website redesign

 All you ever wanted to know about performing website due diligence and how to not doo due diligence when buying sites.

I’m at the Ungagged Conference and enjoyed sitting in on a presentation by Bryan O’Neil of Flippa.com.

Are you looking for a Website, or a Web Business?

— Bryan O’neil, Flippa.com

Website Due Diligence Issues to Consider

When considering investing in a web business, consider the following.

  • Traffic source: Is it dependent on free search?
  • Proft
  • On-going development: Does it require additional investment?
  • Dependence on Third-party API’s: Facebook, Twitter and others can change access to data at any time.

There are other considerations for website due diligence as well.

Calculate Revenue per Visit

The Revenue per Visit (RPV) is the revenue generated by a site divided by the number of visitors. If this number is small, you may have trouble building traffic, because the cost of the traffic is higher than the revenue.

For a better analysis, consider measuring Profit per Visit.

Avoid Traffic Arbitrage

If the site is not something you would use, you might have a business built on traffic arbitrage. Arbitrage is acquiring traffic, and then sending it advertisers or affiliates for more than you paid.

This is not a web business.

Does the Website have a Future?

Sites with a limited future are not a good long-term investment. When performing website due diligence, be careful of sites that are at the mercy of time or other businesses.

Websites that focus on a single event have a built in expiration date.

Sites that fix something in someone else’s product can be eliminated by upgrades to that product.

Sites tat provide a product that is simply “better” than the competition can be marketed out of existence

Websites that depend on loopholes should be avoided, as loopholes can be closed.

Avoid trying to figure things out after you buy.

— Bryan O’neil, Flippa.com

Website Due Diligence: 7 Business Buying Myths

O’Neil offer seven myths about buying a business that you should avoid.

Myth #1: The site’s backlink profile is important

Dependence on organic traffic is dangerous.

Myth #2: Financial verification is most important

Businesses with good financial verification can fail if they don’t have a future.

Myth #3: Escrow can save you from a bad decision.

Escrow is where you give money to a third party during a period of inspection and verification.

Do your due diligence before you enter escrow. Don’t make yourself a target for scammers.

Entering escrow also tie up your capital, limiting your options.

Myth #4: Website due diligence is just too expensive.

Due diligence is expensive, especially if done by a third party.

But, when you compare it to the purchase price, it can be quite affordable.

Calculate your Website Due Diligence Percent:

DDP = Cost of Due Diligence / Purchase Price of Website.

Myth #5: Screen shots are viable proof of financial performance.

Business owners can forge screen shots showing success. This is a sign of a scammer.

Make the seller jump through hoops.

— Bryan O’neil, Flippa.com

Myth #6: Your broker can do due diligence.

Avoid any broker that claims they have done due diligence for you.

Brokers work for the SELLER.

Myth #7: You can rely on apps to do your website due diligence.

Nope. You need the human element in the process.

Due Diligence when Buying Websites by Bryan O’neil of Flippa.com

Here is my instagraph infographic of his presentation on due diligence mistakes when buying Websites.

Avoid Doo Due Diligence When Buying Websites - All About Website Due Diligence: Advice from Flippa.com

Due Diligence when Buying Websites by Bryan O’Niel


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

FREE: Click to Download

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The power of Three

 

Running a business website is no different from a Monopoly game. You have scarce resources to spend building the site and attracting traffic. Find out how to optimize for scarcity and win the game!

Monopoly is the quintessential game of American capitalism. For better or worse, it focuses the player on one goal: maximizing the number of dollars in your pile. Everyone has their own strategy and their preferred properties to own and build. Your little sister may only buy properties if she likes the color.

Excellent monopoly players learn their opponents’ strategy and then adapt to respond to the environment they are in.

If you look beyond the “greed is good” focus on money, you will realize that playing the game teaches the principles of scarcity and optimization.

The number dollars you start with is scarce. You must make the most of your limited resources.

You want to be ready when lady luck glances your way. When a dog, a car, or a hat finally lands your property, you better be ready.

Running a business website is no different. You inevitably have scarce resources to spend building the site and attracting traffic.

And when those visitors finally land on your site, you better be ready. This is the job of optimization.

If you viewed your web page as a Monopoly board, would it change your priorities and behavior?

