Website Redesign The Right Way – Comparing Old vs. New Website Designs

Website Redesign The Right Way – Comparing old vs. new website designs

Redesigning your website is a major undertaking and can have a huge effect on your conversions. Some time ago I talked about website redesign pitfalls with a real example from autotrader.co.uk and how they approached the introduction of their newly redesigned website. This time I am going to talk about how to be 100% sure that your newly redesigned website is really working for you and that the money you spent was really justified. The reason I am writing about this issue is because, to my surprise, there are still many agencies which don’t do it, not mentioning your small freelancers.
So how to do website redesign the right way? Before pulling down your old site and replacing it with the new website, run an A/B test experiment comparing the goals, sales and your KPIs against the old website using any tool which allows you to do A/B testing. Google Website Optimizer will do the job just well as any other paid solution.

autotrader.co.uk test page

Steps to do so:

1. Upload your new site into a subdirectory (eg. www.example.com/newsite/ or www2.example.com/). You may wish to prevent search engine crawling of this directory, through the use of a robots.txt file. You should also make sure that users are not able to navigate between your two sites (eg. new product detail pages linking to your old site’s privacy policy page), or your experiment may fail.
2. Create a new A/B experiment in Google Website Optimizer or any A/B testing tool you use.
3. In the A/B setup, enter your old site’s URL in the Original page URL field. Your new site’s URL goes into the Page variation URL field.
4. In the Conversion page URL field, enter the conversion page for your old site. You’ll identify your newly redesigned site’s conversion page later, by adding conversion code to that page.

5. When adding the Website Optimizer code to your pages:

– Original page code: add this to your old site’s landing page
– Variation pages code: add to your new site’s landing page
– Conversion page code: add this to both your new and your old sites’ conversion pages.
6. Depending on the level of traffic you receive, run your test until you get statistically valid data. You want to be 95% confident in your results prior to making any decision.
A/B test allows you to split a traffic between both sites.

How to split the traffic

1. if your old website conversion rate was very low as well as your annual revenue then 50-50 traffic split shouldn’t hurt.
2. however if your site is a well know brand with a lot of traffic or your annual revenue is at least 50-£100k then depending on your level of traffic 5-10% of traffic being directed to your newly redesign site should save you from any potential disaster. Launch your new site only once you are fully satisfied with the results of your A/B test and fixed all the bugs.

What if the test results are inconclusive?

This could happen and therefore you want to make sure, that whatever web agency does the work on your new site also includes A/B testing as standard, and in case of lower conversion rates after the launch will do everything possible to fix it at no extra cost to you.

Here at Proimpact7.com for example, offer this A/B testing on website redesign as standard, and in case the conversion rate on your redesigned site would be lower than on the old site, we would do the following:

  • Analyze the results and your analytics data to find a possible culprit. Especially after launch, most projects will have some bugs which weren’t discovered during the pre-launch test.
  • Run a series of A/B tests on the new site. Then re-run A/B tests on both sites. This will last until the new site is performing better at no cost to our clients.

What’s your experience with web agencies especially when they redesigned your website? Did they measure conversion rates on both sites by doing A/B testing? What happened when the redesigned website was converting less than your old one? Share your experience.

Jan Petrovic
I have 9 Years of Tremendous Experience as web analyst and Senior Conversion Specialist. I have worked on optimisation project for the second-largest store retailer in the USA (the company is also a component of the S&P 500 Index), as well as for a well-known USA fashion retailer with over 380 stores nationwide. Over the course of my career I have achieved many INSANE improvements on our client’s websites, sometimes by applying best practices, another time from findings I made during conversion audits and sometimes thinking out of the box. For one of them I have even received an award in 2012 from WhichTestOne, where after testing different emails and parts of email message we increased revenue by 303.08%. What might also interest you is the fact that my average conversion improvement is 19% and my success rate is 70%. Basically, I’m VERY GOOD at what I do thanks to my Can Do Attitude to find solutions to given problems & Experience in this field.
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