New website almost destroyed my client’s business

July 8, 2024

One of my clients is a doctor in Salt Lake City who specialises in bioidentical hormone therapy. For several years I’ve been helping him with online marketing, running Google AdWords and search engine optimisation.

The doctor had an old website, which looked outdated but was still bringing in a steady stream of enquiries from patients. The website wasn’t working well on mobile phones and I persuaded him it was time to update to a more “modern” look.

So about 5 months ago we launched a brand new website. The doctor, his colleagues and friends all agreed this new website “looks much better” than the old one. We waited expectantly to see how much it was going to boost his patient enquiries.

Well, what a disappointment

A month after the launch of the new website, the doctor told me his enquiries had slumped. The phone had “stopped ringing”. It was the worst month he could remember. Surely, it couldn’t be the new website, it must be something to do with the Google AdWords, I thought.

So I hired someone to audit the AdWords account, made some tweaks, and hoped things would pick up during the next month. But they didn’t. The number of enquiries was down by about 50% and the doctor was starting to get worried.

“I wonder if we should just put the old website back?” he suggested.

Me being the expert at online marketing, I recommended he wait a bit longer until things “settle down” with the new site. I couldn’t bring my self to admit that the new site was a failure, although in my gut I already knew it.

After three months, with the doctor now worried about the future of his business, I had to agree the new website was not working.

So, back to the drawing board

I’m a member of an internet marketing group, which includes some very smart marketers from around the world. I asked the guys in the group to look and the doctor’s website and give their honest assessment. They ripped it to shreds. And made some constructive suggestions.

So, I went away and designed a new website – forgetting about the latest “cool” design trends and focusing on what I’ve always known to work – a clear, simple sales message and a clean, uncluttered web design.

There’s an old saying among copywriters:

Tell me quick and tell me true, what your product’s going to go. Otherwise, to hell with you.”

This applies even more so with the web – but very few web designers really grasp it.

The revamped website, which replaced the cutting edge design failure. Clean, simple design and a clear sales message. No fuss. But it works.

So, we launched the revamped website 6 weeks ago

And within a few days, the doctor’s phone was ringing again. His enquiries have now exceeded what the original site was bringing in.

And all from a website that would not win any design awards. But it has a clear sales message and is written to touch the emotions of the people who need this doctor’s service.

So, the lesson is…

Be careful when redesigning your website, particularly if the exiting site is working effectively to generate enquiries and sales. A more “modern” look is not always better, whatever any web design agency tells you. The thing that really matters – and I keep hammering this to death in everything I write – is the message that the website communicates.

That comes down primarily to words, combined with certain basic design elements such as colours and fonts. But fancy design, the latest gimmicks etc won’t help one iota to sell anything. I’ve proved it, time and time again. This latest experience with the doctor just confirms it.

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