Like houses and hotels, would the right elements be on your page be there?

Too often, we don’t think about our web pages as scarce resources that have to be optimized. Too often, we use our little sister’s “pretty property” strategy. Trust me. She still hates to lose.

Monopoly game board. Discover how to optimize for scarcity and grow your business.

Discover how to optimize for scarcity and grow your business.

What is Scarcity

In Monopoly, we can’t own all the properties and have hotels on all properties. We have to deal with scarcity. Our money supply is limited, as is our opportunity to buy properties. The desire to compete brings out our analytical nature and we scheme to make the most of the resources we have as opposed to the resources we want. We do this because we know we have an opponent that is actively working to undo us. Again, do we think about our web page the same way?

In reality, we do have opponents in our web strategy. Not just one, but many. In fact, we usually have more opponents than competitors. Some of these opponents include:

  • Limited attention span
  • Lack of common reference and knowledge base
  • Low-resolution computer monitors
  • Negative emotional association with specific words or images
  • Slow connection speeds

As you think about the opponents listed above, you will recognize scarcity working against your ultimate goal. Vigorously compete against these opponents on your site with the same vigor you compete in Monopoly, and you’ll be more likely to “pass GO and collect $200.”

How to Optimize for Scarcity

Something amazing happens on the Monopoly board that doesn’t naturally happen on our web page.

In Monopoly, we quit caring about how glamorous a property is and instead focus on how much money it will make for us.

In contrast, it is the very rare individual who walks into a web planning meeting without being focused on making the most beautiful page possible. If we played Monopoly the same way, we would focus on acquiring and building hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place and be done. If you try this approach, either in Monopoly or on your website, you lose.

If you don’t pull your weight, you’re gone!

Without emotion, we require properties to pay their way. They have a job to do and we expect them to do it well. The properties’ job is generating revenue.

Is there an element on your web page that isn’t pulling its weight? As optimizers, our job is to identify the converting elements on a page and remove the non-converting elements.

How to Optimize for Scarcity: Testing to see which properties are performing

Such was the case for one client’s site, when we set out to improve the home page. We followed this process to find out which elements led to conversions:

  1. We set up Google to score on bounce rate while watching conversions.
  2. We used click-tracking software heat mapping to identify content that was not getting clicked. This website has 4 clickable icons that take the user to additional content. We found that the 2 outer icons had low activity and decided to test them against alternate icons.
  3. The experiment executed quickly with the following results:
  • 10% improvement in bounce rate
  • 56% improvement in conversions
Small changes have a big impact on conversions.

Fig 1. Small changes have a big impact on conversions.

That felt good – let’s do it again

After experiencing success, it seemed like a good idea to try again. This time we identified one icon that was under-performing, so we replaced it with another one that led to a converting page. The result here is interesting. Looking at the heat map alone indicates the replaced icon is more desirable. But looking at the numbers reveals it was not the right choice.

More clicks do not necessarily mean more conversions.

Fig 2. More clicks do not necessarily mean more conversions.

As shown on the heat map above, replacing the 3rd icon attracted many more clicks on the “B” version of the page. However, both the bounce rate and the conversion rate took a hit.

  • Bounce rate degraded 4%
  • Conversion rate decreased 56%

This experiment shows why it is essential to test and scrutinize the results. Two nearly identical hypotheses with two nearly identical changes led to opposite results. My initial inclination was to ignore the results and push the change through. But I put on my Monopoly head and determined the measurable results of the change should trump how I felt about the change.

No Experiment is a Failure

It would be easy to walk away from the second experiment and view it as a total loss. In the same way that losses are our teachers in Monopoly, losses should be our teachers in web optimization experiments. Just as every Monopoly opponent is unique, our clients and website visitors are unique.

To better understand the behavior we observed, we sought to learn more by asking some basic questions:

  • Why did higher clicks on the replaced icon also correspond to a higher bounce rate? (Hint:  something else didn’t get clicked as much!)
  • What was appealing about the new icon?
  • Why did the site conversion rate drop?
  • What was the net gain/loss of each individual conversion metric?
  • Did the new copy corresponding to the new icon have a negative impact?
  • Would alternate copy change the site performance?
  • Did the new icon and copy add clarity and relevance?
  • Did the new icon and copy add anxiety or distraction?

