How to Decide if Your WooCommerce Site Needs a Re-Design or Optimization

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There comes a time when the owner of every WooCommerce store begins to wonder whether their website is out of date and in need of a redesign. It’s a feeling that often comes with mixed emotions. On the one hand, you’re excited about the potential of launching something new. On the other hand, it’s also a stressful proposition. You know from past experiences that launching a new eCommerce site is a huge undertaking — in the absence of the right team, it can be fraught with stress, risk, and a large outlay of capital.


There are certainly times when a site redesign is an appropriate choice, but there are also times when it might be a good idea to consider some alternatives. The key lies in being able to properly assess your current website, and in having a clear understanding of your long-term goals and objectives.


Need help with your WooCommerce store?

Your leading experts in WooCommerce at Mode Effect are here to help.

(Of course, it also helps to be working with an experienced team of designers and developers who are able to answer your questions and provide guidance based on the experience working on similar projects.)

In this post, we’re going to present you with two potential options when it comes to improving or building your WooCommerce presence: a complete redesign versus developing a plan for ongoing optimization.

5 Ways to Help You Decide Whether a Redesign or Optimization is the Smarter Choice for Your WooCommerce Store

The Risk Inherent with Redesign

There is always a tremendous amount of thought that goes into the process of a typical WooCommerce website redesign. It typically takes months of planning, preparation, testing, and development before a site goes live.

The process typically begins with someone pointing out that your existing website is out of date. Maybe a few of your top competitors launched new websites recently and managed to incorporate some of the recent top web design trends. Their new website looks amazing, and when stacked up against your existing 3-year-old site, you begin to feel, well, dated.

And so begins the process of planning a massive website overhaul. You're going to reimagine and redesign your website from the ground up. When visitors arrive at your new website, they’ll be blown away. I mean, it’s going to be really amazing, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out that way.

While you might be completely correct in your assessment that your website is in need of a redesign, you’ll need to think about your decision more carefully. Here’s why:

Your website might be a little out of date. It might be lacking some of the more popular design elements, and when lined up against your competitors, it might even feel inadequate. But it converts. That’s right, your sales are consistent and you have lots of repeat customers. Your checkout process is antiquated but it’s also a well-oiled machine.

But you decide to forge ahead with your redesign process anyway. You rethink and retool almost every aspect of your website. You elicit feedback from employees and customers alike, who agree that the new design is a huge leap forward — it looks awesome.

Then comes launch day. With lots of fanfare, you launch your newly redesigned website and the feedback is positive. Even your competitors are looking a little nervous. But then something unexpected happens. At the end of the month, you sit down and take a look at your sales figures. Traffic is way up, which is good news, but your conversions have dropped a full percentage point, and sales are down almost 30%. What did the heck happen?

It all boils down to this: You have a vision for your website, but what you want, and what your customers need in order to feel comfortable making a purchase, are often two completely different things. Therein lies the major risk when it comes to a complete website redesign: If you build a website based simply on the idea that you know what’s best, there’s a chance you might be wrong.

Sometimes a Redesign is a Right Choice

While a complete WooCommerce redesign might carry some risks, there are still times when it’s the right choice.

For example, if your website is 5+ years old and it’s terribly clear that a few small design changes aren’t going to bring it out of the dark ages, then a complete redesign is probably the better option.

Alternatively, you might consider moving your website from your existing platform over to WordPress. If you need to build the entire site from the ground up anyway, it might be a good time to implement a major platform change.

If you’ve decided that a complete redesign is, in fact, the best long-term solution for your website, you can still mitigate some of your redesign risks by working with a designer/developer who is familiar with WooCommerce websites.

And understanding the general principles associated with creating a strong user experience can go a long way toward a successful redesign. This is not to say that it’s possible to hit a home run the first time around, but it can certainly make the process easier.

[tweetthis]Is your website designed to keep you, or your customers happy?[/tweetthis]

Building an Argument for Ongoing Optimization

WooCommerce Membership Website

Whether or not you decide to drastically redesign your site, you should give consideration to performing ongoing optimization.

What Does Optimization Involve?

Optimization is the process of making small changes to your site and then measuring their impact on conversions and sales. From a customer perspective, website optimization is similar to search engine optimization.

The biggest secret to successful website optimization is realizing there is no secret. The only real answer to what will work best for your website lies in testing, measuring, and re-testing. The question of whether you should use an orange “buy now” or a green “add to cart” button cannot be answered without testing. The results will vary slightly for every website, including yours.

But website optimization goes far beyond experimenting with button colors. It can involve any of the following:

  • General site-wide design changes
  • Alternate logos
  • Homepage images
  • Value propositions and website copy
  • Checkout form style and placement (check out Amplify Plugins’ Conditional Woo Checkout Field Pro plugin)
  • Product Imagery and more...

One of the best examples of how optimization can benefit your website (and a really interesting read) can be found in this article by Kyle Rush. It describes his experience working on the Obama campaign. The article is three years old, but it still stands as a great example of the power of optimization.

Why Is Optimization More Effective?

While a complete website redesign may leave you wondering which design change caused which result, optimization can be more effective because it’s often easier to interpret and assign your results to a specific factor. With optimization, you are usually only making one or two small changes at a time and then assessing results before proceeding to the next variable.

Optimization also introduces the ability to use A/B split testing — presenting a slightly different version of your website to an appropriate sample size of visitors over a predefined period of time. This kind of testing makes it easier to determine which elements improve conversions and sales, and which have a negative impact.

Again, working with a developer/designer who is familiar with WooCommerce means they’ll know in advance which elements are likely to require testing. The development of your website can then be built upon a foundation that allows for easier and more efficient optimization.

5 Ways to Help You Decide Whether a Redesign or Optimization is the Smarter Choice for Your WooCommerce Store

Final Thoughts on Redesign Versus Optimization

Deciding between a complete redesign and ongoing optimization is something that is best discussed with your developer.

There are certainly times when a redesign is the best option, but whether or not you choose to do a full redesign, you should still put a plan in place for optimization. Optimization is where you will see the best results over the long-term, and every complete redesign means you’ll be starting the optimization process from scratch.

If you’re currently debating the pros and cons of redesign versus optimization for your website, we’d love it if you could share your thoughts in the comments below.


Need help with your WooCommerce store?

Your leading experts in WooCommerce at Mode Effect are here to help.

Cody Landefeld

co-founder at Mode Effect. ECommerce consultant. Coram deo.

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1 Comment

  1. The Woo eCommerce Wrapup: April 22, 2016 on April 22, 2016 at 5:01 am

    […] How to Decide Whether Your eCommerce Site Needs a Redesign or Optimization […]

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