Perfect Website Redesign Process
Let me tell you a short story about an e-commerce team. Once upon a time they decided to breathe new life into their website. The action plan was all worked out: an amazing, brand new website was to be built in 6 months, for $100,000, with a 20% uplift in conversion rates. So they avidly went about with the redesign.
Probably some of you won’t be surprised to know that the whole project turned out to be a total flop. 10 months, $160,000 later; and a 17% drop in the conversion rate.
There are a lot of these kinds of redesign stories. This scenario has played out thousands of times. Almost always a redesign turns into a marketer’s nightmare (if you have a strong stomach read Website Redesign Horror Stories The Top 9 Nightmares to Vanquish!).
Redesign projects are usually over-budget and late, and as a reward you mostly get nothing but drops in conversion. A real bum deal, I’m sure you would agree?
But I don’t want to unduly worry you. It’s a simple fact: radical website redesigns often backfire. You can put it down to customer psychology (people don’t like radical change) and project scope (website redesigns are in principle hard, risky, uncertain projects with many stakeholders).
3 things that should keep you away from redesign
There are at least 3 threats you should consider before your next redesign:
1. Your conversion rate and traffic plummets.
Do you have a lot of returning visitors? Expect your conversion rates to drop straightaway after the redesign. It’s simple: you have changed something they were familiar with and even (maybe) liked, and you have placed them drastically in a very new situation. Imagine you go to your favourite place to do a 5-minute shopping, and one day you discover it has totally changed. Now you need 15 minutes to even find your usual buys. Wouldn’t you be annoyed? Of course you would.
Conversion XL recalls Digg.com. You have probably never heard of this website. Why? That’s probably because of the terrible redesign story: their site traffic went down by 26%. Now you know what I mean by a really bad redesign experience!
2. You know nothing about ALL your changes
Is your new Call to Action Color good or bad? Does the additional filter perform better? What about the videos, are they engaging people more than the copy did on the old website?
With classic redesigns, you will have no clue about the impact of particular changes. Maybe you have tested some of them separately and know that they work but how can you know that they will work just the same when they are all put together? So even if one of the new features scored a bull’s eye and skyrocketed your conversion rates, there’s a good chance you will never know because all of other changes missed the target completely.
At the end of the day you see only conversion drops, losing a great opportunity to improve your website with particular elements and make more money for your business. Source.
3. You overrun on your budget and time
Redesigns are risky, difficult projects to undertake. You need to engage a lot of people: the IT department, the conversion analysts, the designers, the copywriters, the digital analysts and so on. It can cost the company an arm and a leg, so you have to act according to the HiPPO (the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion), even if you know some things are wrong. There’s almost a zero chance that the project will run smoothly, because there are just too many pitfalls on the way.
Once, late in the summer of 2014, one of my clients told me they were going to do a total redesign of their website. When were they aiming to finish by, I enquired. By the end of a year, she said. I told her it was impossible. She just thought I was being a naysayer.
Needless to say the new website is still in its infancy today.
So what should you do if you really feel your website is old and ugly, and needs a refreshment? Leave it or create for yourself a new redesign horror story?
Roger Dooley, marketing expert, says you should never redesign your website. I couldn’t agree more! But it doesn’t mean you can’t change your website.
Luckily there is an easier much more effective way, that will lead you smoothly through the whole redesign project. I’ll show you the perfect website redesign process, based on conversion rate optimization.
So, here comes a big question…
How to succeed in a redesign?
Before I answer this question, let’s have a look at Amazon’s website from 2010.
Now, let’s look at the GAP website from 2010.
Can you see the difference? Amazon is still Amazon-like. I mean at least you can see some kind of consistency, and you can easily identify that this is the same shop you bought your first Kindle from years ago. GAP is totally different: everything, every single little thing has changed on the website over 5 years (even the logo – you might recall there was a big discussion about that).
As you know, Amazon is one of the most lucrative on-line businesses on the globe. Maybe because they have never suffered from a bad website redesign – losing them a lot of money on drops in their conversion rates. Their recipe for success is a continuous conversion rate optimization process instead of a one-time big redesign project.