It is important to learn from each experiment regardless of the results. Applying this discipline is critical in understanding the unique functionality of your website and what increases or decreases conversions.

Failing to learn from a “failed” experiment is like failing to learn the tactics of your Monopoly opponent. You will face them again, and you want to be prepared when you do.

So What Should You Do?

Like many 12-step programs, the first step is to acknowledge you have a problem. Say out loud, “I care more about how pretty my web page is than how much money it makes.” Let that sink in and prepare to change. Make a personal commitment to website profitability based on hard data. Then approach your web pages with the kind of profit-focused attention to scarcity and optimization that wins Monopoly games.

  • Make a list of the individual components on your web page – especially above the fold.
  • Write the purpose of each component next to it.
  • Ask yourself if each component contributes to profit – and eliminate those that don’t.
  • Ask yourself if there is anything that could replace the existing components that would drive more profit.
  • Test, test, test.

Nobody is immune to personal biases and individual favorites. If you want to maximize the functionality of your website, you need to put a structure in place that always tests and always trusts data over opinion. When you earn how to optimize for scarcity, you win. When you make a habit of doing that, you will be the same formidable opponent that you are in Monopoly.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

FREE: Click to Download

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The power of Three

On Monday, Conversion Sciences launched a revamped website. As you will learn in our Lab Coat Lessons Webinar, a website redesign can be a very dangerous undertaking.

Sixty percent of our business comes through our website (the remainder being referrals). Any significant drop in traffic or conversion rate will hit our bottom line hard.

It’s still early for us, but we will share five client redesigns we’ve been involved with and why they were or were not successful. Watch the webinar replay.

Conversion-Scientist-Podcast-Logo-1400x1400


What Not to Do in a Website Redesign

There is a lot that can change in a redesign. The sentiment seems to be that, since everything is changing anyway, what can it hurt to add a few more modifications, updates and rewrites? It can hurt a lot, as it turns out.

A redesign is a collection of changes, all based on assumptions about what visitors want. Some of those assumptions will be right on. Some will be sadly misdirected. The more you add, the more likely you are to introduce some random poison pill feature into the mix.

Any website redesign is a mix of good and bad assumptions.

Any website redesign is a mix of good and bad assumptions.

With our redesign, we did the opposite. Our primary goal was to improve the search engine performance of our amazing content (like this). We were tempted to rewrite dated pages, redesign elements we’ve grown tired of and photoshop our pictures to make us look more fit.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

FREE: Click to Download

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The power of Three

We will do these things, but not until we’ve baselined the structural changes we launched on Monday.

The heartbreak comes when more of your changes decrease conversions than increase them.

Things can get ugly when more of your redesign ideas hurt than they help.

Things can get ugly when more of your redesign ideas hurt than they help.

If you didn’t roll out changes step-by-step, you just don’t know which changes hurt you and which helped.

An even more insidious result is when more of your changes increased performance. In this situation, the marketing department pats itself on the back and goes on about its business.

When the good decisions outweigh the bad, the bad decisions are hidden.

When the good decisions outweigh the bad, the bad decisions are hidden.

But how much better could business be if the bad decisions were tested away? Usually, much better. The positive decisions overshadow the mistakes that still linger on the site sucking the revenue out of the business.

JJ Abrams has shown that he can revitalize a beloved film franchise, turning it into a blockbuster. Isn’t this what you want for your website? Find out how he did it in our webinar, The JJ Abrams School of Website Redesign.

We’ll show you five different approaches to data-driven redesign. One should fit your situation.

I’ll write more about what we’re learning from our redesign.

So you just read an article on how your website needs to be mobile responsive. That makes sense. More people are using their phones these days than ever before. It would be wise to have a site that adjusts to a mobile user’s needs.

But then you stumble across a new headline, this one talking about the need for a separate “mobile optimized” website. Is that the same thing as responsive?
Now there’s a new article talking about “adaptive” sites, and another one demanding you use “dynamic” web design to reach mobile users.

SO. MANY. TERMS.

Why web-design people? Why?

