Data, take the wheel

Here’s the truth that no marketer or designer wants to tell you: it mostly doesn’t matter how your website looks. All that really matters is how it performs.

Imagine having a website for your organization and knowing something isn’t working or at least should be working better.

You think it needs a redesign because it has to be a design flaw. So you start looking around in your budget to see what you can shake loose. You have a rough idea of what a website redesign might cost and you think you can get it approved internally.

I hate to break it to you but you might as well throw that money right out the window.

And let me know when you do so I can be sure to be walking by!

Here’s the truth that no marketer or designer wants to tell you: it mostly doesn’t matter how your website looks. All that really matters is how it performs.

Sure, we can get into the argument about brand equity or aesthetics. But for the sake of this, I’m going to assume you are using a logo and your brand colors and UI choices truly aren’t that terrible on the eyes.

How do you know how well the site is performing?


So, before the budget, before the RFPs, before the internal buy-in and all those meetings. Start with the data. Data tells us where our users are coming from and going. It tells us what they’re doing and not doing!

Don’t change a single thing on your site until you have data to back up your reason!

Before you worry about driving more traffic to the new and improved site, it’s important to focus on increasing conversions of existing traffic. That means, if your goal is to raise more money online, look at your data and find out exactly how many site visitors are becoming donors.

If you’ve built up a relationship with your audience through email, ads, or organic content, and they’re getting to the site and still not supporting your cause, the first place to look is your data.

3 ways to include data in your website redesign

1. Run a thorough audit of current site traffic

Please don’t waste a single red cent until you’ve done this. Knowing traffic patterns can help you build out a content plan. Knowing exit pages can help you plug the leaks. Knowing the volume of visitors on landing pages and source channels of those visitors can help you understand where they are in the funnel.

If you don’t start with an audit, you know none of this with certainty. Every UX choice becomes an assumption or a guess. Or worse, it becomes political, meaning people are pushing their own agendas in the design process. Effectively, you’re building a redesign in the dark.

2. Establish current conversion rates for your objectives

So you’re running a marketing program and you have a website…you must have greater objectives than sending people to your website. You’re either listbuilding to sell something, fundraising, or persuading people to take some action.

Before you can ask if your site is optimized for that objective, you have to know how often people are even doing that one thing from your website.

Establish a baseline.

3. Set goals (KPI’s) before your redesign

If your team establishes that they want to increase online donations through your website by 10%, for example, your redesign should make decisions around this goal.

If your team establishes listbuilding as their objective and seeks to increase the conversion of visitors to users on your email list, your redesign will look totally different.

See where I’m going here?

Knowing what’s working and not working is the key to unlocking your KPI goals.