We often attribute the search for better conversion to the marketing approach. However, it is just as much a question of user experience (UX). Indeed, if the “best practices to increase conversions” are known and numerous, there comes a stage where it is essential to know the users well. It is then necessary to analyze the customer/user journey in detail, build personas, carry out user tests, etc. In a word: apply user-centered methods. Among them, Design Thinking is a reference!

Design Thinking is a method, a state of mind and a process. The objective of Design Thinking is to solve problems concerning a product or a service in terms of user experience.

It is a method that allows us to go deeper into the understanding of users, innovation and design. Upstream, Design Thinking allows to focus the conception of a product on the customers and the users.

Even though it is very popular today and has a strong appeal, this “trend” nevertheless dates back to the 1960s. Several variations of the Design Thinking process exist.

But one of the most popular is divided into 5 steps:

This process represents a powerful asset for companies because it allows them to optimize the project on its target and maximize the chances of obtaining conclusive results.

It allows marketing teams, designers, developers, etc. not to rely on intuition but on research, reflection and design work centered around the human being.

CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) can be compared to the Design Thinking method. The field of CRO consists in setting up a clear process to optimize the conversion rate of a website regarding specific actions.

This process is similar to Design Thinking in that it is also based on research, hypothesis and testing.

Because markets, personas and industries can be very complex, it is impossible to know which improvements will optimize the conversion rate. As with Design Thinking, intuition and opinion don’t really have a place here. Knowing that it is impossible to know what will work in terms of conversion, innovation and testing are the main points to rely on.

Conversion rate optimization is not just about increasing conversions. Because in these cases, it would be enough to reduce your prices to obtain a better conversion rate.

In fact, the question to ask is: how to optimize your website so that your business grows? It’s all about growth.

As traffic acquisition becomes more and more complicated, especially with SEO and advertising, it is more difficult to grow and make the obtained traffic profitable.

CRO and Design Thinking have a common goal: to find innovative ideas for growth.

The common mindset is to accept several truths:

Opinion doesn’t count: whether in Design Thinking or CRO, subjective opinions and views don’t really have a place here. It is impossible to put yourself in the shoes of all users and understand them perfectly at first glance. So you have to put your intuition aside and rely on reliable data. Of course, ideas, opinions, more or less innovative suggestions can be proposed, but they must systematically come from observations made and must then be tested.
It is impossible to know what will work: of course there are universal rules of thumb to improve performance, such as loading speed or accessibility. But when it comes to conversion rate optimization, it’s impossible to know in advance what will work. That’s why testing exists.
There is no magic layout: no placement, no layout, no color is better for conversions. No universal rule exists to maximize the chances of optimizing conversions. The best practices that can be found everywhere on the web work on some sites, but not on all sites. We must therefore stop thinking in terms of “good practice” but rather think “process”.
And that’s what conversion rate optimization and Design Thinking have in common, they both use a clear process: collect data, find solutions, make assumptions, test and analyze.

Design Thinking is therefore a process that can be perfectly matched with conversion rate optimization.

The advantages of Design Thinking for conversions are :

The user at the center of the process
A collaborative work that brings together several expertises necessary for the proper functioning of the conversion optimization process.
Better collaboration between members of a design team.
Ideas that can be generated and tested quickly.
Custom testing based on the market and relevant personas.
The use of Design Thinking to optimize conversions is therefore relevant because of its willingness to innovate and find solutions centered around people.

Whether it’s in a Design Thinking process or a conversion optimization process, this step is essential. The objective here is to empathize and put yourself in the users’ shoes.

It is important here to get to know the users in question regarding their goals, fears, motivations, desires, demographics, geography, etc.

Quantitative and qualitative data must therefore be collected in order to have the most advanced and precise understanding of the users.

For a website conversion optimization objective, the goal is to focus the UX research on the website usability and on the possible friction points that can hinder the conversion rate.

This research step can take into account several techniques:

Data analysis on Google Analytics: quantitative data allows to understand its users but also the quality of its interface. It is possible to observe the most used browsers, the most frequented age group or other demographic data. Concerning the interface, the bounce rate or the conversion rate on particular pages also allow to better understand the efficiency of the site in front of the users.
Polls / Surveys / Interviews: When it comes to collecting qualitative data, the goal is to ask relevant questions directly to the users concerned. Whether it is via direct discussions with users or via online surveys, the goal is to obtain answers that will give clues regarding possible improvements to the user experience.
Mouse tracking: Mouse tracking is also an effective method to understand the habits and behavior of users in front of its interface. It allows to capture the scroll and mouse movements of a group of users in order to establish heatmaps.
In any case, the ultimate goal here is to feel empathy for users and understand as best as possible their different problems with your interface.

