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Friday, Feb. 8, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Is Something Wrong With Your Design?

By Bryan Eisenberg
February 8th, 2008

broken web designI’m still settling in from my trip last week to the Internet Retailer Design conference. If you didn’t attend, you missed a great first-time show, so you’ll have to check it out next year.

Over 800 people showed up to hear the speakers and meet with consultants (like me) to evaluate their current websites — and some even discussed mock-ups and prototypes of new versions of their sites. My back-of-the-napkin calculation is that Internet Retailer gave away around $150,000 worth of consultations, but I’ll ask you the one common question I asked several of the companies I met with just for the price of spending a few minutes reading.

What makes you think the new design you’re working on is going to work any better than the one you have today?

I recall sitting with one of the most recognized brands on the Web and him pulling out his mock-ups. They felt that they had issues around how products were presented and how their navigation worked. They offered a complex menu with way too many options in their current navigation, and were hoping to improve it by using a top level menu with a javascript rollover.

“What research do you have that indicates that new navigation will work better than the current one?” I asked. He was honest and said, “None.”

So why don’t you test it?

Internet Retailer did a pre-conference survey and asked the top 500 retailers if they’re doing multivariate or A/B testing, and included the results in their Website Design & Usability Guide.

Amazingly, 76.7% of retailers surveyed don’t test!

Huh? Now that you can get A/B and Multivariate testing tools for free from Google, why aren’t you testing?

We’ve also found that it’s safer to roll out a redesign in stages, in order to avoid the initial drop in conversion that often results from a redesign. Why not roll this out as a series of tests?

If you need help, call us at 877-643-7244 (ext. 3316). We’d be happy to help you make more money before and after your redesign.

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Comments (24)

  1. You are right Bryan. We all should use these free tools to atleast get started with testing and then might be move to people like you for more insights.

  2. Great points Bryan. There is so much more that goes into improving conversion rate that just the design. Majority of the time, when you do a COMPLETE redesign your conversion rate will drop. So I agree on a phased approach or even a beta site that runs in parallel. A/B testing is key, there will be more benefits from smaller changes than a completely new web site design / user experience.

    Plus, there are other considerations when factoring in a redesign, like: trying to not mess up your SEO rankings, ensuring you do not increase your cart abandonment percentage and improving the scent trails and persona click paths.

  3. “…and were hoping to improve it by using a top level menu with a javascript rollover”

    Ugh! I can only speak for myself, but that’s a fast way to lose at least one customer.

    Menus that open and close with every twitch of the mouse are a good example of why programmers are rarely marketers. Might as well toss in a Flash intro screen, some sparkles that chase the cursor around and an auto-play WAV file. Better yet, bring back the BLINK tag!

  4. Every week we get clients in who have just paid for a fancy re-design of their site.

    Their only objective in their re-design seems to be aesthetic – they wanted a pretty new site.

    The truth is that UGLY SITES CAN WORK.

  5. Bryan,

    Again, awesome post. In terms of usability, persuasion architecture, etc. do you know of a good sum all bullet list of the most important components? I think such a simple ‘checklist’ would be awesome to hand to a designer when they start on a new design, although it may not be sufficient as if they knew it by heart but it would be better than nothing.

  6. [...] a recent study, 76.7% of online retailers said they don't test. Are you? Technorati Tags: Google Website Optimizer, testing, website optimization, website [...]

  7. [...] Eisenberg captured it quite nicely in his recap: Amazingly, retailers aren’t testing their websites [...]

  8. The Evolution of SFGate (and Thoughts on Measuring Site Redesign)…

    Like many San Franciscans I read SFGate every single day. A cup of coffee, my local news fix, and then I’m ready to face the world. But when I reached for the paper earlier this week my routine was derailed…

  9. [...] cycle of optimization (measure, refine, test). Compare this rigorous approach to the fact that over 75% of online retailers don't do any optimization testing, and you'll begin to see why Amazon remains the envy of [...]

  10. [...] honest about where we really are. For most companies there is a pretty big gap between intent and reality. The intent is to spend more on analytics while the reality is that 76% of retailers don’t do [...]

  11. [...] this be why three quarters of online retailers don't test even though it's [...]

  12. [...] cycle of optimization (measure, refine, test). Compare this rigorous approach to the fact that over 75% of online retailers don’t do any optimization testing, and you’ll begin to see why Amazon remains the envy of [...]

  13. there are other considerations when factoring in a redesign, like: trying to not mess up your SEO rankings, ensuring you do not increase your cart abandonment percentage and improving the scent trails and persona click paths.

  14. Thanks For information webmaster!

  15. Scenarios from the search level, through the landing page, through the lead form — assuming the insurance site’s goal is lead-generation.

  16. Thanks for this interesting article !

  17. Nice tip, tank you !

  18. You are right Bryan. We all should use these free tools to atleast get started with testing and then might be move to people like you for more insights

  19. Thanks for this interesting article

  20. Ugh! I can only speak for myself, but that’s a fast way to lose at least one customer.

  21. Always it suppress me in design, then IE shows something strange appearance instead what I intended. Can somebody give me a hint please?

  22. [...] this be why three quarters of online retailers don’t test even though it’s free? Tags: A/B Testing, conversion-testing, Google Website Optimizer, [...]

  23. Bryan,

    Again, awesome post. In terms of usability, persuasion architecture, etc. do you know of a good sum all bullet list of the most important components? I think such a simple ‘checklist’ would be awesome to hand to a designer when they start on a new design, although it may not be sufficient as if they knew it by heart but it would be better than nothing.

  24. The conference was great interest in web design and I liked the views and thoughts

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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