Each of these terms describes a method for delivering your website content to mobile users. Today, we are going to break down the differences between each one, so you can finally understand what’s going on the next time you talk with your website designer.

Before we begin, if you aren’t convinced that mobile design matters, check out this article on Why You Can’t Ignore Mobile Traffic.

The Different Types Of Mobile Website Development

While mobile web development is an ever-expanding field, there are three common classifications you are likely to come across.

  1. Responsive Design
  2. Adaptive Design (aka Dynamic Serving)
  3. Separate, Mobile-Optimized Design

Each of these are different, but it’s likely you will hear them being used interchangeably at times, which can add to the confusion.
To simplify things and provide a visual baseline, I’ve created the following spectrum:

This spectrum helps us understand the method we’re using to deliver website content to users

This spectrum helps us understand the method we’re using to deliver website content to users.

Each end of the spectrum represents an extreme. On the far left, we have the exact same site delivered to users on every device. In other words, there is no mobile site developed at all.

On the far right, we have a completely different site being delivered to mobile users with no crossover.

Each of the web development methods we’ll discuss fall within this spectrum.

1. Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design delivers a comparatively similar experience to a desktop experience.

Responsive web design delivers a comparatively similar experience to a desktop experience.

Responsive web design delivers the exact same website across every device, with the ONLY difference being layout.

Responsive design uses “fluid grids” to adjust site content to any possible screen size, allowing for an optimal viewing experience regardless of the device been used. This is particularly useful in a world where new devices with new screen sizes are created every other day.

Whether the site is being viewed on a tablet, smartphone, or desktop, all the elements are the same with responsive web design.

Whether the site is being viewed on a tablet, smartphone, or desktop, all the elements are the same with responsive web design.


Responsive web design keeps all the elements of your site the same on every device.

  • Same headlines
  • Same copywriting
  • Same CTAs
  • Same everything

The only difference is that the layout adjusts for easier mobile consumption, typically arranging everything for quick, up-and-down scroll navigation. So instead of users having to scroll from left to right to see an image or repeatedly zoom in and out, the site images and elements automatically resize and rearrange to intuitively fit the screen being used.

Responsive design rearranges the exact same website for optimal viewing on any device.

On the plus side, responsive sites are cheap to build, easy to maintain and work for any screen size. You make one website and it works for every device. They are also great for SEO as there is no content overlap.
On the downside, responsive sites do not offer a fully mobile-optimized experience, as you are still offering essentially the same content to mobile users. When over half of your web traffic is probably coming via mobile device, this can mean you are leaving tons of mobile conversions on the table.

2. Adaptive Web Design (aka Dynamic Serving)

Adaptive web design does not necessarily deliver the exact same experience to desktop and mobile users

Adaptive web design does not necessarily deliver the exact same content to desktop and mobile users

While responsive web design delivers essentially the same website to all users, adaptive design, also know as “Dynamic serving”, delivers separate content to users based on their device.

For example, an adaptive designer might create three different designs, each with customized HTML & CSS, for desktop, tablet, and smartphone users. If a desktop user, smartphone user and tablet user were to browse the website, they would all see something fundamentally different while being on the same URL.

These separate designs can be 100% different or simply 10% different. The point is that separate HTML & CSS are being “served” to each device, allowing you to deliver a customized experience.

As you can see in the above image, the desktop, tablet, and smartphone displays all have fundamentally different content. Since they all have the same URL, we say this is an adaptive design.
Unlike responsive design, adaptive doesn’t use fluid grids to deliver flexible content across any device. Instead, it manually creates separate layouts for predefined screen sizes and displays the appropriate selection.

If the three categories of devices had standard sizes, this would be great, but as you can see…

Designing for every device is very difficult

Designing for every device is very difficult.

There are more devices out there than you could ever design for, and this can put adaptive designers at a disadvantage. For devices you don’t design for, the experience won’t be optimal.

Here’s a fantastic gif from CSS-Tricks that illustrates the difference between experiencing a responsive vs adaptive design as you change screen sizes. Responsive is on top and adaptive on the bottom.

Responsive design is demonstrated first, adaptive web design second

Responsive design is demonstrated first, adaptive web design second.

Adaptive design delivers a separate experience to predefined devices via the same URL.

