Good web design is usually simple and intuitive. That doesn’t mean web design is easy or that design mistakes don’t occur. This is why it’s important to bring together specialists. Such as UX design, conversion optimisation and user research to help create a great user experience that delivers a high conversion rate.
Design mistakes occur because even with the best intentions things are missed or compromises are made that can have a huge impact on the user experience and conversion rates. That is why it’s important to track user behaviour and monitor the customer experience on a continuous basis. A heuristic evaluation of a site will often uncover a multitude of sins and areas of interest that need further investigating.
Here are a five common mistakes that can affect your conversion rate.
1. Dead end:
Providing additional resources or tools is a great way of engaging visitors and encouraging them to return to your website. It is still important though to include relevant call to actions to guide users where to go next after they find the resources they are searching for.
For example, the insurer Vitality Health offers users calculators and tools, including an age calculator. This is a great idea given their target audience. When visitors complete the age calculator they are taken to a page without any call-to-action. This is a dead-end for the user and a lost opportunity to give visitors clear guidance on where to go next.
Image Source: Vitality.co.uk
2. Unnecessary Friction:
When users are trying to complete a transaction on a secure page it is important to avoid unnecessary friction. Users may get frustrated and abandon the page. Here Tesco asks users to verify their account before completing a purchase using Clubcard vouchers. Customers are asked to enter three digits from their sixteen digit account number. This may be straightforward if customers have a Clubcard. If they have a Tesco credit card it is more of a challenge as the account number is using a small low contrast font at the bottom of the card.
Image Source: Tesco.co.uk
A simple text message or email with a verification code would be much easier for users to deal with here. However, when I first completed this process I couldn’t understand why I kept being asked to order a new Clubcard. That’s because I naturally clicked on the CTA that is just below the image of the Tesco credit card.
The primary CTA is tucked away on the far left and not immediately below the input boxes. Users will naturally click on the CTA that is closest to their mouse position on a form. We associate items that are close to each other as being related. Furthermore, in the West when faced with multiple CTAs users will naturally click on the CTA on the right. Ensure your primary CTA is where users expect to see it as they don’t anticipate searching for a form submission CTA.
3. Excessive Negative Space:
Excessive negative or white space can push engaging content below the fold and create the impression of a false bottom. The flooring site Atrafloor.com below uses so much negative space on its “Our Story” page it looks like the page is broken and has no content. This is wasteful and reduces engagement. It also discourages users to explore the page further.
Image Source: Atrafloor.com
4. Breaking web conventions:
Web conventions are the designer’s friend because they allow users to navigate and learn from experience. This means they don’t have to re-learn how to browse around a site provided it conforms to basic web conventions. Yet many sites appear to ignore this benefit of web conventions and don’t locate their primary navigation at the top of their page or down the left hand-side of the screen. See below a few examples of homepages where the primary navigation is not located where users expect it to be.
Does it really matter? Well, yes it does as lots of studies and tests have shown breaking strong web conventions reduces usability and often adversely affects conversion rates. Below is an A/B test on partypoker.com. In the default experience the secondary navigation was on the right hand-side of the page. In the challenger variant the navigation had been moved to the left hand-side of the page to conform to the web convention. The variant was the clear winner with clicks on the secondary navigation up by 17% and clicks on the primary CTA (which varied according the page) up by 12% and 27% respectively.
Image Source: Conversion-Uplift.co.uk
5. The Hamburger Icon:
Sometime we see something so often we assume that it must be working because of its popularity and we may even adopt it for our own site. This is called the bandwagon effect and unfortunately this can lead to design trends that have no evidence to support them. That’s what happened to the hamburger icon on mobile and why it can be classed as a design mistake.
Facebook adopted the hamburger icon for its mobile side menu in 2010 and after that many designers assumed it was an approved design element. However, most A/B tests and usability studies have shown that the hamburger icon reduces discoverability and conversion. A study by Whatusersdo confirmed this is 2016. For this reason companies that have testing culture have tended to either remove their hamburger icons or add a label to clarify its purpose (see Netflix below).
Image Source: Netflix.com
Another recent trend that lacks any real logic is using the hamburger icon on desktop sites. Apart from being a stupid idea, it is totally unnecessary as on a desktop screen there is no need to reduce the primary navigation down to single icon. I suspect this trend may reflect an obsession for consistency of design between mobile and desktop sites. But as I explained in a post about commitment and consistency, consistency for its own sake is not a good reason to strive for it. Consistency needs to have a benefit as otherwise it can harm the user experience.
Conversion optimisation is not a simple process. It requires a culture of experimentation and evidence based decision making. However, you can prevent unnecessary problems by ensuring you always give users a clear call-to-action at the end of any user journey. Don’t let account verification create unnecessary friction through poor design and difficult tasks. Automated account verification makes this process simple and painless.
Negative or white space can be a powerful directional cue to draw the user towards a desired action. However, excessive white space creates the wrong impression and can hinder browsing activity. Web conventions assist user navigation and browsing and so avoid breaking them unless your idea improves the user experience. Breaking conventions relating to navigation are especially problematic and so should be avoided at all costs.
Finally, avoid following new design trends unless you have evidence that they improve conversions. Many design trends only become popular because designers and web masters jump on the bandwagon without first testing their impact on user behaviour. This approach to web design can seriously damage your conversion rate. If you don’t have the expertise internally consider hiring a conversion rate optimisation consultant to help guide you and transfer skills to your staff.
Personas templates are often in user-centred design because they create better understanding of and empathy for prospects and customers alike. Buyer persona templates are used for a variety of purposes, including as a customer journey mapping tool, improving customer onboarding, designing sales strategies and increasing customer retention.
1. What is it?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of an important customer segment based on insights from market research and other relevant sources of data, including complaints, customer services and data analytics. The persona template should include information on relevant characteristics of the customer or prospect such as demographics, lifestyle, geography, habits, motivations and goals. These characteristic should be determined by your research and relevance to your sector/product.
2. How are they used?
A user persona template is a great tool for improving understanding of your customer segments and communicating this knowledge to the wider business. A persona template helps bring your customers to life and helps you to get away from using descriptive statistics that rely on averages which can be highly misleading. They also help you to stop treating all users the same as this will only lead to an average conversion rate.
Personas should not be based on descriptive statistics because there is no such thing as an average user. A good persona should be based on in-depth research and segmentation of your customer or prospect base. This can allow you to personalise your user experience for individual user segments.
Persona templates are used to improve the user experience by making designers and other stakeholders consider how the user will react in different situations and to different experiences. A well designed user persona makes us think about the user’s needs and emotional response to our product or design. It should also provide a common goal and direction for all decision makers to refer to when considering changes to an experience. This can make it easier to come to a consensus for making important decisions about a design because everyone should be thinking about the same user.
3. How to use persona templates to improve conversion:
The Buyer Legends process forces stakeholders to evaluate a user journey from the customer or prospects perspective. It also encourages decision makers to challenge misconceptions about users and how they might behave or feel in different situations.
If you need a persona template for Word or an online tool for building buyer personas there are some excellent free persona creators. Below are the 12 best free persona template tools for you to create and share your buyer personas. I have summarised the features of each persona template to provide an indication of what they offer.
4. Recommended Template:
My personal recommendation for a persona template creator is Xtensio as this provides an excellent and flexible framework that is easy to complete and customise. You can add charts, images, graphs and videos using a drag and drop editor. By adding colleagues (or clients) you can collaborate in real-time on the cloud.
This persona template uses a question and answer approach, though the number of questions and topics is not very comprehensive. This does make it a quick tool to use, but not all the questions will be relevant to all personas and there does not appear to be a way of changing the questions.
There is also no save functionality on the site as your persona is emailed to you within half an hour of completing the process. The lack graphical formatting or a one page summary does limit the use of the tool, but it can help start the persona building process.
This is more of a Pdf for collecting rather than displaying a user persona. It takes you through the information you need to create a user persona but lacks a front-end to communicate it in an engaging manner.
from Hubspot: This is a free step-by-step wizard persona template which takes you through the process of creating your own buyer persona. In addition Hubspot offers a free downloadable template in exchange for your name and email address. The online tool is very intuitive and easy to use. The tool allows you to select a stock photo to represent you persona and emails you the completed persona as a word document after about 15 minutes.
A free persona template app that asks you questions to help you understand what motivates your audience. The interface is simple to use, though some of the questions have too few pre-set answers (e.g. there are only 3 age ranges). The app does have a fairly extensive range of questions and displays the full persona when you submit at the end. The persona is also emailed to you, but it would benefit from a 1 page summary of the persona rather than having to scroll down through multiple pages.
One of the most flexible tools for collaborative user persona template development. By using URLs rather than static documents it allows everyone to easily access the latest iteration of your user personas. The wizard only asks a few simple questions, but you can then add as many sections as you need using your own headings for a comprehensive user persona.
Sign up for free to use this persona tool for collaborating with team-mates to create powerful buyer personas. Over 20 tailored sections to incorporate your target audience knowledge. You can stretch, drag and drop sections to customise the layout to meet your specific needs.
