How designing for micro-context can help optimise your conversion rate

EMPATHY: The ability to share and udnerstand the feelings of another

While going through this article, wether you are a manager, designer or an engineer, you will have a more detailed view on about your user’s journey. As a user Experience designer, I strongly recommend the optimisation of “Micro-Contexts” to boost your digital product’s KPIs.

Nowadays, the buzzword in UX design remains “Empathy”. While it doesn’t necessarily mean the social skill, it still sounds nice as a bird tweet on a lazy afternoon. Try it: Ask anyone if they are empathetic/sensitive. If I were to give you $1 for every “yes”, you’d retire today. Which is a lot of $1 bills… Let’s -not- do that ok?

Despite the confusion around it, Empathy does play a major part in any kind of design. Regarding your app/website, it should run in-and-out of it and correlate with how your users feel about your business and how much you know about them.

All expert agree: User-Centrics designs already shows great figures

Most companies do have a User-Centric approach when it comes down to designing their digital product. They use various tools to get insights from their target and among their primary objectives is the enhancement of the company’s culture with their findings harvested from their users:

If we have to redefine “Empathy” in User-Centric Design, we can already state that it has little to do with the social skill: It rather regards the conduction of User Research, of which outcomes are to be let permeate the design process from ideation to production as well as the company as a structure.

This organic process can be of great benefit to your users and will eventually reflect onto your business: brand, product or service-wise, every expert agrees that any activity related to the enhancement of the User Experience is worth every penny spent, showing a staggering ROI of more than 100%… and that is, in the worst case scenarios.

No, really. Check it out.

Empathy and Micro-Contexts: Or how to improve your products’ performance even further

Picture this: John travelled to Paris first time and is looking for his way to the Louvre Museum. He decides to turn to his device and use your app.

This, is a context.

Now John tapped your app. In that moment, he cares a little to nothing for the kind of transportation, the walking time or the bird flight distance. So the question that arises is: what will your app’s very first screen reveal to him at that specific moment?

Now –this-, is a Micro-Context.

In fact, it is easy to have an overview of a user’s journey, review touch-points and carry on with mockups and prototyping. But what about “micro wants-and-needs”?

If your app/website design doesn’t consider these tiny bits, your business might miss out conversion opportunities in addition to bringing friction along with the whole “let’s-not-visit-this-website-ever-again” package.

Micro-contextualising allows one to dissect a given touch-point into instants and discover insights down that level of briefness.

“All right, I’m about to ___, what do I want? What do I need… and what do I do?”
 — Explicitely said no one ever

Several digital services, website and apps do the job pretty well. Good examples are Food Delivery services such as Deliveroo, Guitar Companion apps alike UberChord or Yahoo’s Weather Forecast app.

What do they have in common? Their apps’ first screens show critical information relevant to the user’s micro-context straight up, while taking in account both the overall task and the business goals/requirements. They also determine the next micro-context.

But enough talk, let’s get to what you came here for: a list of 3 examples to micro-contextualise your users’ journey with your digital product.

3 examples where Micro-Contextualising can be useful to your business

If your business requires a purchasing process

Would you rather trust a sign that reads “Come in, it’s safe” or “Under heavy CCTV surveillance”?

Both scenarios have their pros and cons but in the same fashion, think about your service’s payment tunnel… and before, and after. If the process requires the users’ trust, your vitrine might as well display that they can ring, enter and leave without concerns. But some micro details are proven to be a lot more relevant than just a safety message. Here is a particular example:

While the animation seems smoothening and pretty much eye-candy if you ask me. It takes 3 seconds to display entirely. Extend it by another 2, should it list 6 or more items: It slows down the task execution. Should they need to check 3 receipts in a row, that’s 9 seconds, resulting in a sluggish macro-experience, all way up from micro-contexts. Sometimes, that data can translate in a feeling of unreliability in the mind of your users. If you aim at gaining their trust, reassuring them about the safety of your product while dealing with sensitive data such as their budget and purchases, micro-contextualizing here would help avoiding this.

If your business requires the user to make contact

Wether it’s a phone call, or an email, your website is the main contact point you want to emphasise on — at a context level.

In such example, the user might experience confusion, friction, and the increase in workload is rather a negative thought to them, and we should keep in that all of the above hinders decision-making. In other words, if this a decisive step for your business, you have a problem. Here are some advices:

  • Alike most e-commerce’s payment tunnels, all fields are distributed onto 3 to 5 pages, including the payment confirmation page.
  • The phone number field must be optional. A study from ClickTale showed that a form with such a field decrease form abandonment from 39% to 4%.
  • The less fields, the better: review and narrow down what fields are necessary, how to fill them up (dropdown lists, calendar, etc.

Check out these illustrated examples for more recommendations. Keep in mind that for some businesses, additional fields may actually result into an increase in abandonment and less conversion: Expedia lost $12 million/year because of one extra form field.

Your digital product first screen

This one is pretty obvious. Let’s keep it short in 3 golden rules:

  • The direct benefits of using your services should be clear from the start. The second your audience lands on your page is a critical micro-context. If the signals are wrong, more questions will arise, causing friction, increase in cognitive load, etc. The first message should ease them into discovering what you do.
  • A landing page should have a single purpose and thus a single consistent message. The presence of a Call-to-Action answers a micro-context question, critical to the user: “Why am I here and what am I to do”. the CTA defines the whole purpose of the user’s journey to and through your website. Airbnb demoes it well with a simple form and a CTA labelled “Search”: The overall task is to rent a flat, but the first task is to search for one.
  • A/B testing of different layout alternatives: Some study revealed that the element with the biggest impact on your website performance is the page layout. Affecting the whole conversion process, micro-details are what makes great designs.

And more…

As you understand, UX design activities cover a wide scope and micro-contexutalizing helps rip the benefits even further. As a UX designer, I advocate for the users to translate their wants-and-needs into business opportunities by constantly micro-contextualizing (over-contextualising as my colleagues rant i do) early in design processes.

Don’t hesitate to engage in the comment below, i’ll be happy to discuss with you!

DISCLAIMER: This is a personnal blog friendly version of the article I wrote myself for World of Digits, the company for which I currently work as a UX design Consultant.

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