A conversion rate optimisation guide – UX design perspective

A conversion rate optimisation guide – UX design perspective

Updated 7 December 2022

Explore what CRO is all about and how you can get the most out of implementing these principles through good UX design.

What is CRO?

CRO stands for conversion rate optimisation. Here's what that means:

A conversion is when someone completes the desired action on your website page or digital platform. The desired action could be the user purchasing a product, signing-up to your newsletter or registering their interest for an upcoming event. 

The rate is the percentage of users on that page or platform who ‘converted’. 

Optimisation of the conversion rate means reducing friction on that page or platform and inspires more people to convert.

What is a good conversion rate?

The average website conversion rate across all industries is about 2.35%. But there’s a lot of variation: it depends on your industry, goals, type of page, niche, traffic channel, device and demographics, among other factors.

Average conversion rate by industry:

  • Ecommerce: 1.84%

  • Legal: 1.07%

  • B2B: 2.23%

  • Finance: 5.01%

Average conversion rate by device

  • Mobile: 1.82%

  • Tablet: 3.49%

  • Desktop: 3.90%

Average conversion rate by traffic source

  • Display: 0.7%

  • Social: 2.1%

  • Direct: 2.2%

  • Email: 2.3%

  • Referral: 2.6%

  • Organic: 2.8%

  • Paid: 2.9%

As you can see lots of factors and variations come into play. Generally speaking, a good conversion rate is 20% higher than your industry average conversion rate. 

Let’s say your industry average is 2.35%, then a good conversation rate is around 5.31%. Also for context, the top 10% of performers across most industries is five times higher than the industry average, meaning their conversion rate would be around 11.45%.

How to calculate conversion rate?

To calculate conversion rate, take the number of conversions you get in a given time frame and divide it by the total number of people who visited your site or landing page. For example, if you got 500 conversions from 10,000 visitors, then your conversion rate is 5%.


500 (conversions) / 10,000 (total visitors) * 100 = 5% (conversion rate)

If 5% is the current conversion rate, the aim of the game is to chip away at increasing this percentage utilising CRO tools and processes.

The best conversion rate optimisation tools

Typically there are 3 types of tools we use when doing CRO.

Quantitative tools to uncover what’s happening.
This includes Google Analytics, heat mapping (e.g. Crazy Egg), funnel tools (e.g. HubSpot), form analysis tools, customer satisfaction (CSAT) tools/surveys and more. 

Qualitative tools to uncover why things are happening.
Website feedback tools, surveys, interviews, recording tools, usability testing tools or online reviews are just some examples.

Tools to test changes and measure improvements.
Some types could be A/B testing tools (e.g. VWO), heat mapping, session recording tools, conversion-tracking analytics tools (e.g. Google Optimise), website feedback tools (e.g. post form survey) and surveys.

How does CRO work?

CRO is all about removing barriers so that visitors undertake an intended action. We break it down into three steps.

Step 1:  Do research, gather data and insights

Get a better understanding of current state performance (this is your baseline to start testing upon). Understand your audience's needs and use data to make informed decisions. 

Collect as much information as possible through the Qualitative and Quantitative methods above. From this, gather insights and build out your testing plan that will remove barriers to increase conversions.

Step 2: Remove barriers

Armed with as much data and insights as you can get, it’s time to revisit the design. The aim of the game is to do these things:

Remove friction: Make it usable – or users can’t buy. 

  • Are bugs or bad design getting in the way?

  • Are the time and effort required for the outcome too high?

Build trust: Neutralise anxieties – or users won’t buy.

  • Are there any anxieties over decisions?

  • How will customers benefit from your offering?

Give motivation: Persuade (not manipulate) – so users might buy.

  • Why do they need your offering?

  • What is the impact of not buying?

Step 3: Test and repeat

CRO is all about making informed decisions based on data and insights. So once you've got your baseline, a testing plan and ideas/strategies to remove friction, build trust and give motivation, it’s time to test, roll out and test again. A/B testing is a great way to approach this.

The existing page (your baseline) goes head-to-head with an idea/strategy. The winner goes into the next round where we refine ideas or run a new test. Think of CRO as the sails on a yacht. You need to continuously shift them to gain momentum.

Ensuring analytics are in place means you can review the results to see what has and has not worked. Repeat frequently to get to the top (or stay at the top) of your game. Here’s a canny guide to A/B testing.

CRO test examples

1. Removing friction 

When it comes to CTA placement it often depends on the complexity of the offer or ask. Let’s take a look at the variation: 

In this example we look at an e-commerce website that was asking first time buyers to register before purchasing a product. A/B testing the current state (variant A) vs. asking the user to register after purchasing a product (Variant B). Variant B was the clear winner, with purchases going up by a mammoth 45%! The result? An extra $15 million the first month and an additional $300 million in the first year.

2. Building trust

People are naturally wary of handing over information to businesses. One way to optimise conversion rate is to build credibility and trustworthiness at the right moments on your website or page. Examples of this that could be tested are: 

  • Adding anti-spam statements 

  • Providing clear previews and explainers of what they will and won't get

  • Adding/refining social proof, e.g. Downloaded by x-amount of Australians

  • Adding/refining testimonials or reviews

  • Showcasing awards

During the 2008 presidential election, Barrack Obama used A/B testing to see which media and button variations were the most effective at convincing people to sign up for the President’s email newsletter.

Media variations tested: 

Button variations tested: 

Four red Call to Action buttons saying Sign up, Learn more, Sign up now and Join us now.

The winning image and CTA combo: 

Obama 2008 campaign website image with the Obama family and a sign up form field.

3. Giving motivation

A great way to motivate visitors to take action is to understand their pain points, speak to their benefits and create a sense of urgency. Examples of this that could be tested are: 

  • Adding/refining messaging around: 

    1. The benefits

    2. Why should they sign up/buy this product? 

    3. What’s in it for them?

    4. Will they miss out on something if they don’t? 

  • Creating limited time offers

  • Exclusive offers

  • Only X remaining/selling fast

  • Order now to receive by [date]

  • Support X cause

With the goal of getting more subscribers Hotjar tested a pop-up that incentivises the visitor with high value content that speaks to their needs. Resulting in an extra 400 leads over a 3 week period.

Hotjar pop up window asking to download an action plan guide.

Get started with conversion rate optimisation

CRO is important because it allows businesses to lower customer acquisition costs by getting more value from the visitors and users already on-site.

By optimising the conversion rate of a page or platform businesses will: 

  • Increase revenue per visitor

  • Acquire more customers

  • Grow their profit / increase their bottom line.

In order to get good results in CRO, you need to understand your users, why they’re on this journey, their goals and motivations.

Every business, website and customer has its individual needs when it comes to CRO. There is an art to CRO that requires the use of expert processes, methods and tools to get best results. 

Drop us a line for more information about how we can use our CRO expertise to help advance your digital media and engage your customers.

Written by

Linda Bailey

UX Director

Diverting from a career in Architecture, Linda uses the left and right side of her brain equally. She's been with Honest Fox from the beginning and is involved in all facets of the business. She's empathetic and kind and loves punk music.