As a general rule, I believe that you want to get users to the “goods” quickly and easily, reducing friction wherever possible. However, sometimes this can go too far, and sacrifice the needs of the business. I thought I would share an example from Aprizi where we did exactly that.
First, for context: Aprizi was a personalized discovery engine for independent designers in fashion and home decor (we pushed on the concept for about 15 months, and decided to wind it down in mid April, although the site is still up for now). When visitors came to aprizi.com, they saw this screen:
The vast majority of visitors would, not surprisingly, click that big orange button. We then asked the visitor two questions with lightbox popups: what gender and what major categories were they interested in?
At this point, the user would go right to their home page with a carousel full of goodies. This FUE wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was good enough compared to other design and dev priorities we had. But we had a major problem: we were really happy with our bounce rate (typically ranged between 15% and 30%), but we had an absolutely pathetic registration rate in the low single digits.
We needed registrations because 1. we couldn’t do personalization across visits without it, and 2. we needed people’s email addresses, because email is a critical way to bring people back to a site. We tried to encourage people to register by putting a message right in the carousel (along with messaging elsewhere on the site), like the following screenshot:
But that accomplished little, regardless of the copy used.
Finally, we decided to add a third step to the FUE where we asked the user to sign up. Nothing fancy – we just asked for email and password:
We even made it optional, so that if the user X-ed out of the lightbox at this point, they would get to their carousel like nothing had happened. However, we didn’t TELL people that it was optional.
The results: our registration rate jumped up to 40%, and our bounce rate didn’t really change. A clear win.
Good UX is about finding harmony between the needs of the customer and the needs of the business. Swing too far in one direction or the other, and you have a serious problem on your hands. This was a great example for me of how one could actually reduce friction *too far*, and that pulling back and getting in the way of the customer a bit more could lead to great results.