Redesigning your site WON'T solve your conversion problems

Matt Scaysbrook
Director of Optimisation

Redesigning your site won’t solve your conversion problems

Website conversion. Website performance. Trading performance.

Call it what you will, but it is always a problem.

One that countless marketers all over the world spend hours trying to resolve.

And it doesn’t matter how well or poorly your current site converts, there is always pressure to improve it.

Pressure that builds and builds until someone (usually in the C-suite) says Let’s redesign the site entirely

The issue is that the site redesign is the wrong tool for the job.

And here are five reasons why the site redesign is ill-equipped to solve conversion problems:

  1. They’re driven by political pressure
  2. They assume new = better
  3. They throw out the good as well as the bad
  4. They reset the data you have to work from
  5. They are the ultimate big swings

Site redesigns are driven by political pressure

The political need to show that “big things” are happening is all too often a driver of the redesign change. This means that from the outset, the implicit goals are all wrong.

What is outwardly a project designed to improve website performance in fact becomes a project that everyone knows needs to show big change.

So rather than prioritising changes that would work, the priority becomes making something as different as possible from what we have.

This stems from a particularly insidious belief that we need to dispel right now…

Site redesigns assume new = better

New does not mean better.

A new recipe doesn’t mean it tastes better than the old one.

A new car doesn’t mean that you’ll enjoy driving it more than the old one.

A new job doesn’t mean that you’ll be happier than you were in the last one.

New does not mean better.

But in the fervour of the site redesign project, it is often how you feel.

And this results in…

Site redesigns throw out the good along with the bad

When you prioritise new over better, this is an inevitable outcome.

The perceived value of what you already have is trashed because you know that the impetus of the project is centred around being different.

So rather than assessing the quality of what already exists and keeping what’s good, you toss it all on the heap so you can show that you are being different.

The good and the bad are lumped in together and cast aside merely because they already exist.

And not because they have no value.

Which leads to…

Site redesigns cause a total data reset

One of the hidden costs of a full site redesign that few speak about.

Once the new site is live, the years of historical data you have on what works and what doesn’t becomes obsolete and you restart from 0.

You no longer have a reliable data basis for your judgement of performance and it takes months to rebuild it.

And so your progress against your performance targets gets a severe handicap for at least the next quarter whilst you try to establish the new baseline.

These four factors put together mean this:

Site redesigns are the ultimate big swings

And big swings usually miss the mark.

You are gambling with one of the most significant assets that your organisation has by scrubbing the decks and starting again.

You might happen upon the right solution, but more likely than not you will spend a sh*tload of money and end up right back where you were before.

What to do when the site redesign gets pitched…

All of the above challenges present risks. And very sizeable risks at that.

Your job is first to educate on, and then to try to mitigate, the inherent risks of such major change.

The above sections will give you plenty to use as rebuttals to the traditional process, but what about presenting alternative options?

The pressure to improve performance won’t go away, so here are two ways you can improve your organisation’s chances of a positive outcome.

#1 A Better Site Redesign Process

Full-on rejection of the redesign might not be possible.

But even if it isn’t,  you can still work some magic within these parameters.

Sure the redesign is going to go ahead, but how it is conducted you can still influence.

The question to raise is How will we be validating new design concepts?

And the best validation is always from real customers voting with real money with no idea they are being tested against.

This means taking some of the new concepts put forward by your redesign team and executing them as tests on the current site. And what you’re looking to achieve is threefold:

  1. Conceptually, is this change positive or negative?
  2. Cementing the idea that significant change should be tested first
  3. Potentially gaining a real ROI for your redesign project before it ever goes live - a positive test outcome = improved performance now, not in 3-6 months!

If you want to read more about how to execute this methodology, you can check out our CRO Site Redesign Support service.

#2 A Continuous “Site Redesign”

Rather than a one-off project, you can sell in the idea that continuous incremental change is the best means of achieving the demanded performance improvements.

And if you can, you will have successfully replaced the substantial risk of Big Swing Redesign with an approach that prioritises tested, measured, validated change.

Now it is up to you to demonstrate why that is the better choice.

To do that, you will need to:

  1. Collect feedback from across your organisation on what team members would like to see changed
  2. Validate that feedback with existing site data and customer / visitor feedback
  3. Prioritise the tests that have the most potential for impact with the best-possible data backing
  4. Present back regularly to the organisation on what worked and what didn’t work

And here’s why:

  1. You took away their redesign, you have to give something back - collating feedback on desired changes goes some way to showing that their input still matters
  2. Internal feedback < customer feedback - it is the latter’s opinion that really matters most, hence the need to validate internal thoughts with external ones
  3. You’ll need to make an early impact to quieten any remaining clamour for a redesign - if you have impact quickly, resistance will melt under the heat of fact!
  4. You need to bring everyone on the journey with you and underline the value of testing first - and that comes from showing what bad changes your approach avoided that the redesign approach would not have.

So what now?

The site redesign as a concept isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

That’s because it has its basis in that constant pressure to improve site performance, and that pressure will never dissipate.

Your job is to demonstrate why the site redesign isn’t the right answer to the site performance question.

And whether you win that fight entirely or need to take an incremental approach to the process you couldn’t avoid, you can do better than the traditional Big Swing.

Redesigning your site won’t solve your conversion problems.

Learning to work with an incremental approach just might.

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