Design Risks - Should you Evolve or Burn it Down and Radically Start Over
Today I want to introduce two new terms which describe the process we adopt when optimising website design for more conversions.
"Radical Redesign" and "Evolutionary Design"
Taking an "evolutionary Design" approach, making many small changes and running tests over time, is the standard tactic but what happens when your website reaches its absolute potential? When no amount of "tweaks" show any significant improvement?
Sometimes we need to ask if continuing to optimise is more beneficial than taking a "radical redesign" approach and starting from scratch. If you're taking the company in a new direction or considering a rebranding then it may be time to do just that. If your brand is to remain the same however the decision becomes less straightforward.
Exhausting your current potential
It's possible for your current website to become as effective as it ever will be despite any tweaks or improvements. Maybe the technology it was structured on or even its design is too outdated. We refer to this as hitting your Local Maxima ('Maximum').
Determining that you've reached this point is something you want to be hesitant of, redesigning your entire site is a risky call and you can never be certain of the way it is going to play out. When you do hit this point though you need to find what's working so you can create a better new design based on what's already doing well, rather than completely starting from scratch.
Gather data about your current state to better understand how people use the site and what some of its problems are. This will also help you understand the type of people who are using your site and what they're trying to accomplish. This level of insight will help you makes those bigger changes with less risk and allow you to create a greater user experience.
How to Decide
Evolutionary design should be used when possible. If there are no major technology issues with the current structure and the level of traffic is sufficient then stick with this approach.
When we launched Your Pharmacy's website it was on a template with basic eCommerce functionality. Following the launch we took the "Evolutionary Design" approach, making changes based on data and results from the previous month/quarter. We partnered with this client to build a site that supports their offline presence whilst growing their online presence and rankings in the New Zealand market. As well as being fully responsive their website now competes on par with market leaders and boasts an intelligent content management system which significantly reduces third party bills for the client.
As you can see from the graph below each month has increased in eCommerce conversion rate performance. From the time the site went live in September we have seen consistent results, month after month and can continually make aggressive marketing and optimisation decisions to achieve further growth over the next few years. See full case study here.
On the other hand, if traffic to your site is too small for statistically significant data analysis - you need enough data to be able to make sure you are making the right decision as you might throw two 'sixes' out of three throws but you won't throw three hundred 'sixes' out of one thousand throws - it may be better to radically redesign and start from scratch.
Consider the technical capabilities of the site and its design. Anything outdated could give the impression of an amateur site and give negative first impressions. With low traffic you have to rely on the data from other sites and studies and go with what makes sense until your traffic is high enough to use data. When we started with YourPharmacy decisions were made based on best practice and then moved to being based on data as the traffic increased.
"Radical Redesign" and "Evolutionary Design" are new ways for you to approach the optimisation of your website. Evolutionary design is our default method, making lots of little changes and running tests until we have reached a point of diminishing returns. Changes stop having a big enough effect and we can then turn to other kinds of analysis to figure out the next steps. "Radical Design" is just that - radical. It's a risky call to make but it can pay off for sites that have reached their local maxima and no longer hold any potential for future growth in their current state.