Is Everything You Know About Web Design Wrong?

14th April 2017 by John Carrell

The Old Web Design Approach

You guess what your website should be like

For the first 15 years of the internet everyone, me included,  was designing website based on a system of  ‘best guess’. This approach worked something like this.

You would approach me and say “I want a web site that is like this…”. I would then advise you “Based on my experience I suggest that the web site is like that…” Eventually, after some negotiation between the 2 of us we agree what the website should be like.

However both of us are guessing what is best – we don’t know the website will work – that is why it is called the ‘best guess’ approach.

There is nothing wrong with creative thinking or guesswork, however it is not enough on it’s own.

Most web designers still use the ‘best guess’ method even though it simply doesn’t work!

So what is wrong with this approach?

  • You are designing based on ‘a hunch’
  • You don’t know how to measure if the site is successful
  • Once the site is built – it is rarely updated so the information goes out of date

So why does everyone still do things this way if it’s wrong?

  • The web is young so people are still learning how to do things
  • We are copying what everyone else does
  • We are copying people that don’t know better and copied themselves

It’s easier to copy our competitors than produce something original

The new approach

Your website evolves based on testing and measurement

Before you do anything, you need to know what the goals or aims are for your website. In other words you need to know what success looks like so that you know when you have achieved it.

For your website success may be 100 sales of a widget, or 50 downloads of a white paper, or 25 requests for information from a contact form. Regardless of what success looks like for you, the following formula clarifies it:

Success = Traffic x Conversion

  • The number of visitors is called ‘traffic’.
  • The visitors that become clients have been ‘converted’.

Or in plain english – the success of your website depends on the number of people who visit your website multiplied by the number of people who are converted into a client.

For example you may get 100 visitors to your website with only 5 buying a widget, downloading a report, or filling in a contact form.

This means your conversion rate is 5/100 x 100 = 5%

Both traffic and conversion are vital when it comes to your website. Both need to be as high as possible to be successful.

For example if you get 100 visitors, but none convert then you will have no new customers.

Similarly, if you have no visitors and a 100% conversion rate you will still have no new customers.