How to restructure your creative brief to get a page that converts

The perfect creative brief is a unicorn. It doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, you won’t get a godsend of a brief from your clients, with all your questions answered.

The good news is that there’s a process.

Designers, UX professionals and marketers can no longer rely only on their gut instinct or intuition to come up with a suitable design.

Although, that suitable design is only relevant if it’s meeting your business goals right?

For argument sake, I’ll be focusing on the ‘re-design’ brief.

To start with, let’s imagine you have a eCommerce website with 20,000 visitors per month.

The redesign brief is flawed.

If you’re a web manager, you know what I mean.

The white knuckled anxiety of launch day. The constant tapping of the refresh button, checking different devices again and again.

Unfortunately, many mid sized to large businesses see a drop in conversions after a total redesign. Even with the best intentions, somewhere along the line, things have gone wrong.

What was the the old process?

Traditionally agencies or marketing departments would receive a new budget to rebuild their existing site, with the aim to bring it inline with new branding elements, or new utilities like a beefed up back-end for the in-house team.

Say, you discuss changes across 20+ different elements.

The conversation may go a little like this:, “let’s change the home page design, navigation bar, filtering technique, shopping cart flow, menu structure, contact us page, and product listing page as I think they can all look much better”.

We can assume that you’re not an idiot, and there’s some valid ideas here based on insights and observations. Although, with so many moving parts it’s often impossible to get an upward conversion rate lift on all elements.

In most cases, discussions about minimising risk doesn’t happen. Why? Because we’re making huge bets on big salary executives and& creative directors who should know the ‘best practices’ and apply them to our business.

Does this sound familiar?

7186271_orig (1)

Best practices don’t work.

Let’s take a test. Out of the following how many ‘best practices’ have you heard in a website creative / strategy meeting?

  • Parallax scrolling websites
  • Flat design
  • Grid format
  • Long infinite scroll pages
  • Explainer video
  • Social proof
  • Mobile first

Obviously this content has no context. How can we be sure that the best practices will actually benefit our business? Increase sales, leads, reduce bounce rate and ensure a great user experience for our customers?

Let’s assume you implemented a best practice approach to redesigning your website. There could be some potential improvements from specific elements:, for instance, your new shopping cart could improve conversions. Although when introducing hundreds of design, flow & technical changes, you are introducing risk that some changes can drastically reduce conversions. Have a look at this to see what I mean:

potential-effects-of-website-redesign-changes

 

What’s the new way?

Those 20,000 visitors per month don’t need a huge disruption to their viewing style, as this may cause some anxiety to returning visitors.

The better way to do things, is to evolve.

The evolutionary web design process is a lean data driven strategy, which is often faster, less risky and has better results.

How does this evolutionary design work?

Instead of launching a new site in-line with ‘best practices’ and hoping for the best, the evolutionary design process will help you identify the areas of your website which are underperforming against benchmarks, and introduce A/B tested changes based upon business success metrics.

Data and analysis is key to this process, which makes it much easier to sell in. Number don’t lie.

What do you need for it to work?

This type of design benefits from a structured process.

It starts with aligning the business goals, marketing goals & website goals. I.e. what is the website meant to do. Is it newsletter signups.

Then you can prioritize the changes based on their importance (traffic & structure), the priority (expensive traffic / converting poorly) and ease (how hard is the fix technically?). Once you have the priority of your pages identified, take that baseline conversion rate, and try to beat it through a systemized approach to A/B testing.

This way you won’t be looking a best practices to see what works, you’ll be testing & constantly improving based on feedback and insights from your own data sources.
Hear from the experts:

New CNN.com (left) vs. Old CNN.com (right)
New CNN.com (left) vs. Old CNN.com (right)

Interestingly, CNN’s Artley also stated: “The days of the massive website relaunches are coming to an end,”, and “It took us a long time to get this one out. We wanted to get this in a good place to launch it, but we also know that no site is ever perfect.”.

The Top 6 Reasons to Use Evolutionary Site Redesign

Here’s why ESR is the most effective website redesign strategy:

  • Along with a new site look and feel, you’ll get structure conversion lifts.
  • You’ll get a site that users want to use based on your user feedback sessions.
  • You’ll gain insight into which elements work and which don’t.
  • You’ll focus all your team’s effort into business metrics rather than just an aesthetic design.
  • You won’t experience design or development lags between redesigns.
  • You should avoid the a majority of the risks of a “Revolutionary” site redesign.
  • It’s actually faster and more effective than a “Revolutionary” site redesign.
  • You won’t risk site SEO rankings from a potential site overhaul

We’ve learnt at ThunderMetric that we’re not always right in our creative ideas, and we’re happy to be wrong 20% of the time. Why? Because we believe being right in our process, will yield the best results for our clients. We don’t risk our clients’ business on our creative hunches, because we’re just 1 team, and how can our thoughts represent the entirety of our clients’ target market? We back ourselves by our iterative process of learning & optimising. That’s how we, and our clients stay ahead of our competition online.