Creating a Pathway to Every Customer’s Success

The best websites make it easy for users to connect with the business they represent.

These sites treat customers as if they’ve met before; they know what makes users tick, and eagerly respond to their unique needs. It’s an example of personalization, which many experts agree is the signature element of effective UX design.

One powerful tool for creating a highly engaging, personalized website experience for your visitors is the customer journey. Properly executed, this data-driven tactic provides the blueprint for designing an adaptive web interface that both embodies your company vision and satisfies a user’s expectations.




Optimally, the UX design process begins by creating a series of user personas for your website and learning as much about your target customers as you can. The customer journey is the mapping mechanism that puts all of that data to work.

Each customer journey constitutes a series of steps. These steps illustrate either how the user is currently interacting with your website or how the users could be interacting with your site. Mapping out the entire customer journey brings to life the entire arc of engagement. The result is a “site flow” that makes it easy for customers to accomplish their goals, starting from their first interaction with the site.




As you can see in each of the examples above, customer journey maps are essentially diagrams that represent key inputs into how your website should be conceived, based on the various ways your customers come into contact with it.

There’s no specific journey template (believe us, we’ve tried). They can be simple or complex, text- or graphically-driven. The only limits are the limits of your own imagination and the complexity of your interactions with website visitors.

However, there are several considerations that should be factored into every customer journey, regardless of the presentation style or complexity involved:

  • Consider the context of the site visit. Where is the customer (physical location)? What device is s/he using?
  • Consider the user’s progression. How does each step allow the customer to reach the next, and what barriers hold them back? The goal should be to ensure no customer gets “trapped,” and that every user is able to accomplish what s/he came to your site to do.
  • What type of functionality is the user expecting from this interaction? How can you create a site that enables those tasks? If you aren’t sure, check out other sites with similar functionality or offerings and see what is commonplace online.
  • What is the user’s emotional state? What are their hesitations, pain points or concerns? The last stage of a long checkout process after they have spent hours shopping online for the perfect item might not be the best time to present a customer survey.

One Site, Multiple Pathways

Every website has different audiences, and expectations will vary. The optimal user experience for a company CEO or CIO may differ dramatically from that of the IT manager.

Customer journeys should be developed for each key demographic, with the goal of catering to your site’s primary user groups first, while finding a way to accommodate other users.

It’s not just the user’s job title that matters. The user’s location may matter, as well. Customers based in Dallas or St. Louis may have different perceptions of the product you’re selling than their counterparts in New York or San Francisco, to say nothing of Brussels or Beijing.

Understanding the various ways in which each user group interacts with your site will allow you to more easily visualize the self-selecting path to the best possible experience. Applied to your website’s design, user-driven experience leads to increased engagement and better outcomes.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Pathway

You view your customers as individuals. Why shouldn’t your website? Personalization is the key.

The process begins by using the power of data analytics to determine who you are designing your website for. Customer journeys then incorporate this data into a blueprint for a website that anticipates your customer’s needs before they occur.

The result is an engaging, personalized, user-driven web experience that generates results.

Want to learn more about how you can put the power of personalization to work for your website? Check out our detailed guide to user personas and customer journeys. It’s filled with helpful insights and detailed examples. Click the link below to get started.

Get Your Free Guide


The Who, How, What and Why of User Personas

Websites are multi-dimensional. They’re welcome mats. They’re information centers.

A website can serve as the first interaction between a brand and consumer, and it has the capacity to play a large role in determining the future of that important relationship.

One effective tool to leverage in personalizing the website experience and maximizing performance is user personas. These data-driven customer profiles enable brands to create a highly engaging, user-centered web experience, driving brand awareness, key performance metrics and ultimately strengthening the consumer to brand relationship.

The Who: Getting to Know the User

According to a study by The Wharton School, of the 700 million websites that exist, 72 percent fail to consistently engage users. The majority of these sites provide a one-size-fits-all experience and are unable to respond to the user’s needs in an individualized way.