A free forever buyer persona template creator tool to build as many personas as you like. Also has a “How to guide” to help you with the process. This is one of the better online tools as it asks you to complete an online template to create each persona. It has an extensive range of questions, but each field can be amended to suit your needs. A highly recommended persona creator.
Learningspacetoolkit: This is a great free resource website which includes PDF guides on creating personas and running workshops to create user personas.
There are some excellent free persona templates here to help you create your buyer personas. To get the most from personas learn how to create a buyer persona to improve conversions. This will help you conduct a customer journey analysis to significantly improve your sales and revenues. Although it’s not an easy process and it will take some time to complete, it will definitely be worth the effort. You should also see substantial benefits for your organisation.
Is a one-page website a passing fad that participants will in time see as a ghastly mistake or do they have a place as a practical alternative to the traditional large website? Now, I’m not questioning the role of a single page website for a landing page for promotions or product announcements, special project, showcasing a portfolio or a website with minimal content.
What I’m talking about here is the site with more than a few pages. Where there is more than one layer of navigation and where there is a need for an archive of content and a desire for social sharing. The idea of a one-page website is to reduce clutter by only serving essential content. However, does this desire for simplification actually lead to greater user frustration because too much content has been removed and it makes sharing of content difficult?
What is a one-page website?
Initially one-page websites used a single page to dynamically load all pages at once. This allowed the user to scroll endlessly to view different sections of the site. However, increasingly such sites use CSS3 and AJAX to display navigation menus that take users directly to the section they are interested in.
What are the benefits?
Less is more is undoubtedly true sometimes. There is a danger that we present too much information to a user at any one time. This can create cognitive overload. A one-page website reduces the number of decisions users have to make. It removes the need for complex navigation to direct visitors to specific pages.
Easier browsing & no dead-ends:
As all content is on a one-page there is no need for multi-layer navigation. There is no risk of the user getting lost or finding a page with little or no content. This should speed up the browsing process and reduce the number of decisions users have to make.
Easier to keep content up-to-date:
Having substantially less content to maintain and all of it on a one-page significantly reduces the resources required to maintain a website. This should make the site less costly to run and allow what content is shown to be kept more up-to-date.
It is much easier to ensure your website is mobile friendly when you only have a single page to optimise. Since Google decided to give preference to mobile friendly websites this has probably given a big boost to the appeal of the one-page website. However, if all your content is not accessible by mobile devices (e.g. you use flash for some elements), then this is only a sticking plaster to hide a much bigger problem that needs addressing.
The limitation of only having a single page to communicate your value proposition and get a user to take action means that you only need essential messages and content. This may be a good discipline and is why single page websites are often used for landing pages to improve conversion rates. The risk for a multi-product website though is that some visitors require more detailed information about a product or service before they make a decision. For these types of visitors they are likely to become frustrated with a one-page website as they won’t be able to find the content they are looking for.
Take visitors on a journey:
One-page websites are more dynamic and aesthetically pleasing. They also encourage users to go on a journey rather than the traditional static experience of just looking at content on separate pages. Designers may create movement by triggering images or copy to appear as the visitor scrolls down the page.
If your whole website is designed for a single product in mind then you might get a small improvement in SEO ranking. Google will apply your page rank to the whole website. If you have more than one product or service this will not be the case and it could be detrimental to your search rankings.
So there are a number of potential benefits when creating a single page website, but what about the drawbacks?
Longer load speed:
Trying to serve all your content on a single page could reduce your site load speed. This may result in a higher bounce rate and lower conversion as a direct consequence of this change in the performance of your site. It could also affect your Google rankings as the search engine penalises slow loading sites. This should be a major concern for any marketer as people are impatient and don’t like to wait more than two or three seconds for a website to load.
A one-page website gives you little flexibility to add new content and so if you want to add new products or services you are going to be severely limited. It also doesn’t allow you to build up an archive of content, such as a blog. You will have to send visitors to another site to give them access to such an archive. This is not a great user experience and your main site doesn’t benefit from the SEO value of such content.
When a visitor first comes to your site it is important that you have sufficient content to draw them into your proposition before you can expect them to take action. Many first time visitors are not ready to sign up and this is why returning visitor conversion is often higher than new visitor conversion.
People need to be engaged and persuaded by relevant and interesting content. However, if you only have a one-page site, you can only have a limited amount of content in each section and there are no other pages to navigate to. This could mean you will experience a fall in engagement and time spent on your site as there is substantially less content to encourage visitors to browse the site. This may or may not be good for conversion.
SEO Keywords and Content Relevancy:
Google and other search engines look for relevancy through keywords in the content to match with the search query. With a single page website you may be fine with your primary keywords. It is likely that you will struggle to achieve relevancy on sub-topics and terms that would rank better on their own pages.
Google’s Hummingbird update aims to match the meaning of a query to relevant content, not just keywords on a page. By restricting yourself to a single page to cover all your products, features, benefits, technical details, testimonials, partners, market segments and more – you are severely limiting your opportunities to optimize content for SEO relevancy.
We live in the age of social media sharing, whether it is photos, video, quotes, Tweets, stories and more. However, one-page websites make it difficult to share specific content or snippets of a post, as you always land on the same page. If you have a blog you will have to take them away from your main site to where it is hosted.
Understanding Engagement Points:
As the whole site has a single URL it makes it difficult to identify what content your users are interested in and how they browse your site. You will also see an increase in your bounce rate as there is nowhere else for your visitors to go. However, this does not really help you understand how well visitors are engaging with your content.
There is undoubtedly a role for a one-page website as landing pages, promotions, special projects, web toys, stand-alone games etc. Given the number of disadvantages they exhibit they may not to be a sustainable alternative for multi-page websites. We should look to validate these risks with data. Many innovations don’t conform to existing best practices because we have data to support the status quo.
Maybe in time some of the major limitations of one-page websites can be resolved or mitigated. At present they create significant challenges for multi-page websites. Users are not going to thank you if they can’t find the content they are looking for. They are most likely to disappear off to a competitor website.
Designers of multi-page websites could look to incorporate some of the innovate ideas and discipline of the single page website. Learning to keep content to an absolute minimum might reduce some of the distractions and information overload. Single page websites definitely have their place and are pushing the boundaries for website design.
Research by the Nielsen Norman Group indicates that most visitors will take just 10 to 12 seconds to decide whether to exit a webpage if it doesn’t sufficiently engage them. Customer onboarding tools can help reduce anxiety and improve engagement. Users know that websites are of highly variable quality and are ruthlessly looking to abandon the dross as soon as they can. So if there is any room for confusion over what the next step in the user journey might be you can be sure this will adversely affect your conversion rate.
“People know that most web pages are useless, and they behave accordingly to avoid wasting more time than absolutely necessary on bad pages.” – Jakob Nielsen – NNG
Why not try improve the onboarding process by giving visitors assistance with navigation guidance or tutorials? Why leave it to chance that users will understand how to use a new feature or know what the next step in the sign-up process is. Give them some help and improve your conversion rate by using one or more of the following customer onboarding tools.
13 Top Customer Onboarding Tools:
Here are summarises of top customer onboarding tools to guide and educate your new visitors. Reduce your bounce rate and improve engagement by giving your new customers all the help they need in real-time.
A customer onboarding tool that serves tooltip-style messages/action to provide a product tour to ensure visitors understand how to navigate or get the most out of feature. It also offers a full-screen ‘Welcome page’, a slide-out and in-app alert. You can inform your customers of new features using bold messaging with a video, gif or coach marks to engage visitors to try out your new enhancement. In addition, Appcues allows you to segment visitors using intelligent targeting so that you can show the right experience to the appropriate user at the best time to improve conversion.
Pricing: Plans start from $99 a month for up to 1,000 monthly
active users (MAUs) who are defined as visitors who sign-in to your platform in any given month. The ‘Growth’ plan starts from $699 a month for up to 20,000 MAU’s and there is a ‘Custom’ plan for large enterprises which offers unlimited MAU’s.
This is a real-time personalisation platform which offers the ability to record how visitors behave and respond to them to improve engagement and conversion rates. The platform monitors the actions of visitors to identify their intentions and needs. This allows you to send users messages to help promote demos to improve new customer engagement levels.
Pricing: Contact Evergage for a quotation based upon your specific needs.
One of the best free customer on boarding tools as this displays a visible bar that sits at the top of a web page to draw the web visitors’ attention. HelloBar acts as a primary website call-to-action. You can include HelloBar on one page, several pages, or across your entire website.
This is an online customer support tool that allows you to create interactive user guides and onboarding walkthroughs. It aims to create sequential instructions to interactively guide users on your website of app.
Pricing: 15 day free trial available. No costs shown on the website.
Offers the ability to create walkthroughs, tooltips, Launchers and support articles for web applications.
Pricing: The cost of the solution is dependent upon the number of active users you have and the plan you select. For 10,000 active users the Standard plan would cost $208 per month, the Standard Pro would be $307 per month and the Enterprise plan $1,220 per month.
