3 Principles of Building the Ideal Website and App User Journey

Liam Burns
Written by Liam Burns
May 14, 2020

Creating the ‘perfect’ customer journey is foundational for a successful customer experience (CX) strategy. 90% of CX professionals agree that a customer journey-based approach has beneficial impacts on customer satisfaction, retention, and lifetime value.

But the typical customer journey is changing. As customers gravitate towards websites and apps, the customer journey is becoming a digital journey.

In fact, while CX drives over 66% of customer loyalty, over 70% of CX leaders are struggling to design and implement strategies that boost loyalty and revenue. This doesn’t signify a flaw with journey-based approaches, it indicates a time for brands to pivot towards optimizing their website or app user journeys.

In order to build the ideal customer-centric website or app journey, marketing and UX teams should follow 3 core principles:

1. Ensure journeys deliver on your customer’s goals

When teams plan the customer’s user journey, they often think of goals they’d like to hit: more conversions, better retention, higher lifetime value, and so on. But these are your business’ goals, not your customer’s goals.

Strict pursuit of conversion will ultimately sabotage your customer journey. As the Experimentation Director at Journey Further, Jonny Longden is adamant that “in 2020 and beyond we finally see the death of the terms ‘conversion optimization’ and CRO, which are incredibly limiting and misrepresent the potential of the methods that they involve.”

To design a successful and truly customer-centric user journey, teams must deliver on customer goals, not strictly on business KPIs. Users may be researching an industry topic for a project, others may be comparing brands in your industry, or some are serious buyers considering your product. Each customer’s goal dictates how you should optimize for their ideal user journey.

Unfortunately, teams often struggle to identify how they can improve each type of user journey in the moment. The key to overcome that unknown is to measure user behaviors.

With behavior detection intelligence, digital teams can determine which users are engaged or frustrated, and how they should optimize the user experience.

For instance, if you detect a user’s ‘scroll engagement’ or ‘mouse reading’ behavior, it signifies a reader exploring a certain topic. Teams can then provide a more personalized experience based on that interest.

Conversely, successive mouse ‘multi-clicks’ or a rapidly shaking mouse into a ‘bird’s nest’ pattern each signify user frustration. Optimizers can swoop in to save the day by immediately addressing a broken link preventing users from checking out properly.

Without the ability to detect user behaviors, teams are forced to operate in the dark when optimizing journeys to meet customer goals.

2. Don’t force customers to work or think too hard in the user journey

The more your customers are forced to ‘work,’ the worse of a user journey you’ve built. While this principle seems obvious, CX-focused teams still struggle to deliver consistently frictionless web and app experiences.

Author of the renowned usability book, Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug offers sage advice for digital teams optimizing the user journey: “making every page or screen self-evident is like having good lighting in a store: it just makes everything seem better.”

Digital teams need to make the user journey obvious and easy, leaving nothing to user guesswork. Call-to-action buttons should be direct, content should be informative, navigation should be intuitive. If your website or app confuses, customers will grow frustrated and abandon.

Imagine visiting a store and struggling to find what you need, and no staff member can help, what would you do? Leave for another store – and the same goes for digital customer experiences. Research shows that 40% of customers go to your competitor after a bad experience with your mobile site.

While access to tools like session replays and heatmaps offer some visibility into UX problems, these aren’t prescriptive or efficient when identifying flaws in a UX.

Machine learning driven analytics capable of measuring millions of user sessions to pinpoint and quantify poor navigation or user frustration have become essential for user journey optimization. Advanced intelligence enables practitioners to instantly identify user journeys that force customers to ‘work’ versus those that are ‘effortless,’ so they can address them with ease.

Businesses that use digital experience analytics to preemptively address these UX issues could see up to a 400% increase in conversion rates – turning your ideal user journey into a conversion pipeline.

3. Optimize journeys based on the ‘why’ behind user decisions

User journeys often remain flawed even through optimization efforts because digital teams focus on the wrong information and data that doesn’t offer a precise solution to UX issues.

Usually marketing and UX teams rely on traditional customer metrics and digital analytics data like conversion rates, bounce rates, Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). While useful, these only provide insights into ‘what’ is happening, not ‘why’ it’s happening or ‘how’ you can fix it.

Expert conversion consultant, Talia Wolf explains that “once you shift your focus to the WHY (the real value you’re providing), instead the WHAT (your solution), you’ll know exactly what copy to write, what images to choose for your page, how to use color psychology and you’ll know exactly what customer journey your prospects need to experience in order to convert and become loyal customers.”

Given that 50% of CX professionals are unsatisfied with their organization’s ability to quantify the impact of customer experience on business KPIs like revenue, churn, and lifetime value, it’s clear optimization teams need more insightful analytics data.

Digital experience analytics data is the key to filling in these critical gaps in the optimization process. It provides the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ of traditional analytics.

Digital experience analytics measure millions of user sessions, detecting user behaviors, identifying every user’s state of mind, and providing categorical scores from engagement to frustration to navigation and more. It provides a holistic view for teams to pinpoint UX flaws and optimize without spending hours bogged down by guesswork that often doesn’t resolve core issues.

For instance, when conversions stall on a landing page, practitioners are forced to guess. Is it poor copy or a broken form? Digital experience data highlights specific behaviors indicating that slow loading page is causing users to impatiently abandon. With that insight, an optimizer can address this issue immediately, rather than digging through data and sessions for an answer.

Digital experience data offers marketing, UX teams, and analysts definitive answers when presented with any number of user journey issues.

Modern analytics enable optimization teams to build the ideal user journey

The best website and app journeys are not ones that are built, but rather ones that are consistently optimized with precision.

Personalization and experimentation expert Alex Harris contends that “to stay relevant, website and apps need to understand their customers better and turn those insights into actionable results. This includes accelerating UX/UI improvements, optimizing the tech stack and gaining a deeper understanding of customers. Users will not tolerate a poor experience.”

Brands that standout for their amazing website or app experiences will be those that implement modern digital experience analytics for ongoing and precise optimization. But given an ever-changing digital landscape, there’s an evolving set of optimization rules teams will have to adhere by for success.

For a nuanced understanding of how to successfully optimize your website or app, download the 9 New Rules of Website and App Optimization e-guide.

Topics: Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Journey, User experience
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