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Why HIPPOs are dangerous for your website

For a few years, you've been at your company, working with a dedicated in-house team on internal marketing strategies that will take the company to the next level. You've been eyeing your competition and noticed they've all done something that your company has needed to do for years, redesign the company website.

Your website is in desperate need of a redesign. It's embarrassing; the homepage makes you cringe. While the site may have been state-of-the-art in 2015, it's outright outdated now. It's not responsive; the layout confuses your customers, and you know it's hurting your reputation because it doesn't represent the leadership you have in the industry.

Unfortunately for you, the VP loves the website and doesn't understand why money, time, and resources need to be devoted to fixing something "that isn't broken." It's hard to drum up support from executives who may feel that the website is "fine as is" or are under the impression that the site is working in your organization's favor.

If this sounds familiar, don't worry. This happens more often than you may think. At our agency, we've worked with companies of all sizes who struggled to refresh their website because HiPPOs (the highest-paid person's opinion) dismantled their plans. In an attempt to solve this issue, we've put together a list of the most common reasons HiPPOs may object to website redesign projects and some advice on overcoming these objections.

Problem #1 – The HIPPO doesn't understand web design best practices

Over the years, website best practices have continuously evolved, and a design that may have worked a few years ago now looks old and unpolished. Your executive might think it's a "classic style" that only gets better with time. They may only view the website on a desktop computer and not even be aware of how it appears on other devices.

By demonstrating examples of a well designed responsive website and showing them how they are displayed on mobile and tablet devices, you can make an argument for a website redesign to tackle this issue. Use data to make your point and stats to inspire them, such as the research that indicates that 82% of users browse mobile sites before making a purchase decision. Executives may not understand how a website is a marketing tool, so be sure you're equipped with numbers and facts to back up your decisions.

Along the same lines as responsive design, search engine optimization (SEO) best practices are continually evolving. Failure to adhere to SEO best practices changes can cause a site to be penalized or even deindexed, but these nightmares are all preventable. Tell your executives about how a new website will adhere to the latest SEO best practices and, with an aggressive content strategy, will allow you to outrank your competitors. This could help motivate the HiPPOs to support your plans.

Problem #2 – The HIPPO doesn't understand the importance of user experience

Even if a website is pleasing to the eye, it does not mean it's effective. User experience is described as the person's overall experience using a website or application, which is either excellent, atrocious, or somewhere in between. It's been said that there's no such thing as good or bad design, only effective and ineffective communication – and this absolutely relates to user experience and how a customer will feel after interacting on your website.

For your new website redesign, create user journeys to document how and what a user might interact with on your website to attain a goal and how to improve it. This could include learning how to contact your company, filling out a form, downloading a brochure, or browsing your service pages to understand more about your company's offerings.

Problem #3 – The HIPPO doesn't understand how the website impacts business objectives

Make sure you understand your organization's business objectives before even broaching the subject with a HiPPO. Your website redesign project needs to demonstrate how a new website helps achieve business objectives. Most HiPPOs may not know the role your website plays in your organization's marketing strategy. Showing that your website's performance has a direct impact on achieving your business objectives usually works in your favor.

Problem #4 – The HIPPO thinks a new website would be too expensive

Unless your HiPPO has a marketing background, they likely won't understand how to measure a new web site's value and how it will bring a return on investment (ROI). This is a fair objection to a website redesign, but if you can demonstrate the value of redesigning the website and addressing existing issues, it can make them realize the need for a new website.

Some benchmarks you could share with them include:

  • Monthly pageviews/visitors
  • Average month-over-month behavior
  • Bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Number of pages viewed per session
  • Traffic sources and acquisition
  • SERPs rankings for target keywords
  • Page load time and site speed
  • Landing page conversion rates
  • Call-to-action click-through rates

Some of these trends will speak for themselves and can indicate issues with your current website. Try to explain the metrics in a way that will empower your HiPPO to approve the move to a new website.

Redesigning a new website for your company is thoroughly exciting, though it can be a stressful process as well. We try to reduce the stress for you by using our 20+ years' experience building and rebuilding multi-award-winning websites for e-commerce businesses, B2B, B2C, and other spaces. To learn more about our web design and development services, contact us today.

Alfred Goldberg

Co-founder and President of American Operations at Absolute Marketing Solutions. Alfred Goldberg has over 15 years of experience as a small business owner and is one of two individuals in Florida to hold the distinction of being a Mobile Marketing Association Certified Mobile Marketer.

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