Offers an extensive range of customer onboarding solutions from live chat, targeted email and in-app messages, gathering of customer feedback and providing customer support inside your web or mobile app, and by email. The platform provides real-time analytics of what is happening on your site and allows you to segment visitors to deliver targeted messaging when they return to your site or app (e.g. inform them about a new release or promotion).
Pricing: All single solutions (e.g. Live Chat) start from $49 a month and an additional product can be added from $4 a month.
Thiscustomer onboardingtool monitors and analyses browsing behaviour to serve prominent and relevant messaging to assist user navigation when likely to be most effective on your website. You can set rule-based messaging, including timers, triggers and conditions for your messaging to improve their relevance. Segment messages for specific groups or even individuals based upon rules and visitor activity on your website.
In addition the tool allows you to A/B test messages, text, design and timing to understand what works best. You can also sync across devices to ensure users can continue a user journey from where they left off. Free Net Promoter Score (NPS) also available.
Pricing: A free plan is available for up to 100 users and simple tooltips. The ‘Professional’ plan has a free trial period for you to try out the solution and agree a price with Iridize. The is also an enterprise ‘Customized’ plan for large organisation.
This is tool gives users a virtual tour or your website or app. It is programmed to be cross-browser compatible and Joyride version 2 has many new features. This includes responsive design, edge-aware tooltips that re-position based on proximity to the edge of the window, depreciated inline positioning of tooltips and better support for right and left aligned tooltips.
The company acquired Autosend and offers a messaging app and chat bots to create automated personalised behavioural and transctional communications with customers via email, SMS text or in-app messages.
Pricing: The cost is dependent upon the number of active users you have on your site. For 10,000 active users the cost would be $40 per month.
This solution uses in-app walkthroughs to guide users through the onboarding process and uses analytics to track their progress. Pendo offers in-app walkthroughs to guide users through common tasks and features to drive preferred behaviours. It can personalise the onboarding experience by using data to deliver individually personalised guidance to improve the relevance of the process.
If you are evaluating customer onboarding tools then you definitely should consider Walkme. The platform displays highly visible tabs adjacent to the next recommended navigation call to action. This encourages self-service, accelerates training and software adoption, improves conversion, reduces customer service costs and improve the customer experience. It can also be used to train employees to use online CRM and marketing tools to boost their productivity.
Pricing: A basic free plan overs 3 walk-thrus, up to 5 steps per walk-thru and 300 assists per month. The ‘Custom’ plan offers unlimited walk-thrus and assists, with multiple support options and multiple domains. Contact Walkme for a quote.
This solution allows you to design interactive product tours, onboarding task lists and deliver just-in-time contextual guidance. Whatfix helps users to quickly develop a high level of application competency to improve engagement and conversions. The solution also allows user-level segmentation to create a personalised user onboarding experience.
Pricing: Complete the form on the Whatfix website to get a personalised quote.
New customer onboarding tools can help educate and guide users to improve engagement and reduce bounce rates on landing pages. Customer onboarding tools have been known to significantly improve conversions when implemented appropriately. Whether it’s a website or an app, research has shown that unless users quickly become confident about how to navigate a site they will leave within the first 10 seconds. People are generally impatient and lazy browsers of the web. So, don’t leave anything to chance and see if one of these customer onboarding tools will help solve your new customer engagement problem.
To create a pain free user experience and optimise conversion it is essential to carry out usability testing research. Sure, you can ask a few people around the office to check out your new site, but it is more important to get feedback from ‘real users’ who do not work in e-commerce and are not connected to your business.
Psychology tells us that as we concentrate on a task or project we are prone to see what we expect to see because our visual cortex unconsciously takes the decision to filter out things that it regards as less important to achieving a task. This is why we often miss the most obvious mistakes if we proof read our own work. Usability testing removes this filter as it does not rely on our own opinions.
We also get too close to our pet projects and as a result we overvalue the things we create, (see the IKEA effect). As a result we are not the best people to evaluate websites that we helped to create. Anyone connected to your business may also suffer from some of the same cognitive biases or may just not want to hurt your feelings. Usability testing avoids these biases by getting the views of ‘real users’, that is people not connected with your organisation.
Usability testing is not about proving or disproving something works or not. It is about informing decisions and giving you insights into how users interact with your website. If you need a definitive answer then you really should be conducting an A/B test. As I pointed out in another post on whether usability research is reflecting real behaviour all research is subject to bias and limitations.
People for instance change their behaviour when they are aware they are being observed. This can be a particular problem for usability testing which is conducted offline. However, it is possible to build procedures into usability testing to minimise this problem. For example you can get the user to complete a few fake tasks to disguise the real test experience.
When Should You test?
The earlier you do some usability testing the better as this will allow you to respond to user feedback at each step in the development and design process. Wire frames, prototypes or even drawings can be tested to give you useful feedback before you move onto finished designs.
Don’t use focus groups as usability research needs to deal with one user at a time. Otherwise people can get distracted by what other people are doing and you also need to give them your full attention. It is important that you observe and listen to users and avoid asking questions as people will over-think their behaviour if asked to explain it.
However, there are also some affordable online services available, some of which are free. The benefit here is that they can manage all the admin and recruitment for you, plus conduct the usability testing and if required do the analysis. All you have to do is agree the brief. I would still recommend you get videos of your usability tests as you will often learn more from watching people browse your site than from reading a report. A video brings it to life in a way a report cannot.
One other advantage is that such suppliers offer a range of solutions including remote automated usability testing, card sorting for developing your navigation, tree testing to evaluate how easy it is find content on a site and eye-tracking to identify where on page attention is drawn to. Such suppliers can also use their expertise to advise you on how to best design a usability test study.
Who Should You Recruit?
Some usability test solutions, such as Hotjar, offer you the ability to serve pop-ups on your site to recruit your own visitors to complete specific tasks. You can then share screens using Skype or other web meeting tools to observe how successful they are at achieving the set task. Alternatively many suppliers offer the option to recruit testers who match your user demographics.
Don’t get too obsessed though with matching your target audience as usability testing is about understanding how people in general interact with your site. Setting very strict recruitment criteria will just increases the cost and time needed to conduct the testing without adding much value to the outcome.
Online usability testing with your first project free (up to 5 tasks and 2 questions). Covers over 40 languages, provides heatmaps and clickstream analysis, real-time reporting, and you can test on mobile devices.
Pricing: A Free usability test is available for new customers. Pay as you go costs $350 per project. All plans include 1,000 participants per project, unlimited tasks and questions, testing on mobile, real-time results and 24/7 email support.
The Micro plan costs $158 a month and is designed for organisations with between 1 and 10 employees, plus for non-profits and public sector clients. The SMB plan costs $410 per month and is for 11 to 100 employees. The Enterprise plan is priced at $825 per month.
Remote usability testing which provides videos of visitors undertaking set tasks on your website. You also get written answers to questions you set. Get your first test for Free – normally costs $35.
Pricing: The Personal plan charges $35 per test credit. A desktop test requires 1 credit, whilst a mobile test costs 2 credits. Includes up to 20 minutes of video and audio feedback, written responses to custom survey questions and the ability to analyse your results with tagged, time stamped annotations.
The Team plan costs $299 per month. This gives you 10 credits per month, testing with your own users for one month, multi-user login, collaborative video annotation, crowd sourced key insights with the UXCrowd, UX diagnostics and the ability to download your video results and test data.
The Enterprise plan is not priced on the website. However, this
includes 100 test credits per month, unlimited testing with your own users, extended 30-minute length for test results and one-click report generation integrated with video playback.
UsabilityHub have a great selection of simple but effective usability testing solutions. You can obtain first impressions of your mock-ups and designs, see where visitors want to click or discover how easy visitors find it to navigate your website.
Simply upload an image, and select the type of test you’d like to run.
Question Test – allows you to conduct fast surveys by uploading an image and asking users questions about the design.
You can then decide how many people you want to be in the test or even recruit your own testers. UsabilityHub then create a report showing a detailed breakdown of the interactions each tester had with your design.
Pricing: Responses from testers you recruit are free. Testers recruited by UsabilityHub cost 1 credit each and responses from testers of specific demographics cost 3 credits each.
The Free Community plan allows you to create unlimited tests, with responses from your own users being free and buy responses from UsabilityHub from $1 each.
The UsabilityHub Pro plan costs $99 a month and allows you to buy responses at 50% off all credit purchases, starting at just 50 cents per response. Create unlimited tests, customize the test experience with messaging and redirection after the test, use a single link for multiple tests in a row and target particular demographics.
Established over 25 years ago Usability Sciences offers a full managed service for usability testing, offering a comprehensive range of solutions including card sorting, rapid iterative testing, mobile & tablet user testing and eye-tracking research.
Watch videos of real users talking about what they think as they use your website. UserBob recruits people to visit your website. Set a scenario for the user and specify a task for them to attempt to complete. The user then goes to your website and tries to complete your task. During their visit they record their screen and voice as they think out loud about the experience. You then receive a copy of the video to learn about what users say about your site.
