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Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) and User Experience (UX) are commonly discussed in relation to website performance.

Although they share similarities in terms of using analytics and feedback to achieve similar end goals, it’s important to note that they are not interchangeable terms.

They’re also not mutually exclusive practices. In fact, they are known to complement each other, and their combination can effectively achieve various business objectives.

To understand how such a harmonious relationship between CRO and UX can be achieved, it’s important to clearly understand what each one entails. While both disciplines cover a broad range of skills, disciplines and methodology, it’s challenging to create a simple definition.

What is CRO?

CRO is designed to optimise the customer journey and improve completion rates for any desired actions, such as completing a purchase or filling out a form. By using user insights and data, CRO experts can identify points of friction or conversion blocks that may be hindering the user experience. From there, a logical hypothesis is developed to understand the underlying causes of these issues. Through various experiments, the hypothesis is tested, and the resulting observations are used to inform website improvements.

Ultimately, CRO is an essential tool for driving business success by improving website engagement and conversions.

What is UX?

UX is the process of providing users with the best possible experience when interacting with a website or application. Think of UX as the interface between a product and the product user. The more intuitive the interface, the less friction the user experiences, therefore the more positive the experience becomes. This includes factors such as ease of use, visual appeal, accessibility, and overall satisfaction. A good UX design can increase engagement, reduce bounce rates, and improve user retention.

UX, therefore, is all about how the user feels when they’re using the website.

It adds an extra layer of empathy, which is itself an effective approach if you wish to take your understanding of the motives, feelings and behaviours of your customers to a whole new level of insight, even inviting more users to your offering. Applying research into your strategy will give you clarity of your customer’s needs, their goals, their preferences, their pain points, allowing you not only to enhance a website or app’s user experience, but even go as far as improving the end product.

If you’re not convinced, this case study of Airbnb illustrates this perfectly.


In 2015, Airbnb looked at increasing its conversion rates and revenue. The company conducted extensive user research to identify areas of its website that could be improved to better meet user needs and drive conversions.

Based on this research, Airbnb’s UX team redesigned the user interface and simplified the search process to make it easier for users to find what they were looking for.

Airbnb’s CRO team then conducted an A/B test to determine the performance of the new design versus the previous one. The new design resulted in a 30% increase in bookings.

The success of the redesign led Airbnb to continue its focus on UX and CRO. They developed a dedicated team focused on experimentation and testing, which has helped the company to continue to improve its website and drive business success.

If you still don’t believe me…

Have you ever read Google’s philosophy? You can find it here, if you want to have a read. It’s a bit like the Ten Commandments, just without the biblical flair.

First thing on the list reads, “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” It’s exactly what UX does and, subsequently, what your CRO needs, and neither happens to be a coincidence.

And here’s where they overlap…

The stakeholders

Both CRO and UX require collaboration between various stakeholders, including designers, web developers, marketers, and data analysts throughout almost every stage of a project’s cycle, from research, to defining solutions, to creating wireframes and mock-ups, to testing and launch. Kieron Woodhouse, head of UX at MVF, says: “UX and CRO are intrinsically linked. As both disciplines grow in breadth, it is impossible to champion one over the other. Instead of making one a part of the other, the best approach is to have an open dialogue among teams and ensure that each department is learning from the other all the time and passing on learning and new developments.”

The tests

Both use testing and experimentation to identify what works best for the user, leading to informed design decisions that, inevitably, works best for the business. CRO works on the principle of introducing changes to the website and then testing them, continuously optimising with tweaks that are proven to perform better. When the idea being tested is based on UX research, like the Airbnb example, the results are usually significantly better.

Metrics like conversion rate are insightful, however, your chances of success with your CRO strategy are far higher when it is underpinned with real user research and data rather than testing random ideas. UX research techniques can complement your CRO strategy by providing additional qualitative insights to better understand your audience and inform your hypotheses.

Final thoughts

Understanding your users’ expectations and ensuring a seamless experience on your website should be a measure of your success. At Fountain Partnership we have a mix of CRO and UX skills and specialisms within the team, to ensure our CRO strategies are data led and informed by user behaviour.

Need some help with understanding user behaviour and improving conversion rates on your site? We’re here to help