On the plus side, adaptive design keeps everyone on the same URL while allowing you to provide a targeted, optimized experience to mobile users.
On the downside, dynamic design is technically complex and can be more expensive, as you are essentially designing a separate site for each device.

3. Designing a Separate, Mobile-Optimized Site

Mobile optimized sites deliver a very different experience than desktop

Mobile optimized sites deliver a very different experience than desktop.


While the term “mobile optimized” can mean a variety of things, when it’s time to design your mobile website, creating a mobile optimized site implies creating a separate, distinct website for your mobile users.
Unlike dynamic serving, this won’t take place via the same URL. Instead, it is most frequently accomplished via a subdomain, such as m.rootdomain.com or something similar.
By rerouting mobile users to a separate website, you can completely control their mobile experience. And as we’ve learned from past discussions on mobile CRO, if you aren’t creating a mobile-centric experience, you won’t reach mobile viewers effectively.
 
Mobile users, and particularly smartphone users, behave very differently than desktop users.

Mobile users, and particularly smartphone users, behave very differently than desktop users.


Having a separate, mobile-optimized site can allow you to better reach a mobile audience.

Mobile optimized design delivers a separate experience to mobile users via a different URL.

As an additional upside, Google recognizes mobile-specific subdomains as being mobile-friendly and factors that favorably into its search results. In other words, it can have a positive impact on your SEO results.
You’ll want to be careful. If you forget to add the appropriate “canonical” tags, you can actually hurt your SEO results, as the search engines will penalize the mobile site as duplicate content. Many designers don’t think about marketing or SEO in their designs (this is exactly why I began offering design to my copywriting clients), so be sure to inquire about this while vetting a potential designer.

Conclusion

I hope this has helped you gain a better understanding of web design and better equipped you to work with designers in the future.

Before we finish, it’s important to understand that many people use the terms we’ve mentioned here incorrectly.

Google treats “adaptive” and “responsive” interchangeably in its search results and many non-designers or sudo-designers with a cursory understanding will often use “adaptive” when they are discussing a responsive design. I myself mixed these terms up regularly until I got fed up with the poor-converting designs my copywriting clients were dealing with, and invested in creating a design solution for them.

“Mobile optimized” is not a term limited to the design world, so be sure to clarify that you are meaning a separate, URL-distinct mobile website when working with a designer.

About the Author

Jacob McMillen HeadshotJacob McMillen combines professional copywriting with clean web design, giving small-to-midsize businesses the high-converting websites they need to make meaningful online profits.

Photo Credits

A website redesign is like a Hollywood movie reboot. It really is.

There have been two attempts to reboot the cultural phenomenon that is Star Wars. George Lucas gave us three prequels that, while generating some $2.5 billion in box office worldwide, were largely reviled for their lack of magic and stunted acting. Now JJ Abrams is rebooting with a sequel to the series called Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Redesigning your website should be seen as a reboot of your online properties as well. Watch The JJ Abrams School of Website Redesign, and learn how to avoid creating a Phantom Menace when the Force Awakens for your website.

This is not the first reboot that JJ Abrams has helmed as visionary and director. We’ve got his incredibly successful treatments of the Star Trek franchise to consider as well.

Don’t Just Blow Things Up

The problem we have with the popular Responsive Web Design strategies is that you must change everything in order to create a “mobile-friendly” website. Responsive designs are programmed to make decisions about page content when smaller screens are encountered.

Many of these decisions are wrong, and we’ll cover them in our webinar.

Your responsive design may be creating the equivalent of Jar-Jar Binks, a figure hated perhaps more than Darth Vader himself. In the webinar, we’ll show you how what happens when redesigns go bad.

Bring Back Beloved Characters

Your website redesign isn’t about changing things. It’s about building on what currently works, adding to the experience.

George Lucas managed to work merchandisable characters R2-D2 and C-3PO into the prequels, as well as beloved Obi-Wan Kenobi. But these characters didn’t create the esprit décor that the original ensemble did. In Star Trek, Abrams brought back young versions of the entire ensemble: Kirk, Bones, Scotty, and even two Spocks. Chekov, Sulu and Uhura were thrown in for good measure.