You decide how many users you need, what demographics match your visitors, and how long each one should spend on your website. The test is instantly made available for users to participate and you will normally have a video to review within a few hours.
Pricing: Start at just $10 for First Impressions where 10 users will spend one minute each on your website. Users will discuss their first impressions of your website, who they think it is for and what you can do on the site. Task Completion costs $20 for 5 users who spend 4 minutes attempting to complete your task. The price of the Custom test is variable. This involves between 1 to 10 users each spending up to 8 minutes with a specific scenario and user task to complete. You may also specify user demographics for Custom tests.
Get 5 to 15 minute videos of users recording their experience on your site and identify where the pain points are. Hear what users are thinking on their personal devices and in their natural environment.
Omni-channel usability testing solution. Will supply user testers from their panel or recruit to your specific demographic requirements. Alternatively you can recruit participants using a customisable invitation widget, by posting a link on blogs, websites, twitter, by using TaskRabbit, Mechanical Turk, Craiglist or by using a third party panel provider.
Userlytics allows you to test prototypes, videos, mobile apps, display ads, search and social behaviour, desktop and web applications, smart-phones and tablets and websites.
Pricing: Starts from $49 per user tester and depends upon the testing features you require, whether you need respondents recruiting, demographic needs, session length and reporting requirements.
Get videos in an hour of real people speaking their thoughts as they use your website, apps, prototypes and more.Do it yourself or access User Testing’s on-demand panel of over one million users to find an exact match of your target audience.
You can either select your users and write your own tasks or use the expect research team to complete such tasks as creating and managing tests, long term research road-mapping, moderating tests, annotating videos, analysing videos to identify key findings and creating research presentations.
Pricing: Basic plan starts at $49 per video for the first 10 videos, and then rises to $99 per video. This will provide you with video and audio of your site or app across a full range of devices, 15 minute maximum video length and a storage limit of 25 videos.
The Pro plan offers a Free trial and quote on request. This allows for a maximum video length of 60 minutes, unlimited video storage, screening and video demographic filters, moderated usability testing, competitive benchmarking, user testing with your own customers, highlight reels, customer experience customer experience analytics and for the research team to summarise key findings.
Finally, UserZoom is an all-in-one SasS customer and usability testing research and analytical solution. They provide a suite of services including recruiting participants for user tests, and research software for mobile and desktop devices, voice of the customer studies, remote usability testing, UX design tools (e.g. card sorting & tree testing) and an online survey tool. In addition they provide support services from defining a study to analysing the data for you.
Pricing: Annual software subscription starts at £19,000 per year. All quotes are customised according your individual requirements and dependent upon the number of user accounts and use of premium features (e.g. UserZoom Recorder and mobile testing capabilities).
Live chat can help improve visitor engagement, reduce bounce rates and cut operational costs by offering real-time interaction with customers whilst they are on your website. Why wait until visitors have left your site to try and contact them? This is a key tool for conversion rate optimisation and helps to improve your conversion rate in real-time.
Live Chat is the ideal solution for dealing with a number of issues with your website. There are six main benefits of integrating live chat on your site:
Benefits of Live Chat:
Pain points –
When a customer has a frustration or an unmet need, live chat can help resolve these ‘pain points’ by giving them instant access to a company representative. Web forms are common pain point for many visitors. By adding live chat to forms you can often significantly improve your conversion rate.
Increased sales –
Live chat is a proven tool for increasing sales because if a customer becomes confused or unsure about something they can be walked through the process. This helps reduce visitors dropping out of key revenue generating customer journeys and puts the company representative in a good position to recommend additional products.
It gives you a competitive advantage –
Many websites don’t offer live chat on their websites or only for a limited number of customers (e.g. registered customers). Given the benefits to your customers and your organisation you will be able to leverage it as a competitive advantage. Ensure it is available for new customers, whether on your sign-up form or on your homepage. They often need more assistance than existing customers.
It’s convenient and reassures customers –
A live chat system provides immediate access to help for customers who may be struggling to find what they are looking for on your website. The presence of live chat also provides reassurance to visitors that they will be able to contact someone easily and conveniently if they do get into difficulties on your website.
It reduces expenses –
Live chat can save on staff time and phone expenses by lowering average interaction costs and improve contact centre efficiency by enabling employees to handle multiple chats. As staff spend less time on the phone because customers can use live chat to contact Customer Services this means that contact centre operators can multi-task during chat conversations and reduce the waiting queue significantly compared to a traditional call centre.
Live chat allows you to gather feedback about your website –
Having the ability to communicate directly with visitors whilst they are browsing your website gives you the opportunity to gather feedback on your website and generate ideas for improving the user experience and revenues.
These services can lead to a significant uplift in revenues to provide a substantial return on investment. Here is a link to a great infographic that summarises many of the benefits of live chat.
All the providers listed below offer free trial periods and so you can test them out without making any financial commitment.
An enterprise chat software that offers innovative features including an automated, tiered chat routing that manages chats between agents and has extensive monitoring and reporting capabilities.
The open API allows surveys, chat windows and promotional pop-ups to be extensively customised. It allows agents to assist visitors to fill out forms, complete purchases in the shopping cart and access technical support. The dashboard also allows agents to see the customer’s referring webpage, keywords they used, their geographical location and their chat history. Free demo.
A fully customisable live-chat facility that offers a comprehensive range of features including extensive real-time monitoring, 1 or 2 way video chat, offer demonstrations, ask for feedback or gather leads, and design multiple fully configurable forms. Dashboard allows agents to view how visitor’s arrived at website, their location and much more. Offers full integration with CRM systems, social media platforms and Google Analytics. 21 dayFree trial.
A relatively new live chat solution that also offers light CRM functionality to proactively target customer segments according to their online behaviour. The chat button is customisable, with email alerts to keep you up-to-date with activity and you can even respond to messages when offline as Crowdstream will email you any messages whilst you are away.
The solution allows you to create smart segments with triggers based upon customer behaviour and you can also broadcast messages in a non-intrusive way to all visitors or just to specific customer segments.
The Starter plan (up to 2,000 profiles) is available for just £35 per month, whilst the Growth plan (up to 5,000 profiles) costs £75 per month. A Business plan (up to 25,000 profiles) is also available for £195 per month. All plans include a 14 day Free trial.
Offers an enterprise fully customisable live-chat facility including real-time monitoring, allowing chat windows and promotional pop-ups to be extensively tailored. Comprehensive dashboards at campaign-level for understanding how engagement is affecting your KPIs and operational level for how your agents are performing. 30 dayFree trial.
The UK’s leading small business telephone answering service provider also offers a live chat solution. It offers a 24 hour service and will email key chats directly to you so that you don’t miss out on any urgent business opportunities.
Enterprise and small business live chat software which is fully customisable allowing chat windows to be tailored to your business needs. Extensive dashboard enables behaviour of visitors to be tracked and monitored to improve engagement. The missed chat report allows you to view a list of all the times a chat request was made and how an agent responded to the request. Monitor agent login activity using an agent login report which tracks when agents are working, on a break or actively chatting. Has a Free trial offer.
Provides a suite of plans from 1 user to enterprise. Provides intelligent targeting for a personalized experience. Dynamically invite visitors with a personalized message based on their predicted requirements. Allows you to create rules and triggers – based on visitor behaviour – with specific actions allowing you to segment visitors into categories such as geographic location and repeat visitors. A 30 day free trial .
Offers a unique chat design along with a wide range of contact options to help build customer engagement. Zopim’s services also give you analytical tools for understanding your customers’ needs and making better business decisions. The chat window customisation options are limited to changing your window to match company brand colours.
Live chat solutions offer a win-win situation. Free trails give you the opportunity to work out which one works best for you and customers get a simple and instant means of contacting you when they need your help. That is not to say you don’t have to put the policies and procedures in place to manage live chat. However, live chat does give you an opportunity to engage with customers when it most matters and encourages a two-way conversation so that both parties benefit.
Usability research is essential for checking whether a site or app is intuitive and easy to navigate to create a great customer experience. It helps inform our decisions about the choice architecture. Remote usability research solutions or face-to-face user interviews identify the main usability problems. Do these methods of research reflect real behaviour?
How many usability research proposals acknowledge that the process of undertaking usability research can influence the behaviour we observe? We may have taken users out their natural environment and set them objectives that lead them to behave in a certain way.
Asking respondents direct questions is especially problematic as people over-think issues. They switch to their slow, rational brain when encountering a mentally demanding task. Unfortunately most of the time when we are browsing a website we rely on our fast, intuitive, unconscious brain to make decisions without really engaging our conscious thought process. The implication here is that we cannot even access the rationale behind much of our behaviour when interacting with a website.
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, fast and slow
“People don’t have reliable insight into their mental processes, so there is no point asking them what they want”.
Avoid taking people away from their natural environment if at all possible. Certainly don’t use focus groups as this is about far away of a normal browsing behaviour as you can get. How often do you search the web with a group of people you have never met and discuss your likes and dislikes of the site?
