Is your company primed for a website redesign in 2014? If you’re taking bids from design firms, you should reconsider.
Revolutionary website redesigns are risky and often fail to deliver. And they’re no longer needed.
Consider this: When you perform a complete website overhaul, you’re putting your business results in the hands of people who don’t know as much as you think (and hope) they do. A wholesale site redesign often comes untested, leaving you with a website that doesn’t have a reliable basis for change. How do you know that it will increase your sales? It could even go over budget and perform worse than your original site.
Instead of changing everything at once with a revolutionary site redesign (RSR), you can take a less risky, more profitable approach with an evolutionary site redesign (or ESR). Rather than starting with the assumption that everything about the website needs to change at once, ESR employs iterative and continuous A/B testing to make website improvements. ESR can even give you a dramatic redesign just like you’d expect from a revolutionary redesign, but the major difference is that you’ll know why it will work better.
Here’s why you should consider the iterative ESR approach.
Seven Unique Benefits of Iterative Site Redesign
While your website may be outdated and underperforming, the ESR process allows you to make updates to the look, feel, and functionality of your site while also delivering tested and proven business improvements.
While traditional revolutionary redesign relies on aesthetics and gut feeling, ESR relies on testing to determine whether new designs, content, and images improve visitor conversion rates. This data guides your redesign process with isolated changes so you know which changes improve or reduce conversion rates. Here are seven unique benefits to choosing ESR:
1. Iterative site redesign is faster.
In an RSR approach, many changes made during a redesign can take months, add complications, or simply fulfill the art director’s aesthetic desires. But with ESR, results come immediately when the first high-impact test goes live.
2. The results are reliable.
While the RSR team may be talented, no batter hits a home run every time. In fact, many of their changes can hurt website results. Are you comfortable with your company’s future resting in the hands of a designer’s gut feeling? That’s what rules the world of traditional RSR. In contrast, ESR measures every major change in controlled A/B split tests to understand the effect on business goals.
3. The results are measurable.
With ESR, you often get surprising results. Those kinds of results lead to learning. RSR can be like a bad science project because you’re changing hundreds of variables at once without being able to measure what actually works.
4. A better user experience is maintained.
With ESR, there’s no disorienting redesign launch date, when returning customers are suddenly given an entirely new website to navigate. Instead, every major experience change is tested in isolation, surrounded by the familiarity of the rest of the site.
5. Your website never falls behind.
Unfortunately, the RSR approach allows your website to fall behind in the intervals between major redesigns. With ESR, your website will go through incremental updates without delay.
6. You shortcut annoying design debates.
ESR eliminates boardroom debates about which design concept will work better. You can pinpoint areas of concern and justify changes with hard data from A/B testing. If there’s disagreement about the design approach, you can always say, “Let’s test that!” You can maintain your team’s focus on important business metrics, rather than on the aesthetic elements of an RSR.
7. You have better budget control.
ESR views website design as an ongoing operational improvement, rather than a periodic capital expense. There’s no more “scope creep” and “budget bloat” because you can set aside a monthly amount each and every month and online bite off the improvements that can be made in each period.
Often, website redesigns end in disaster, which is one reason many companies go long periods between redesigns. While RSR relies on risky, generic “best practices,” ESR puts more emphasis on unique test practices. This provides your company with a more personalized, effective, and powerful website. Rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, use your resources to redesign your site for results.
Chris Goward founded WiderFunnel with the belief that digital agencies should prove the value they bring. It’s developed conversion optimization programs for clients like Google, Electronic Arts, SAP, and Magento. His bestselling book, “You Should Test That,” showed businesses how to implement dramatic improvements. He can be reached on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google +.
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