Conversion Optimisation or Website Redesigns – Which is Better?
What do I mean when I ask which is better – website design or conversion optimisation?
Well, when a business owner realises that their website is not giving them the results they expected, one of their first thoughts is that something is wrong with the website. This may be true, the problem however, is that there are two solutions to this problem and if you pick the wrong one – your bottom line will continue to tank and you will have wasted a lot of time and money.
So what are these two solutions? Well, you can radically redesign your website or you can focus on conversion optimisation. The first is self-explanatory – you have a new website designed and built and hope that this fixes the problem.
On the other hand, conversion optimisation is a strategy that uses data to increase your conversion rates. Conversions can be sales, subscriptions, donations, phone calls or dropping into your physical store. Whatever action you want your website visitors to do, if they do it, then that is a conversion.
The problems with radical website redesigns
Did you know that Marks & Spencer and Target both radically redesigned their websites in the past few years and both suffered dramatic losses in their online sales?
The problem is that if a radical redesign does not work, you don’t know what could have worked to increase conversions. That’s because you changed so much – the entire website in fact, that you are now left wondering where to start fixing this new problem.
Wouldn’t it be better to fix a few things and then assess whether they worked and continue this incremental process? This would demonstrate quite clearly what does and does not help to increase conversions.
When to redesign your website
Of course, there are certain circumstances when a radical redesign of your website is warranted, for example:
- The company direction has changed or you have decided to rebrand.
- You have made all the changes you can, optimised for all you are worth – and there is hardly any upward movement in conversions.
- Your website is so old and outdated that you still have Flash, can’t update the backend because you don’t have a CMS and it is not mobile friendly.
- Even you don’t like your website – the design is really unprofessional and does not reflect your brand.
If you have any of these situations, then a completely new website is most probably your best option.
When to focus on conversion optimisation
To be honest, this should be your mantra. You should continually optimise your site for conversions. However, if you have done all you can and you are seeing only very small changes in conversions, then it might be time for a redesign.
Ideally, you want to test what does and doesn’t work on your website and continue to do this over time. That way, your visitors remain comfortable with your site and your testing slowly shows you ways to increase your conversions.
Conversion optimisation techniques are much better than a complete redesign when your website is fairly up-to-date with technology. This means that are no major technological issues, it is mobile friendly, easy for you to update and it doesn’t have the old Flash technology. You also have a decent amount of new and returning traffic to your website, enough so you can perform some optimisation tests and find out what does and doesn’t work to increase conversions.
If you really are convinced that your website needs a complete overhaul, then don’t just rush in with guns blazing. Do some research first, so you know what is and isn’t working. Then decide if you can solve the problem by optimising for conversions or whether you really do need a brand new website.
Meg is a Project Manager/Producer at Cornerstone with a special interest in conversion rate optimisation. She has a business analysis background and thinks the web would be a better place if everyone looked at their web statistics daily.