An Introduction to Evolutionary Site Redesign with WiderFunnel’s Blog

I’m pleased to share our new blog design with you today.

A couple months ago, after neglecting our website design for several years, we concluded that we finally had to pay it some attention.

Since we’re in the business of improving websites for our clients, our readers should assume that we’re applying what we learn to our own site. While we do follow our own advice and run tests on our website regularly, our clients get more love than our own site. We put all of our energy into our client projects and tend to neglect our own home base.

But, enough is enough! The parable of the cobbler’s children having no shoes wears thin after a while.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to how we approach the challenge of a website that needs a redesign using ours as an example. We take an approach that I call Evolutionary Site Redesign (ESR)—yes, it’s yet another acronym…but I believe it’s an important concept. ESR represents the future of website redesigns.   Tweet this:

Find out why ESR represents the future of website redesigns

The Redesign Goal

Our primary goal for the WiderFunnel blog design is to make the content more readable and increase its share-ability. We want more people to read and share our perspectives on marketing optimization.

Thinking in terms of the LIFT Model, we identified many problems. We knew that some of the dated design treatments in the old blog were affecting the credibility aspect of our Value Proposition. As a trusted brand for our readers, our blog design was not living up to that expectation.

WiderFunnel Blog LIFT Analysis

WiderFunnel Blog LIFT Analysis

We were able to apply many of the tested insights from the conversion optimization tests we do for our clients’ and it now gives us a better platform to continue testing other elements.

The Approach: Evolutionary Site Redesign (ESR)

There was no need to redesign our brand or the overall look & feel. This is more of an incremental evolution. Most companies that I talk to who are considering a website redesign are in a similar situation. The overall brand isn’t broken. They just need to continue to keep up with the evolution of the web since their last major redesign.

But a dramatic, “Revolutionary,” redesign isn’t needed in most cases. For most companies, a continuous process of testing and incremental improvements will give a better visitor experience and results versus the traditional throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater approach. Most companies should be using Evolutionary Site Redesign.   Tweet this:

Most companies should be using Evolutionary Site Redesign

Here’s what I see happening with the traditional “Revolutionary Site Redesign” (RSR) versus our ESR approach.

The problem with website redesigns

The traditional “Revolutionary Site Redesign” creates under-achievement

the new approach to website redesign

Continuous design improvement with A/B testing is a better strategy

The RSR approach leaves your website lacking and continuously falling behind in the intervals between major redesigns. But, with ESR, your website will continuously keep up and surpass the success of the rest of the web.

To be clear, in our example, we haven’t kept up the testing and incremental improvements on WiderFunnel’s website over the past three years. We haven’t been our best client. Today’s update is an example of a catch-up that will allow us to keep iterating and testing moving forward.

[Update: Regular readers of our blog will know that the evolutionary changes I'm advocated should be accomplished through strategic A/B/n testing. New readers have mentioned that this wasn't clear from this post. So, let me make it clear: the only way to know what really works to lift your conversions and revenue is by using a strategic, controlled testing system.]

Here are the incremental changes we made in this update:

  • Increased the font size for the headlines and body content
  • Reduced the columns from three to two to reduce Distraction
  • Increased column width to allow for large diagrams and images
  • Redesigned the right column content to reduce visual Distraction
  • Improved pagination and popular article rankings to expose readers to more of the good content
  • Soon the blog main page will feature more whitepapers, case studies and articles that may be interesting to readers
  • Easier social following buttons and links throughout
  • One of our awesome team members developed a neat little tweet icon that’s integrated within the content that you’ll notice sprinkled throughout our recent posts. You should test it out. Click the birdie:   Tweet this:

    New WiderFunnel Blog Design with a new Tweet This function

This blog update is also a step toward further incremental improvements of the rest of the website. We will soon be moving into a Responsive Web Design platform with even more exciting improvements. And, of course, we’ll be doing more A/B/n tests to continue our Evolutionary Site Redesign.

What do you think?

Is this new design an improvement over the old?
What’s your perspective on RSR versus ESR?

25 Comments

  1. Matthew Sweet December 16, 2012 at 3:54 am - Reply

    Very nice work! Would love to see a mobile responsive version as I visited from my iPhone from my RSS reader :)

    • @chrisgoward December 16, 2012 at 11:05 am - Reply

      Yes, I'm looking forward to the responsive version to be complete, too! Thanks, Matthew.

