Notes on KISSMetric’s Don’t Do A Redesign! Learn Why Evolution Beats Revolution

From a 03/15 post on KISSMetrics’ blog by Allen Greer, link here.

Evolutionary Redesign uses A/B testing to ensure design updates increase conversions and revenue

Total redesigns are often driven by the desire to keep up with trends/competitors/egos, or by a faltering core business–not by how actual users feel about the product

Some failings of total redesign:

  • Too much, too soon confuses the situation and makes it impossible to know which changes were impactful on user interactions
  • Most designers aren’t UX experts and aren’t trained to consider user feedback an integral part of their process–in fact, the business culture usually privileges a single person’s opinion over all others
  • Redesigns are often done in the absence of meaningful, long-term user analytics that can be used to guide the process
  • Epic overhauls take an enormous amount of time, require too many layers of approval and put too much emphasis on immediate  “success”
  • They rely on design by committee, which always fails
  • Any failings and shortcomings are actively ignored from loss-of-job fear, rather than being accepted by the business as opportunities for learning
  • SEO rankings can have immediate negative consequences with no window into where the problems lay

Benefits of evolutionary redesign:

  • Elements change individually, allowing for measuring the change’s impact and making mistakes easier to roll back and less expensive to recover from
  • Employees feel less pressure that this change could mean leasing their jobs if it’s not “successful” and are more willing to take chances
  • ER focuses on analytical data tied to ROI rather than a few stakeholders’ aesthetics
  • Allows for rapid rollout–and pull back–of new features
  • A/B testing tracks real user behavior. If one type of button has 15% more interaction than another, it’s harder for employees to privilege their opinion over that fact
  • A/B at a minimum can yield proof that the business’ hypothesis was incorrect or needs to be reconsidered
  • ER is centered around user feedback not business opinion and conjecture

Challenges of ER

  • Requires patience–no instant gratification
  • Requires the business to dedicate itself to analytics and testing–not always an easy culture to instill
  • Requires a dedicated, capable team, not a limited consultancy
  • Cannot be precisely budgeted

Overview of the ER process

  • Identify key conversions
  • Use analytics to identify underperforming conversions
  • Pick one underperforming conversion
  • Design and test A/B versions and implement the winner
  • Rinse and repeat

Allen Greer is a Co-Founder and Digital Strategist at FUZE, a full-service digital agency based in Miami, Florida. FUZE provides integrated branding, web and mobile app development, and digital marketing services to startups, SMEs, and big brands around the world.

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