I just quickly want to echo Larry Becker’s thoughts on the designer conundrum. Larry says we should all stop ‘wrestling elephants’ and start focusing on small, nimble web design changes. Constancy, not big overhauls, are the rule of thumb.
I have yet, in the entire time I’ve been working with large ecommerce clients, seen any of them undertake a 6 month + redesign project and actually come out of it with improved ROI, conversions, or sales. Sad but true. Not only are you tying yourself down to 1 idea for the entire time, think of the change that happens in our online environment in 6 months. It’s an eternity. Many large design projects can creep over the 12 month mark. You may start scoping a project now, and actually not finish the design until sometime in 2009. Imagine what will be different then. What will Google be emphasizing in their search algo in 2009? What quality score factors will be in play? Will there even be a quality score? Will there be Google, Yahoo, and MSN? Or will it be Google and Fox?
The single best change I’ve ever had an ecommerce client make was a database/hosting change. It was a big deal to them, but relatively inexpensive (just a hosting adjustment), and had the greatest impact in terms of metrics. They focused on what was ‘under the hood’, not the paint job.
If there’s any advice I can impart to advertisers it would be this:
Remember that a design is just a skin, and skins are cheap and easy to produce. In 1 year, you could test 12 different skins for a relatively small investment.
Think small, it’s the subtle changes that will make the biggest impact. For example, work on your landing page copy relevance. When you’re done with that, work on your pricing, your call to action, your product placement, or improve your product pictures. There’s a million small adjustments you can make before you get into a complete design overhaul.
Most of these changes can be tackled in under a week.
My rule of thumb: If it will take more than a month I don’t want to hear about it.