How do the principles of CRO align with UX?

By Jess Sherratt | 23/10/2017

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) and User Experience (UX) have a lot in common; if implemented well, both of these disciplines help users to achieve their goals with minimum effort on their part. Yet if you think about it, each approach comes from a different angle - UX from the user's perspective and CRO from a business perspective. Let's delve a little deeper though and see where exactly they cross over...   

User Experience

User experience (UX) focuses on understanding who a user is, what their needs and goals are, and how they achieve those goals. 

When considering information, products or services, I find it really helpful to keep in mind these UX principles developed by Peter Morville from the UX honeycomb.

UX Honeycomb

The areas of the honeycomb are described as follows:

  • Usable: The system, which delivers the product or service, needs to be simple and easy to use. Systems should be designed in a way that is familiar and easy to understand. The learning curve a user must go through should be as short and painless as possible
  • Useful: A business’ product or service should be useful and fill a need. If the product or service is not useful or fulfilling a user’s wants or needs, then there is no real purpose for the product itself
  • Desirable: The visual aesthetics of the product, service or system need to be attractive and easy to translate. Design should be minimal and to the point
  • Findable: Information needs to be findable and easy to navigate. If the user has a problem they should be able to quickly find a solution. The navigational structure should also be set up in a way that makes sense
  • Accessible: The product or services should be designed so that everyone, no matter their physical, mental or situational ability, has the same user experience
  • Credible: The company and its products or services should be trustworthy

Conversation Rate Optimisation

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is fundamentally based on two concepts: perceived cost and perceived value. 

Perceived Cost

This is not only a monetary measure but relates to the users perceived effort and time that is required. For example, when a customer is buying an e-book online, they may see 40 text input fields in the form and decide that the e-book is not worth that amount of effort.

The same goes for time, when a user activates an online chat – are they likely to wait 30 minutes for a reply? Reducing user effort is a core UX principle, where relying on systems to work out the harder interactions helps reduce the user's reduce the time and effort of the task.

Perceived Value

This relies on how the user identifies the worth of something based on its usefulness (helping you to do something) and scarcity (where there is not much of it available). But what makes a user identify something as valuable?

It must fulfil a customer's intention and do this in a better way compared to its rivals. However, from both CRO and UX perspectives, it’s widely agreed that value is subjective to the user, based on their context and individual experience.

My thoughts

CRO and UX both have principles focusing on the usefulness of a product or service and its value to the user. Essentially, without a good user experience, it doesn’t matter whether you optimise a website when developing a product or service. If you keep a user-centred approach using UX principles, then you can use these to enhance your CRO and create a central strategy, by combining the objectives of both the user and the business.