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Are you about to launch yet another web redesign project? If so, think again.
One of the reasons organisational websites fester and decay is because companies are good at projects and poor at iteration.
Most organisations like to think in terms of clearly defined projects. In many ways this makes a lot of sense. Projects are easily quantifiable in terms of the budget, resources and time involved. It is easier to find budget and resources for finite projects rather than ongoing investment.
This is why redesign projects are so common within web design. Organisations love them because they have a clearly defined scope and provide an easily identified deliverable.
In short, for specific investment you can see a tangible change.
The web is an iterative environment
Unfortunately the web is not ideally suited for project-based development. Instead the nature of the web encourages iteration. This is because things evolve so quickly online that periodic redesigns are not enough to keep a website fresh and meeting users rapidly evolving expectations.
Not only that, but the web provides some unique tools that are ideally suited to iterative development. For example, the web allows you to measure changes with an accuracy unknown to other mediums.
Small changes are more measurable
The web is better suited to measuring small incremental changes than it is large redesigns. When you overhaul an entire user interface is impossible to identify which changes have generated the most significant return on investments.
However, making a small change allows the measurement of that specific item and what difference it makes to conversion.
For example, I once worked on an ecommerce site where changing the micro-copy relating to site security caused a 6% increase in conversion.
This small iteration told us how important micro-copy was on this particular site and we were able to make other improvements that also increased conversion. Had we done a complete redesign of the site this easy win would more than likely have been missed.
Rapid evolution rather than static projects
The message here is simple; we need to move away from treating the web as just another project to a more iterative process involving rapid evolution.
Our websites need to be a place where we iterate and test. Yes, this does mean an ongoing investment but does not need to be prohibitively expensive, especially when compared to periodic redesign.
There are many tools that make iteration and monitoring easy. Tools like usertesting.com or verifyapp.com that help facilitate remote user testing or tools like optimizely.com that makes it easy to do split testing on any website.
These tools are inexpensive and can provide valuable data extremely quickly.
There is no excuse for only periodically redesigning your site. Why limit your website's optimal performance to immediately after a periodic redesign, when it could be running at peak performance the entire time?