Radical Redesigns

Lifts vs. building customer theory


“Radical redesign” is a term we use often at MECLABS.

It’s used to describe treatments that are “radically” different from the control. We aren’t talking about changing some button copy from “Buy” to “Buy Now.” We’re talking new themes, layouts, copy and even functionality on the page.

Radical redesigns contain many variables making it difficult to isolate specific elements contributing to the results of a test.

Today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post will focus on several of the pros and cons of radical redesigns, but I’d first like to provide you with a little more context on testing in this fashion and how it may impact future testing.

Lifts are awesome.

That means your treatment(s) had a positive effect on your key performance indicator (KPI). You may have increased clickthrough rate, conversions or conversion rates, or possibly even leads.

Your treatment won, and you also learned how the variables you changed in the treatments resulted in an optimized page.

However, identifying specifically what, how and why these changes made an impact is what makes building your customer theory even better. Discoveries are important to customer theory because they can be attained regardless of whether your treatments “win” or “lose.”

Discoveries are also valuable in informing future testing.

Let’s say you changed some button copy. If your treatment wins and you see a lift, you learn that the button copy you changed resonated with the visitor.

But if the treatment loses, you’ve discovered that it didn’t entice the user to click, and you need to continue testing to determine the optimal copy to increase visitor engagement with the button.

Either way, you’ve gained valuable insight about your customers with your test.

However, this isn’t always the case with radical redesigns.


Radical redesigns may provide a lift, but they also leave a lot of unanswered questions 

There’s no doubt about it, radical redesigns are fun. You are able to play with designs. You can try all of your cool ideas. You can make landing pages or email treatments that look so much prettier (or uglier) than the control version.

Radical redesigns are often beneficial and can be a quick way to optimize your page if you are seeing multiple opportunities to add value and decrease friction and anxiety.

When radical redesigns win, it’s great. It means visitors loved your new designs, copy or functionality. Your hypothesis was correct, and the new page increased conversions. You achieved a lift, and you learned that whatever you did to the page resonated well with the visitor.

But you might have to ask yourself, “What else did I learn?”

You just don’t know what you did to the radically redesigned page that made it any better and that insight may be lost as to where to test next.

Was it the new headline? The altered layout? The aesthetics you added? Or was it that updated functionality?

Often times, the little voice that wants to know what you learned is silenced by the increase in conversions.

When radical redesigns lose, however, that’s a different story. While they are fun to plan and test, the sad fact is that when they lose, you are often left back at square one.

There is not much you can learn from an underperforming radical redesign and here’s why:

      1. You didn’t see a lift. You didn’t devise a new treatment that boosted conversions to implement. It lost. The only lesson you learned was that the control was better, which just leaves you back where you started.
      2. You don’t achieve as many valuable discoveries about your customers. What aspect of the page didn’t resonate with visitors? Maybe they liked the new layout, but the headline turned them off. You’ll never know. Therein lies the risk with radical redesigns.

Keep in mind, this post is not meant to deter you from radical redesigns. As stated before, radical redesigns are a great way to make many positive changes to a page when you have diagnosed specific shortcomings.

The idea here is make you aware of some of the pitfalls of testing radical redesigns.


Iterative testing can help you walk your way into testing a radical redesign  

A great alternative approach is to “test into” your radical redesign.

By this, I mean iterative tests building on top of each other until your page resembles your radical redesign plan. You can get your radical redesign and know for sure that the elements you are changing have been tested and validated.

In closing, a radical redesign can pay great dividends for sales, lead generation and even clickthrough. However, there is an inherent risk when you make multiple changes with no discovery gained from your decision.

But without the risk, there is no reward. No increase in sales and no greater understanding of what it is about your marketing that really appeals to your ideal customers.

This is why testing is so powerful.

It’s a tool to help you build customer theory by mitigating the ultimate risks to your marketing efforts – doing nothing – or relying on gut instincts over an evidence-based approach to your marketing.

The next time you consider a radical redesign, take another look to decipher whether or not a discovery may be more valuable in the long run.


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Conversion Rate Optimization: Why is split testing so powerful? [More from the blogs]

Customer Theory: What do you blame when prospects do not buy? [More from the blogs]

Customer Theory: How we learned from a previous test to drive a 40% increase in CTR [More from the blogs]

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