Mobile-friendly redesigns: Experiment on your current site
If you have your eye on being mobile-friendly, a full website redesign may be in order. Columnist Brian Massey has tips to ensure your site redesign is a success.
I’ve written before about the dangers of designing a mobile-friendly website using responsive web design (RWD). To summarize, we’re fond of active web designs (AWD) and behavioral web design (BWD). BWD is a step-by-step design process using analytics data and testing. BWD acknowledges that we’re never really done designing our site. (To the car enthusiasts who ended up here by searching for rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and big-wheel drive: You’re in the wrong place.)
The reality is that it is easier to get a big marketing budget if you can make the case for a full website redesign. We call this “going all in.” It takes a thousand assumptions, drops them into a six- to 12-month redesign cycle, and then drops them on the public. Like going all in at the poker table, it’s exciting. Be aware that when you go all in, your visitors will always call your bluff.
BWD is that blackjack player sitting at the table for hours, playing the odds, betting into streaks and drinking club soda to keep his mind sharp. It’s boring to watch, but it gives you the best odds.
Being mobile-friendly is a great excuse to go all in. When redesigning for mobile, RWD offers the twofer of desktop and mobile sites for the price of one. We understand why everyone is doing it.
In the spirit of understanding what our RWD-bound friends are going through, we offer some helpful tips to make sure your website redesign is a success.
Test some things on your old website
You can get a taste of BWD before blowing up your old site.
Do some A/B tests on your existing site to inform your new site design. With this approach, you’re asking your visitors two very important questions.
“What is working on our current site?”
“What is not working about our site?”
Here are some things you can test that should translate over to your new site.
Value proposition language
How you present your value proposition is critical to any online persuasion. Your value proposition is the combination of copy, images and offers that answer the visitor’s key question: “Am I in the right place for what I want to accomplish?”
It’s more than your tagline. For example, e-commerce sites should communicate shipping policies clearly and concisely. For a lead-generating website, removing stock images and replacing them with images that communicate the value should carry over to the new site very nicely.
Calls to action
How you draw your visitors to take action is critical. The language that appears on buttons, links and image captions is crucial to moving visitors to the next step in their journey to converting.
What do your popovers provide most effectively? Test calls to action in exit-intent popovers, entrance popovers, and scroll-triggered overlays can be carried wholesale to the new site. These are the conversion drivers that often get overlooked in the rush to redesign.
What if a visitor fears the regret of purchasing the wrong product or getting spammed after filling out a form? Risk reversal handles this kind of anxiety. This is one of the categories we place test hypotheses into and should be designed into any new site.
For example, it’s important that an e-commerce site communicate return policies. Lead-generating websites should test different ways to communicate that contact information will not be abused.
The primary role of a brand is to build trust. A brand is the hook that visitors hang values on. Use of your company logo and product brand symbols “cash in” on your brand awareness. Test the placement and use of brand symbols on the site.
We are also fans of borrowed trust. What logos can you place on your site from trusted brands? What associations is your company a member of? What certifications do you carry? Which customers have used your products?
Inevitably, forms will change with the redesign. However, the number and type of form fields can be carried over to the new site. You should test removing any fields that aren’t being used by the sales force.
For lead generation, test removing completion killers, like “Mobile Phone” and “Address.”
Test dropping CAPTCHAs from forms.
Test replacing drop-down qualifying fields with open-ended text fields.
Test the language at the top of the form to see what will deliver the best results.
These test insights will help you launch a new site with high completion rates.
Landing pages often offer a safe harbor from redesigns. Landing pages are most effective when they stand apart from the main site, eschewing the navigation, sidebar offers and busy footers of other pages. These can be impervious to the redesign.
There is no better way to increase your return on ad spend (ROAS). Having a landing page designed to service an ad can be expected to provide your highest conversion and purchase rates. Divorce these pages from your redesign and test to your heart’s content.
Don’t redesign in a vacuum
Your design team will ask you to make decisions about all parts of your new site. For each of them, ask, “Can I test these suggestions on our current site?” If the decision involves language, trust-building, risk reversal or forms, the answer is probably, “Yes.” This is the best way to hedge your bets when going all in.