This is why remote user testing methods have an advantage over some face-to-face methods. Participants can be in their normal environment, with their normal distractions and so their behaviour is less likely to be influenced by the testing process. Don’t get me wrong, there will still be some bias as a result of the testing method. But it may be substantially less than techniques which take the user out of their normal browsing environment.
Observe and listen rather than ask:
You will get more meaningful insights from simply observing and listening to your users during a usability test as past behaviour is a more reliable indicator of future behaviour. Try to avoid verbal interventions as much as possible. People don’t like to admit when they do something wrong and you are likely to influence how they then behave in any future tasks. If you do want some verbal feedback, just ask your testers to say what they are doing as they go through the task.
But always keep in the back of your mind that usability testing is about informing your judgement, and not to prove or disprove someone’s opinions. It is also an iterative process that should begin early on in the development of a design.
Most of our daily choices are made by our fast, intuitive brain which means we don’t have time to rationalise why we are making those decisions. New implicit research techniques such as functional MRI, EEG, biometrics, eye tracking, facial decoding and implicit reaction time studies (IRTs) are allowing marketers to access the sub-conscious part of the brain to better understand how we respond to communications and designs.
Eye tracking research helps identify which specific elements of a page or message attract our attention, but also the communication hierarchy of messages. Heatmaps allows us to display this data to reveal the proportion of visitors who noticed each of the key elements on a page. Plus the frequency and duration of gaze on each element.
Click and mouse movement heatmaps from visual analytics solutions such as Hotjar and Decibel Insights can provide similar insights for existing pages. For true eye tracking research though solutions from Affectiva and Sticky allow for you to evaluate both new and existing web page designs.
In the final analysis the only way you will know if a change identified through usability research improved agreed success metrics is to conduct an online experiment in the form a A/B test. It is only when visitors are acting on their own impulses and with their own money that you will see how they behave.
Prioritise the insights you get from usability testing to decide which are worthy of A/B testing. A/B testing will give you the evidence to show exactly how much difference your usability testing has had on your conversion success metrics.
Poker is a game of strategy and just like conversion optimisation unless you have a clear strategy you are sure to lose.
When I was optimising a major poker website and app I decided I needed to get under the skin of the average player. One of the ways I did this was by learning to play poker and joining competitor sites to compare the user experience. As I became more experienced at the game, I realised that there are many lessons that can be applied to conversion optimisation strategy.
Understand the basic rules:
If you don’t know the hand rankings for poker you are going to make a lot of bad decisions and lose money quickly.
Similarly for conversion optimisation strategy you need to understand basic web conventions and have a clear process for optimisation and testing. This will help ensure that you can spot obvious problems with your site and you have a systematic approach to improving the performance of your sites. This will avoid random testing and improve your chances of making the best decisions to increase conversion. If you want to read up on this subject check out my post on the optimisation process and some awesome books to read.
Many good poker players can be very aggressive at times. This can unsettle their opponents. However, it can also put off novice players and make them abandon the game.
With conversion optimisation strategy you need to assume that most new visitors are unaware of your brand. If you are overly aggressive you may win over some brave souls, but you will probably scare off the majority of your new customers. People don’t like feeling they are being pushed into making a snap decision. Pop-ups are almost universally employed on poker websites in an attempt to get visitors to take action. But these can often just annoy visitors. Conversion should be a pleasurable experience for the visitor and we should avoid over reliance on any single approach.
To make the best decisions, it is essential to be calm, logical and to consider the probabilities of hand strength and the likelihood of other cards being revealed at each stage of the game. However, in reality many players struggle with the maths and let their emotions drive their decision making.
The behaviour of website visitors is no different to poker players. Visitors are heavily influenced by their emotional state, environment and what they think other people are doing. This all influences how they interpret content and functionality on your site. Conversion optimisation strategy should allow for the fact that most users are more concerned about potential losses than gains. Use money-back guarantees or free trials to reduce the perceived risk of customers making a poor decision.
We are generally poor at doing mental maths, so spell out bonuses or offers in simple terms so that users don’t have to work anything out. Use psychological hooks in your content to engage visitors at a non-rational level. This is often more important and influential than the purely logical reasons why we buy. This quote I recently came across sums up what we are dealing with:
“Few people are logical. Most of us are prejudiced and biased. Most of us are blighted with preconceived notions, with jealousy, suspicion, fear, envy and pride.” Dale Carnegie
Predictable reduces cognitive strain :
A good poker player changes their tactics on a regular basis to avoid being too predictable. This works because people dislike having to deal with constant and random behaviour. It creates uncertainty which humans try to avoid at all costs. It also makes people impatient and prone to making irrational decisions.
For conversion optimisation strategy it is also important to get a balance. Ensure you don’t have too many surprises on your website that may distract or disrupt the user flow. Follow standard web-conventions when appropriate and don’t distract visitors with too much content. Clutter and offering too many choices can cause cognitive strain.
Have a clear strategy and be disciplined:
To be a successful poker player you must have a game plan as otherwise you will constantly be changing your approach in response to other players. Only play when your starting hand meets certain criteria and don’t bet unless your hand is strong enough to justify it. Review the probability of getting a winning hand at each stage of the game and know when to fold.
Conversion also requires a clear strategy to formulate hypothesis and prioritise budgets according to the chances and value of success. There must to be a potential for a significant ROI for any A/B test.
Ensure you don’t waste effort on trying to improve conversion on poorly performing pages that don’t have the traffic or potential to justify the resource. Know when to cut your loses and move onto a more promising opportunity. Sometimes it is more profitable to to focus on your better performing pages that don’t require a large up-lift to give a handsome ROI. Prioritisation is key to your success as you will never have enough time or resources to test everything.
Respect your opponents as in a majority of cases at least one competitor will have a better hand than you. Take time to observe your competitors to see what you can learn. Copy and adapt loosely, but don’t replicate what your competitors do as otherwise your site will look exactly like theirs.
It is naïve to suggest you should never copy your competitors because it won’t work on your site. Sure, not everything will work, but if you are selective and use ideas in the right context they may enhance your user experience and improve conversion. But don’t assume they have done their homework and tested new designs. A/B test them before you roll out things you copy. Also look outside of your competitors for inspiration. Most new features are likely to be adopted in other sectors first before they get to your small area of the web. You should then apply A/B testing when appropriate to validate whether an idea will benefit your site.
Don’t treat all visitors the same:
There are many different kinds of poker players and to get the best result you need to understand their tactics and behaviour. Good players will adjust their behaviour accordingly.
To improve conversion you also need to segment your customers to tailor and personalise the user experience. If you treat everyone the same you can expect average conversion. Employ customer research, web analytics, and analyse your data warehouse to better understand and segment your visitors. Develop a more relevant and personalised user journey.
Use game mechanics to engage visitors:
Poker is one of the most difficult games to master. It requires a good deal of skill, an understanding of human behaviour and a large amount of luck. However, we love games and mastery is one of our strongest motivations.
As part of your conversion optimisation strategy have you considered using gamification on to improve the user experience and conversion? Why not use gamification of steps in your user journey to engage visitors and to create interest towards your conversion goals. This can be as simple as providing regular and positive feedback or prizes (e.g. badges or loyalty points) to recognise task completion and reward behaviour that leads towards your conversion goals. Make your website fun and interesting when appropriate and visitors may want to return more often.
Poker sites bombard visitors with welcome bonus offers and tournaments with big prizes for the winners. However, for the vast majority of players who won’t be making a fortune out of poker the user experience is what matters.
This means a good conversion optimisation strategy needs to be built around a strong value proposition. Use a heuristic evaluation to check how well the user journey is relevant and provides clear directional cues on interacting with the game mechanics. This should also identify if the application has minimised friction by avoiding distractions and anxiety. Urgency is also often forgotten about to nudge players to act quickly when required.
The whole user experience needs to be pleasurable and aligned with customer expectations if you want to encourage visitors to return to your site or app. This is the same for any online business and is often forgotten in the rush to get short-term sales. The danger is that too much attention is given to fancy new product features and website changes when the basic game experience may also need some attention. Fix your user experience first before trying to be persuasive or personalise your site.
Ensure challenges are realistically achievable:
Poker sites have in the past been notorious for offering bonuses that require levels of game play that are totally unrealistic for the average user to attain. Pokerstars, and 888 now offer instant release bonuses.
Other companies, such as Betfair, continue to promote offers that are highly complex and difficult to release. Making a task too difficult to achieve for your average customer creates disappointment and resentment. Ensure your conversion optimisation strategy considers what is best for customers and not just your organisation.
Winning involves luck:
Poker involves a fair amount of luck as even the strongest starting hand can turn to nothing when new cards are revealed that link to what another player has in his or her hand. Conversion also requires a reasonable amount of luck.
In terms of conversion optimisation strategy we are also poor at predicting which new designs will perform better than an existing page design or user journey. For this reason companies like Google and Netflix, who are in the mature phase of testing, often have test failure rates of 80% to 90%. Scale matters when you can’t rely on low-hanging fruit and so it is important to ramp up the number of tests you run to generate a few big wins. The more tests you run the greater the likelihood you will get lucky.
