Oct 15 2013

Redesigning with Intelligence

It’s not crazy to assume that when you redesign, you hope to increase your revenue. That said, the results you’ll see after a redesign don’t always improve revenue. In fact, they often do the opposite. According to a study by Forrester, redesign provides a 44% chance to decrease performance, a 39% chance to decrease conversion, and a 25% chance to decrease average order value.

If you hope to improve your odds, you’ll need a lot more than the vision of a creative director. You’ll need to introduce Intelligence before, during, and after you put together a design.

Shake, Score, and Shout

You can start by thinking of redesign as a game of Yahtzee. If your initial roll is so low that any score would be better, your clear move is to reroll all of your dice. Likewise, if you’re current site is doing very poorly, then your chances of doing better with a complete redesign are very likely.

However, that’s a worst case scenario. As indicated by the previously mentioned Forrester study, redesigning everything about your site can very realistically hurt your revenue. The best strategy is to determine your best design elements, hold onto them, and change only the elements that should be higher. It sounds simple, but in eCommerce the difference between a good design element and a bad one can be difficult to judge. That’s why every redesign should begin by identifying the areas in need of improvement and the areas that should remain the same.

Before Redesigning…

To begin, you need to gain insights from your existing web analytics. For example, you can look at pages with high traffic, then use the comparison tool to see which ones have a bounce rate that’s above site average. More than likely, those pages need improvement.

Next, you can understand how people interact with your current site via customer feedback tools. These are the pop-ups that gather direct input from your customer while they browse your site. One of the best tools available is Qualaroo. You can choose who to survey by traffic source and select what percentage of those visitors you would like to ask. You can also integrate the resulting feedback you receive from Qualaroo with your analytics to find the correlation between your visitors feedback and what they actually did on your site. That may sound complicated, but all it takes is one line of code.

Third, you can perform conversion testing on different pages of your site to see which elements are working and which ones are not. For example, if your product pages feature demonstration videos, this would be a good time to see if they actually improve the conversion rate. To do this, you will need to run a simple A/B test where 50% of each product page’s visitors see the product page with a video and the other 50% see that same product page without the video. If your videos aren’t leading to higher conversion rates, you can save money by not creating them and not waste time with a design that includes them.

Lastly, you can apply heat mapping tools like Crazy Egg or ClickTale to highlight which elements of the page are getting the most attention and which elements are most likely going unnoticed. ClickTale even allows you to record visitor sessions, which can help you discover bugs or behavior you didn’t know existed.

For example, ClickTale helped us find that many of our client’s customers spent time looking for products in their favorite pattern. So when we redesigned their site, we created a tool that makes it as easy to shop by pattern as it does by color, style, or any other category.

redesigning - heat mapping for chronicle books

Heat mapping works by identifying areas of high and low contrast.

During the Redesign Process…

With all of this information in hand, you should be ready to roll the dice and start putting together a new design. With an Intelligent approach, you can start by validating mockups with predictive heat mapping technology. Such tools use an algorithm to determine where users are likely to look and in what order they will look at elements on the page. You can use that information to place call-to-actions and confidence builders in the right places.

Redesigning - The Franklin Mint

Predictive heat mapping differs from regular heat mapping by displaying the visual behavior in sequence.

In the event that these tools are inconclusive, or if you simply just don’t trust the results, you can move on and come back to any idea after launch. So stop throwing away ideas because their value is hard to prove. You can test as many as you want after launch with multivariate testing.

Before you launch, you can evaluate your design with usability testing. This process gives you direct input on how real users use the design, which is invaluable to any designer.

When you’re redesigning, make sure you consult your SEO specialist. It’s just too easy to neglect important SEO considerations and damage your search engine rankings after a redesign.

Following the Launch

Following the launch of your site, you should commit an extended period of time to beta testing before opening up to your full audience. Also, make sure you’re not using beta testing just to validate the awesomeness of your decisions. Our optimization team always recommends beta testing to find at least three areas where you could use improvement.

During beta testing (and forever after), you should use advanced analytics tracking to pinpoint where customers are running into trouble. Then you can remove roadblocks, add confidence builders, and tweak the design until it has a more intuitive layout. Also, make sure that you’re not jumping to any conclusions with your data. Two days is not a sufficient amount of time to gather accurate data. Make sure you compile regular reports for several weeks, account for a big email blasts, PPC campaigns, or big discounts when counting important metrics (traffic, conversions, etc.).

Remember that, no matter how much time has passed since you launched, you can always improve your site by testing different ideas. The sooner you do, though, the sooner you reap the benefits.

Final Tips


  • Plan on post-launch enhancements.
  • Trust the data.
  • Always look to improve.



If you’re looking for an eCommerce partner to help you with your redesign, feel free to ask a question in the comments section below or contact us regarding our redesign services.

Kevin Eichelberger

Founder & CEO

Founded in 2008, Blue Acorn is the product of Kevin’s great passion and knowledge of all things eCommerce. Kevin’s data-driven approach has culminated in a strong, growing business that’s success is closely tied to the success of its clients. When he’s not immersing himself in eCommerce, Kevin works toward expanding Charleston’s tech community by serving as a board member for the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation, and is also a mentor and advisor to several startups. A business-savvy technologist, you can find Kevin evangelizing about data, optimization and eCommerce.

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