Big Bang Versus Iterative: What’s the Best Approach to Redesigning Your Website?

Posted by Florencia Carrizo Heit on November 27, 2018

Deciding how much or how quickly to overhaul your website can be a complex decision, with multiple factors (and stakeholders) to consider. Here, we’ll lay out the two most common types of website redesign strategies – “big bang” versus gradual – and the pros and cons for each approach.

What is a “big bang redesign?”

When an agency is conducting a “big bang redesign” of your website, that simply means they’re completely redesigning all or most of your company’s website from scratch.  

What does the process look like?

An agency’s typical workflow for this approach would look something like this:

  1. Discovery: During this first phase of a big bang redesign, an agency will work to understand your overall business, goals, objectives, revenue model, etc.

  2. Site Mapping: This is a comprehensive analysis of your entire existing website so the agency understands all of the new pages that need to be designed or built.

  3. Wireframing: The agency then builds out a “skeleton” of the new pages, which are usually just black and white designs so you can see the basic structure and layout for each new page on your site.

  4. Design: Once the wireframes are finalized and approved, the design team goes to work bringing them to life, making sure that each page is aligned with your own brand guidelines.

  5. Approval: The approval phase of a big bang redesign is crucial. This is where you, the client, gives any final feedback or requests for changes to the site as the finishing touches are added to each new page. Once this process is complete, you’re ready to launch your completely new designed website!

How do you know if you need a “big bang redesign?”

Typically, these types of comprehensive website redesign projects are best suited for outdated websites that contain either really old content and/or are providing a pretty poor user experience to their visitors. If your website is not responsive, it’s also probably a good candidate for a big bang redesign.

But what if you don’t want (or need) to redesign your entire website?

As an alternative to a big bang redesign, iterative additions of redesigned components (or gradual redesigns) are often more practical for websites that only need a few optimizations or changes. For example, maybe you just need to add a responsive view to your site or adapt your content to a more mobile-friendly user experience. Or maybe you need to improve the functionality or content on your home page.

When you make iterative additions or add redesigned components to your existing website, this is also a form of website “Optimization.” Optimizing your website basically means looking for any improvements you can make to the site that will increase conversions, drive acquisition and engagement, or improve your user experience. Optimization also typically involves rigorous A/B or multivariate testing to understand which improvements will yield the greatest results.

But, while testing, it’s also common to run into smaller improvements we can make – without testing – that will improve your UX. This kind of gradual website redesign is a real-time response to what’s happening on your site.  

These are the kinds of on-going optimizations and iterative redesigns you can expect an agency to make for you as a part of their ongoing effort to improve the functionality, performance, and overall experience of your website.

And, sometimes, you need to do both!

Let’s say you’ve just completed a big bang redesign and have a brand new website for your company. After a few months, you’ll notice that, to keep running at peak performance and stay competitive in your space, your website will need continuous attention, improvement, updates, and optimizations. Or, you can even iterate or add on to your redesigned components. But, how do you know what to keep improving on?

Finally, listen to your users

These kinds of post-redesign iterations can take many forms depending on what your users are saying and where your website performance is lagging. In fact, this is another very important stage in the life of your business where you should be getting direct feedback from your users about their experience with your new site.

You can do this, for example, by analyzing videos of users as they navigate your site or try to complete a specific task that you give them. This sort of user testing analysis can be invaluable in understanding your user journey and where your users may be experiencing difficulty that’s preventing them from completing a task or making a purchase.

For example, in one user testing video analysis that we conducted for a travel website, we asked users to search for a hotel at a specific destination to simulate the booking process. As the were conducting their search, they gave us feedback in real-time and explained any problems they were having with the functionality or interface of the site.

By doing these with several users, we were able to determine that most of the users were running into difficulty at exactly the same point in their journey, therefore we recommended further iterative redesigns to the client based on their own customers’ feedback. As a result, their site’s performance increased and they saw an even further increased ROI for their newly designed site.

Questions about how to improve your website’s performance or whether you’re ready for a redesign? Email us at!

Topics: User Experience, AB Testing, Optimization, design