in order to achieve the best possible result. For this kind of A/B and multivariate testing of your landing pages, Optimizely can be a great help.


It’s clear that a good-looking website doesn’t result per se in high sales numbers. We rather need an optimal user interface and create a smooth user experience based on user insights in order to make people convert. Keep in mind that usability and valuable content are key to attract users’ attention and let them become loyal customers.

The less hassle and the less they have to think, the better. Setting up an e-commerce platform is not a one-shot effort but only the start. Daily performance tracking and multivariate testing will enable you to grow. Testing is the best learning school!