Your website is an ensemble cast of pages and experiences. Your landing pages need to prime buyers to get through the subscription process. Your category pages have to drive visits to product pages that entice visitors to add to cart.

Huge amounts of data is available very cheaply. Use it to know what to keep or suffer the consequences.

Don’t Create Any Jar-Jars

You don't want to create any Jar-Jar Binks features during your redesign.

You don’t want to create any Jar-Jar Binks features during your redesign.

I’m sure George Lucas was certain that the Jar-Jar Binks character introduced in the Phantom Menace would be a beloved, merchandisable character. He was wrong. Abrams introduced Keenser, a (thankfully) silent alien who was Scotty’s sidekick in the first Star Trek reboot. However, he didn’t rely on this character for comedic relief nearly as much as Lucas did with Jar-Jar.

The cost to create the all-CGI Jar-Jar was huge, and probably took resources that could have been used elsewhere in the movie.

Unless you’re testing your way into your redesign, you are going to create some Jar-Jars in your redesign. These are features that you believe in, but that are rejected by your visitors. Don’t over-invest in these new experiences without testing them first.

 

Have A Reason for Radical Changes

Every website has return visitors. Your website, no matter how ugly you believe it to be, has visitors who feel at home there, enjoying a comfortable familiarity. They’ve invested the time to understand your site, to make it theirs. When you change it, they’ll be pissed.

These visitors need some rationale for your removal of familiar features and the addition of new ones. Avoid the pro-innovation bias, which is a tendency to change things because they are cool. Your returning visitors won’t think they are cool.

Is this little header animation really necessary? It's a technical error waiting for the wrong browser.

Even simple parallax animations are dangerous. It’s a technical error waiting for the wrong browser.

Don’t let your design firm add any “alien” features to your site. For example, parallax design causes animates to occur as your visitors scroll through the site. It’s the web equivalent of Jar-Jar.

Parallax design elements are like the blinking text of 1990s era websites.

Parallax design elements are like the blinking text of 1990s era websites. Or the Jar-Jar Binks of the Web.

In the Webinar, we’ll show you how to find out what is and isn’t necessary in your particular redesign.

Add Segments

This ain't your father's Star Trek.

This ain’t your father’s Star Trek.

JJ Abrams brought whole new segments into the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. For Star Trek, he cast young heartthrobs Zak Quinto, Chris Pine,  and Zoe Saldana in key roles. This brought a younger, hipper audience to the Star Trek universe. Star Wars: The Force Awakens features females in key hero and villain roles.

Your website redesign should be about two things:

1. Keeping your existing visitor segments happy.

2. Engaging new segments that need what you offer.

There is no such thing as an “average visitor” to your site. Design should specifically target key segments. These segments should not just be demographic as much as needs based. Segment by device type, by geography, by whether they are at work or play, or by the kinds of search terms they are using. Target segments at different stages of your funnel.

The death of a redesign is guaranteed if you design for the “average” visitor or design for yourself. See below.

Avoid Executive Influence

Don't let your execs usurp your redesign.

Don’t let your execs usurp your redesign.

After several significant successes, J.J. Abrams has considerable freedom to do what he wants. He ignored all of George Lucas’s ideas for the new Star Wars movie and took it in his own direction.

The executives that you report to will want to have a say in the redesign. Statements like, “I would never respond to that!” are poisonous to the process, unless you site is targeted at them.

Abrams didn’t get such freedom until he had a win under his belt. Your ace in the whole is research and data. If your redesign is questioned, you better have the studies, heatmaps, split test, and analytics you need to make your case.

If you don’t have this information, you’re not likely to have a success anyway. You may want your executives to attend our webinar.

Lens Flair Comes Last

Only after you’ve considered all of these key issues can you put your own unique stamp on the site design. Abrams has a thing for lens flair in his movies.

But none of this means anything unless you have beloved features in your new site, avoid adding Jar-Jar Binks experiences and address your visitors segment by segment.

Attend our free Webinar The JJ Abrams School of Website Redesign and make sure your next redesign isn’t a Star Wars prequel.

The knockout punch came near the end of the webinar. Who won, UX or CRO?

Watch the Webinar Replay

Listen to the Podcast

We shot this webinar because I had two things happen in the past year that made me wonder if we shouldn’t be doing more UX as a part of our CRO efforts.

