User flow and usability issues: adjustments that have improved our conversion rate
Low performance of the registration form. The conversion rate was around 11%.
Understanding the problem
In order to better understand what was happening, we analyzed the user flow.
Apparently it was a simple 5 steps flow. However, when we look a little deeper at the conversion funnel, a couple things caught our attention:
1. The number of users abandoning the process in the course of the steps;
2. The unnecessary complexity of the flow.
The conversion rate was 10,26% and we noticed that the large majority of the users were leaving the registration form in the first half of it (68% on the first screen and 51% on second). These screens were the part of the process that we call validation stage. This stage was making the flow more complex and we believed that was the reason users were abandoning the registration form.
Understanding the validation stage: talking with a stakeholder
So before any solution proposals, we decided to talk to the people responsible for including this stage in the flow to understand why it was there.
What is the validation stage?
– The validation stage is the part of the process where we ask the user to validate his identity as a client of our company and owner of, at least, one of our products .
For what purpose does it exists?
– Basically to prevent frauds.
It guarantees that only the actual owner of a CPF can manage his account and personal data in the client area.
How it works?
– At the beginning of the form the user is asked for his CPF number which is a document, like an ID number, that identifies every person in Brazil. So, to prevent frauds (people using other people’s CPF), we ask the user to validate his identity by associating a product that he owns (from our company) with his personal data in our database. There are a few methods for doing this but the most common is by token via SMS.
A few thoughts after the talk
We understood that the validation stage is process required for information security matters and it couldn’t be removed from the flow. However, a few thoughts came to our mind:
1. Is the registration form the right moment (or place) to apply it?
2. Aren’t we preventing users of being registered because of the complexity added by this?
3. Isn’t the validation stage making the cost of interaction higher for users that just want to get registered?
Raising these and other questions, made us have an idea:
By doing this, we could reduce the barrier for users to register.
Now, once inside the client area, if the user try to do something that is considered more restrict, in matters of information security, we ask him to validate his identity.
New flow proposal
After discussing it better, between flows and screenflows, the idea was shaped and we created the new flow.
The proposal not only puts the validation stage out of the form, but also simplifies the steps that remained in the flow. Another modification is that the user e-mail now requires validation. This wasn’t asked before (in the old flow) but it was a business requirement for the new proposal. This way the company would have a valid digital communication channel with customers.
A brief dip in usability issues
During the flow analysis we noticed some usability gaps on the screens. But we didn’t knew how they were affecting users in the registration process. So before making any progress on this, we wanted to release the new flow, measure it and make a few adjustments if needed. This would give us an idea about how the new flow proposal was impacting the process.
After that, we would launch a usability test, with real users, analyze it, make the adjustments, test again and then release. However, our deadline was very short, we didn’t had enough time so we had to “fill two needs with one deed”.
To help us in the analysis we did a heuristic evaluation, according to 10 usability general principles of Nielsen and Molich, using a google sheet. (You can see it here).
We identified 14 issues classified among average, high and serious.
We run a guerrilla usability test with a few people from other squads (that’s what we could do with the time we had), did the required adjustments on the interface and then released.
Next, you’ll see the final interface with the usability fixes made and a comparison between flows and funnels of what we had and what we achieved:
As described before, the old flow wasn’t performing very well and the conversion rate was 10,67%. Now the new flow performed better with conversion rate of 23,23% (more than double).
We saw a better performance of the registration form, comparing both version. Of course, there is always room for improvements and that is what we are doing right now, thinking on how we can do better next time.
Nevertheless the greatest accomplishment we had was that this experiment showed us that whenever we build products (systems, forms, websites etc.) in a user centered culture, it will be good for everybody. It will be good for users, because we reduce the barriers and effort by making things easier and will be also good for companies in achieving the goals.
You can see the final release here.