    • widerfunnel August 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      Hey, Matthew, how do you like the RWD site now?

    • diesenlink February 24, 2014 at 4:06 am - Reply

      Definitely :)

  2. Matthew Sweet December 16, 2012 at 3:56 am - Reply

    Sorry! Ment to say “new” responsive version

  3. Nick Worton December 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    Like the two-column approach and the right-hand column looks much clearer… a job well done :)

  4. Michael Zipursky December 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Great work Chris! And that's a cool new tweet function you got going.

    • @chrisgoward December 17, 2012 at 11:10 am - Reply

      Thanks, Michael! That tweet function was a fun little idea.

  5. @MeganLeap December 18, 2012 at 7:44 am - Reply

    Love it. Engaging and easy on the eyes.

  6. Justin December 18, 2012 at 7:49 am - Reply

    Love this post, and I think this process makes a lot of sense.

    I have seen first-hand how the "epic redesign" can cause a lot of headaches as you can actually reduce site performance and not be sure of the root cause. An evolutionary approach solves this problem, as you can move towards a better design and feel confident that each change is moving the needle in the right direction.

    • @chrisgoward December 18, 2012 at 10:26 am - Reply

      That's a story I hear over and over, Justin. Too many thing change in an "epic redesign" (<– great term for it!) to know what caused the problem.

      True story: A client of ours recently decided to do a redesign with another digital agency (aka. bad idea), and saw a 40% conversion rate decrease. Needless to say, we're now helping them uncover what caused the problems to get back to where they were and beyond! The ESR approach would have avoided that risk

  7. Darren Davis December 22, 2012 at 10:09 am - Reply

    Great post Chris!

    I definitely agree with you that continuous testing and seeing what works and what doesn’t is the way to go! Making a lot of small variations to experiment what works best is the natural way to do things and costs you far less “time & energy” than redoing complete redesign of everything from total scratch. The are some instances where your may have to revolutionize—but more often than not, ESR beats RSR!

    By the way, I totally love the new look and I think that Tweet feature is super cool. Have you noticed a lot of people using it and an increase of Tweets per post?

    • @chrisgoward December 23, 2012 at 9:05 am - Reply

      Thanks, Darren.

      We haven't noticed a lot of people using the new tweet function yet. We'll see if it catches on. Did you use it?

      • Darren Davis December 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm - Reply

        Cool! Yeah I definitely use it. I scroll over each one to see what it says and think "oh that's cool *tweet*" :)

  8. Ambrose December 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Doesn’t this already have a name? Isn’t this called “agile”?

    • @chrisgoward December 23, 2012 at 8:55 am - Reply

      ESR does work well with an agile development cycle. They're complementary concepts, but not the same thing.

  9. Richard Gauder December 24, 2012 at 10:06 am - Reply

    Great idea. Ever thought about responsive and accessible? Will add value/expanded markets and ensure ongoing updates include keeping the website accessible.

  10. Timothy Reeves December 30, 2012 at 8:25 am - Reply

    I have been looking at a lot of site designs lately, yours in one of the best I have seen, Thanks!

    • @chrisgoward December 31, 2012 at 10:55 am - Reply

      Thanks! I'm very happy with what the team developed too :-)

  11. luciferwilliams April 19, 2013 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Today, I’d like to introduce you to how we approach the challenge of a website that needs a redesign using ours as an example. We take an approach that I call Evolutionary Site Redesign (ESR)—yes, it’s yet another acronym…but I believe it’s an important concept. ESR represents the future of website redesigns homework help chat

  12. luciferwilliams April 30, 2013 at 4:46 am - Reply

    Our primary goal for the WiderFunnel blog design is to make the content more readable and increase its share-ability. We want more people to read and share our perspectives on marketing optimization. Best Garbage Disposals

  13. Arn Faust September 11, 2013 at 1:59 am - Reply

    As an experience marketer and designer, I do not agree with putting the social media below the first fold. It should be on the top of the site. All companies need to build communities so the position of the social media icons should be easy to find and encourage participation.

  14. amontoys November 20, 2013 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    Great content!!

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