For a customer to buy at any moment in time requires that they are ready to act. If your proposition is not perceived to have the highest chance of helping them meet a current goal they are likely to go elsewhere. If a visitor gets distracted by a more urgent and pressing goal you will also probably lose them. Competitors are also constantly trying to move the goal posts in their favour so don’t be surprised if your conversion rate is in a constant state of flux.
Comments Off on How Culture influences Website Design
This post explores the science of how culture influences website design and conversion rate optimisation. Marketing is about persuading visitors to take action. But what if your visitors come from a range of different countries and cultures? Will one strategy work for all visitors even though they come from different cultures? Design and culture are highly interrelated and yet little allowance is often made for cross-cultural differences.
Culture has a deep and pervasive influence on how people perceive and react to web content. For global brands it is important to consider how culture influences website design because they attract visitors from many different countries and cultures. They need to understand how people from different cultures interpret, and respond to such variants as colour, language, images and technology to be able to serve optimal content.
Design does not evolve in a cultural vacuum. For example, McDonald’s has a separate website and uses different colours for every country they operate in. They do not attempt to have a consistent brand design and website for consistency’s sake. They appreciate that culture influences website design because culture affects how people respond to different design and communications.
The most influential research studies on cultural differences in communication were conducted by the anthropologists Geert Hofstede while at IBM and Edward T Hall when he taught inter- cultural communications skills at the US State Department. Their research studies are a must for anyone wanting to understand how culture influences website design. Their work provides many important insights into how design and culture are highly interrelated.
A Framework for Understanding Culture:
Professor Geert Hofstede conducted probably the most comprehensive study of how cultural values vary by country between 1967 and 1973. Whilst working for IBM he analysed data from over 70 countries. He has since used studies, such as the World Values Survey, to validate and refine his cultural dimensions theory. This identifies 6 cultural dimensions that can be used to explain observed differences between cultures. This can be used to help align design and culture to avoid mistakes when creating an experience for a specific culture.
How is power distributed in a culture? The Power Distance Index is the degree to which people accept and expect inequality in a society. Cultures that score low on this dimension will seek to reduce the level of inequality and expect justification for where it does exist.
2. Individualism versus collectivism
Is a person’s self-image defined by “I” or “we”? In Western cultures, we tend to focus on the needs and wants of the individual. Conversely, Eastern cultures place the needs of the collective ahead of individual.
Does a culture have a preference for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material rewards? If so, to what degree? In this context, femininity translates to collaboration, modesty, caring and quality of life.
4. Uncertainty Avoidance
How comfortable does a society feel with uncertainty and ambiguity? A high score indicates a society that has formal rules and policies and are often intolerant of unorthodox behaviour and ideas. They also like to plan for every eventuality and are more concerned about product specifications than societies that score lower on this dimension.
5. Long Term Orientation
This describes a culture’s time orientation – long-term vs short term. Scoring low means a culture favours long-standing norms and is suspicious of societal change. Cultures that score high are pragmatic and take a long-term view of business.
6. Indulgence versus Restraint
Does a culture restrain or indulge in fun and instant gratification? A high score means a culture
encourages instant gratification and enjoying life and having fun. Low scores reflect strict social norms which suppress indulgent behaviour.
Free Resource on Cultural Differences:
By measuring how different cultures compare on these six dimensions we can better understand the common ways culture influences website design. Data from over 100 countries has been made available by the Hofstede Centre. This is very useful if you’re trying to boost conversions by aligning design and culture to improve the customer experience in a cross-cultural context.
For instance, this chart shows us that Japan scores much lower on individualism than the United States. This suggests that web content in Japan needs to focus more on the community and relationships, rather than showing pictures of individuals in isolation. Japanese people don’t like to stand out from the crowd and are more likely to put the needs of society before personal preferences.
Their high score for masculinity reflects their competitive drive for excellence and perfection, together with a strong work ethic. These values should be reflected in web content through both high quality imagery and messaging about how the product quality cannot be beaten.
At 92, Japan is one of the most uncertainty avoiding countries in the World as they like to plan for every eventuality. This means Japanese people usually won’t make a decision until they have reviewed all the facts and figures. Risk assessment and planning tools, as well as detailed and fact based information, could help boost conversions in this cultural context. Design and culture must be aligned here as otherwise visitors will seek the information they are looking for elsewhere.
6 Dimensions of Culture – Country Comparison
Cultural Preferences and Facebook
Art preferences are affected by cultural norms and tends. For example, a study of over 400 Western and East Asian portraits found that the subject’s face on average made up around 15% of the total area of the picture in Western art compared to just 4% on average in East Asian portraits.
However, one study that analysed Facebook profile photos found that 12% of Americans’ photos lacked any background – compared to only 1% of photos from the Far East. Both our art and Facebook profiles reflect our cultural ideals and preoccupations that influence our behaviour in all kinds of ways. This is just another way that design and culture are interrelated and this occurs in all aspects of society.
Western culture emphasizes individualistic and independent traits. People focus on their own face and pay less attention to the background. Eastern culture emphasizes communal and interdependent traits. There is more of a tendency to include context (e.g. the background) and other people in their pictures.
Low context and high context cultures relate to a number of cultural traits, including commitment, trust, overtness – and even time. Design and culture can be easily aligned here by identifying whether the society has many unwritten rules or people leave little to interpretation.
Monochronic vs Polychronic Cultures:
People in low context cultures often have a monochromic perception. This means they see time as tangible and sequential. They follow strict time schedules, focus on one task at a time and set deadlines that they aim to meet at all costs.
High context cultures tend to have a polychronic perception of time where it is more fluid. Punctuality and structure is less important and deadlines are seen as more flexible and people work on multiple tasks at once.
So how can we apply these insight to ensure culture influences website design when we launch in a new country?
Since monochronic societies dislike clutter and fluidity, a simple design with a clear action should work well. Things like:
A clear hero image.
Short bullet point messaging.
Clear focus on the product.
In polychronic cultures, rich context can be displayed using:
Multiple graphics, icons, boxes, and animation
Check out Chinese e-commerce website Taobao on the left and compare it with the UK’s John Lewis site. Both are very successful e-commerce sites, but vastly different website design approaches due to the cultural values of the countries they operate in. It is wise to consider monochronic and polychronic cultures when designing a user experience for cross-cultural websites. This will ensure culture influences website design in an appropriate and sympathetic way.
Brands that align design and culture are normally more successful because their websites and apps are designed according to local cultural preferences rather than trying to impose the cultural norms and traditions of the brand’s home country.
In his book, Drunk Tank Pink, the American psychologist Adam Alter suggests that colours have meaning partly because they are associated with practically every pleasant and unpleasant object on Earth.
As a result our interpretation and preference for colours is strongly influenced by factors such as language, climate, gender, age and context. For example, the way languages categorise colours are not universal (e.g. Russian has two words for blue). Some colours are also used to express moods and feelings in some languages which inevitably affects how we perceive them.
Colours Mean Different Things to Different Cultures:
In 1999 American researchers investigated how people from 8 countries perceive different colours. The analysis allowed researchers to generate a colour spectrum of meaning with red at one end and the blue-green-white cluster at the other end. Red is associated with hot/vibrant and the spectrum gradually moves towards calm/gentle/peaceful that the blue-green-white cluster is associated with.
Testing by international search and conversion agency Oban International suggests that cultural preferences for particular colours may also be driven by strong national associations and brand identities taken from individual sectors of the economy. Joe Doveton tested this hypothesis in Germany where brands such as Siemens, Mercedes and Audi are renowned for promoting engineering excellence as an integral part of their USP.
In tests for global air charter company Chapman Freeborn, they discovered a strong preference among German visitors for a silver button and a big dislike for a red button. Silver in Germany is synonymous with the Mercedes brand. Red may be associated with the old Soviet Union which at one time controlled East Germany. Again, this is why it is important to align design and culture.
Germany – Silver CTA/UK – Red CTA
Use Localised Copy For Personalisation & Conversions:
Your value proposition is the most important element of your communication. The danger of using direct translation, especially for keywords, is that you will end up with copy that uses words out of context. The term “mobile” for example is fine in the UK, but people in the United States refer to mobile phones as “cellphones”. In Germany people use a different word again, “handy” and in France “portable”. The same term can also have multiple meanings in a language.
Understanding your customers is the best way to craft a great value proposition. However, your customers preferences’ will likely vary according to their culture. This is where you can use qualitative research to learn new insights and validate or challenge your existing ideas on how to improve conversions by aligning design and culture. You can then use A/B testing to evaluate different copy and images to identify the best performing messages.
Pro tip: use loanwords in your copy – they’re often left out of copy that is directly translated.
Fonts often have visceral connotations behind them, and they often vary culture-to-culture. For example in the United States people relate Helvetica with the US Government and the IRS because it is commonly used on tax forms. This again demonstrates how design and culture can heavily influence how visitors view something as simple as a font.
