Have you ever gone to a large site like Amazon or Google only to see that everything has changed? You haven’t, and you won’t! They make incremental changes to their site over time by testing data to make decisions based off data, not opinion. This is a term called Evolutionary Web Design. While this is costlier about site overhauls it is usually much less risky.
Most companies do website overhauls every couple of years. The thought is, if the site “looks” more relevant and up-to-date, it will convert better. That’s a nice thought, and maybe if your previous site was a disaster it could help, but most of the time this is far from reality. Yes, a site needs to appear somewhat relevant to other websites out there, it cannot look 15 years old, but there are downsides to a complete overhaul. Some of these include:
-If you have a high level of repeat customers, changing the experience will throw them off. Many times, when you switch to your new site, your conversion will be lower for the following few months until existing users/customers get used to the new experience.
-Many companies do not plan properly with SEO, established customer accounts and referral landing pages and they don’t get migrated correctly to the new website, so existing traffic sources can get alienated.
-A site that looks good is quite low on the list to of improving conversion rate. Things like headlines, images, site speed, traffic quality and re-marketing efforts are bigger drivers of conversion, not a pretty website.
On the flip side, many companies are opting to change their website overtime, continuously, and do so based off data. There are upsides and downsides to this:
-Cost. It can cost 2x or more in time and money to do evolutionary web design than periodic site overhauls. Not only are you going to permanently be spending money with designs and developers, but a lot of what you make, since you are testing theories, gets thrown away if it doesn’t work.
-Evolutionary web design, if done the right way with data driving decisions, usually requires a website to have 50,000+ 5,000 conversions a month to get enough data to make changes. This tends to eliminate about 90% of websites.
-As mentioned previously, one upsides to evolutionary web design is that you are not ever alienating visitors if they were on your site a few days before looking at a product, only to have to start the learning of the experience over again.
-Testing data is driving decisions, not the opinion of someone who happens to like what another website looks like. (Or, in our experience, company executives getting family members involved with no internet experience who suggest opinions that are then passed to the website design team.)
Regardless of where you fall from a budget or traffic amount standpoint, it is always good to evolve your site in- between overhauls. Always be testing! At the very least, if you change along the way and still decide you need a website overhaul, you will at the very least have some indicators as to what your audience is receptive to.
Thats it for Volume 2, I hope you enjoyed it. If any of these topics were important to you and you want a deeper dive into them, I am happy to expand through an email or phone call. I may have a solution internally, and if I don’t, I will know a person or firm that can help.