After doing this research work, it’s time to analyze the data collected.

Whether it’s in a Design Thinking or CRO process, it’s important to take stock of your qualitative and quantitative data in order to organize and analyze it.

The goal here is to start understanding the data and its impact on your conversion goals. To do this, it can be interesting to gather recurring user behaviors in personas, for example.

In this step, two questions regarding the collected data must be asked:

Are there common problems between many different users?
Are there answers that come up often?
It is important here to sort out the important data and turn them into real observations that will help you create hypotheses later.

This step is therefore used to clarify what to focus on to optimize the user experience and conversion rate of the product in question.

The goal is to analyze the potential solutions and choose the ones that will be the most coherent for the project.

In order to optimize the conversion rate, it is important to test hypotheses regarding the research done and the problems identified.

In a Design Thinking process, ideation consists of generating more or less innovative ideas to find solutions.

Brainstorming and group work are therefore favorable here. Each team member can share his or her ideas in order to create a debate and make intelligent hypotheses.

Sketches, models, diagrams, everything is good to express your ideas.

With all the qualitative and quantitative data collected beforehand, the goal of this step is to finally find hypotheses to implement in future tests.

With a hypothesis, we associate the identified problems with the found solutions while indicating the desired result.

For example, you observed in the research phase that your visitors did not understand what the product on your sales page was for. You have therefore identified a problem.

Then, with the “define” phase, you were able to find a solution to this problem with your team.

The hypothesis could be: by improving the presentation of the product with a video for example, our visitors will be able to better understand how the product works and the conversion rate will be better.

The objective here is to generate as many hypotheses as possible.

Finally, it is best to organize and store all the hypotheses generated with a rating system.

Give each hypothesis a grade based on two criteria:

Ease of implementation
Impact on the user experience
The important thing is to prioritize the hypotheses that have a big potential in terms of conversion rate optimization. This will allow you to avoid focusing on details that are not worthwhile in the first place.

By doing this, you will be more organized with your team and therefore more productive in the long run.

The prototype is the main tool for your future tests. Prototyping allows you to put your ideas into shape.

Everything you have imagined in terms of solution, implementation and innovation can be put into shape.

Whether using tools like Sketch, Figma or Adobe XD, it is possible to create an ideal state of your solutions and then have them tested.

What is interesting with prototypes is that you don’t need to invest in development to test your hypotheses.

Nor do you need to create a perfect prototype by spending time on details. The important thing is that it’s good enough for your interface to be tested.

It is therefore important to create a prototype that best reveals the solution in question in order to draw interesting conclusions in future testing phases.

It depends on the solution, but in general a low-fidelity mockup is enough to test ideas properly. Here the design should not be exclusively linked to aesthetics and artistic point of view. It must be linked to a desire to understand the users and their behavior.

The testing stage is fundamental in Design Thinking and in CRO, it is what will conclude the development of an idea.

Stopping at the prototype is a mistake. Even if a research work has been done on users, nothing says that your hypotheses will be good to implement.

Intuition has no place here. Only results and tests are right. This step is therefore essential.

The objective with the tests is to know whether or not the solution you have put in place works and if it allows you to have a better conversion rate.

There are two types of tests to perform.

The first is the usability test. Usability testing is very much used in Design Thinking. It consists of having a prototype tested by users of the target in question in order to see how they behave when faced with the interface.

A scenario and tasks are given to the tested user in order to guide him towards interesting issues. Questions can then be asked live in order to learn more about the friction points that may exist.

The advantage with user testing is that generally, 5 users are enough to detect 85% of UX issues. This is very efficient.

However, when it comes to the details, user testing is not going to be enough.

At a certain point, we are no longer trying to improve the overall UX but rather to optimize the conversion rate in detail. And this requires hypotheses that can sometimes be crazy but can be tested.

Knowing that user tests are no longer enough to optimize conversions on a site with a lot of traffic, it is therefore necessary to test and validate hypotheses on volume.

This is where the second type of testing comes into play: A/B testing.

A/B testing consists of testing two variants of a single page to see which one converts better. These variations can be in terms of text, colors, placement, components, images, etc.

By using A/B testing with a sufficient sample of users, it is possible to draw good conclusions about the hypotheses being tested.

In a conversion optimization process, it is the A/B tests that will decide whether or not your hypothesis is good and if you can implement it on your site.

Conversion rate optimization is often seen as a domain reserved for larger companies. However, Design Thinking, which is more popular, has the same objective as CRO: to generate and test innovative ideas to improve the user experience, the product or the conversion rate.

Design Thinking is therefore an ideal process to carry out a conversion rate optimization strategy. Because of its research, ideation, innovation and testing process.

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