Another example is how logographic language cultures use smaller, tightly packed text, confusing American readers. That’s because the language itself (e.g. Japanese) communicates a lot of information in just a few characters. Further, as Japanese doesn’t have italics or capital letters it is more difficult to create a clear visual hierarchy to organise information. So web designers often use decoration or graphic text to create emphasis where required.
For more on font psychology read this post by Alex Bulat.
Further complicating the issue of conversion across cultures, we have the distinction between bi-culturalism and multi-culturalism.
Bi-Culturalism and Multi-Culturalism:
In the 2010 US Census over 6 percent of the population (over 2 million citizens) associated themselves with two or more ethnic or racial groups. Psychologists have discovered that bi-cultural people engage in frame switching, which means they can perceive the world through a different cultural lens depending upon the context of the situation and whether it reminds them of one culture or another.
So we can’t assume people coming from a different culture (e.g. Vietnamese Americans), will retain all the same preferences as individuals still living in their native culture. Web analytics may help you identify potential bi-cultural visitors.
Even across monocultural people there are strong contrasts in values and behaviour. The concept of honour tends to be more strongly associated with East Asia than the West. However, even in the United States honour is known to influence behaviour more in southern and western states than in the northern states. All this goes back to understanding your customer’s journey and aligning design and culture.
We can’t assume people will all be using the same technology in different geographical markets.
In Africa, for example, mobile commerce is much more established in certain sectors, (e.g. banking), because of a lack of fixed-line internet infrastructure.
For various reasons, iPhones have failed to establish a large market share in Spain, so Android and other operating systems more relevant to the Spanish mobile user.
Browser usage is also fragmented at an international level.
In large parts of Central Africa, Opera is the dominant browser.
The major search engines use different algorithms for different countries and languages.
Although Google has increased its penetration in Russia, the local search engine, Yandex, is still an important search engine in the country.
In China, Google is not used at all, with Baidu being the top search engine with a market share of over 50%.
For more details of search engine market share see an article from extraDigital.
There are different payment methods. This means having a single cashier or ecommerce check-out design is unlikely to be optimal for a global audience.
In Europe, credit card penetration is much lower in Germany, Netherlands and Poland. For cultural reasons many Germans dislike credit and as a result the single most popular payment method (38%) is (ELV).
In the Netherlands a similar payment option, iDeal, is the referred method of payment for 55% of online shoppers.
Security-conscious Russians still like to use cash as a quarter of them use Qiwi to make online payments. This allows people to deposit cash into ATM style machines and then make payments online without having to transmit sensitive bank or credit card numbers over the internet.
Even in Turkey where credit and debit cards are very popular (87% market share) you won’t see Visa or MasterCard on most cards.
In Islamic countries Sharia law prohibits the acceptance of interest or fees for loans and so potentially limits the use of credit cards and other Western style financial products. The expansion of Islamic banking is making e-commerce more accessible to Muslims, but again adds to the complexity of online payment processes and demonstrates the importance of aligning design and culture.
Websites that use identical content and colours across all countries and cultures are at a major disadvantage because of the impact diversity of values, norms and other differences have on how we interpret the world. Here are the key takeaways for optimising a global website by aligning design and culture:
1. Research competitors:
To obtain a feel for whether your website is out of sync with the local culture conduct a competitor review of sites in the country concerned. This will give you the opportunity to look for similarities across your competitors’ websites that may indicate areas for A/B testing. (Just don’t copy your competitors; they don’t know what they’re doing either).
2. Focus on colours and words:
There is sometimes a tendency to focus on purely transactional matters (e.g. payment methods) when adapting websites for an international audience. This is a mistake and I would recommend paying attention to your website colours and the language you use to ensure the site conforms to local preferences.
In addition, use local contacts, such as colleagues and suppliers to obtain feedback on your site in different countries. I’m surprised how often I come across websites and apps where it is obvious that a key page or journey has not had input from someone in the targeted country. Don’t fall into this trap as it is dangerous to rely solely on website experts who are not embedded in local culture.
4. Consider cultural dimensions and context:
Utilise the country comparison tool to understand the cultural dimensions of your audience and how contextualised your website needs to be. The more your website can reflect local cultural preferences the more likely your visitors will happily engage and interact with your content. However, use testing to ensure you validate your hypothesis as there needs to be a return on investment as otherwise you may be better spending your money elsewhere.
4. Serve targeted content:
A/B testing is also ideal for evaluating the use of dynamic content to target images and messages that are responsive to how different cultures see the world. This allows you to increase conversions by using geo-targeting (i.e. based upon country IP address) or other cultural indicators and let the data guide your website design.
Both of these Hertz websites are on the same domain and root directory (Hertz.com), but have different languages, visuals and appropriate text.
5. Analyse customer behaviour:
Cultural targeting has perhaps the greatest potential for your existing customers where you can track and analyse their behaviour over time. Use your customer database to analyse behaviour by cultural indicators to see if you can identify key cultural drivers to their behaviour. Alternatively try A/B testing personalisation based upon cultural differences to see what impact this has on your KPIs.
Due to the increasing influence and spread of cultural preferences across the globe there are likely to be opportunities to segment by cultural indicators even in your home country. There are strong cultural and racial indicators, such as customer names, that you can utilise to segment your customers by and test the performance of targeted content.
Given the complexity of the human psyche and the pervasive power of cultural influences on our behaviour it is dangerous to assume anything when trying to improve website performance. Make A/B and multivariate testing your friend and guide in the multicultural jungle.
Do you want to use Voice of the Customer tools to get feedback from your visitors, but not sure how to go about it? I’ve outlined below a best practice guide on how to use online Voice of the Customer tools to gain insights and increase conversions. I’ve also reviewed over 15 online survey tools for you to use.
When to use Voice of the Customer tools?
Asking people questions hours, days, weeks or even months after a visit to your website is not going to deliver very accurate feedback on your customer experience. Our memories have to be reconstructed every time we recall them and as result they change on each occasion they are retrieved.
Voice of the Customer tools though allow you to gather data during the actual experience, allowing customers to express opinions and feelings when or immediately after an event occurs. This provides for much richer and accurate feedback on your site. Online survey tools can catch users in the moment when it is best to obtain feedback.
On-line Voice of the Customer tools provide an important input into the overall conversion rate optimisation process. Online survey tools can provide valuable insights to reduce friction and help you develop hypothesis to be validated using A/B tests. Online survey tools can also help in a number of areas including:
Whatare visitors looking for when theycome to your site and is it meeting their expectations? Identify the main use cases – what are people trying to achieve and are they successful?
What is preventing users to complete their task? Find out what is preventing visitors from completing everything they set out to do.
Are visitors finding everything they need on a particular webpage? For example, audit your homepage to compare the content with what customers say they are looking for on your website. Segment the data by new and returning visitors as they may have different requirements. This can help identify unnecessary content on your homepage and highlight other information that you should consider replacing it with.
Which of your competitors’ sites do your customers use? Digital marketing is a zero-sum game, if you can’t convince your visitors to buy from your website, one of your competitors may be more persuasive.
Voice of the Customer tools can be used to identify which competitor sites visitors are going to as their expectations will be influenced by these other sites. If your value proposition and customer experience does not compare favourably with these competitor sites you may struggle to convince visitors to convert.
What attracted new visitors to your website? Online survey tools can be used to identify what aspects of your value proposition are most appealing to new customers as this may not be the same as what you have on your website. Use this feedback to develop and test different proportion messages to see if this resonates better with customers.
When your site is broken visitors can provide you with the evidence you need to fix it. Some on-line tools automate this process so that you can get screen shots and technical details sent directly to an inbox for quick and efficient resolution of problems.
Online survey tools are ideal for finding out why visitors leave your site. When users have decided to leave your site you have nothing to lose by asking them to provide feedback on what they thought of your site. Ask them if they found what they were looking for or what would make them return to your site.
When someone abandons their basket this is a great opportunity to get their feedback to understand what is behind this behaviour. Has something on your site raised concerns or are they struggling to get the delivery date they require? Any feedback from these customers may help you identify issues that you can seek to resolve to improve your conversion rate. Online survey tools allow you to create a questionnaire and then you can email your customers a link to the survey to find out why the abandoned their basket.
A word of caution about Voice of the Customer tools:
Online survey tools are great, but don’t take what your visitors say literally. People are complex and we are not always fully aware of our own motivations and reasons for the decisions we may. Psychology shows us that cognitive short-cuts (e.g. stereotypes and confirmation bias) and our social networks are important drivers of our behaviour. This is why people will say one thing and do something completely different.
For this reason it is a good idea to validate insights from Voice of Customer tools by looking for supporting evidence from your web analytics, but also review session recording from user experience tools. If you have sufficient traffic you may also want to A/B or multivariate testing to measure the real impact on behaviour. Never only rely on online survey tools for informing decision making as user insights should be supported by other sources of evidence.
Enables users to report problem & automatically sends your company screen shots with details of the browser, the operating system, the path they took & even which browser plug-ins they have installed. An ideal solution for any site that has more than its fair share of bugs to fix. Free trial available.