First, we helped redesign a client site using conversion optimization. During the redesign, the client experienced significant increases in demos and sales of its software. To date we’ve almost tripled their demo requests.

Then, I happened across a landing page that I felt was very well done. When I asked the designer of that page how they had arrived at that design, Adam Treister told me they had done a UX process on it. And he had documented the process in a Udemy course. The page increased enrollment clicks by 246%.

Two different approaches. Two great results. I invited my UX friend Sarah Jabeen of DiscoverSTEAM to debate this with me. How are these two process different? How are they the same?

There is only one way for you to find out.

Conversion-Scientist-Podcast-Logo-1400x1400



21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

FREE: Click to Download

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The power of Three

You’ve decided it’s time to undertake a website redesign. Should you focus on improving UX (user experience), or should CRO (conversion rate optimization) be your priority?  Are they mutually exclusive?  Is there a time when one is more important than the other?

Sarah Jabeen from DiscoverSTEAM tackles this issue with Brian the Conversion Scientist in a UX vs CRO (replay).

You’ve probably guessed that Brian has CRO in his corner; Sarah will be leading with UX.

Watch the discussion.

You’ll still walk away with valuable information you can incorporate into your site redesign including:

  • Do you have to choose one or the other between UX and CRO?
  • When should you focus on UX, and when should you focus on CRO?
  • How does CRO inform UX?
  • What do you do when tests recommend bad UX?
  • What are the similarities of the two processes?
  • What are the differences between the two processes?

Watch the replay. I hope I have you in my corner.

We recently began the split-testing process for a B2B ecommerce company. This is only remarkable because we signed this deal over a year ago. What happened to delay testing so long?

A website redesign.

The four-month redesign turned into a six month redesign and then into a 14-month redesign. This is not unusual in our experience. The new design has launched and, after all this time, the conversion rate and revenue per visit remained about the same.

We see this as good news. Too often, redesigns actually decrease site performance for a period after launch. There are storied website redesign disasters, such as FinishLine and Marks&Spencer.

Nonetheless, the conversion optimization testing was delayed. They can never recover the revenue or the lost testing time.

How to Make More Money During Your Website Redesign

Conversion Scientists look at websites quite differently. You may see a valuable online revenue engine. We see a laboratory for growing sales in petri dishes, and then scaling that to business-changing proportions.

When Wasp Barcode came to us, our vision fell on the ears of a brave and daring team. The approach allowed them to grow the number of live demos by more than 200% in just a few months.

We started with our Conversion Catalyst, a six-month process designed to grow revenue quickly and permanently. We started by getting Wasp setup for website optimization. This included setting up the digital lab, a set of tools that includes analytics, click-tracking, session recording and split testing.

Then, we went to work in a very unusual way.

Wasp Barcode sells inventory and asset tracking solutions. Their most profitable offering is a complete inventory- or asset-management system that may include software, scanners, and labelers for the things businesses need to track. The most effective way to help their prospects choose the right system is with a live demo. During this demo, a sales person will walk the visitor through their software and answer any questions they have.

Our main goal was to increase the number of visitors filling out a form to request a live demo.

We did a stepwise redesign, in which all of the assumptions about the new design were tested to ensure that they had a positive or at least neutral impact on demos. Our approach was this:

Step One: Test Things that Can Be Used in the Website Redesign

Our first step was to find the calls to action that would move more visitors to request a demo. This was a series of tests to find out what language should be placed on buttons. For example, we learned that language offering “Free Live Demo” or “Free Consultation” generated more clicks to the demo landing page and more completed demos.

Step Two: Test the New Page Design on a Portion of the Site

Their design team integrated what we learned into a redesign for one of the site’s product category pages. We tested this new design against the existing category page, the control.

Our tests showed that the new design did a great job of getting more visitors to the Demo Request page. By driving more visitors to this page, we had more resources to test lower in the funnel.

Step Three: Optimize the Demo Landing Page

We then went to work on the Demo Request Page, a page on which the prospect can complete a form requesting a Live Demo.

Our tests here revealed that removing video and adding a product shot increased form completions significantly.

This key landing page went through several tested iterations to reach a high-converting design.

