When their marketing budget gets cut (which happens every time, doesn’t it?), many marketers instinctively refocus on lower cost channels and on getting more out of the assets they already have. The website is typically an organization’s biggest marketing asset, so it’s always a focus for improvement in these times. Since the list of things to fix or add to the site is never short, the conversation can quickly slide into a full website redesign discussion.
Website redesigns are exciting projects, and most of us love to dive right in. However, we’d be much better off to first do some real research and experimentation to learn what content and experiences are most valuable to incorporate. DON’T build the new site and THEN test it to see if it achieves the desired outcomes. Test first! Then build. (And keep on testing.) Let me explain.
Where should I begin with a website redesign?
Start with what you want to accomplish through the redesign. You have probably lived with your current site for a long time. You know what’s great about it and what’s not so great. You have a clear idea of how the new site must perform better, and you can visualize the value of these improvements clearly. You may be looking to drive more traffic deeper into the site or to get an immediate conversion on the homepage or initial landing page. Make this clear to everyone involved. Establish straightforward, measurable objectives for the redesign project in terms of the desired outcomes from the new site. Once the project is complete, this will be critical to evaluate your level of success.
[As a quick aside, I’ll share that whatever the goal, my favorite trick to ensure you don’t lose this focus through the redesign is to insert this objective into the name of the project itself. “The ‘more leads for sales’ website update,” or “The ‘more buyer conversions’ website refresh.” Helps every time for maintaining focus and building internal project support.]
What types of web experiments should I consider?
With the redesign goals clearly established, it’s not always immediately clear how to achieve them with a new design. You need to learn which foundational experiences to bake into your site to support the goals. This is why data from experimentation is critical. Here are just a few things that you may need to test:
- Headlines and copy – There is more than one way to tell your story, so try several approaches that emphasize different phrases and perspectives, then measure which ones lead to greater engagement.
- Images and colors – The interplay between colors and images can offer an entirely different look and feel to your site visitors, and testing is the only way to really know which combination works best most often. Should the site feel playful and simple or serious and academic?
- Navigational menu layout – Should the menu be short and succinct or go deep? Should you place it on the left or right side of the header? These choices impact every potential buyer’s ability to interact with your site.
- Page structure, including order of elements – Every page offers an infinite number of possibilities for structure, content, and layout. Is it better to put social proof elements above or below a descriptive content block? Should you replace that content with a featured video? Or infographic?
- Buyer flows through the site – Are buyers expected to conduct all of their business on a single page, or do they need to visit different areas to get what they need? Should the navigational menus be their primary means to move about, or are there better ways to lead them along the ideal path?
- Calls to Action (CTAs) – The words, graphics, placement, and even colors of your CTAs will have a huge impact on their performance. Testing many possibilities is the only way to know which combinations work better for more visitors.
- Social proof content and placement – Helping your buyers understand what their peers think and how they have appreciated your offerings is more important than ever. But what’s the best way to share this information without putting it in the way?
As you learn from each experiment, you’ll gain confidence on which approaches will offer the best experiences for your site visitors today, in terms of the business objectives that you set.
Once the website redesign is complete, am I done testing?
Of course, experimentation is not a “once and done” tactic. Best-in-class organizations integrate experimentation and testing as a perpetual approach to iteratively managing and optimizing their website. Testing and experimentation also enable you to personalize the base experience for different individuals, and adapt to changing visitor behavior over time.
Whether or not you are considering a site redesign right now, it’s common for website testing to reveal a few surprises. Site features that are well liked may not actually help achieve the desired outcomes. Replace “HIPPO” (highest paid person’s opinion) decision making with decisions based on data. Your site and business results will be better for it.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to run some tests!
To find out more about how you can apply website experimentation and web conversion optimization techniques to your website redesign project, contact us by clicking on the “Request Demo” button on our website. We’ll share specific examples of which optimization ideas are working right now in your industry.