The goal of your website is undoubtedly to increase conversions and sales. These conversions may be in the form of subscriptions to a newsletter, downloading a free e-book, donating to a charity or other worthwhile cause, or purchasing your products or services. But do fancy features help, too?
It is true that a website with all of the bells and whistles may be appropriate in some circumstances, but in the vast majority of cases it is simply overkill. In fact it can actually put customers off and reduce your conversions and sales.
When you design a website you must look at your business goals, and also identify your target audience. Knowing these two factors, you can then design your website with your goals and audience in mind.
We all know that the visual aspect of a website is extremely important to customers, but a website redesign can actually turn customers away. This has happened to some really big companies who thought that a fancy website would increase their conversions. Their customers even reported that they liked the look of the new website, but still their conversions decreased dramatically.
Here are three website redesigns that did not live up to company expectations:
- Digg.com – This is a well-known and popular social bookmarking site who in 2010 decided on a radical redesign and lost 26% of their US traffic and 34% of their UK traffic. To be honest they did not only redesign their website, but they also decided to refocus their business to include both social bookmarking and social networking. This demonstrates the old adage: if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.
- Target.com – Target started with a well-loved minimalist design and then in 2011 and 2013 redesigned their website so it became far more cluttered and lost its signature minimalist design. There has been a lot of arguing about these two recent redesigns in the media, but the immediate results were lost sales.
- Marks & Spencer – In early 2014, Marks & Spencer launched a new website and lost sales immediately. In fact, their sales dropped 8.1% in the first quarter following the relaunch. The main problems were usability and performance. Sites with lots of unnecessary animations, videos and graphics can be cluttered and slow down to the point of being hard to use.
These three examples demonstrate that your website should be designed for functionality and performance. You need a website that is user-friendly, easy to navigate and visually appealing. Unless you are an art critic or in in a highly specialised field that requires lots of complex components, then a clean, simple design is always best. The take home message is to know your goals, identify your audience and keep it simple.