I had a friend who decided to redesign his website in hopes of boosting conversions on his product sales. Thousands of dollars later, my friend had a shiny new landing page design, fully primed to start multiplying sales.
Except it never did.
Interestingly enough, the redesign performed exactly the same as the previous design. It maddened my friend because the new website was trendy, flashy, had all the latest bells and whistles, and looked beautiful on every device—the penultimate in modern site design.
Why Bad Design Happens to Good People
So why did the new design not improve conversions, at least a little bit? I’ll get to that in a bit. First, we need to know why ineffective site redesign happens to small-business owners—more often than it should.
Site owners are often sold on the “refresh,” or changing a design purely for cosmetic reasons. No business wants to appear antiquated and behind the times, so a redesign is often a way to stay relevant.
My friend had the same site design for the past few years, and like all small-business owners, he was trying to generate more revenue. So he looked to a redesign to drum up more sales.
Four Common Redesign Problems
As I mentioned before, my friend's new sales page was breathtaking. It was intricate, with many sections, and it was beautifully woven together. But it wasn’t converting. Why?
1. Focusing too much on beauty and not enough on sales. It’s frustrating as a designer, but sometimes, the ugliest pages are the ones that make the most money. Ugly pages are usually simple by nature, and they often have only one area of focus or one call to action. There’s no subtle design elements drawing the eye away from the most important areas of the page, which are the copy and the call to action.
Not only that, but ugly (and effective) landing pages make it very apparent as to what kind of action you’re supposed to take, often to an annoying fault. We’ve all seen the yellow-highlighted box with the words “CLICK HERE” on those ugly marketing sites. But the fact of the matter is that while they may be annoying, those pages usually convert quite well.
2. Not using data in the redesign plan. The impetus for my friend’s redesign was brought about by a desire to change cosmetics. What it didn’t do was address specific, actionable data points to improve on.
Is your site broken? Does it not convert very well? These are all good reasons to redesign your site. But just going off of your gut is dangerous.
If you have Google Analytics installed, then you’ll have data to work with when you redesign your website. Look for pages that have high bounce rates and early exits and breaks in your sales funnel. A quick Google search will bring you up to speed about how to find these numbers and what to do with them. There are plenty of great resources out there for those that want to learn.
3. Not motivating the buyer to buy. If you’re trying to get people to take action (of any kind) on your website, then you need to motivate them. Conversions are simply about putting motivated people in front of a motivating design.
My friend’s design was no longer motivating. Scrolling down the sales page for his product was like talking a leisurely stroll. There was no urgency, no reason for anyone to drop what they're doing and buy what he was selling. His new design was more of an attempt to make the coolest website possible.
When your site doesn’t motivate users to take some sort of action, your sales will fall—fast.
4. Straying from standard website elements, which is confusing to customers. Instead of using standard, universal navigation that nearly everyone can understand, my friend launched a site that was confusing and non-intuitive. The navigation was non-existent, the links weren’t easy to spot, and the forms were hard to understand and fill out. If your business relies on people filling out forms for sales or leads, this is a problem.
When it comes right down to it, the people who come to a site to buy don’t care about the cutting edge. They want websites that work the way they think they should work. As a business owner, if you provide a website that doesn't do this, people will get frustrated and leave, no matter how cool your website looks.
The next time you think about redesigning your website, be sure to do it with any eye to making sure it’s going to benefit the end user—and your bottom line—first.
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