I have an exciting case study to share about the Evolutionary Site Redesign (ESR) strategy!
We’ve shown it to be the better website redesign strategy for several companies, from mid-sized for Fortune 500, and the stories are exciting. We’ve literally seen Fortune 500 clients of ours scrap their redesign projects mid-stream in favour of switching to an ESR approach. For real.
But first, let’s take a step back: what is ESR and how is it the most effective website redesign strategy?
It’s no secret that the traditional website redesign process is broken.
Many a well-meaning web manager has had their hope dashed in the experience. If you’ve been one, you know what I mean… the white knuckles and sweaty brow on launch day.. fingers-crossed hoping for a smooth transition.
But, it often isn’t smooth. More often than not, they end up over-budget, over-due, and under-performing. We’ve had clients come to us after flipping the switch and seeing a 20-40% drop in conversion rates.
Yet companies have become trapped in the website redesign cycle.
They’ve been fooled into thinking a redesign will lift conversions and revenue. You might assume a beautiful new design, following the industry-accepted “best practices” will increase customer trust and therefore your sales.
That’s a false hope.
And that’s not the only problem with the traditional “revolutionary” website redesign.
The Old Website Redesign Approach
Unfortunately, the creative process used by most agencies and marketing departments don’t consider the risk they create.
To understand your risk, think about the number of changes you make during a redesign. Multiply that by the depth of change for each element. Imagine for a moment the list of changes proposed during a creative meeting.
You’ll change the home page headline, imagery, site-wide template layout, navigation bar design, fonts, shopping cart or form layouts, and many more.
When does the discussion of all these risks happen?
Maybe some changes help your conversion rate, and some definitely hurt. How do you know which have a positive or negative effect?
In most cases that discussion about risk-mitigation doesn’t happen.
Marketers usually go into a redesign without a process in place to test the page templates and landing pages that are being changed. There’s no system put in place to monitor and justify those changes against key conversion metrics.
Mitigating these risks can only be done with a rigorous conversion optimization strategy. It requires a process that includes understanding the target audience, prioritizing test hypotheses to solve issues obstructing conversions, setting up controlled split tests, and analyzing insights from data to make informed changes.
Companies that are using a structured process that include A/B/n split testing as part of a conversion optimization strategy, like WineExpress, Iron Mountain, Electronic Arts, BabyAge.com and BuildDirect (see case study below) are getting significant sales lift while reducing risk.
In fact, eConsultancy reports that companies with a structured approach for conversion optimization are twice as likely to have seen a large increase in sales as others.
The Better Approach: Evolutionary Site Redesign
Testing, and a proven system to execute testing for design changes, is critical for today’s online marketer. The risk of making substantial website changes without it is too great not to.
This approach to website redesign called Evolutionary Site Redesign (ESR) and is the most effective website redesign strategy.
The truth is that a dramatic, “revolutionary” redesign is dangerous for most companies.
It’s not that you don’t need a redesign. You probably do. But a better, structured, less-risky, iterative design approach involves a process of testing with incremental (and often dramatic) improvements. This ESR approach gives a better visitor experience and results versus the traditional throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater method.
ESR Gives Continuous Results Improvement
There are two major differences between ESR and the traditional “Revolutionary Site Redesign” (RSR) approach:
1. It’s faster
After a traditional website redesign, marketing departments are usually so fed-up with the process that they’ll gladly wait another 5 years before trying again. Or else, they may spend the next 6 months scrambling to fix the conversion rate drop with their new site. ESR, in contrast, creates a system of continuous improvement so your website is always leading the pack.
The Traditional website redesign cycle of under-performance
2. I has the right success criteria
“Gut feeling” and reliance on the so-called “best practices” of designers and UX practitioners leads traditional redesign. While the team may be talented, no batter hits 100% and many of their changes are likely to hurt website results. With ESR, every change is measured in controlled A/B/n split tests against its effect on business goals.
The RSR approach leaves your website lacking and continuously falling behind in the intervals between major redesigns. But, with ESR, your website will continuously keep up and surpass the success of the rest of the web.
ESR essentially uses conversion rate optimization principles to redesign your site.
How ESR Eliminates Epic Website Redesign Fails
By adopting the evolutionary site redesign approach you can guard against website redesign risks while dramatically improving your website every day.