The ‘site refresh’ vs Continuous Testing

For those publishers who have been publishing content for more than a few years, there is an assumption that every few years you’ll need to do a ‘site refresh’ to update the look of the site and ‘keep it current’. You might even think about getting a mobile site made… The assumption is that once this is all done, you can get back to creating content until the next refresh in a few years time.

The problem with this thinking is that it’s out of date.

1. Page layouts that do not rely on testing/feedback loops are inherently flawed with bias from the designer. Your site is unique because of it’s keyword profile for organic search. Every decision made for your site should be based on the assumption that it’s not what you like (=personal taste, subjective criteria), or indeed what I might personally prefer, but it’s what the users like, that should count most.

The ‘look’ of a site is subjective to the publisher, but really should be directly related to visitor’s actions & user metrics. It’s very difficult to find the right layout by testing things manually (or guessing the right layout based on personal taste).

2. The speed of online innovation is such that it’s almost impossible for an individual publisher to be able to keep up with all the changes for how your content is being accessed. You might be mobile enabled, but what does your site look like in Opera Mini, or Amazon Silk mobile browsers? How about your menus and images on the latest handset screen size? What about the ads on those devices? What about users who want to access your content from Google Glass or other wearable technology? With mobile impressions sky rocketing, most publishers are still focused on how their content looks on their own PC, for their own screen resolution. It’s hard to visualize, but it’s happening and unless you embrace the continuous future-proofing and testing of your site, you will be missing out on users and revenue as the landscape changes around you.

So, if you haven’t done so – you should seriously consider using Multivariate testing to help you improve user experience metrics (time spent on site, page views per visitor and bounce rate…) and of course increase your revenue from ads.

There’s lots of ad money & UX being left on the table – all you have to do is use the right tools to scoop it all up.