Plans range from $19 a month for a single user (Personal plan) to $99 for the Corporate plan with up to 5 users. For most small to medium sized companies the Start Up plan at $49 per month offers good value as it allows up to 3 users and 400 reports per month.
Voice of the Customer tools like Feedbackify use a fully customisable widget to deliver short online surveys for your visitors to complete. The Feedback Dashboard allows you to view answers with full context, including which page it was submitted from, your customer’s geographic location, browser, operating system, screen size etc.
Offers a Free full-featured 15 day trial. A single subscription plan costs just $19 a month.
This is a great solution that offers a range of visual analytics solutions (e.g. heatmaps, session recordings, & form analytics) together with customer polls, surveys and an on-site usability recruitment tool. See our review of Hotar analytics for conversion optimisation.
The Free basic service offers up to 3 on-site polls, surveys and recruiters for live usability testing each month. The Pro and Business packages both offer unlimited polls, surveys and usability test recruitment. The Business service also allows you to remove Hotjar branding from the feedback widget.
The Free Basic plan allows you to run up to 3 polls or surveys a month and obtain up to 300 responses. Pro plans start from €89 a month for up to 20,000 page views a day.
A Voice of the Customer tool that uses an “omnichannel” approach to gathering customer feedback, drawing from various channels such as text, email, video, social media, and more. Most powerfully, through machine-learning “active listening” technology, their platform encourages more in-depth responses from your customers by automatically formulating follow-up questions based on customer input. Finally, their robust analytics and reporting features will gather all your data to show valuable insights, allowing you to make informed business decisions.
InMoment is more geared toward enterprise-level companies, and you can request a customised demo. Pricing is determined by location and a company’s specific needs.
One of a number of free online survey tools. This delivers a pop up that asks three simple questions to website visitors. The three questions could include: “How would you rate your site experience?”, “What describes the primary purpose of visit?” and “Were you able to complete the purpose of your visit today?” You can use the feedback to understand how people engage with your website and find opportunities for improvement.
A Free and Enterprise plan. No prices on the website.
An optimisation solution that also provides Voice of the Customer tools including a flexible and professional online survey tools. This provides on-click surveys (triggered by clicks on a designated HTML asset), branching logic set up which ensures the questionnaire responds to the user’s answers and a segmentation engine for targeting of specific user groups. You can either serve pop-up surveys or use a widget which appears at the bottom of the page.
Free for up to 5,000 tested views and offers flexible paid plan (no pricing guidelines shown).
Offers a customisable widget for desktop and mobile devices. You can target questions to visitors anywhere on your site, and includes exit surveys to capture insights from visitors who are leaving your website.
They offer a Free trial and subscription plans start from $63 a month for desktop. The Professional plan costs $199 a month and includes exit surveys and mobile survey add-on. The Enterprise plan ($499) provides for integration with CRM tools and advanced segmentation.
Offers enterprise Voice of Customer tools that includes Site Interceptor which allows you to survey visitors as they browse your website. A fully flexible offering that includes over 100 different types of questions, drag-and-drop ordering, advanced flow logic, rich text editing, and the ability to include images, videos and audio in surveys. It also allows you to randomize the order of response categories, set quotas and set-up email alerts.
Voice of the Customer tools for those who have never designed questionnaires before and want some advice to complete the process. The tool finds respondents for your survey who meet your target audience from 17 countries by age, gender, geography and custom attributes.
You write your surveys questions, build your questionnaire using their self-service survey tool and an analyst will then review it and suggest edits based upon industry best practice. Upwave will then find the respondents for your survey and provide raw data in an Excel spreadsheet and in Statwing, a free partner analysis tool.
Plans range from $200 a month for Quick Read for surveys of up to 200 respondents per survey and $2,000 a month for Deep Read which offers up to 2,000 respondents.
For mobile forms Alchemer automatically re-formats questions for the device and only displays one question at a time. Mobile surveys also enable use of their File Upload question to gain access to the respondent’s camera and allowing you to capture photos for the study.
Automated reporting tools offer one-click advanced reports and cross-tabs for full analysis of your data. Export data to other data analysis packages. You can also schedule reports and email results to fully automate the reporting process.
Plans range from just $25 a month for Basic which offers over 30 question types and $95 a month for Premier. An Enterprise plan offers multi-user access for an unspecified price.
One of the most well-known and popular online survey tools that enables the creation of most types of surveys, including web, email, mobile, social media, and automated telephone surveys. If you need to find respondents, SurveyMonkey Audience allows you to define your target audience and will then provide you with the feedback you require.
Offers 15+ types of questions, customisable logo and branding and the ability to set skip logic by page and question. Fully integrated with the likes of MailChimp and Eventbrite. Comprehensive real-time reporting available, together with text analysis, SPSS integration, custom reporting, cross-tabs and presentation-ready charts and reports. A Free plan is available for 10 questions and up to 100 responses per survey.
Subscription plans start from £26 a month (Select) for up to 1,000 responses to £65 a month for Platinum that offers an unlimited number of responses.
One of the most popular Voice of the Customer tools. It positions itself as an enterprise survey tool that uses an intuitive drag and drop style editor to make it easy to build high quality online and cross-device surveys. You can also choose to edit one of their professionally designed templates if you prefer.
They also offer customer support via phone, email and built-in live chat to make the process stress free as possible. All support staff are engineers which means you can expect to receive a high level of technical support to quickly resolve any problems.
Allows you to set up automated email alerts based upon your own business rules to instantly respond to certain types of customers or responses. A flexible reporting tool which provides automated visual presentations in a variety of formats such as PowerPoint, Word, Excel, SPSS and as an interactive dashboard.
Surveypal integrates with Slack, Zendesk, Salesforce and many other apps. Their API also allows you to send, receive and track surveys. A Free plan is available for up to 100 responses.
Subscription plans cost $40 a month for Premium for 1,000 responses per month. An Enterprise plan is also available with an unlimited number of responses per month.
Voice of the Customer tools that aims to delight respondents, keeping them focused on one question at a time and the versatility of their forms. Provides an enterprise survey tool for use across all devices. Offers Free plan (Core) for basic users.
The Pro plans costs $20 a month with unlimited typeforms and responses. A Pro+ for teams is currently under development.
A Free tool that offers both online survey tools and feedback forums. The online survey tool allows you to ask for feedback about your website and gather visitor demographics in over 60 languages. You can either use the ‘ready-to-go survey or customise with your own logo, colours and questions. Survey results are presented in intuitive reports that can be easily shared and exported as PDF or raw data.
The feedback forums give you the opportunity to gather ideas on how to improve your website. It also allows users to report bugs, submit issues, comment on and vote for ideas online. It works across devices and is fully customisable.
Offers a suite of online survey tools for better customer service and engagement. The main customer feedback tool is their Ideas Forum which enables customers to ask questions, share ideas and learn. Customers can vote and you can gather critical feedback of what they like or dislike.
Users can login via popular social networks which eliminates the need to go through a registration process. In addition, the Knowledge Base will automatically search for answers when a user writes a query, and in the case of a match will display the item to the user.
UserEcho also enables live chat conversations with visitors on your site. 15 day Free trial.
Voice of the Customer tools that offers a all-in-one product management platform to make it easy to give customers, partners or internal teams a voice with private labelled feedback forums. You can collect customer feedback on web or mobile with a native user experience.
Uservoice does not require your customers to register which encourages participating. The forums work by visitors raising a ticket and then vote or discuss ideas and possible solutions. The tickets contain useful information on the user including their OS, browser and the page from which the ticket was raised.
Basic plan costs $499 a month and the Premium is $999 a month. An Enterprise solution is also available with quotations on request.
Create questions or use existing templates to poll your website visitors by embedding surveys onto your website or blog. If you agree to sponsored polls behind your own polls you will earn revenue for every sponsored opinion collected from your site. You can browse trending polls from other users add those to your website to see if they improve engagement with your site.
Voice Polls are a Free tool for online publishers. They can help you grow your traffic, engage your reader, learn from them, discover who they are and bring some interactivity on your pages.
For non-publishers each question is priced at $12.50 and $0.05 per completed survey.
Voice of the Customer tools that offers surveys, feedback forms and in-depth information (including screen grabs) to obtain and resolve customer problems and notification to display messages to specific audiences (e.g. shopping cart drop-off).
Collect insights from visitors. Target questionnaires at specific audiences using rule builder. Get real-time analytics and reports.
Add context to your feedback form with custom fields and automatic screen grab features.
A push messaging tool which lets you display offers, discount codes, product launch announcements etc. to visitors with real-time statistics.
Plans range from $49 for Basic to $949 per month for the Enterprise Lite solution.
Use Voice of the Customer tools today!
Many of these online survey tools provide free trials and many have free plans so there is no reason not to give online Voice of the Customer tools a go. Further, using such tools can also help encourage a more customer centric approach to optimisation and website development. People are naturally curious about what potential and actual customers think about their ideas and designs so assist this process by giving your colleagues the opportunity to capture such feedback.