You should never do another large website redesign project. Ever. There, I said it. I’m Alan De Keyrel, and I’ve owned a large web design agency for nearly 20 years. Much has changed since 1996, and we’ve helped hundreds (if not thousands) of businesses build and improve their web environments. By far, the most dreaded project for many companies is the website “redesign” project. You know what it’s like. Someone in your company decides that your website is starting to look old and that the content is outdated. Leadership says, “We need to redesign our website!” So off you go on the mission to get it done.
It’s usually a painful process
Nobody on your team wants the extra work, and you’re not even sure which company to choose because they’re all priced differently. It typically takes 3 to 6 months, sometimes much longer. By the time you launch the new website, everyone is so happy that it’s over that they don’t want to touch it for another year—or three. Nevertheless, you go through this painful process every few years.
Unfortunately, this process doesn’t work
But wait. The “experts” just sold us a website redesign, and now you’re telling me it’s all wrong?
Yep. I’m sorry to be the one to break the news to you, especially since most web design companies are still selling websites this way. But the truth is that this old concept of redoing your website every few years is like deciding to check your email once a month. By the time you get around to it, you’ll have a big mess on your hands, and you probably missed a lot of solid leads and opportunities along the way. Fortunately, there is a better way.
I’m going to tell you a secret
My friends in the web business might not like this because we all know that websites are essential to finding new business. I know companies who make millions in website-generated sales every year. The secret to having a successful website is continually focusing on improvement. Those who win will regularly review their Google Analytics, know what percentage of their traffic is mobile, write content that speaks to their customers, and continually make improvements to increase conversion ratios. Do you do that? Probably not. For the longest time, we didn’t either. But don’t feel bad because it’s not your fault. You did exactly what most web companies tell you to do with your website—redesign it.
Here’s the problem. Often when we embark on a website project, we really don’t know you or your business. So we make assumptions about your customers—who they are, their buying habits, whether they like blue buttons or red ones, and on and on. In short, we guess at what we think will work for your new website. But here’s adirty little secret from our industry: We don’t always get it right. Take a look at this graph.
This was a website redesign that failed horribly. We guessed and got it wrong. In this case, the conversion ratio of the website actually dropped from 3.4% to 2.3%. That could mean hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars in lost revenue after launching a brand new website. Ouch.
Website redesign projects are risky
Instead, you’re better off taking your crappy old website and figuring out what is actually working before you do anything. Yes, I’m saying that you need to hold off on that redesign for a bit longer and first collect some data. And I mean real data, not just Google Analytics.
For example, here are some tools that we use to collect data about your users before we change anything. We can actually record your users navigating the website, see what content on the pages is viewed (and on what devices), and where they are clicking. We also analyze where they drop off or leave your website.
Then, and only then, should you attempt to make changes. And you make those changes based on data you’ve collected, not assumptions. If you’re still making website changes based on assumptions, it’s time to stop and put data on your side.
This new process is called growth-driven design
And it works! The overall principle is simple—continuous website improvement. You collect data about your users, analyze what is working well and what could be improved, develop hypotheses on changes that should be made, and then A/B-test the changes. If it works, you implement the change forever and then repeat the process on a regular basis. Depending on how aggressive your growth plans are, this regular basis could be weekly, monthly or quarterly. I guarantee this works far better than what you’ve been doing.
Over time, these small changes have a huge impact. In fact, we’ve been testing this process on ourselves for over a year. We’ve seen our website leads increase by 125% and our overall revenue grew by 28% last year alone. That is far better than anything we ever experienced by focusing on search engine optimization (SEO). In fact,growth-driven design is the new SEO. The growth-driven design process is about continuous feedback and improvement. Sure, every hypothesis you make isn’t going to be correct, but that is part of the improvement process. You simply revise your hypothesis based on the data. Over time, you should never take a large step in the wrong direction.
I’m so convinced that growth-driven design is the way that all website work will be completed in the future that we’ve nearly stopped selling old-fashioned website redesign projects. I wouldn’t want to take the risk of a major redesign (without real data) for my own business, so why should I sell it to you? An added benefit to this process is that you spread out your web design costs over time, rather than spending a large sum all at once.
GDD is the future of web design
I’m confident that we can show you how this new concept works and I want to share the secrets of Growth-Driven Design with you. It isn't rocket science, but most companies make the same mistakes over and over.