Website Redesign or Conversion Rate Optimization? That is the Question.

To redesign or not to redesign: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of a giant web redesign project,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
By using conversion rate optimization.
To generate leads: to profit again;
To end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That redesign is heir to, ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To redesign, to convert,
To profit: perchance to drive leads.

More leads from your website is your top priority

Ensuring your message reaches the right users depends on how well you’ve strategized, optimized, implemented, and designed your digital content. So now you face two problems: getting more traffic and getting more leads.

To solve those problems, you have two choices: work with what you have using conversion rate optimization (CRO) or start over with a fresh website redesign.

Traffic and conversions are interrelated, just as conversion rate optimization (CRO) and website redesign are.

How well you do one impacts the other.


A website redesign is partially functional but mostly cosmetic: menu options change, color schemes are developed, and interactive features are tweaked and re-tweaked. A website redesign might boost the “curb appeal” of your web presence, but it doesn’t necessarily mean everything inside the house is in working order.


Conversion rate optimization, on the other hand, is less about aesthetic. CRO works to make sure your message will reach the right audience efficiently and on demand. Poor conversion rate optimization is like a leaky faucet or a frozen pipe: your message isn’t resonating with the people who need it. As Brian Massey puts it in an article for Marketing Land:

“When a business says, ‘Let’s redesign the website,’ they do it to improve their online fortunes, to increase customer acquisition and retention. Website redesigns are just big, fat, sloppy conversion rate optimization exercises. It’s hard to resist a redesign, though. When a new CMO comes into the business and offers the team a big budget to redesign, how can they turn it down? Nothing will divert the attention of a struggling marketing team more than a Hollywood-style redesign.”

Data-driven website redesign is all about conversion rate optimization.

Unlike a simple web design project, it depends on your priorities and what you hope to accomplish from building out your web presence. But that doesn’t mean that any business should pour its resources into one and ignore the other. If conversion rate optimization takes a back seat to redesign, your methods of converting visitors into engaged users will suffer. And if your design isn’t intuitive or eye-catching, users won’t be persuaded to interact.

Every CRO endeavor is different depending on the unique needs of your business. Your CRO strategy might need just a little fine-tuning, or it might need a complete overhaul. This means that the first step must be assessing your web analytics and then, crucially, formulating a holistic approach to address shortcomings. Don’t get bogged down in the details—maintaining a macro perspective is the key to keeping your CRO (and redesign) on track.

It helps to keep things simple. The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. This will involve measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics demonstrating cause and effect.

The goal is to learn what works quickly. Focus on a single landing page because it allows you to fine-tune and test offers to narrow and validate your value proposition. With a landing page to test two (or more) different versions of your value proposition, promoted through PPC or social media sharing, you can generate leads for your product and see which version resonates best with customers. You can then fine-tune based on what you’ve learned.

If you do see a big difference in conversion across your test pages, congratulations – you are getting closer to delivering a value proposition that resonates with your customers.

Changing button colors and text can help but those decisions are less important. Focus on the big picture. Don’t polish a crappy site. Instead, focus on big decisions such as the total user experience and message are working, then you can focus on fine-tuning the small variables.

In other words, YES- color and content arrangement are important. Yet, it is important that you not get distracted by these small aesthetic choices without first securing a solid foundation of the bigger things, like delivery, message, and branding.

Everything is an Experiment

Now it’s time to run some tests. Unfortunately, they didn’t produce the results you were hoping for. So, what to do now?

Approaching your data-driven creative redesign testing phase like a science experiment is the best way to reframe this stage of your business’s web presence overhaul. There’s a real wealth of information to glean from poor or unexpected results. Take the opportunity to reassess your assumptions, question your strategies, and recalibrate accordingly. Then, try again. Successful CRO testing absolutely demands an empirical, inquisitive perspective in order to benefit your business’s CRO in the long run.  

Just because what you expected didn’t happen doesn’t mean your testing strategies are a waste. By mining these failures for information, the strategies you finally decide on will be all the more robust and targeted.

For example, your business might believe that the best way to attract future clients is through featured video content on your landing page. Your team assumes that future clients want their first interactions with your business to be through flashy, well-produced video clips. But what if future clients are actually looking to find quick answers for their questions? Or download an e-brochure they can share at their next meeting? Or just speak with you one-on-one? The differences between assumptions about user activity and reality are clearly revealed through critical CRO testing—and that includes disappointing results.

Once your business has established its goals and priorities, it’s easy to choose between reworking your conversion rate optimization or tackling a redesign of your website. Either way, keep in mind that the two influence each other’s performance. Conversion rate optimization tends to produce more benefits than just a website redesign, but only if your business is committed to a critical, reflective testing phase.

Still unsure whether a website redesign or conversion rate optimization (CRO) is best for your company? Wondering where to start? Get in touch.



macon Raine