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Making the Switch from a Web Redesign Focus to Conversion Rate Optimization

By Snap Agency May 9, 2016

Those focused on projects and who consider themselves web designers will recognize the limitations of the label. Snap Agency, Web Design Minneapolis, is committed to offering the best web design services and has had to evolve to be less project-based and more focused on outcomes for our clients—we’ll tell you how we’re doing it and how you can take on this focus in your organization instead of always looking to the next redesign or overhaul.

First: Recognize what your site is doing well

The problem with the constant redesign mentality is that you scrap the things your website was doing well along with what it was doing poorly. If you redesign your site every three or four years but the things the site was doing well don’t get carried over, that’s money down the drain. A constant redesign mentality leads to lower revenue. Organizations are taking heed and opting instead for a different approach. Inbound Marketing Agency UK has opted for this kind of continuous improvement for their clients and has seen significant results.

Second: Modify the site based on new information and test theories you have about what will work well

You may have enough information about some theories to roll out immediately. You’ve done the research or have implemented a similar change for another website and it worked well. This is the reason it pays to hire an agency even if you have an internal design team; they are iterating on many clients quickly and pivoting, learning something on every project. An internal team is great and has more domain-specific knowledge—more knowledge that directly relates to the industry, your story, your prime demographic, your real customers—but it’s a fact that they inevitably only work on a few websites, which doesn’t allow them to come across as much technology and as many scenarios when compared with an agency.


Third: Create a culture of modification and testing, not redesign, so that you can really look at your website as a tool of ongoing iterative ROI

Many agencies come from the paradigm of big new billboards and slogans, and that seeps into their marketing mindset on the web. But most companies nowadays need clean layouts, clear hierarchies and easy navigations so their customers can get where they want to go. They also need conventions that allow them to add and remove promotions and other items without redoing their website every time the marketing company has a hunch.

Changing the mindset of people within the company to one of ongoing conversion rate optimization rather than redesign requires a couple clear roles and tools for it to work.

  • Someone who owns the process of coming up with hypotheses and implementing or delegating to a team.
  • A visual designer to create a clear and cohesive layout change visually when necessary.
  • An engineer or front-end developer to code some elements if they require that.
  • A software like Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely: These are fairly intuitive to set up.
  • Protocol for ongoing testing and iterative changes with someone who owns the process and is empowered to implement.


With these items in tow, you’ll be ready to take a whole new direction on your website iterations – and get a clearer path to real web design ROI.


Part Two: Becoming a Conversion Rate-centric Web Designer


As designers, we all have our own particular focus. Sometimes we love making things pretty or we appreciate making things that are easy to develop so they actually get “shipped” and don’t get lost in the developer’s code. From a business perspective, conversion rate optimization and a focus on real, solid conversions are the primary things that will make working with a designer or design team worth it.

First: Make sure the website you’re working on is tracking conversions, and you have tracking to know if what you’re doing is making the company money

Because a conversion is something that will lead to more money, a conversion is inherently tied to ROI. If you are tracking conversions on a site and it’s clear that design changes are making a noticeable rise in the amount of money a company is bringing in, working with you is an obvious choice. It’s all about making sure that the data is being collected and is measurable, and the new design is counting the numbers that can demonstrate the shift in revenue—CRO attribution.

Second: Become brutally connected to the numbers, carve out a particular set of time and set yourself up to be incentivized to increase the numbers for the business

Once you have the numbers that you need for the business—how many sales it’s had from the website, how many sales it’s making per day, how much traffic the website is bringing in—make sure you feel comfortable attaching yourself to that company and feel like you can make a positive change. If it’s a dying industry, you need to hedge your bets and make sure the client understands that your goal is around decreasing the steep decline, and if it’s an obviously growing company, your goals can be around increasing the percentage of growth over a given time period.

Third: Focus on counting the conversions that matter, like purchases or contact form submissions, and study up on what moves the needle or what will really make money for the company you’re working with

You could waste your time on so many different types of changes on a website, but we want to get down to brass tacks. We want to boil it down to those three to five hypotheses that we can take a stab at on the site and see how we can increase conversions. Do you have a feeling in your heart of hearts that a shadow on the edges of the page will be good for the design? Not the time or place. 

