12 October 2012
We can thank Steve Jobs (among many others) for this design-focused renaissance. He trained consumers to expect things that not only look great, but are designed to “make sense,” and create experiences that are, in his words, “magical”. Great design makes products more useful, allowing the user to be more effective, leading to greater satisfaction and, frankly, happiness.
This market expectation means that design is no longer optional; it is required for success. Take a look at Airbnb and compare it to VRBO. In today’s design-minded culture your product can be easily disrupted or ignored without thoughtful design.
When it comes to designing for the Web, there are core actions you want users to take. You may want them to sign up, download something, buy something, subscribe or share with their friends. Each can be optimized through design that meets the user’s needs. Here’s how:
If you’re trying to convert visitors to customers, you’re exceptionally interested in maximizing the clicks on primary calls to action that turn that visitor into a subscriber, fan, or purchaser. More clicks in the right spot means more potential customers.
Here are techniques that have proven to generate greater clickthrough rates (CTRs) on all kinds of sites.
We worked with ReTargeter to redesign the banners they use to drive customer acquisition. Their original ads had clickthrough rates on par with display advertising benchmarks, but they weren’t satisfied. The goal was to use enhanced design and messaging to really move the needle. Below are the before and after for the banners. You can see there was intentional emphasis on messaging, clear call to action, and smart design that stood out and communicated the benefits of ReTargeter to the viewer.
The result? The new banners performed nearly five times better than the original ads, significantly lowering their customer acquisition cost.
If you’re launching a new web application or a service, you likely don’t have a huge marketing budget. Therefore, the performance of your friend referral program is critical. It’s imperative that companies design viral loops to leverage new customer referrals from their existing customer base.
Here are some techniques to drive the viral loop:
We designed a viral loop to launch Hello Bar, our notification bar plugin for websites and Web apps. The entire user experience, from the first invite, to the activation email, to the refer-a-friend loop was designed to drive referred users. Thoughtful design and optimization can make your referral program go like wildfire, or fizzle out before it even gets started.
The Hello Bar launch site was invite only, creating a sense of exclusivity. This created anticipation and value for the invite. Once Hello Bar users were invited in, they had a limited number of invites to send to friends. This keeps perceived value high and ensures that invites are sent to people who will likely enjoy the service. This creates a stronger feedback loop than just letting people blast their entire address book. Once those people were in, design kept the viral loop going, by providing the new user with limited invites and encouraging the referral behavior through the messaging and user experience.
Social proof is an important part of building customer trust and confidence. Not only do Likes and follows build first-time visitor confidence, they also help extend your reach to the social web and help energize word-of-mouth. Like everything else, you can design your use of social badges like the Facebook Like button and the Twitter Tweet This button to maximize your conversion and exposure on the web.
There are a handful of best practice techniques to consider when implementing social sharing on your site.
ModCloth does a great job of integrating Facebook Like buttons right into the product pages. Their benefit here is three-fold:
Tiny Prints integrates the Facebook Like Box on to the order confirmation page. It’s a smart choice. Moments after you’ve just completed a successful purchase you’re asked to Like Tiny Prints on Facebook. Your successful shopping experience combined with overwhelming social proof makes you more likely to click “Like”.
This is a viral loop in it’s own right and has two main benefits to Tiny Prints:
Designing for sales means two things: clarity and reduced friction. Use design to make it easy for people to understand what you’re selling and the benefits of what you’re selling, and then get out of their way. Let’s come back to Airbnb and how they’ve used design to make their product the market front-runner over the much older VRBO.
Lets look at the techniques they used to get more sales with design:
Zappos does a great job with designing for sales by providing loads of customer confidence. They’ve has also spent a lot of time designing the VIP experience, even so far as creating a whole new instance of the site,vip zappos.com to make VIP shoppers feel even more special.
By using the techniques above Crazy Egg was able to increase its conversions 21.6%. Crazy Egg used a custom SlideDeck to create a product tour that explained the benefits of their service to website owners, while explaining it in a clear and concise manner.
Converting a website visitor into a new subscriber, member or account holder is one of the most important conversions there is. In fact, a whole field of analytics, conversion rate optimization (CRO), is solely focused on improving sign up conversions through improved landing page design. Let’s look at a few examples of the sign up process, and how design makes a difference in maximizing conversion.
Monsoon Company’s service required a high amount of contact and exchange; therefore, they needed a method of driving sign ups in order to start an initial conversation. Right off the bat, they have a clear message paired with straight-to-the-point imagery. Following that, they have brief supporting copy to tell a little more about what they do. Their main desired point of contact, a phone number, is then listed right below, with a prominent lead form (for users less inclined to contacting by phone).
Being conscientious about design and user experience can create exceptional returns for your business. Be thoughtful, test your assumptions and designs, measure which ones perform better and then constantly iterate to improve all aspects of your website, product and service. When an experience is well-designed it is the only thing your user sees. The design just works and is at the heart of the product.
By being design-oriented in your thinking you’ll achieve a greater level of success not only in sales, but in customer satisfaction. And by driving toward even better results for you and your customer you’ll create an experience that really does make a difference.
By Chuck Longanecker