Your website is terrible

by Ryan Thomas

May 28, 2021

Ryan Thomas

Sure, maybe it looks really nice and has lots of cool animations and scroll effects (that distract the user and stoke the design team's ego). Or maybe it looks like it was designed by Dr. Frankenstein, with new features tacked on by different people over the years and you're thinking about spending a big chunk of cash to do a full redesign.

Either way, it's filled with bland, generic, corporate boilerplate copy, it's confusing for your customers, and it has bugs you don't even know about. And most importantly: it's not performing as well as it should.

How did it get this way?

On some level, you already know the answer to this question. You've been in the meetings where new features are designed by committee, the HiPPO says "just get it on the website", the web design agency is told to make it "pop". And then everyone pretends to be happy with the result because they don't know how to articulate what is wrong with it, and it looks close enough to what the competition is doing.

By the way, I'll let you in on a little secret: 99% of those web design agencies have never had to put their ideas to the test in the wild. Their metric for success is the client agreeing that the site looks nice and paying the hefty bill.

Translation: the face of your business, one of the most important investments you'll make, is being driven by ego and opinion instead of data.

So how do you fix it?

You could shell out $50k+ for one of the few design agencies that understands UX and conversion principles and actually does some research before digging in. Maybe you'll even find one who will do usability testing of their designs before launching. But there are two problems with this approach:

  1. It's incredibly risky. You're spending a lot of money up front without really knowing that the end result is going to perform better than what you currently have. Typically the result will look nicer but perform worse.

  2. After you launch the new shiny website, the same underlying factors that led to your website being terrible in the first place will still be there.

You need to attack the problem at its source.

And again, on some level, you know what needs to be done. You've seen buzzwords like "data driven", "customer centricity" and "culture of experimentation" floating around. They're easy to say but difficult to achieve. When you start on this path, you're going to meet resistance from the egos and opinions that have been running the show. They will see the introduction of evidence-based decision making as a threat to their comfy existence. But you can't afford to let them be in charge anymore.

The competitors that are leaving you in the dust are already investing in tools and processes and building internal culture based on:

  1. being obsessive about looking at things from the customer's point of view, and

  2. letting the data guide their decisions and validate or disprove their ideas.

Building these competencies is the best strategic decision you can make.

There are a lot of consultants and agencies that specialize in CRO (and related activities), but there are some things to look out for:

  1. A lot of them prefer to just audit your site, give you a list of suggestions and then be on their way, leaving you to figure out how to actually implement them. And the source of those suggestions will often be "trust me bro".

  2. A lot of the ones that offer ongoing optimization will jump right into running tests based on best practices without making sure that the data is reliable or doing comprehensive multi-method conversion research.

  3. The ones that offer performance-based pricing have an incentive to focus too much on the short-term shallow funnel metrics that will get them a big paycheck, at the expense of the long-term growth of your business.

  4. The bigger agencies have become victims of their own success. Their growth has necessitated shifting to a more corporate model and they have abandoned what made them successful in the first place. After the sales call, you'll be handed off to a team of junior people with over-sized job titles just going through the motions and following flowcharts in an overly corporate, process-driven way with little imagination or desire to deviate from their script. These cookie-cutter services also come with a huge price tag, since the agencies are coasting on the reputation and brand awareness that they built up back when they actually cared, and are now moving up-market to focus on enterprise-level companies with big marketing budgets.

What you should look for is someone who can embed themselves into your team and put in the effort to develop a deep understanding of your customers and your business. Someone who has the skills and adaptability that the big agencies used to have. Someone who can put as much focus on upskilling your team and building your internal processes as they put on filling the gaps and doing the work for you. Someone who is willing to be the bad cop when needed and push back against the opinions and egos that got you into this mess.

Drop us a line and find out if we are that someone.