This key landing page went through several tested iterations to reach a high-converting design.

The redesign was just getting started, and we had already begun generating significantly more demo requests for the business.

Step Four: Move to Another Section of the Site and Repeat

The Wasp design team designed another category page for the next section of the site. They integrated elements that visitors were clicking on frequently, such as feature lists.

While the visitors in this section of the site behaved somewhat differently, we saw a positive lift in visits to the Demo Request page. This page was optimized, and delivered more demo requests to the sales team.

The step-by-step Wasp Barcode website redesign sped up.

The step-by-step Wasp Barcode website redesign sped up.

The Wasp design team then took what we had learned and redesigned the home page. This drove a significant increase in visits to the high-converting Demo Request page.

250% Increase in Demos over Six Months

Most website redesigns would still be sitting on a staging server. Wasp has enjoyed significant increases in demos during their first six months. Together, we rolled their redesign out step by step, testing along the way to ensure each change had a positive or neutral impact.

Breaking the Rules of Design

Designers and UX people may be rolling their eyes. It is an old truism that a visitor should have a consistent experience across a site, or they will feel lost.

During our stepwise rollout, we violated this rule. But when we have completed the process, providing this consistent experience, we can expect another increase in demos.

This approach also allowed us to change the design for different sections of the site. Those visitors looking for Inventory Management solutions are fundamentally different from those looking at Asset Management tools. One design would not have worked well for both.

Not everything we tried increased the conversion rate, and the Wasp team made adjustments accordingly.

Let Us Guide Your Redesign

Your website redesign doesn’t need to be an “all in” gamble. Find out if your website would benefit from a stepwise redesign with a free consultation.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

FREE: Click to Download

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The power of Three

Raise your hand if you’re considering a website redesign.  Pretty much everyone, yeah?  Well, before you undertake such a massive project, there’s a lot you should consider first…namely the effects such huge changes can have on your conversion rates.
Some businesses will pour millions of dollars into a fancy and beautiful website redesign only to discover that their customers no longer know how to interact with (ahem, buy things on) the site.  In other words, a double loss.  If you think the design of your site is keeping visitors from spending money, consider an approach that’s a bit more slow-and-steady.
Brian suggests taking a scientific approach:  he’s a scientist, after all.  It has probably been some time since you’ve had to think much about the scientific method, so here’s a recap:

  1. Research
  2. Form a hypothesis
  3. Create an experiment design
  4. Run tests
  5. Tabulate results
  6. Analyze results

Do some research then come up with some small changes you can make and measure the effects of.
[sitepromo]
It’s a cycle that often ends with a surprise. Our visitors just don’t behave the way we think they should. There are great resources out there to help understand these people we call visitors, like Crazy Egg and Google Analytics.  Brian goes into a bit more detail in the webinar, but the bottom line is, don’t fret:  there are absolutely resources out there to help you get the job done.
Here’s where I could say “You know your customers best,” so you should be able to come up with a solid list of hypotheses with which you could experiment, but I won’t.  You should still come up with a list of ideas based on research, but you should be prepared for surprises.
And remember, he’s serious when he says to keep it scientific.  Isolate a single variable as much as possible so that you know for sure what is driving changes in your site visitors’ behaviors.
Watch Brian’s webinar to get an even clearer picture of where you can start on your redesign project.
Image licensed through Creative Commons by Kevin Dooley & adapted for this post.

Get out your number 2 pencils and practice your small circles. We fill in some bubbles for you to help you redesign your home page.

What if I told you that, when a visitor reaches your homepage, to them it’s just like taking a multiple-choice test? They have a question and you offer choices.

Conversion-Scientist-Podcast-Logo-1400x1400


 Full column with charts and graphics

Does your homepage design punish visitors if they make the wrong choice? This is the purpose of those standardized multiple choice tests we’ve been taking since high school: if you guess, you are likely to get it wrong.

We don’t want to punish our visitors for guessing. We can attempt to eliminate the guessing, though.

In 8 Ways Your Home Page Is Like A Multiple Choice Test we explore the rules for designing multiple choice questions provided by the Scholastic website, and then see how these apply to our home page question: “Why did you visit our website today?”


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

FREE: Click to Download

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The power of Three