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In an online retail market expected to double in size to £78 billion by 2010* the potential rewards for e-commerce businesses are huge. Equally, so is the pressure to stay ahead of their competition. 

The desire for online businesses to become bigger and better inevitably affects their approach to redesign. There’s a huge temptation to introduce the latest whiz bang functionality and super cool design which will appeal to a whole new generation of customers.

But there are also the existing loyal customers to account for. They know the site and like it, so if it changes too much, you may lose more customers than you gain.

So the key question is, how much change does your site really need? 

When Yahoo launched the new version of its email client to keep pace with Google, it smartly kept the classic view to ensure the retention of a large existing customer base. 

Similarly, Microsoft provides classic views of several operating system elements as well.

So a cautious approach to redesign is prudent but, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need settle for smaller gains. 

Testing just six elements on the home page of the DVD rental site LOVEFiLM recently resulted in a ten percent increase in conversion.

The beauty of multi-variable testing is that it can simultaneously validate new design elements whilst making sure you’re not trying to fix something that isn’t broken.

Greg Kelton is the Managing Director of  Optimost EMEA. The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those held by the publisher.

*IMRG 2007 Annual Statement

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Published 26 June, 2008 by Greg Kelton

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