A tale of cause and effect

A tale of cause and effect


I may have mentioned it once or twice… well, who am I kidding. My #1 rule and probably my most frequent used answer (yes, sorry, my dear clients, I know its annoying) is: Test it!

You like this new idea, but are not sure if it will work? Test it and you’ll get your answer.

You like this one feature and are 100% sure it’ll work? Test it. Just do it.

We are in the middle of the project and everything is specified already? Test it. No matter if you have only a prototype or a not-fully-functional interface. Test it. If just to see if you are on the right track. Better you get your realitycheck now, than in a few months, when you’ve burned all that budget.

Ok, so testing is the key. But there is a “but”. And it became clear to me some time ago, when I gave a talk to a bunch of young students about usability basics. They asked when one will need a professional and what can be done by themselves. The thing is, you have to test, but more important (and here is where you’ll probably need a UX professional from time to time) you have to understand the result!

Lets take a look at an example.

You have a finished product. A webapp with a landing page to get the user into buying the service. But your conversion sucks. So you test the landing page. So far so good.

At first, you’ll probably take a look at the data. Google analytics can be very powerful! First numbers aren’t that bad. Views are high and even average time on page is pretty high. But what’s that? A nasty high bounce rate? You take a look at the page flow. And the data for some of the components. And it gets pretty clear, the user don’t click that “register now” button to get into the checkout process.

So, you’ve found the culprit. That’s more than most do. I’ve seen it many times, that if the conversion is bad, the whole site is rebuild…

But the question is: WHY don’t they click it?! And the answer can be difficult and less obvious than it seems (that’s where sometimes hiring a UX professional is good invested money!)

What can be the cause?

First, of course, check if anything technical could prevent the user from clicking. Does Adblock hide the button (that happens more often that’ll you think…)? Or does it block the popup with the register-form? Does the latest browser update screw something up? That’s all good? Fine, lets go on.

There can be a visual problem.

  1. How is the button in question implemented? Does the area has a picture-background that looks shiny but does not make the button pop enough (muhaha, my dear designer friends, this “make it pop” was for you 😉 ).
  2. Where is it? Above the fold? Or does the user has to scroll down?
  3. What color has it? Sometimes a red button will be seen, but received more of a warning/error. A green button is also sometimes not the color of choice. Do an A/B test if you are not sure!
  4. Is it even identifiable as a clickable area? New and different visual designs are awesome. But sometimes buttons can be the victim of trends. Traditionally something you can click is designed as something with haptics. It’s like a button in the real world, it seems to have volume, a shadow… something that’ll make you want to touch. But what if you have a flat design? Is your button still saying “Click me!” (no matter what’s written on it).
  5. Does it look like a banner ad?! Really, that can be a problem. Components that resemble online ads are not visible to the user. I could write a whole article about this ad blindness…

There can be a problem with the text.

  1. What does the button say? “Register”? “Login”? “Try the demo”? “Try it now”? “Continue”? Is it the right wording for your target group? Maybe try a different wording. Again maybe an A/B test could be good.
  2. How many words are on the button? I’ve seen “buttons” with two-three lines of text… Nobody reads that, and its hardly recognizable as a button anymore… think about your wording.
  3. What font and font colour do you use? Is it clearly visible and legible? Is the contrast to to button colour good? Is the font to thin? Or to bold?

Or there can be a general problem. Sometimes the cause lies deeper.

  1. Is the message clear? You have a great product, but your landing page fails to deliver this in a clear message? Does the user not know why he should click that button? May he doesn’t understand, what he’ll get out of it. That can be on the one hand the wording of the button, but it could also be a bigger problem. Maybe the message is simply not clear enough.
  2. Is the user afraid of something? What’ll happen? Does he need to install something? What requirements are there? What about data security? Or will he get spammed with newsletter and promotion mails?
  3. Is the offer unattractive? Is it to expensive? Is there no demo and not enough that shows the app? Is the pricing model not suitable for the target group?

You see, there can be many causes and not all can be discovered at first sight. You’ll need to see the whole picture. Do a data analysis as well as user tests with real users, where you can ask, why they didn’t click it.

And not all causes can be eliminated by a change of the interface. Sometimes you just have to change one word on the button, sometimes you have to rethink the whole information structure.

If you have a problem, don’t go into blind activism-mode. Take a deep breath then a step back, look at it, test, analyse, find the real cause!

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