Greater personalization is the answer. It starts by identifying who your primary user groups are – small business owners, young urban professionals, soccer moms, etc., – so that your brand can conduct the research required in order to better understand user needs and specific objectives

The How: Conducting the Research, Mining the Data

Once you’ve determined who the key user groups are, the next step is to learn as much as possible about them. The more a brand knows about what drives their core users, the more tailoring of the website’s UX is possible.

How do you go about doing this? Creating a user persona entails uncovering each customer segment’s behaviors, motivations, and pain points. Research is the key. User persona profiles are developed by synthesizing various types of both qualitative and quantitative research that may include:

  • User interviews to reveal key insights into how the site is perceived and what information is the most important.
  • Research and Analytics to aggregate and measure vital demographic information including average age, devices of use, and key methods of discovering information to ensure a brand’s marketing mix is in line with the persona’s habits.
  • MOSAIC profiles to anticipate customer behaviors, attitudes, and preferences.

These are just a few examples of the types of research you may wish to conduct during the exploration phase. When the process is complete, you’ll have a treasure trove of data you can use to create the personas that will drill the design process.

The What: Visualizing Your Persona

What does an effective user persona look like? User personas can be visualized in many different ways, but one of the most common executions is a one-page document that distills the key information you’ve identified during the research phase.

If your audience is small business owners, your user persona might look like this:
user-persona-sm-bizIf you’re targeting tech-savvy, altruistic young people, it might look like this:


If you’re talking to highly educated young urban professionals, it might look like this:


Whatever form the user persona takes, it must clearly spell out what makes your customers tick.

  • What are their goals, needs, and interests?
  • What are their hesitations, pain points, and concerns?
  • What do they ultimately hope to get out of the web experience?

Your user persona must illustrate this, in a clear, concise way.

The Why: Are User Personas Truly Worth the Effort?

Why go to all of the trouble of creating a user persona? Broadly speaking, it’s easier to aim when you can see your target more clearly. There’s also the “keeping up with the Jones’” argument. 89 percent of high-performing businesses have responded to market conditions by enhancing the customer experience. One of the ways these top companies respond is by creating an engaging, user-driven website experience.

User personas help web marketers do just that. Thoughtfully rendered, diligently executed personas produce insights you can use to justify UX design decisions, inspire the ideation process, and provide a valid basis for site critiques. They establish the “voice” of the user, which builds empathy, which in turn, enables designers to work in a more mindful way, putting the customer at the center of the experience.

Not least, user personas are critical in creating the next phase of the design process – the user journey (more on that to come soon).

Do you have user personas gathering dust on a shelf – developed in a whirlwind brainstorm, then forgotten and abandoned in the rush of daily activities? Or maybe your firm has never clearly defined user personas, but you’re ready to get started!

In either case, our detailed guide to user personas and customer journeys is a valuable resource you shouldn’t miss out on. It’s packed with clear guidance and detailed examples. Hit the link below to get access.

Get Your Free Guide



Building Intuitive Sign Up Flows

Your website works hard to pique interest, inform users, and ultimately drive them to connect with your business. The sign up or registration flow may be the first conversion interaction with your business, and has the potential to make a big first impression. Streamlining this flow will improve the visitor’s impression of your company and turn qualified visitors into qualified prospects or customers.

Here are several ways to improve your sign up flow and make it as intuitive as possible.

Boost your CTA

The first step in the conversion process is intriguing them enough to hit the sign up button. Quickly letting the user know what you do, the value you bring, and why they need you will drive them to sign up.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and draw them in with your insight. Personalizing the call-to-action (CTA) button’s copy has shown to significantly increase the CTR. In a test by Unbounce, changing one word from You to My increased CTR by 90%!

A prominent/persistent call to action is key in capturing the user’s information. Placing the CTA in the main navigation or footer is a great way to ensure visibility across the site.

