The most effective website redesign strategy

Most small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) are trapped in an endless website redesign cycle. Some businesses also assume that updating the look of a website will increase conversions and attract new customers. Often website redesign projects are launched to stay ahead of competitors or to deliver a long-overdue design refresh.

In either case, this approach does not work since there is no strategy or performance metrics to quantify and measure user experience, conversion or ROI. In fact, web redesign projects are often counterproductive as users are slow to adapt to the changes and often struggle with the new design.

For a web redesign to be effective, it must be driven by business objectives and with a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t work. In addition, a business must identify stakeholders who have “skin in the game” and can make quick informed decisions. For example, marketing should manage the website and its content since it is a natural fit with the website being a communication tool. However, there are many SMBs where IT is actually in charge of the website.

Additionally, since most SMBs have budget constraints, they also need to answer a critical question – Should we design for the future or retrofit the past?”

A company that considers its website as another “cost of doing business” is more likely to opt for retrofit rather than revamp its website to position itself for the future.

This leaves us with the most important question: what is the most effective website redesign strategy?

Evolutionary Site Redesign (ESR)

A website is constantly evolving concept and redesign should reflect that. This approach to website design is often called Evolutionary Site Redesign (ESR).

With ESR approach, redesign efforts should focus on mitigating risks and an incremental path to new design. Potential risks include a drop in conversion, poor user experience and website not aligned with the business objectives. Companies that mitigate these risks by deploying a solid optimization strategy and constantly testing changes using A/B split testing usually do well.

Leveraging ESR and deploying an iterative design approach reduces risks and improves deployment cycle. In addition, ESR approach often results in better user experience since users are not exposed to drastic design or functionality changes.

With ESR, marketers can experiment with the site changes at the most granular level. Just like in any other evolutionary design process, there are built-in safeguards to rollback changes if they don’t work. This is the most basic principal of any evolutionary design. If you can’t go back, you can’t go forward.

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