Don’t be a copycat when it comes to optimizing your website

Posted by Kristin Ravesloot on February 10, 2017

As someone who works closely with businesses who want to increase their website performance so that that they are generating more traffic, more conversions, and, obviously, more revenue, part of my job as Head of Optimization is to take our clients seamlessly and successfully through every stage of the digital optimization process (from analyzing and strategizing to testing and optimizing, from implementing to personalizing, and on to tracking and reporting).

At some point during this process I’m faced with this series of questions from clients:

“Can you show me what worked best for your other travel clients? Wouldn’t it save us time and money in the long run to do what your other travel clients did? If you already know what the best practices are, can we just do those? Based on good results you’ve had with your other travel clients, can’t you just do that for us? Can’t you just make our website look more like your other clients’ website?” 

Basically, most of the companies we work with at some point or another want to know what others in their industry are doing with their websites and digital strategies that seem to be working, and then they simply want us to duplicate those things (with the aim of duplicating their competitors’ successes).

To be fair, evaluating industry trends or competitor sites is valid and can be valuable. And there are very good, well-established reasons why a certain practice (like removing all exit points and navigation from the checkout process, for example) becomes precedent – these are things that have been proven time and again to provide the best user experiences and to appeal to basic human behavior or thought processes.

However, it’s very important to keep in mind that digital optimization and user experience is not a one-size-fits all industry. Each website exists within an exclusive, one-of-a-kind “digital ecosystem” that is made up of that company’s own unique brand voice, selling points, and, of course, users. What works for one brand may have the opposite effect on another – even if those brands are competitor sites within the same industry and offering relatively the same products or experiences.

For example, we work with many high-profile travel or tourism companies, and for a recent client, one of the ways we optimized their site (increasing their traffic numbers and conversion rates) was to increase the presence of graphics in navigation points throughout their user journey and use these images as an opportunity to cross sell, upsell and promote certain products. Yet, when we attempted this same strategy on a similar client’s website, the results did not prove as successful. Here, we had two websites in the exact same industry, offering their users similar products, and yet the same optimization approach led to two completely different results. And, this is not uncommon. 

So, what does this all mean if you’re in thinking of or in the process of optimizing your website? Should you turn a total blind eye to what your competitors are doing?

When it comes to website best practices, there are some strategies that we know work for almost everyone, especially within certain industries:

  • suppressing navigation and any distracting elements in a booking or checkout funnel
  • placing call to action buttons above the fold
  • making sure your online conversion path is mobile friendly

So, while you want to make sure your optimization agency or team is aware of these industry best practices, they should also be aware that one size does NOT fit all when it comes to website performance. So, they should understand when to break away from the pack and develop optimization strategies that are entirely unique to your company’s goals and users.

And this starts with testing

Testing (both A/B and multivariate) is an integral step in this process of figuring out what optimizations to your site yield the best results.Testing will give you distinctive insights about your site and users so that you can optimize and personalize the experience and create the most effective and delightful user journey – one that not only meets standard industry expectations but that also speaks directly to the needs of your unique users.

Need some help with testing or optimizing your website to see increased conversions and overall growth for your company? We’re here to help!

Send us an email at and we’ll help you develop the right optimization strategy for your specific website.

Happy Optimizing!

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Topics: Test and Optimization

Written by Kristin Ravesloot