Because these shadows or little design elements are not directly related in the components that will make conversions happen, it’s better to spend time on navigation, call-to-action buttons, trust factors and the overall layout. In the aggregate, small design tweaks can make a website feel more high-end or more professional and increase conversions, but the number of small tweaks that it will take is too hard to measure in A/B testing and conversion rate optimization. 

On the other hand, if you have a hunch that more calls-to-action on the page, new labels for the primary navigation menu, or changing the main headline on the home page will move the needle in the business realm, this is the time and place to explore those significant shifts. The beauty of A/B testing and conversion rate optimization is that you don’t have to rely on a hunch; you can test those theories and have hard objective data to share with the C-level people in a simple way.

In the next segment I write, I’ll share some great technologies for implementing A/B tests and conversion rate optimization efficiently.

Part Three: technologies for implementing A/B tests and conversion rate optimization efficiently


Don’t let the tools be your hanging point. There are some that are super intuitive to roll out on your own site or a client’s, like Optimizely, which also lets you have up to 10K impressions on tests a month for free. You can then pay per quantity of impressions or buy a heftier plan.

Tools won’t make your hypotheses good for that, I’d highly suggest researching the most effective things to change and getting your hands dirty reading up on tests that are all over the internet for that (I will share some in a later segment), but these tools can be extremely easy to set up and use.

First: Determine the best fit for the technology that you want to try out to do A/B or multivariate tests

A couple of the technologies that you could use to get started with A/B testing are Visual Website Optimizer, Optimizely and Convert.com’s platform for pre-existing web pages as well as Unbounce, Clickfunnels and LeadPages for creating web pages separate from an existing site.

The first three options allow you to drop a bit of code onto a site that’s built out and that you own—you then can tweak different elements, add things and change stuff based on your hypotheses of what will work better.

A/B Test on a Pre-existing Web Page

A/B Tests by Modifying and Rolling Out Sets of New Pages from Templates the Tool Provides

  • Unbounce – Tons of great templates, emphasis on conversion, easy to use
  • Clickfunnels – Better tools for E-commerce and brilliant for Affiliate programs with add-on “Backpack”
  • LeadPages – Aggregated data on landing page conversion numbers

All of these tools are a great way to subsidize the ability to roll out great landing pages without having to tap a developer on the shoulder, and you can focus more on the conversion side of the page than the technical side, which can become quite distracting on larger sites. This is a way to home in on conversion and create simple pages that are meant to get sales or leads from contact forms.

Second: Read reviews, take a shot with one that fits your needs and start with a simple test

You might want to start with things like these: adding call-to-action buttons toward the top of the page, adding trust factors like testimonials, industry badges and guarantees around the main call-to-action buttons. This is a trusty old standby that tends to get good results, but you’ll need to assess the website you’re working on for low-hanging fruit and decide what you truly feel will get them better results.

Third: Step back and consider other possible tools for implementing A/B tests, compare features and recognize the limitations of your tool

Since I’ve used several tools now, I don’t need to try every single tool on the market. Optimizely works great for me, and ClickFunnels and Unbounce both have their destined purposes within my toolset. I use ClickFunnels for situations where the client needs e-commerce capabilities on the landing page and has a bit of a higher budget and Unbounce for when I just want high-quality well-laid out template landing pages that I can modify with branding and can A/B test against each other for paid ads like Google Adwords or Facebook Ads.

Unbounce allows you to make a couple changes in buttons, trust factors or headlines, then test the two landing pages against each other very quickly and easily in a drag-and-drop interface. It can be helpful to test a small budget in paid ads funneling to these pages and see what pages are working best, then deploy a larger budget when you see what pages have the highest percentage of return.

If I was going to make a suggestion for the tool I’d suggest to start with it would be Optimizely. The results that you get are easy to explain to clients and employers, and they allow you the opportunity of learning a lot about what’s effective with visual graphs and clear indications when a particular change demonstrates its viability.