Reverse Engineering a Website Redesign for Competitor Research

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Most marketers will agree that competitor research is key when establishing a marketing strategy. The question is, how many marketers continue to monitor their competitors after the initial research is done? You don’t want your business to start losing customers because your competitor has upped their game. In this post, we’re going to show what you can learn from analyzing your competitor’s website redesign.

Overall Look & Feel

If your business doesn’t have the time or the budget to invest in a web design that might not do the job, you can relax. Chances are, your larger competitors do have the ability to invest in the research it takes to find the perfect design for maximum conversions. All you have to do is monitor their moves and the best design is likely to be revealed.

Let’s take Sprout Social, the robust social CRM tool for business. Rival IQ picked up changes to their web design in early 2013.

Analyzing a Website Redesign

Viewing website design changes in Rival IQ.

These changes were not minor – and any social media tool for business would be wise to note the key updates they have made. Just by browsing the thumbnails, you can see that the new look and feel is much cleaner with less text and larger images. Now, let’s dig deeper.

New Products, Services, and Features

The first thing you may want to find out when a competitor updates their website is whether they are offering new products or services, or if they have made significant changes to their existing products and services.

One of the things you will notice immediately about the opening of the features page is the difference in text. Before, there was a lot to read. The main tagline on the product focused on design and user experience.

Product Features Page Before

Sprout Social’s features page header before the redesign.

In the new design, most of the opening text has gone away, and the main tagline focus on the power of their product.

Product Features Page After

Sprout Social’s features page header after the redesign.

Before, there was again a heavy emphasis on text on the page, particularly bullet point lists. The top three features they focused on were the dashboard, monitoring, and analytics.

Product Features Page Highlights Before

Sprout Social’s feature highlights before the redesign.

After, the text has gone away and the top features highlighted are the ones that most people will be interested in: engagement, publishing, monitoring, and analytics. They also specify that all plans include the main features listed.

Product Features Page Highlights After

Sprout Social’s feature highlights after the redesign.

You can click through to each to learn more, just as you could on the previous design. Even the individual features pages now have a more streamlined look with less text and a larger image emphasis at the top.

Individual Features Page Before

Sprout Social’s individual features page after the redesign.

Pricing

Since the pricing page is where your main conversions happen, it’s especially important to anazlye the changes to it. In Sprout Social’s case, the before look included a darker theme and the pricing order was from highest to lowest.

Individual Features Page After

Sprout Social’s pricing page before the redesign.

In the new look, the pricing goes from lowest to highest and the text about the features in each level changed slightly. They also changed the wording of downgrade to change.

Pricing Page Before

Sprout Social’s pricing page after the redesign.

Beneath the pricing table, they previously listed the social networks they work with. In the new look, they instead note the fact that all plans include free personal accounts for paid team members and mobile apps.

Pricing Page After

Sprout Social’s pricing page additional info after the redesign.

They also modified the look of their FAQ below the pricing options. Before, the section felt a little more cluttered with the questions on the left, logos of brands they worked with on the right.

Pricing Page FAQ Before

Sprout Social’s FAQ before the redesign.

After, the look is cleaner and the testimonials are in place of the logos.

Pricing Page FAQ After

Sprout Social’s FAQ after the redesign.

Conversion Testing & Strategy

Chances are, Sprout Social did some heavy A/B testing to determine the best ways to design their call to action buttons to increase free trial signups. Overall, the reduced amount of text on the main pages make it easier to recognize the call to action buttons without the need to make them boldly colored, something you may have noticed on the homepage and throughout the site. Here is the homepage before.

Homepage Before

Sprout Social’s homepage before the redesign.

And here it is after with a more mute, yet still obvious call to action.

Homepage After

Sprout Social’s homepage after the redesign.

Another area you may note changes to are the navigation bar. Before, there was a steady log in and sign up button at the top right. After, the navigation bar changes from just showing to the log in button to showing a bold free trial button as you scroll down the page.

Navigation Bar with Call to Action

Sprout Social’s navigational bar after the redesign.

It’s a perfect change as people are more likely to want to sign up for a free trial as they scroll down the pages on the site to learn more. Having the button appear while the page is moving makes it more eye-catching.

Trust Factors

Trust factors are the elements that help a potential customer feel more confident in their decision to buy from your business. Before on the Sprout Social site, they were only found on the homepage.

Trust Factors on Homepage Onlin

Sprout Social’s certifications before the redesign.

It was missing on other key pages such as the pricing page and the product features page. In the new look, however, they implemented them into the footer to be displayed on all pages throughout the site.

Trust Factors on Footer Throughout Website

Sprout Social’s certifications after the redesign.

They also lessened the chance that people would click on the links to the Twitter and Facebook development centers in this change. While the links are still there in the new footer design, they are less obvious to click on than the badges in the previous design. This will prevent people from leaving the Sprout Social site and potentially discovering one of their competitor’s in the developers directories, especially on Twitter’s page where you are greeted with Adobe Social, HootSuite, and other products before you get to Sprout Social’s listing.

They also added more video testimonials from the brands they work with on their customer’s page. Before, you could only see the main video, followed by a call to action. After brand logos, you would then find additional testimonial videos.

Customers Page Before

Sprout Social’s customer page before the redesign.

After, you can see three videos, directly followed by logos of brands using their product.

Customers Page After

Sprout Social’s customer page after the redesign.

The testimonials also stand out more in the new look.

Customers Testimonials After

Sprout Social’s testimonials after the redesign.

Copy

The above points are just the things you can notice at a glance while going through a competitor’s website redesign. When you’re going through website changes manually, it can be difficult to note the more minute copy changes that have happened beyond headers and call to action buttons. This is where Rival IQ can make your life simpler by highlighting these changes.

Comparing Changes in Website Copy

Seeing copy changes on a page in Rival IQ.

With our tool, you can find out if your competitors are just making over their layout or if their copy has been modified as well. You can also find out if your competitors have made any changes under the hood. For example, Sprout Social did not change any of their search optimization tags like the page titles or meta descriptions. Another popular internet marketing tool, Raven Tools, did.

Comparing Changes in Meta Description Text

Seeing meta description changes in Rival IQ.

Considering the importance of the copy used on a homepage’s key on-site search optimization tags in relation to how a website appears in search, being able to see these changes when they happen can be vital in on-going competitor research.

Key Takeaways

So what have you learned from taking a walk through of this social media tool’s website change?

  • Less text can make your calls to action stand out.
  • Allow people to quickly see your product top features without having to read too many details.
  • Trust factors should be on every page you have a call to action.
  • Small changes in copy can make a large difference.
  • Remove options for people to leave your site as much as possible to increase conversions.

What did you learn about the redesign, and how can you see Rival IQ’s tool helping you monitor competitor’s website design changes? Please share in the comments! Also, be sure to sign up for Rival IQ to research your competitors – the first 30 days are free !

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About Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance blogger, ghostwriter, and social media enthusiast.

View all posts by Kristi Hines »

Comments

  1. Impressive analysis, Kristi! We were excited about the changes, but very much appreciate that you noticed as well. Thanks for featuring Sprout Social.

  2. Cool analysis – great to see some exciting design ideas and hear your thoughts on them.

  3. Kristi:

    Nice work! I’d love to feature a post on this subject written by you on The Content Wrangler blog. Let me know if you’re interested.

    Scott Abel
    The Content Wrangler

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