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Why Redesign Your Web Site?

It is a common misconception that a redesign (changing the look) will improve a web site's performance.

The questions we hear most about redesign (besides cost) at Back2Front are:
  • Will a redesign help me get more clients?
  • Will a redesign help my site's SEO?
  • My marketing guy says I need a redesign to improve conversion rates. Will this work?
The answer to all of these questions is usually no, but let me explain why...

1) First of all, search engines could not care less about the appearance of a web site. Search engines use text, formatting and backlinks to determine the relative value of a web site or the best match to a search query. The only way a redesign could help you get more traffic is if you improve the text, organization, structure or technology of your web site during the redesign.

2) There are many visual elements you can add to a web site that can actually block a search engine's ability to evaluate the site and therefore reduce the site's performance. A common example is Flash. Changing a Flash-run web site to HTML would be a good reason for a redesign, and would increase the performance of a web site.

3) If you think you need to redesign the look of your site to increase conversion rates...be careful. First ensure that you know what your conversion rate is. For example, we have had many clients call with a question like: "I get 5,000 page views per month, but only five submissions via my 'Contact Us' form. Why is my conversion rate so poor?" (it works out to be one out of a thousand or .001%). But when we look at the client's statistics, we see that while he did have page views, only 500 unique humans visited the site. The rest of the page views were generated by robots. Of course, robots will never buy anything, so they can't contribute to a conversion ratio. A more accurate way to calculate the conversion rate would be to divide the number of form submissions by the number of unique humans visitors. Five out of 500 is a conversation rate of one per cent, which is a much better conversion ratio! So instead of a redesign aimed at increasing conversion rates, this client should be concentrating on SEO to increase traffic.

4) As long as your web site is well-written, up-to-date, well-organized, has sufficient content, and looks professional and consistent, you will not gain much by changing the look of your site. If you are selling a product or a design-related service, you will need good product photography, but the look of the web site itself is not nearly as significant as most web site owners assume it is.

My advice is to first put your time and energy into improving aspects of your web site where the payoff for improvement is higher.