One of the common objections of website owners is the process of upgrading or replacing their current website template to improve conversion rates or site usability, but the actual improvements when I did it for one of my websites almost floored me. If you aren’t using a platform like WordPress that can hot swap templates on a live website it’s maybe time to start chatting to your web developer on how you can and when you can get started on the move.
Original WordPress Template
The original template while very good for customisations, it was actually leading to a very poor user experience for a number of visitors to the site, the very dark backgrounds and white text made the content harder to view and the site had an average bounce rate of 68%. Based on some feedback from a few people I had finally decided to tear down the other template which was very heavily customised and replace it with a new brighter and more simple template.
Refreshed WordPress Template
The move to the template produced more than a little hestitation as the old template had a number of customisations to improve SEO and monitisation of the site, but the work was done with the click of a button and my old WordPress website template was replaced. If I had of used another CMS besides WordPress it might have taken hours if not days to migrate across to the new WordPress template but because I was using the latest version it was just a simple click and it was done. There was no need for a web developer to go in a check links, content or site structure as WordPress manages all this for you when you change the template, it’s just really click and wait for results.
It is important to note that this was done on a live website, there was no downtime, no safety net it was a real experiment and while I don’t recommend doing it during business hours, it is fairly safe swapping templates as long as you have the latest version of WordPress installed.
The above template appears to be no longer available on WordPress.org to download but there are lots of web designers who are able to build you a similar template or might even have an old copy of the template that you can use.
Impact of new WP template?
Because I was concerned about the impact and got held up with other projects it was a fair while before I went back to see what was the impact of the template change on my website visitors. Prior to the refresh I did have some major concerns as I had a fear that it would have a very large negative impact on visitors behaviours or monetisation aspects of the site, but I discovered that all my worst fears were wrong. The bounce rates and pageviews showed a massive improvement since the new template went live and the effects were almost instant as you can see in the analytics graphs below.
I was completely floored in the matter of 1-2 mins at most I had turned the site from a poorly performing site into an insanely respectable and well awesome website, the cobwebs had been blown away and the site was able to blossom into it’s own with the new template. The website visitor behaviour improvements are shown below along with the changes in Adsense performance on the website.
Visitor Behaviour Improvements
- 119% increase in pageviews
- 3.5% increase in visitors
- 5.7% increase in time on site
- 94% improvement in bounce rate
- 135% increase in pages/visited
- 19% increase in Adsense Revenue
- 25% decrease in Adsense Clicked
- 73% increase in Adsense unit impressions
- 42% increase in Adsense page impressions
Custom WordPress Templates?
While I say it’s easy to click and replace it can be very beneficial to spend the time or money and getting a custom design done up but not so customised that it changes how WordPress works, but enough that it matches with your company or brand image. Wordpress is fairly powerful and it might even pay to have 2-3 similar templates designed at the same time and implement them and test conversion rates and site behaviour to see which one performs the best. Also there is no excuse for keeping your version of WordPress current as they offer a simple 1 click update as do many of the templates these days.