June 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

CoffeeCakes.com reluctantly redesigns its site and boosts traffic 70%

After a 14-year stint with its original site design, CoffeeCakes.com recently overhauled its e-commerce site. The dramatic results have convinced the e-retailer not to wait so long for the next redesign.

After 14 years with its original site design, CoffeeCakes.com recently overhauled its site. The dramatic results have convinced the e-retailer not to wait so long for the next redesign.

As part of a session called “First Responder: What Your Site Needs Now” at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Boston last week, Sherry Comes, founder and president of CoffeeCakes.com, said the fall 2008 redesign-the first major update for the site since it launched in 1995-produced a 70% lift in traffic within the first few days of testing.

“We were reluctant to redesign the site because we were experiencing 30% year-over-year growth,” Comes said. “We knew it was time to change when we started to hear that our print marketing was far more professional and attractive than our web site. Also, SEO and SEM experts were telling us a major overhaul was critical to search engine success.”

Comes contracted the redesign to an outside firm that took its direction from the site’s business goals and needs, users’ goals and needs, regulatory issues, and technology and industry considerations. “All the work goes into having detailed requirements upfront,” Comes said.

The outcome was a search engine-optimized site that was less cluttered and easier to navigate, on which high-quality photos of the cakes took a starring role. Besides the increase in traffic, Comes says revenue has grown 9% since the redesign.

Based on those results, Comes advised e-retailers to redesign at least every two years, and says it’s critical to optimize for search engines and make consumer navigation easy. “At CoffeeCakes.com, we know we have a great product and exceptional customer service, but that’s all meaningless if our customers and prospective customers can’t find our site or find it difficult to use,” she said.

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