Did you know that Amazon runs 200 tests monthly? If you’re curious how that is even possible, check out Bryan Eisenberg’s article Hidden Secrets of the Amazon Shopping Cart 2.0.
Time for evolution
This is the key: you should go for evolution rather than revolution.
If you make the classic mistake of skipping from redesign to redesign, you risk just standing by while losing opportunities. With a continuous conversion optimization process you can grow consistently. And you will waste a lot less time and money compared to what you would spend on huge redesign projects. Going for a continuous design improvement with A/B testing is a much better strategy. Source: click.
Now you know you need to change your website in a smart way instead of throwing yourself in at the deep end, you can follow this action plan to avoid risky redesigns.
Focus on data
This is the most important thing. Find out (1) what is broken on your website that keeps your users away from converting (2) what to improve in order to get higher conversion rates. Use your analytics tools and qualitative data to run insightful analyses. Remember never test things randomly. If you want to change your website for the better (where better means more profitable), you have to base your testing hypothesis strongly on data.
„The research, the testing, and the data analysis is the heavy weightlifting that has to be done if you want optimal results in trying to improve conversions.“ (Peep Laja, source: click)
Come up with great change ideas
Use data to develop a series of recommendations for changes. There is always room for improvement: test logos, headlines, copy, landing pages, calls to action, images, ads, product page, filters & sorting… And everything in-between! Then, prioritize the changes to maximize returns. And after that – here comes the most important part – run tests.
Keep testing like crazy
Using reliable A/B testing, you can verify the changes made to the site. You will know whether a particular change was good or bad for your revenue. No guessing, and no risk: you apply only the best tweaks that will skyrocket your conversion rate.
Widerfunnel prepared a whole bunch of testing ideas for Booking.com. But there is still big room for improvement. It’s much better to tweak particular elements rather than change the whole website in one go.
You could say: ok, but a single test is not a redesign, it’s just a minor Call To Action tweak. That’s right. But if you focus on testing individual elements separately, with a little patience those small changes could result in a great, cutting-edge website, that has not only a nice, new “look and feel”, but also can create great profits.
Are you still considering a redesign?
If you can still find a few reasons why you should do a redesign: take a look at CrazyEgg “7 Bad Reasons to Redesign Your Website” list. If you find your argument on that list – hold back on your redesign and focus on an effective conversion rate optimization process.
There is, in fact, only one good reason for a redesign: and that is if you have reached the local maximum.
The Local Maximum Point indicates the highest conversion rate that you could achieve with your current landing page design by just changing the headlines, CTAs etc. To move to the next level, which is indicated by the Global Maximum, you need to completely change the design of your website. Only then – when you have spotted the best design – is it time to start working on the details. (graphic’s source).
Mind you, always be careful about declaring that you are on your Local Maximum point. You can only know this when you have already tried tons of A/B tests to get there (testing random crap doesn’t count).
Choose the perfect redesign process and gain a competitive advantage
You know what the best thing is about evolutionary redesign using a conversion rate optimization process? You will have already beaten your competitors, simply because you will have avoided costly and ineffective redesigns. You win using consistency and continuous improvement, just like Amazon.com, Booking.com or EA Sports.
Are you now ready to bring your website to the next level with a conversion rate optimization process? Contact Mavenec today to learn more about our approach to conversion rate optimization.
Psst… if you need any help, check out our Free Ultimate Conversion Rate Optimization Toolkit. We’ll show you step by step how to improve your website using the best practices and tools. We have been working on conversion rates for our biggest clients for over 5 years and we love to share our knowledge. So why not make good use of it? And take the first steps to making your website insanely effective. Check it out!
Author: Paweł Ogonowski
have been transforming our clients companies into data-driven organizations for over 5 years. I strongly believe that the key to success is a structured process to analytics and conversion rate optimization. I am a frequent speaker at industry conferences and an author of 80+ articles on CRO and DA.
Follow me on Twitter @Pajex