Hidden Friction: The 7 Silent Killers of Conversion
Friction is one of the greatest obstacles to your conversion process, and though most marketers currently have some idea of what Friction is, many are only seeing half the picture.
When asking marketers to identify the Friction associated with a conversion process, the response is often very confident. Usually, the number of form fields on a page will be pointed out first, the number of steps in a process next, and occasionally a third comment might focus on the length of the individual pages themselves. The overall consensus from marketers is that if you can eliminate these simple elements, then you can eliminate Friction.
However, our research suggests that most of the Friction in a conversion process goes undetected. Further, this “hidden” Friction often is the most lethal to conversion. So, in this post I wanted to lay out 7 of the most undetected ways that Friction might be threatening your conversion rates. I have dubbed these The 7 Silent Killers of Conversion.
SILENT KILLER #1: A Misguided Eye-path
The first, and probably most common of these silent killers is a misguided eye-path. A Web page’s eye-path is the natural way in which a visitor’s eyes move through a Web page.
Often times, the eye-path of a visitor is sent all over a page without any logical order (see example). When this happens, a visitor will experience a level of Friction that lessens their probability of converting.
We discuss how to properly direct the visitors’ eye-path here.
SILENT KILLER #2: Multiple Equally-Weighted Objectives
Another common problem is providing two or more equally-weighted options for the visitor to choose between (see example). Giving your visitors multiple options to choose from might seem polite, however, more often than not, our tests show that this only increases the Friction a visitor experiences in a conversion process. Your visitor needs to be led. They need to know where they can get the most value. So, point them in a clear and decisive direction to a main call-to-action.
But what do you do when you have multiple CTA’s on a single page (like a homepage)? We discuss how to handle this here.
SILENT KILLER #3 Underemphasized Calls-to-Action
Related to the last problem, many Web pages work hard to convince a visitor to convert and yet drop the ball when it comes to designing something as simple as a button. Often, a visitor has to hunt for the call-to-action, and this creates unwarranted difficulty.
If a button’s primary goal is to elicit a click, it should be emphasized using size, shape, and color, in the main eye-path, and most importantly, look clickable (see example).
SILENT KILLER #4: Multimedia
What? Multimedia? Say it ain’t so…
For online marketers, there’s often much excitement that surrounds video, Flash, and other forms of interactive media. However, our research suggests there is a lot of Friction that goes under the radar when it comes to multimedia. In fact, for many pages we have tested, the “coolest” aspect of a web page was actually hurting conversions the most. We hypothesize that this is for two main reasons:
- Reason #1: Multimedia assumes a technological standard on the visitor (e.g., “Everyone has flash.” Or “Everyone can stream this without having to wait”). When this standard is beyond that of the visitor, Friction is created.
- Reason #2: Multimedia often comes with a steep usability learning curve. This is especially the case with multimedia that leans heavily on interaction. If your visitor has to learn how to engage with a particular type multimedia, there is another layer of Friction.
Now, I am not forbidding the use of multimedia. I truly believe it can actually be a great tool for expressing the Value Proposition and/or leading your visitor through the conversion process. We just need to be aware that multimedia is often a double-edged sword, and we must ensure that our use of it brings more value to the table than Friction.
SILENT KILLER #5: Overuse of Different Fonts (sizes and styles)
This seems to be less of an issue nowadays, but still watch out for the overuse of different font sizes and font styles throughout a Web page. This can make readability very difficult. As the saying goes, “When you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.”
Instead, use variation in font size and style sparingly to lead the visitor through the text (emphasized headlines and section headers), and to call out specific points of value (impactful phrases, key points, testimonials)
SILENT KILLER # 6: Unorganized Content
Another big silent killer is poorly organized content. This is particularly relevant to ecommerce Websites offering a wide array of products (see example), but also applies to any Web page that has a substantial amount of content. If the content is not organized clearly, then most of your visitors will experience confusion. And in the midst of confusion on a webpage, there is really only one way for the visitor to regain clarity – by clicking the back button.
So, how do marketers ensure that their Web pages are organized properly? Well, when our researchers seek to organize a page, they start out first by ensuring the page answers three critical questions for the visitor:
- Where am I?
- What can I do here?
- Why should I do it?
I think this is a good place to start, and for more on how to answer these three key questions, see this Web clinic.
SILENT KILLER #7: Difficult Color Combinations
Finally, the seventh silent killer: difficult color combinations. Now I love color and I love creativity. But there is an often-crossed line where creativity actually hinders conversion. Our research suggests that certain color combinations can actually decrease the readability of a webpage, and subsequently increase the Friction.
And it doesn’t end here…
As stated at the beginning of this post, Friction is not limited to form fields and page lengths. It’s not all about getting everything above the fold. It goes much deeper, and requires a marketer put themselves in the shoes of their customers.
These 7 Silent Killers of Conversion are a good start at doing that, but keep in mind that these seven are not the only ways that Friction hides on a web page. In order to really identify and address Friction holistically (both length and difficulty), we must begin to see our web pages from the perspective of our visitors. We can’t just rely on a list of seven rules. Ultimately, as with all optimization, we must strive to understand our visitor’s thought sequences, and experience the conversation process from their point of view.
QUESTION: What other ways have you seen Friction hidden on a Web page? Let us know in the comments…
Categories: General, Practical Application, Site Design, Video best practices, common mistakes, conversion, conversion threats, friction, hidden friction, improving conversion, landing page optimization, optimization, silent killers, webpage optimization, website optimization