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6 Ways to Improve your UX with better timing

Timing, as they say, is everything. Not only in life and love, but also in the online marketplace as well. The difference of a couple of seconds or even a few pixels can mean that an otherwise successful message will fail to convert.

Luckily, there are examples of sites that have timing down pat. These sites know how to anticipate visitors’ thoughts, needs, and wants and serve up the right things at the right time. Take a look at how they strike while the iron is hot!

1. The right time to ask for the user’s information

People are understandably reluctant to give their personal information, for fear of spam and invasion of privacy. However, if you ask at the right time, it increases the chances that people will give you the details that you seek.Wait until people have expressed interest.

If you ask strangers for their phone numbers within 5 seconds of encountering them, chances are your rate of success will be fairly low. 

Before divulging personal information, they need a chance to get to know you so that they can decide if you are trustworthy enough.

The same thing applies to collecting visitors’ email addresses. Many sites immediately serve pop ups asking for people to subscribe, but according to an experiment conducted by Matthew Woodward, displaying an email subscription form right away lowered major engagement metrics by around 10%.

So instead of demanding information right off the bat, allow people to explore and make it easy for them to subscribe as soon as they decide they want to.

Example: Tim Ferriss’s blog displays a persistent, non-intrusive sign up box once the visitor scrolls down past a certain point.

Tim Ferriss homepage UX example

Example: Kissmetrics has an inline sign up box (that offers a free guide) which the visitor naturally stumbles upon after reading the blog post.

Kissmetrics UX optimized homepage

Example: Walmart has a subscription sign up form in its footer that visitors can always find.

Walmart homepage with subscription button as great user experience

Ask for relevant information in context.

Make it apparent why you need the information by only asking for it when it’s relevant and putting it to use right away. If you can demonstrate that you will use the information to improve the visitor’s own experience, she will be more willing to give you the details that are required.Example: The Container Store asks for the visitor’s zip code on the product page in order to determine whether the product is in stock in a nearby store or available to ship to that region.

Rustic driftwood table with geo-targetting user experience

If all else fails, make a last-ditch effort. Maybe the visitor has browsed a bit with mild interest and is just on his way out. But before he clicks the x to close the tab, you have one last chance! 

WPBeginner documented a 600% increase in subscribers by asking for emails just as visitors are about to leave.

Example: WPBeginner fires this pop up as soon as the visitor’s goes to close the page or click on a different tab.

wpbeginner homepage

2. The right time to sell

Regardless of what you’re selling, timing matters a great deal. There is a right time to sell and a wrong time to sell, and sales pitches and recommendations can seem pushy and self-serving if they’re not given with the user’s present thoughts and needs in mind.

3. Show people what they are looking for.

Cross-selling (recommending related items once a person has added a product/service to cart) is a lucrative strategy that — if done correctly — is also helpful for the user. 

Amazon has attributed up to 35% of its revenue to cross-selling, so it is not a strategy to be taken lightly.

Effective cross-selling predicts what someone may want to look for (even if they themselves may not consciously know it) and displays it at that precise moment.

Example: In a UX review of Catch of the Day, we learn how the eCommerce giant displays recommendations for cheaper items in the shopping cart. They know that people are probably not in the mindset to buy high-ticket items, so it serves up add-on items to help people make the shipping minimum.

Catch of the day website with add-ons showcasing UX principle

Example: Rent the Runway knows that a user who’s just added a dress to cart is probably thinking about what to wear with it, so it takes the opportunity to suggest some other products that would match well.

Rent the runway page selling dresses with other pairings as a great user experience example

4. The right time to help

Help is always given with the best of intentions, and is a critical piece of enhancing the user’s experience. But if help comes too early or too late, it runs the risk of not being useful and even irritating the user. 

Here are ways to offer help at the right time:

Give reminders when the user is able to act on them.

When the user has to take a series of steps that are separated on various pages, reminders help the user stay on track along the way. 

However, they are useless unless the user is able to take immediate action. Give reminders and quick links right when it counts.

Example: In another UX review of Jet.com, we learn that Jet displays a reminder for promo codes that can be used on the cart page, where the user must enter the code to apply it.

UX Review of Jet's homepage and shopping cart

5. Don’t step in too early.

While offering help too late is definitely ineffective, offering help too early in a process can also be frustrating. Allow the user to at least make an attempt to complete an action before stepping in with helpful tips and guidance.

Example: Gmail’s sign up form tells the user right away whether an entry is valid, but it waits until the user is finished typing before it checks.

gmail signup page

6. Consider the timing for every interaction

Whether you’re asking, selling, or helping, any form of interaction is communicating with the user — and in communication, when something is said can often overshadow what is actually being said. In addition to crafting the right message, it’s important to consider the best time and method to deliver it. Find the right timing, and you will be rewarded.

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About the author:

Jessica X

Jessica is a UX designer, traveler, and writer with a business background. With strong curiosity and a general proficiency in memes, she enjoys dissecting and improving digital experiences. Find her on Twitter @xjessicau and Instagram @jess.wondering for posts on UX design, travel adventures, and life inspiration.