How Good UX Improves Conversion Rates

When your website is not achieving its projected sales targets, your first instinct will probably be “get more traffic”.

But those striving to grow online sales tend to focus too much on generating new visitors, while neglecting the experience of visitors on the site.

As the old saying goes: You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

Recently, the manager of a large retail store told me that he was embarrassed about the number of homepage visitors that were converting to paying customers. They had spent a lot of money on SEO, SEM, Google Adwords, social media marketing, etc.

I logged on. His site looked user friendly — the design was clean and professional, and simple tasks like finding a product were easy.

But when I tried to buy a product, I was confused about the price: did it include shipping? Would I get free shipping if I added one or more products?

I couldn’t find any links to the shipping policy or shipping rates. I proceeded through the checkout, to see if shipping would get added to the price — my frustration building — when, suddenly, I was asked to register.

Like most people, I hate forms and I particularly hate registering. Do I create a new password, or take the security-weak decision to reuse an existing password?

I didn’t proceed. I suspect many other people abandoned their carts at this point.

A few design tweaks by the store owner could have removed my frustrations (make the shipping policy/price clear; remove the need to register, or push it to later in the cycle).

I believe that this web business owner has never observed real users interacting with his own website.

By spending a small portion of his budget on usability — testing, iterating the design, etc. — he may see his conversions improve quickly.

UX Strategies to Increase Conversion

Intuitive Navigation

When it comes to online shopping, simplicity is the name of the game. Ever walked into a giant supermarket and felt immediately overwhelmed? The same principle applies online. A cluttered website with a convoluted navigation structure is akin to a messy physical store.

Users should be able to find what they’re looking for within a few clicks. Intuitive navigation is not just about having a pretty menu; it’s about structuring your site in a way that mirrors the thought process of your users.

Avoid Hidden Costs

You’ve chosen your product, and you’re ready to check out. But wait, there’s suddenly an extra shipping fee, or perhaps an added tax. These unexpected costs can be a silent conversion killer.

Being transparent about total costs upfront doesn’t just reduce cart abandonment rates — it builds trust.

Think Like a User

Sometimes, as business owners or developers, we’re too close to the product. We know the ins and outs, and we inadvertently assume that our users do too. But this is seldom the case.

By putting ourselves in the shoes of a first-time visitor, we can more readily spot the hiccups and barriers in our user journey. This is where usability testing works wonders — it’s an opportunity to see your site through fresh eyes.

Design for the Small Screen

While websites are usually designed on large screens, remember that most users shop on their mobile devices.

A site that’s not optimized for mobile is like a shop with a locked front door during business hours. It’s not just about making things fit on a smaller screen; it’s about imagining the user journey for those on the go. Speed, simplicity, and ease of use are paramount on mobile.


As online shopping continues to evolve, so do the expectations of online shoppers. The journey from landing on your homepage to completing a purchase should be seamless, intuitive, and enjoyable.

Every point of friction, no matter how minor, can deter potential customers. By prioritizing user experience, not only will you increase the likelihood of conversions, but you’ll foster trust and brand loyalty with your customers.

3 replies on “How Good UX Improves Conversion Rates”

Good observations, it frustrates me the way so many ecommerce solutions force registration before ordering. The last ecommerce site we built (with Drupal & Ubercart) generated a user account on the fly based on an email address entered when ordering. If the user confirms it by email they can review their order, if not it doesn’t affect the ordering or fulfillment process.

Interesting blog Michael, reminds of the paper by Jared Spool – the 300 million dollar button,

He talks about a similar issue and suggests that its not even just the form itself which is causing problems but WHERE the form is presented in the purchase cycle – he suggests leaving it ’til later (as you point out). Not sure this will change sales by 300 Million but could surely help decrease abandonment rate..

Thanks Abi. I like Jared Spool’s articles. Ironically, I was thinking of Luke Wroblewski (the author he mentions) when I wrote the above. I agree that forms are ‘a necessary evil’ that users will tolerate, if well designed and positioned correctly — but I think registration forms can sometimes be avoided entirely. The security issue is greater the more times we have to register.

Check out Wroblewski’s article ‘Why Sign Up Forms Must Die’:

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