If your company uses its web site as a marketing tool or sales tool, you can't afford not to test new things. One powerful technique to help your company make huge site improvements with a relatively small effort is the incremental redesign.

Incremental redesign doesn't involve a total overhaul of your web site -- rather, just a single page or page template. It can involve your homepage, a landing page for a paid search campaign, your e-commerce product page or even your e-mail marketing campaign.

Here's how it works. Let's say your company runs an e-commerce web site, and you think you could improve your conversion rate. Use Excel to create a simple spreadsheet and log some "control" information -- the date range and conversion rate. Pick one page -- in this case, a product page. The objective for this page is to convince the customer to add the product to their shopping cart, so you hypothesize that the add to cart button isn't large and colorful enough. Make a simple change to your product page template by making the add to cart button larger and more colorful. Next, log the test date range in your spreadsheet, what change you made to the template, and the conversion rate for the date range. Having this spreadsheet allows you to compare the before and after, and make a decision as to whether you'll keep the new add to cart button. Keep this spreadsheet up-to-date over time and it will also serve as a log of what you've done in the past and what results you measured from those changes.

Of course, it may take many tests before you find the right page design, but this low-cost technique can be used on almost any page of your web site or even on a landing page.

It works. Last year, an online retailer hired me to improve their conversion rate. After looking at their site, I deduced that the single biggest barrier to conversion was their product page template. A large product image took up the entire width of the page, the pricing/value proposition wasn't clear and users had to scroll before seeing any product information. With the old page template in place, the site conversion rate was 0.91%. After the product page was redesigned, site conversion increased to 2.76%, all because we changed a single page on their site!

Often, significant improvements can be made without redesigning your entire web site. I encourage small businesses to try the cost-effective technique of incremental redesigns to improve the effectiveness of their web sites.