By Andy McKenna
What we know today as a “website redesign” isn’t what it used to be.
‘Radical’ website redesign – where the company embarks on a ‘big-bang’ website overhaul – is becoming less common these days – which is generally a good thing, and there are a number of reasons why.
Pretty much every UX/CRO expert and company will advise you to tread lightly when it comes to radical redesigns.
The Common Pitfalls of Radical Redesigns (and Some Possible Fixes)
Many suggest you should replace radical redesigns with what’s known as Evolutionary Site Redesign (ESR).
First, it is simply far less risky to iterate on an existing website than to start from scratch.
It’s also generally cheaper, faster, and more measurable – ESR allows companies to make educated, incremental changes to their existing websites that can be validated.
Perhaps most importantly, the ESR approach tends to be rooted in data insight. Radical redesigns traditionally aren’t.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I have worked with companies who have launched slick-looking brand new websites only for their conversion rates to plummet at launch (not to mention what happens to search engine rankings and traffic volumes).
However, this doesn’t mean that radical website redesigns don’t still happen.
Sometimes there isn’t the option to do ESR, as the decision has already been made by senior executives or the CEO.
Radical site redesigns are often the result of:
- ‘digital transformation’ or re-platforming
- an existing website not being mobile-friendly
- an outdated look and feel.
All is not lost if you find yourself in this situation, though. There are things you can do to minimize the potential negative impact on performance that a radical site migration might have.
Using CRO Research in the Website Planning Process
ESR has been rightly called “conversion optimization on a large scale.” But even a radical redesign approach can incorporate CRO research methods.
By adopting conversion rate optimization methodologies you can plan how to iterate on your new designs as soon as you launch – and not lose control over the performance of your new site.
Just as SEO needs to be considered during the scoping and planning phases, the foundations for CRO need to be laid at the same time.
And there is great opportunity to use insights from an existing live site to inform the experiments that you can run as soon as the new site is launched.
Too many times we have seen companies addressing conversion only after the website has gone live. This is too late, and generally results in the need for unwieldy design changes further down the track that could easily have been avoided. There’s a better way to handle these things.
A 10-Step Process for De-Risking Website Redesigns
You shouldn’t underestimate the importance of planning and prioritization in the overall CRO process.
In our methodology steps 1-8 are all about planning and prioritizing: gathering data insights, user surveys, user testing results, site drop-off reports etc. The actual testing and analysis of results constitute only the last two steps.
Scrimp on the data gathering at your peril.
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Source:: Business 2 Community