Tom Fishburne, marketoonist.com

Is your organization considering a website redesign that has got you nervous? It’s understandable. We’re nervous for you as well. Did you know that Hubspot found that 68% of marketers did a site redesign in the last 12 months, but as many as 1/3 of them were unhappy with the results?

Not at Amazon. A Forbes article revealed that “Amazon doesn’t start an activity or develop a capability unless and until the team has figured out how it will measure customers’ response.”

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Offers an Effective Alternative to Website Redesign

There are a number of reasons why website redesigns fail to deliver meaningful ROI—from negative impacts on SEO to the sheer cost in terms of money and time. Rather than undertake a complete website redesign, savvy product and marketing teams direct their resources to incremental website updates driven by highly-targeted data focused on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

When it comes down to results, CRO delivers. According to Forrester, “Mature CRO capabilities optimize customer experience, drive loyalty, and ultimately contribute to revenue growth and deliver real competitive advantage.”

With CRO, website redesign happens continuously and is based on testing specific items, such as placement, messaging, design, and content for CTAs and graphic elements. This ensures that any website redesign efforts deliver statistically significant, measurable improvements and tangible results. By focusing on performance, CRO puts good website redesign to productive use, albeit incrementally—not as a bulldoze then rebuild.

Incremental design changes can deliver significant ROI. One of our clients, an executive knowledge-sharing platform, saw an 18% lift in conversions and a 10% lift in leads generated by merely switching the hero image on a key landing page to a more compelling visual. The new graphic provided the missing context and relevance to prospective customers.

CRO Delivers Results by Continuously Testing and Optimizing

CRO’s virtuous cycle of testing and optimization helps achieve improvements in customer experience and business outcomes. With CRO, you know exactly what’s working and what’s not. This allows you to implement conversion-driven website design changes that provide results. For example, one of our nonprofit clients saw a 584% jump in referral email captures after moving the ask to the top navigation across the entire site.

CRO Converts from Visitor to Prospect

You spend a significant portion of your marketing budget driving traffic to your website. CRO turns these visitors into engaged users and buyers and puts website redesign to practical use in a timely manner. Changes are small but ongoing, so your website remains fresh and attractive to search engines, all while increasing revenue and driving engagement.

CRO-centered website redesign work focuses on changes that maximize conversion and performance more than aesthetics. Design changes include reducing friction points by allowing visitors to make choices more easily, using relevant images and messaging, adding CTAs, and updating content to be clearer. And because each change is tested, the results are measurable and proven. You know exactly what impact changes had on the overall conversion-funnel performance.

Which Areas to Optimize

Web analytics tools help prioritize what to concentrate on based on factors such as high-value entry pages, referral traffic, click-through rates, and bounce/exit metrics. Analyzing drop-offs in your conversion funnels, filtered by attributes such as device, traffic source, and visitor types can also reveal testing opportunities. Begin by identifying then optimizing the highest-value pages (often those closest to your conversion metric) rather than taking on a complete website redesign. Once you have results, test and apply your winners on similar pages or flows, and iterate on your test learnings to run potentially higher impact tests now that you understand more about visitor intent and behavior. 

CRO Testing for Risk Mitigation

With this incremental approach, changes are smaller but more frequent. The results are near immediate and, because the changes are smaller, so are the risks. Incrementally applying a series of website design updates builds momentum while new tactics are tested and implemented.

Often a simple change to a form’s functionality, format, or the placement of a button yields material results. One of our compliance management clients saw a 31% lift in submissions after reducing the size and number of fields required in its online form. And, one of our global nonprofit partners saw a 35% increase in conversion rate and a 13% lift in revenue after increasing the size of its donation buttons.

It’s also important to acknowledge there is value in negative test results. Nearly all tests reveal invaluable insights on what your customers expect, which leads to iteratively testing changes that solve blockers in leading them to the actions you want them to take. Conversely, you can apply successful tactics to other pages to increase their efficacy. When you get negative results, remember to focus on what worked, not what didn’t work. If something produced a negative result, learn from it, and direct your energy into optimizing your successes.

Considerations when Deciding Web Redesign or CRO

When considering a website redesign versus executing a CRO program, the following questions will help you with this decision:

Consideration
Is there room to improve the conversion rate for your high-traffic pages?

Recommendation
Implement a conversion rate testing program that will improve the page’s performance and preserve SEO.

Is the core technology of the website out of date?

 

A replatform is often necessary, but changing the checkout experience (for example) or introducing a sub-optimal one can negatively affect conversion rates. Be sure to understand the updated shopping experience and map out a roadmap of tests to coincide with the update. 

Does the website perform poorly on mobile devices?

 

Pay attention to what percentage of your visitors are mobile and plan updates relative to mobile’s importance for your user’s experience.

Is there a fundamental, measurable customer need that your site completely lacks which will be difficult to validate through testing?

 

Customers’ needs must be met and if your site can’t be updated to do so, then you might consider planning a website redesign. Build your testing roadmap in conjunction to immediately validate the changes you’ve made do not affect your website negatively.

Will a redesign dramatically move the needle in terms of the quality of the website?

 

Often times iteratively testing into positive changes addresses perceived shortcomings while mitigating the risk, time and expense of a full website redesign.

Have you implemented a testing program to measure the efficacy of your existing site?

 

You should understand specifically what’s working and what’s not on your existing website before undertaking a website redesign. You don’t want to be accused of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Does your site meet brand and quality standards, but fail to convert CTAs?

 

A website redesign will not improve conversions. Best to run A/B testing on CTAs to determine what the problem is and find ways to improve and maximize conversion rates.

There are conditions where a website redesign makes sense. But, most websites can achieve the same result with measured, iterative testing to improve the customer experience and increase conversion rates. After honestly answering the above questions, our clients typically opted to adopt or accelerate a CRO program before reevaluating the need for a full website redesign. This is because CRO surfaces insights into users’ behavior, which can be used to drive conversions and deliver a significant ROI—be that with the existing site or a new one.

Immediate Results with CRO

We know it’s not easy to overcome the temptation and often pressure to redesign your website—especially when the pressure comes from across your organization. Most of those clamoring for a website redesign only see it superficially—how it looks.

The reality is most website rebuilds don’t drive conversions that lead to increased revenue and customer engagement. You can deflect the drive for a website redesign with data and results produced from a CRO program. And, you still can implement website design updates and improvements—just in a more purposeful and calculated way.

A CRO-first approach to website design changes will not only save you time and resources but will yield valuable results immediately.

At the end of the day take guidance from the insightful words of UX Engineer Hamza Mahmood, “It’s not about building the thing right, it’s about building the right thing.”

Ready to redesign your website and increase conversions through iterative testing? Reach out today.