How UX Design Converts Visitors Into Customers

Ivan A Annikov
6 min readMar 31, 2016


In the post Panda landscape, it seems all anyone can talk about are tips and tricks to drive traffic to websites, magnetic UX design, and social media interaction. While many of these issues are unique to digital platforms, cutting through the tech talk, we are all trying to do the same thing — sell our stuff. So how do we get our visitors to stop browsing and actually buy something?

Successful companies are constantly tracking the user experience (UX), tweaking it here and there to suit user needs and demands. User experience optimization and conversion rate optimization (CRO), are invaluable processes that keep companies on top of the needs of their customers.

On digital platforms, conversion extends past sales to other aspects like sign-ups, clicks, repeat visitors, and more. Thus the challenge facing all digital teams is how to build a virtual environment that is attractive and can convert visitors to paying customers? How a company approaches this problem has a powerful impact on their customer relations, brand identity, credibility, and most importantly sales.

Until recently, CRO and UX were seen as independent entities. But as search algorithms, analytics, and users become more integrative, companies are realizing that user experience optimization and conversion rate optimization are powerful allies in the war to drive sales. So how can UX professionals design websites and apps to optimize conversion rates?

Bridging the Gap between CRO and UX

Both CRO and UX are processes designed to help companies reach their goals through measuring and understanding product effectiveness and user motivation. If this is true, UX designers and CRO practitioners should come together to find creative strategies designed to optimize sales.

Testing is a proven process to kick off such strategies, since user experience (UX) optimization and conversion rate optimization (CRO) both utilize testing software to generate data for business analysis.

But before we can discuss how UX optimization and CRO can work together, let’s take a look at few important distinctions.

UX Testing

Goal: Improve customer experience

Focus: Make user interfaces easy to use

Question: Why are customers engaging in certain behaviors?

Methodology: Mostly qualitative data

CRO Testing

Goal: Improve specific business metrics (add-to-cart, conversion, bounce, etc.)

Focus: Identify problems in the product browsing, evaluating, and buying experience

Question: Why aren’t visitors making more purchases?

Methodology: Mostly quantitative

Forming a UX Strategy that Converts

Guiseppe Getto, President and Co-Founder of Content Garden, Inc. (a digital marketing and UX consulting firm), says companies can use UX strategy that is conversion centric by building “design around content.” This process starts by creating a taskforce of developers, marketing specialists, UX designers, business managers, and content writers to pursue a comprehensive strategy.

The taskforce must work together to decide what content should be featured. This process usually begins with a simple audit of what is already converting, and an analysis of why its converting. Some frequently asked questions may include:

What are people responding positively to? What are people asking for? What data is readily available? What goals are apparent? What isn’t working? What keywords are being used to find the website/products?

The main objective is to develop a comprehensive user experience optimization strategy that centers on conversion rate optimization to increase revenue or operational savings.

Testing. Is Your Optimization On?

In order to design a better user experience, UX designers must get to know their customers and empathize with them. This is where user experience optimization (usability testing) and conversion rate optimization (A/B testing) diverge.


When testing for conversions, there are two different methodologies — A/B testing and Usability testing. Usability testing goes a little something like this:

You have two different layouts for your mobile app, and want to know which version has the highest conversion rate. Your team would have a group of consumers interact with both layouts, then note which leads to the most conversions and why.

This brings us to another key difference between UX optimization and conversion rate optimization. With UX, there is an actual “right” solution, because UX designers can show that design layout A has the highest conversion rate.

Usability testing should also answer the question “why.” Was there something on layout B that prevented the user from joining the newsletter? Was the user turned off by the presence of over-sized “buy now” buttons? Answers to these questions can be found though one-on-one testing which allows UX designers to gain key insights that A/B test can never uncover.

If your company doesn’t have the staff or time to start a usability test from scratch, there are some great tools, including BetaLoop, available to capture actionable insights from real users.

And Now a Disclaimer

There is no standard set of procedures to implement UX, and there probably won’t ever be. This can be problematic for “Type A” business people who prefer to rest in the bosom of rigid processes approved by sources of “authority.”

Welcome to the jungle, baby!

The best thing about UX is its flexibility. The best UX approaches rely on trial and error and conversation. Don’t stifle this process with black and white procedures. Your business and customers are unique, and it just doesn’t make every type of business adhere to a universal standard.


CRO processes and results are not as finite as usability testing. CRO tests and analyzes unconscious biases and preferences. When dealing with matters of the subconscious, CRO professionals should interview users directly, and combine that with usability testing and other methods. This approach goes something like this:

  • Complete an audit of company web presence.
  • Create prototypes to test existing prototypes.
  • Ask users qualitative questions at the beginning and end of these tests. Redesign and retest as needed for desired effect.
  • Some users may not be great at articulating what would convert them. Observing how users interact with prototypes in real time provides valuable insight into user motivations and thought processes. For best results, combine interviews with tests to gather usability data, and gain better feedback from users in real time.
  • Bringing it all together is the creation of personas. Personas are representations of each segment of your user population. A persona reflects the real attitudes, goals, and behaviors of human users observed, and act as aid to design development. Give personas a name, a face, and a backstory. This may sound silly at first, but they are an extremely helpful technique that can bring research to life.

Moxxii CEO, Heather Nigro states “By pairing personas with advanced segmentation a strategy can be formulated to execute upon for conversion goals. It’s imperative to understand the human intent and then translate it into a roadmap for success.”

We highly recommend adopting one of the personas to do a walk-through of the prototype, before committing the prototype to live code. Run controlled A/B split tests when the site is live, and you’ll get real time data from visitors that show for sure which page variation maximize conversions.

Conversion Rate Optimization Tools

There are tons of online tools available to UX designers searching for CRO help. The most popular one is Google Analytics. First of all it’s free. Plus the software is simple, powerful, and user-friendly.

Next, you’ll have to pick a testing platform. Unbounce is a little pricey, but effective. Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer are both inexpensive and easy to navigate.

It doesn’t really matter which CRO tools you choose, as long as you pick something. No amount of product meetings or money can replace hard data!

It’s All about Experimentation in the End

In the end, the most successful UX designers know that it takes willingness to experiment in order to find the right combination of user experience optimization and conversion rate optimization for their specific business. What leads to conversions for one company, may not do the same for the other. Some might say that conversion rates don’t really depend on customers, but the ability of digital teams to make adjustments to their websites and apps on a consistent basis.

As the online universe gets more complex, UX designers will increasingly play the roles of researcher and psychologist to find consumer motivations and predict behavior. You won’t be able to understand what makes every consumer tick, but you can adopt an organic strategy that walks in step with your customer.

Originally published at Betaloop.



Ivan A Annikov

Technology enthusiast, product designer, entrepreneur, world traveler, patron of the arts, student of life...