They say patience is a virtue but today with instant gratification expected, patience is more like the elusive Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest. Timelines are condensed and a quick fix is inevitable. “We’ll worry about that later. We need this done now.” I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard something along those lines.
When it comes to website design, patience is pretty much non-existent. Download that template, just copy the text from the old site, make it look like so-and-so’s website, let’s get this done and the list goes on. Sound familiar? What if you took a moment to stop and think about what you are doing? What problems are you trying to correct? What if you went into the website redesign KNOWING what is working and what is not? Would you be making those same quick decisions? Quite possibly, no.
The knee jerk reaction is to redesign the site. However, it could be the text and messaging that is the problem. Are people even reading to the end of the page? Your page text could be uninteresting, poorly written or too long. If your call to action is down at the bottom and no one is seeing it, how does a redesign fix that? How would you even know that is the problem?
Setting up tracking to see how far down the reader scrolls can be valuable information. Using a plugin like SumoMe which is free or Hotjar which has a monthly subscription can give you data about reader scroll. You may have to be patient and study it for a couple of weeks to make sure that you have enough of a sampling. What if you found that the visitor isn’t scrolling down far enough? You would have spent thousands on a redesign and ended up with the same problem.
This is particularly useful if you have a checkout page, a signup form or any destination page on your site. Setting up user flow analysis through something like Google Analytics is a good way to figure out where your bottleneck lies. Taking some time to figure out that perhaps your checkout page is the problem can actually make you money!
Rather than guessing, spend some time testing. Create two versions, and do a split A/B test using either Google Analytics or Visual Website Optimizer and see if your conversions increase. Take the winner and create another variation, test, and repeat. Depending on your traffic you may have to do this over a month or two. Be patient. The ROI could be much greater as your conversions should increase and the cost to run these tests is much less than a redesign and redesign again.
Nothing works better than asking an actual human being using your site. That’s not entirely true. Nothing works better than asking several human beings using your site. Setting up a room and inviting people to use your site live and getting real time feedback can be immensely valuable.
For example, give them tasks to complete and have a dialog about what they expect to happen versus what actually happens. This can really give you critical insight into how your visitors expect your site to work. An even better idea is to have two different versions of the site available and have them try both. The bigger the sampling size the better the data can be.
These are just a few things you can do BEFORE you redesign your site entirely. There is no law that says you can’t implement changes slowly, testing each one to find the correct solution then moving on to the next. In most cases, you will be surprised how much you don’t know about your visitors.
Like I said at the beginning what if you went into redesigning your website KNOWING what works and what doesn’t work. I’d like to add to that what if you fixed what was broken first BEFORE going into a website redesign. I believe, in the end, your return on investment will be much greater by having a little patience as the cost of the research will be more than made up by having a better website with a better visitor experience which could only lead to better conversions.