Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Brands must fix their digital UX if they are to unlock the power of online

by Tom Primrose, Brand Strategist, Curious London

The marketing funnel: a much pored over concept that dominates most strategic conversations that take place within any brand’s marketing department. At what stage is the consumer in the awareness phase? The consideration period? When does the intent to purchase kick in?

Marketers quite rightly obsess about this process, so if new research is to be believed it is incredible to think that they are unwittingly falling at the final hurdle. 

According to a consumer study recently undertaken by us here at Curious, in partnership with YouGov, nearly half of all consumers have abandoned an online shopping basket because of a poor online experience. 

Whether shopping on a company’s website or via their app, 46% of people report having had such a bad experience that they have given up – a third of people reporting such an instance in the past year alone. Just think about that for a second: they had products in their basket that they had already decided to buy and even at that late stage in the funnel, they called it a day. They would rather start the whole process again elsewhere than spend another minute on that particular platform.

The message is clear: brands need to prioritise their digital platforms with as much fervour as their advertising, branding and all other elements of their communications mix.

Respondents to our survey, entitled ‘The Hybrid Consumer’ cited functionality and visual distinction as key drivers for a positive online experience, with as many as 93% agreeing that functionality is important when using a brand’s digital platform, with visual distinction next on the list of priorities, at 73% and just over one in four of those polled (26%) saying a unique experience is also important.

While marketers are on a permanent quest to seek visual distinction for their brand to ensure it stands out on the physical or digital shelf, this should not be confused with the appetite for an original online look. 

Consumers do not want to be bamboozled by a complex or unusual digital experience. Take Amazon as an example: the king of simplicity and functionality, with a site that has barely changed in years, yet it has certainly not suffered from a lack of visitors. Likewise, TikTok – which has a fantastic design and UX – had seen a billion downloads by April 2020. In this instance they operate a powerful AI which quickly learns what users like and recommends more content, keeping people engaged for longer.

It is this balance between UI and UX that brands should have front of mind when designing their digital platforms. The two work together to create an overall experience, and good web design will take this into account; something perfect for a brand’s audience on paper can be hard to use if the UI is bad, while a good UI is something that looks great, aligns perfectly with the brand and is tailored to what the user needs. 

For brands to succeed in this space it’s integral that they understand their audiences wants and needs when it comes to a website. User testing is a great approach to gaining this insight and will enable a brand to learn about how their site is navigated under realistic conditions. The process will throw up any areas which could cause a user to drop off, allowing the brand to improve their online platform, by smoothing out the consumers’ journey.


This all comes at a time when consumers’ have spent more than a year living largely online – shopping, socialising and working – and their reliance on technology is greater than ever before. More than a third of people will continue to bank (35%) and shop (36%) online (either partly or fully) with 65% of online consumers wanting to live a hybrid lifestyle in some way or other after restrictions are lifted.

And this is not just something that concerns Gen X; indeed only 3% fewer people aged 55 and over will continue to shop online post-pandemic than those aged 25-34, proving that brands do not need to attract older online shoppers but must understand what they want from their digital experience.

To think that brands are failing to convert customers who are already on their website is not only astonishing but is something that’s both unnecessary and completely avoidable. With careful consideration of the online expectations of consumers across every age bracket, many brands will see a notable fall in abandoned baskets and the satisfying completion of that all important marketing funnel. 

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