What is “UX / UI”?
User Experience: Quite literally, UX refers to how users experience your website. UX is made up of interactions and behavior — for example, the way that visitors on your site engage with its features and functionality, and how they find and consume the content they’re most interested in.
User Interface: The UI is an important component of UX and refers more pointedly to the look and feel or design of your website, as it is displayed to the target user (in most cases, a visitor to your website.) All of the factors that contribute to a good UX also aid in a good UI and vice versa; but where UX is made up of components both visible and behind the scenes, UI is made up of front-facing, visitor focused elements and features.
How do I optimize UX and UI for conversions?
There are probably hundreds of methods to optimize your site’s UX and UI to make it a better conversion tool and lead driver for your business. When we narrow down to the HVAC, Home Performance, and Solar industries specifically, we can zero in on a few key optimizations worth focusing on.
Keyword = “USER”
Remember, UX / UI is all about putting the “user” first — literally! As home service providers, think about what your customers (or potential customers) need from you.
Maybe they’re in the research phase and are simply looking for education and information. Maybe they’re in the consideration phase — they know what service they need and are looking for a contractor who provides that service and meets their other criteria, such as location, service offering, or certifications. Perhaps they’re all the way into the comparison phase: they’ve narrowed down their choices and are weighing options based on price and reviews. Or finally, maybe they’ve already determined you’re the HVAC, Home Performance, or Solar contractor they’re looking for and just need to get in touch.
No matter what stage of the funnel your customers are in, there are four basic rules to follow that will put you on the path to a user experience and interface that is optimized for conversion:
Make It Easy: Depending on the phase of the funnel the user is in, make sure the content or function that best serves their need is easy to find and easy to understand.
Make It Enjoyable: Just because this is business doesn’t mean we can’t also have a little fun. The design of your site’s user interface has an enormous impact on its user experience, so make sure it is aesthetically pleasing and visually engaging.
Make It Flexible: Consumers everywhere, in all industries, have at least one thing in common: they want options. If we want to appeal to the widest possible audience, we must diversify our offering — and never assume any two users will approach the same task the same way. From navigating around a site to the way they contact you, give users as many paths to conversion as possible.
Make It Work: There is nothing more frustrating than a website that doesn’t work. Whether images or pages don’t load, buttons don’t lead anywhere, or error messages don’t make sense, a feature or functionality that isn’t delivering the expected result will destroy your website’s UX — plain and simple. When a user takes an action on the site, the site should react accordingly!
Sometimes, we can’t win ‘em all.
You might be thinking, “wait a minute — some of these rules might actually make it easier for users to leave my site, or disqualify my services without ever contacting me.” You’re not entirely wrong. The fact is, sometimes UX/UI best practices can conflict with commonly used Conversion Optimization tactics.
For example, giving users a lot of options means they may not focus on the conversion component right off the bat, or at all. Additionally, If we sacrifice the prominence or contrast of conversion components (like web forms or email gates) in favor of a cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing design, then users may miss the conversion action or disregard it entirely. If we allow them full access to navigation at all stages of the conversion process, they might be more likely to abandon the conversion action altogether by navigating to other content.
These examples are all possible trade-offs when it comes to UX Optimization vs. Conversion Optimization.
So, do I have to choose between UX and Conversion Optimization?
Well, yes and no.
In the short term, it may become necessary to pick one method or the other when they seem to be in direct conflict with one another. But don’t despair!
There’s always A/B Testing: If you’re not sure what impact a certain UX / UI enhancement will have on the conversion performance of your site, test it! Publish two versions of your page or content and see which version performs better.
Know that Google is on your side (kind of): User Experience indicators are ALL over Google’s search ranking algorithms. We know the algorithms value relevant, robust, and comprehensive content, fast page load speeds, accessibility, and intuitive content organization and navigation. We also know that indicators like session and user volume, page depth, domain authority (and back-link profile) all contribute to improved SEO. So, it seems that if and when in doubt, prioritizing UX over Conversion tactics may be the best decision for your site’s SEO.
Just like all digital marketing and SEO, it’s a marathon — not a sprint. Making small, marked improvements consistently and over long periods of time is always a good idea. With “UX / UI enhancements” like the ones listed in the four rules above, you now have a whole bucket of options for changes, updates, and improvements you can regularly implement on your site to gradually move the needle when it comes to the visibility and rank of your brand in organic search results.
Delivering a good UX via an optimized UI is the best way to put users first, and in doing so, you’re saying to your potential customers that you know what they’re looking for, you want to help them, and you have the experience, knowledge and ability to do so.
Yes — sometimes UX / UI best practices, and Conversion Optimization best practices seem to conflict with each other. But when you’re in an industry that provides consumer services and relies on the trust and consideration of a primarily local customer base — like HVAC, Home Performance, and Solar service providers — it’s easy to see that putting users first is the clearest path toward capturing that lead and eventually converting them into a loyal, happy customer.