Tuesday, 5 August 2014
10 Terrible Reasons to Redesign Your Website
Almost every marketer has been through a website redesign in their lifetime. Whether it's for corporate rebranding, launching new products, going mobile, or just to increase the site's effectiveness, a redesign is a great way to recharge and breathe new life into your online presence.
That might be why, according to internal data from our upcoming 2013 Website Redesign Report (stay tuned!), most companies undergo a redesign every 6 months to 2 years.
But not all good intentions end well. The same research report discovered that approximately 1/3 of marketers were not happy with their last website redesign. And worse, 38% of companies' website performance did not improve after a redesign. So, why go through all the pain with so little gain?
With an average cost of $1,000 - $10,000, a redesign should be done for only the right reasons. So perhaps the dissatisfaction with so many redesigns stems from the fact that they were done for all the wrong reasons.
Don't fall into the trap. Here are 10 awful reasons to redesign your website.
About a year ago, we asked marketers for the primary motivation behind their most recent website redesign. The top response was, well ... it was boredom. A third of marketers said they redesigned because it was time for a change.
Just because you see your website a hundred times or more a day doesn't mean your visitors do. When you see your own website so often, it's easy to get sick and tired of seeing it. You start to notice things. Little things. Then it turns into a lot of things where the only possible way to get through them all is with one fell swoop. Suddenly, you find yourself in the deep, dark abyss of a redesign project. While it's not a bad idea to work on improving the visitor's experience or your site's performance, doing it for the sake of boredom will eat resources better spent (like creating valuable content your audience will love). Think of the opportunity cost.
While the majority of the responsibility of a redesign is on the marketing team, our 2013 State of Website Redesign Report found that in 58% of the companies surveyed, the executive team has the final vote.
Marketers, if your CEO or an executive team member is influencing your website strategy, I feel your pain. Not many CEOs have a strong internet marketing background or in-depth knowledge of what really makes a website tick. Many times they look at it primarily from a branding point of view. This isn't all bad -- branding is an important part of any website. But so is actually generating revenue from it. After all, pretty pictures and brand statements don't always bring in the cash. I've witnessed the launch of poor designs over better-performing designs simply because of the final say from someone higher up. My advice: A/B test different designs, then present those to the executive team so only the best designs are implemented. Read more about how to satisfy every stakeholder in your next redesign here.
There are times when web designers feel the need to add fancy elements, such as sliders, rotating images, scrolling logos, etc. -- just because it looks better. Or, a redesign is executed because the site isn't using the latest and greatest technology like HTML5.
Flashier isn't always better. Especially when it doesn't add any actual value to the visitor. The best websites are oftentimes the simplest ones. Media elements and complex graphics, as cool as they may seem, can actually get in the way. I can't tell you how many times I've seen website redesigns get stuck because the homepage "slider" isn't sexy enough. Your visitors aren't coming to your website to see what's inside that slider, trust me.
It's important to care about quality. But I've seen so many marketers obsess over every square pixel of their site (or email, or banner ad, etc.). They think that by making it pixel-perfect, it's suddenly better.
Steve Jobs once said, "Great design is not how it looks, but how it works." I fear we'll have a real image problem in our profession if we don't show more results. More than 1/3 of marketers don't know if their site metrics improved after their site redesign, yet marketers are being held more accountable for revenue generation than ever before. That's a huge problem! Instead, obsess over how your redesign is going to make your website effective at attracting traffic, converting leads, and closing customers.
Ever see a great website that you just had to copy? Getting inspiration is a great thing, but redesigning your site "just because it needs to look more like Company Y's"? Ummm ... not so much.
Just because a certain design worked for one company doesn't mean it will work for you. Again, it's a great idea to pull inspiration from other sources, especially as you do research before a redesign, but implementing certain design factors because they are liked (without serving a real purpose) will only deliver failed results.
In more competitive markets, this one is a biggie. I've seen so many companies redesign a website simply because one of their competitors did. And, for some reason, it turns into Darwin's theory of evolution, causing a predatory instinct to change or die.
Let's be honest here: You probably visit your competitors' websites more often than you care to admit, right? HubSpot Co-Founder Dharmesh Shah always says, "Keep an eye on the competition, but don't obsess over them." Instead of caring about their website, go do something they are not doing. Let them redesign their website while you instead build resources of highly valuable content assets that attracts thousands of leads and fans, only to become the number one thought leader in your industry. Do it ... I dare you.
One of the top reasons for a redesign is to increase web traffic. Traffic is, after all, important to a site's performance because without visitors, you can't generate leads and sales. But redesigning a site primarily around search engine optimization (SEO)? That's just silly.
While traffic is the most frequently tracked site metric, only 8.6% of companies redesign their website to improve lead generation. What good is increased traffic without converting those visitors into subscribers, leads, or customers? Sure, if you launch a more search-optimized website, you may see a pop in rankings and results. But it won't last unless you build a regular content foundation. Search engines love websites that utilize blogging, fresh offers, and valuable content that is written for people and not robots.
Are your products not selling themselves? Perhaps better product pages is all you need. Or maybe your website isn't highlighting your core strengths and unique advantages enough? I know! A redesign is the answer!
Only 14% of marketers launched a redesign to improve its overall user experience. As a result, most websites tend to be product-centric instead of customer-centric. The goal of a website is to answer questions or solve problems by giving visitors the information they need for where they are in the buying cycle. You see, people don't remember the pitch. They remember the experience. Why not delight them?
If you're a company that competes against the "big guys," then the only solution is to look big, too. Right?
I hear this excuse a lot, as well as wanting to "look smaller." Again, looking bigger or smaller isn't suddenly going to make your website more effective. Looking professional is important, but in most cases, your high bounce rate isn't because you don't like IBM.
Congratulations! You just launched your brand new website. As marketers, it's our job to make sure everyone in our industry knows about it. And what better way to announce your shiny new site then with a method everyone ignores -- a press release!
All kidding aside, press releases do serve a purpose. But just because you announce it via this official channel, doesn't make it more authoritative. If you want to create a website everyone talks about, focus on creating valuable content that people love to consume and turn your site into the thought leadership hub where everyone in your industry goes to find information.
While some of these reasons seem trivial, I've heard every single one given as the reason behind a website redesign. If you noticed, there's an important theme trending throughout these examples. If you're considering a website redesign, please consider improving how it works, not just how it looks. Think about creating rich content for each buyer persona, calls-to-action and optimized landing pages to convert traffic, and dynamic pages to add a more personalized experience.