Using a bold visual treatment (color, size, shape, placement, verbiage) that stands out on the page will draw the user’s eye and capture their attention. Within your site’s UI, try to choose a bold color that stands out and clearly communicates an actionable button.


What questions are your customers asking?

Take time to understand your customer’s pain points and how you serve them. Think about the issues or needs they have when coming to your site and answer those up front.

Educating the user is key to a initiating their interest and commitment to your site. Leveraging use cases, ongoing resources, blog posts, and the voice of your site will ultimately drive them to start the sign up flow.


Tips for an easy sign up

You’ve done it!! You’ve wowed them and they’re ready to start using your product…well, almost. Now, the final step to capturing the user’s core information to create an account.

The most important factor in creating an easy registration flow is removing any friction. Friction means areas or features that distract from an easy sign up. A study by Forrester Research stated that “11% of US adults have previously abandoned an online purchase either because they didn’t want to register online or the site they were visiting was asking for too much information.

Keep it simple

There’s a balance to be hit for the amount of forms, number of required items, and showing the right/necessary information up front.

  • Limit fields to only required information. This increases a visitor’s willingness to sign up and ability to create a valid account. For most B2B businesses, these fields are: name, company, email, password.
  • Requiring only an email address may convert well for quick registration, but it creates a longer process to complete the account. The user is forced to confirm the email notification to complete the process. However, showing too many fields at once creates a higher barrier to entry for the user and results in a higher exit rate.
  • Limit elements outside of the sign up area to make it clear that there’s one thing to do here – sign up.


Guide Users

Every site will have different needs for required information, but being able to guide users through the process is an effective way to make it easy.

  • For longer sign up processes, break the flow into steps. This makes it more digestible and enticing for users to complete. It also allows them to make edits, changes, and track progress.
  • A short guided tour works well to hit the key features. If your product is complex, it’s worth requiring a few more clicks to be sure prospects completely understand what they’ll get. A feature like this should optional to the user. Letting them skip the tour covers a wider range of user types and levels of commitment.
  • Clearly informing the user on the type of data a field requires will reduce any misunderstanding and errors. This could be handled by using tooltip hints, label hint text, or real time validation/error states.
  • Here’s a simple fix: to reduce clicks, make the first form active so the user can instantly start typing.


Entice Users

  • On the sign up screen, list a quick preview of key benefits or what they’ll be getting. This could a short list of key features, product screens, or ways you help your customers. Keeping it short and sweet will let them scan this while they’re signing up.
  • Showcase successful clients to instill a sense of trust in the user. Social proof is a quick way to build credibility by demonstrating that these customers rely on you.
  • People connect to other people. Including an image of a happy, authentic person builds a human connection to the brand. The user isn’t just interacting with a company, but with real people.
  • Reassure users that their data is secure and they won’t be getting any spam. The addition of a lock icon gives a sense of safety, as does showcasing the technology you use for security, like Norton or TrustE.


Streamline the flow

What can you do with an extra 5 minutes? Multi-tasking has reached new heights, and an extra 5 minutes is so valuable in our busy days. Saving your customers time sets a good first impression and gets them using your product faster.

  • Offering users the ability register through a social login gives them the option to save time and reduce the number of unique username/passwords to keep track of. Social login has proven to double the sign up speed.
  • Open the sign up flow in a lightbox to keep users engaged with the site after they’ve registered. Rather than derailing their experience, it elevates what what they were doing through personalization. Displaying content in a lightbox adds a unique/modern layer to the site’s UX and is scalable for smaller displays.
  • Test the approach with different audiences. User testing is so valuable and creates metric-driven decisions. At UpTrending, we use HotJar to pinpoint how users are engaging and highlight areas where they get stuck. This insight helps us improve the sign up flow and make adjustments when needed.



An intuitive sign up flow is the first step in your relationship with customers. Putting the customer’s needs first and following these recommendations has proven to significantly increase conversion rate and customer engagement.

What other tips and techniques have you seen to make sign up flows more intuitive? Drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear what’s working for you!