A Startup Site Redesign is Like Getting a Shiny New Car

Audi S5
Image by andyrusch via Flickr

Startups love to redesign their website. We did it for one of our sites recently and have another in the works that’ll launch at the end of this month. Effectiveness of our lead generations efforts is measured by our marketing automation and inbound marketing products, but we’re like 99% of other companies online where we can’t tell if the redesign actually made our site better. Prettier? Yes. More modern? Yes. More successful? No idea.

A startup site redesign is like getting a shiny new car. Here’s why:

  • You don’t really need a new car because your current car still gets you from A to B
  • The new site prettiness is like the new car smell — it’s great but wears off quickly
  • Spending considerable time and money on the redesign, much like buying a new car, is usually more ego than necessity

Do I recommend doing a site redesign? Yes, but with one caveat: buy an off-the-shelf theme/design and tweak it instead of creating one from scratch. There are so many good Woo Themes and others out there that you can get that new car smell for significantly less time and money than in the past.

What else? Do you think startup site redesigns are like getting a shiny new car?

10 thoughts on “A Startup Site Redesign is Like Getting a Shiny New Car

  1. Hmmm – normally I would agree, and at GoodData, we got by with pre-built WordPress templates for 2 1/2 years. But we’ve found our new site does a much more effective job of explaining our company DNA and what customers/partners can expect if they work with us. We are in the Business Intelligence space where BS vendor claims are sadly the norm, and business people are totally intimidated by the lingo. So we wanted to create a brand that would make normal human business people feel good about understanding our product and want to engage with us.

    To do this, we needed more professional communications that I could do myself – and we hired a website design firm to help: http://www.andculture.com.

    Results are great – people are more likely to ‘get it’ if they experience our website (and product) before they talk to us which leads to greater self-selection ( = lower sales costs).

    It’s definitely soft marketing, and impossible to cost-justify, but it’s more than our ‘new car’ for sure.

  2. I agree in principle. There are WAY too many companies, startup and otherwise, that expend an unnatural amount of time designing and redesigning their site, mistaking that motion for action. Because of this, I’ve almost felt embarrassed to tell people that we’re spending significant time on a site redesign, but there are points where a supremely low-grade site starts to cost you credibility and potential sales, and I think we’ve been there.

    I think the fidelity of the site depends on the customer base and competition. In some industries, clean and functional may get the job done. In other industries, the site design needs to evoke some originality or flair that matches the product.

  3. I think you need to redo your website only when it no longer really reflects what you do as well as it did. You add new services, offices, client case studies, whitepapers as new content so eventually the whole thing needs an overall. To carry on the car analogy you can keep adding new gadgets to an old car but eventually you are better off getting a shiny new one where everything is included!

  4. One of the companies I most admire (and perhaps many of you do as well) has had one of the most bare bones websites, and seems to relish in its thriftiness, almost as if that thriftiness is a branding element that reflects the corporate culture.

    Looking at it just now, for the first time in several years, I notice that it is slightly more complicated than it used to be but still perhaps the most bare bones website for a legitimate company out there: http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/

      1. Just noticed this blurb at the bottom of their site, further rubbing in how thrifty they are: “If you have any comments about our WEB page, you can either write us at the address shown above or e-mail us at berkshire@berkshirehathaway.com. However, due to the limited number of personnel in our corporate office, we are unable to provide a direct response.”

  5. “we’re like 99% of other companies online where we can’t tell if the redesign actually made our site better.” You’re not A/B testing the new design? Or major elements of it? If you’re not collecting data around the usefulness of the change, then why change at all?

    1. We a/b test for two of our sites that get enough traffic to be statistically significant. For the other one we just don’t get enough traffic to know if things are better.

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