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User Experience design, User research

Consultancy, training, education

Case study: Increasing international trade

A digital product intended to help exporters had a low take-up rate. We helped increase this from 20% to 47%.

A client’s digital product was created to help British companies export across the world. The problem was that there was a low take-up (conversion) rate amongst those that began the registration process. Only about 20% of those that started actually managed to finish it according to analytics.

While contracting at this client, we were asked to look into how this could be improved.

The first step was to examine prior research but there wasn’t a lot at the level we needed. There was high-level strategic insight but little at the low level.

We tackled this problem with two research streams, but first we had to log what the current process for registration was.

Curiously for a digital product, registrants were required to wait for a letter to arrive to their head office from the client. This was to protect their security – after all, anyone could sign up and claim to be a large bank and begin causing mayhem with overseas buyers and investors. It was, the largest point of drop-off amongst registrants.

Once we had documented the current process (using a workflow and screenshots), we began the first stream which was a heuristic review of the process. We measured the process against a small number of heuristics to get an idea of where people might be failing. This information fed into the second stream which was interviews with users while testing the usability of the current system. We knew where the process was failing, but this would give us some ideas as to why.

usability session in progress

A usability testing session in progress. These gave us valuable insight into design problems.

As we thought, the letter verification was a strongly negative aspect of registration but it could be mitigated by explaining that this “archaic” and “boring” part was to keep their companies safe from fraud.

We also found that there were other areas of failure: Many didn’t even begin the process because it wasn’t clear what the cost would be (the cost was nothing but they hadn’t been told that) and there was some skepticism about the information on there. Participants also didn’t seem confident so we needed to take steps to increase their confidence. A final finding was the lack of understanding of the USP of our client. Once explained, the participants were keen to be involved, but until then, about 50% were nonplussed about the product.

These findings were fed back into the product team who redesigned the redesign. When released the conversion rate for registration increased to 47% almost immediately even though not all recommendations were put into action.

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