Improve User Experience With Website Personalization

Targeting segments of your users with more relevant content has been a crucial part of digital communications, such as email and advertising, for many years. However, when it comes to the web it’s still in its infancy.  According to an Econsultancy/RedEye CRO survey only 20% of companies are actually doing any kind of website personalization; and yet it’s a method that can make a significant difference to the user experience of your website and consequently to conversion rates and online revenues. 

Website personalisation – be relevant

It’s actually pretty simple and logical why it works. If a website presents messaging, content, images, offers or promotions that are more relevant then there’s a greater chance that users will find them of interest and engage with the website. And the same is true for optimising user journeys; if persuasive content during a checkout or registration process, for example, is relevant to the users’ particular circumstances then this will have a greater effect and consequently reduce overall drop-off.

There are so many ways you can use website personalisation – however the basic principles remain the same. Increasing relevancy through segmentation and targeting of web content will improve the overall user experience and effectiveness of the website.

To provide some clarification, and hopefully also inspiration, here are 4 examples:

1: De-cluttering.  Less is more. But what do you remove?

Something we frequently observe in usability testing sessions is where webpages are so full of messages and content – all competing for users’ attention – that the whole webpage suffers and the user fails to engage with any of it.

Many of you who carry out regular A/B or multivariate testing will know that removing clutter and really cleaning up the webpage can in itself have a significant effect on conversion rates.

However, when you’re designing and optimising one user experience for everyone it’s a tricky job deciding what to include and what to discard. If you can segment the audience and remove, or reduce, the prominence of content irrelevant to that segment of users then this will have a massive effect on conversion rates.

2: Homepage real-estate and prioritisation

Talk to any internal ecommerce team, marketing team or whoever manages the online side of the business and the issue of prioritising content on the homepage will come up pretty high on their list. In fact I dread to think how many meetings are spent on these internal debates.

On the homepage every department wants a piece of real-estate, which obviously causes issues. That’s so often the reason for the popularity of carousels – it’s a good way of pleasing the various departments who are adamant that their content is important enough to be ‘above the fold’.  No-one actually told them that position 7 in the animated carousel has pretty much no chance of being read, let alone clicked on.

Countless usability testing and eye tracking studies we’ve carried out have shown how little attention users pay to these carousels; even though they’re in a prominent position at the top of the page.

And if it’s numbers you’re interested in most, A/B tests we’ve run for clients have shown how static content very often outperforms carousels.

The key here is that showing every single piece of possible content all at the same time even if static, is not good for the user. If you can identify the user segments that are important for your business and target content effectively then this is by far the best solution.

3: Lifestyle imagery is great if relevant. Otherwise it can actually be a turn-off

The right lifestyle imagery can have a significant effect on customer engagement and conversion rates in the right context, as we’ve seen in some very interesting recent A/B tests. However, the difficulty from a content point of view is choosing the nature of the pictures. If the website is selling car insurance for example, what type of person do you show? A student with an old banger? Or a family? With personalisation you are able to do both.

 4: Banner blindness

Banner blindness is usually due to an area of the page containing too many marketing and advert styled messages and blocks. The user then automatically assumes that everything in this area is more salesy than navigational and chooses to ignore all of it.

Whilst this issue can be reduced a little through changes to style and design – a simple solution is to display fewer, more relevant blocks of content:  i.e. information which is more likely to be useful.

An ad that’s relevant to the user will more likely be perceived as useful content rather than pushy marketing.

The year of user experience relevance

Hopefully some of the above ideas will spur you on and help you identify some of the massive opportunities that website personalisation can bring to your online businesses. The key however is to not look at website personalisation as a way of delivering some temporary quick wins or gimmicky new content blocks, but as a strategy for longer-term continual improvements to the overall user experience.

This article first appeared on the Technology for Marketing Insights.

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About the Author

chris-gibbons-roundChris Gibbins is the Director of UX & Optimization at He specialises in creating amazing customer experiences across every channel and device for his retail clients. With a background in art and design, his passion for understanding customer behavior and optimizing digital experiences started about 10 years ago after being introduced to the fascinating field of usability and eye tracking. Chris has been known to say that if he could, he would A/B test everything! He recently moved to BigLight after 8 years heading up UX, CRO and personalization at RedEye.

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