I created the website for PerfectTablePlan back in 2005, using a dreadfully buggy piece of software called NetObjects Fusion (NOF). The sorry story of why I ended up using NOF is told here.
Until recently the front page looked like this.
I had done a fair amount of A/B test tweaking and it converted visitors to downloads and sales relatively well compared to other downloadable product websites. But it had that ‘designed by a programmer’ look and it wasn’t responsive, so it didn’t work on well on mobile devices. My software only runs on Windows and Mac, but I still want to appear in mobile searches. The HTML generated by NOF was also pretty horrible. Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed by it when I looked at websites for other products. I kept on meaning to update it, but there was always something more urgent or (to be honest) more interesting to do. I finally bit the bullet and had it redesigned in 2015. The front page now looks like this:
The process was:
- I wrote a specification for the new design.
- I ran a 99Designs.com competition to design a new home page based on the spec.
- I selected the winning designer and paid them to design 3 additional pages in the same style.
- I paid pixelcrayons.com to code up the 4 pages in responsive CSS/HTML.
- I poured all the old content into the new design. Being careful to maintain the existing page names, titles, text and images etc, so as not to lose existing organic traffic.
The whole process didn’t cost a great deal (somewhere around $2k), but it took quite a lot of my time, spread over 5 months. Especially the final step. This wasn’t helped by the size (some 128 pages were converted) and general cruftiness of the old website, and my lack of knowledge of CSS and responsive design.
I didn’t want to be locked in to a CMS, so I used Mac static website generator Hammer4Mac to generate the HTML. It goes without saying that I wrote a program to help me pull all the content out of the old website and into Hammer4Mac! While Hammer4Mac isn’t without flaws, I found it a vast improvement over NOF and the new website is now much easier to update and maintain than the old one.
The new website went live on 16-Dec-2015.
So how much difference did the redesign make? Here are the changes based on comparing 25 weeks of data before the change and 25 weeks of data after the change:
|time on page||+16.0%|
|mobile & tablet traffic||+40.0%|
|total sales value||+21.8%|
|visit to sale conversion ratio||+4.6%|
|average order value||+9.4%|
The increase in mobile traffic as a proportion of total traffic is pretty clear from analytics (the dip in December is seasonal):
I believe a 21.8% improvement in sales is a lot more than I would have got by spending the same amount of time and money improving the product itself, which is pretty mature after 11 years of work.
Overall it looks pretty positive. But, as analytics data is fairly dirty (e.g. due to analytics spam) and I didn’t run a split test, I can’t definitely say that the changes above were due to the website changes. I wasn’t able to compare all the above data with the same time period for the previous year due to some missing analytics data. But the sales data for 25 weeks before and after 16-Dec in the previous year was:
|total sales value||-2.7%|
|average order value||+8.1%|
Which implies that the sales changes are unlikely to be due to seasonal factors.
Best of all, I never have to use NetObjects Fusion again!