Checklist for Successful Website Redesign
Things are changing quickly in the online world, trends in design, promotion and marketing are changing and new technologies are emerging. Businesses are wondering should they follow trends and technologies or just changing bits and pieces on their product and/or company websites.
There isn’t yes or no answer to these questions as every company/product website is different and targets different audience.
Redesigning a website (or app) is a huge thing, especially if you have a stable flow of devoted users and clients.
Sometimes, users can be really angry at changes.
For example, recently Nike redesigned their eminent running app and people got really angry.
The Verge wrote on August 27 2016:
Despite a tagline claiming the new version was made “for runners, by runners,” many old Nike+ users are livid with the sudden switch and the loss of functionality and features that made Nike+ Running feel so vital. As a result, the new Nike+ Run Club app has plummeted to a 2-star review average among iPhone users; that’s actually up from the 1.5-star rating it showed immediately after the redesign.
This is always the danger when a company makes big changes to a popular app — one that millions of people open every day. “Bring the old version back” is probably not the overwhelming response that Nike was aiming for, unfortunately. Is everything ruined? For a lot of people, probably not.
The time will tell if this particular redesign was successful or not. Surely, this example gives a lot of food for thought whether a redesign is needed or not.
When, Why and How to Redesign
The decision of redesigning should be based on a lot more than visual appeal and redesign itself should apply also to the information architecture of the website, ease of use, functional improvements, content and product focus.
But who you should listen to? Users, marketing team, designers, UX experts?
As UX Magazine outlines:
In order to make functional (not just aesthetic) improvements, product managers and design teams need to perform research with real-world users. Most people already agree with this in principle, but vary wildly in how well they execute on it.
One of the most common mistakes companies make is to implement UI changes based on what users say they want. Unfortunately, experience shows that what people say they will or won’t like doesn’t always match reality. Moreover, a user’s suggestion on how to solve a UI problem may be unworkable, unreasonable, or both.
While it’s important to solicit and listen to user feedback, users aren’t designers or usability experts so their complaints and suggestions should not be taken at face value. Don’t confuse a design suggestion with a design solution. To identify the real UI problems and solutions, careful UX research must take into account facts, not just opinions.
Two fundamental techniques that should be used in any major UI update are focus groups and usability testing.
A website redesign should be based on a few simple principles: Functionality, Accessibility, Goals & Visual Appeal. And most of all, before getting into redesigning, you should have clear view about the problems your website have.
Some of the problems that usually are the reason for redesigning a website are:
- Difficulty in navigation
- Not having a clear idea about the target audience
- Complexity in ordering (for online shops)
- Slow loading speed
- Not translating well on mobile and tablet devices
- Missing content or content that is too complicated
- Terrible quality visuals
- Poor SEO
- Poor Design
How to tackle a redesign?
Here is simple checklist to take into account when the idea of redesigning comes to your mind:
1. Review current website
Your current website has to be the starting point for making your business better. You can hire an independent consultant and specialist company to help you with the website review. Determine the problems you are facing and redesign goal.
2. Check and define your audience
The more you know your users, the better you will be in providing them with what they need. You should be able to describe your customers like a character in a book. How old they are? Why they need your product or services?
Customer: Young college graduate with an interest in new technology gadgets.
Likes: Getting out with friends, outdoors, gadgets that might be used on the go
Hates: Complicated and difficult to use software and gadgets
Find you while searching for a portable wireless speaker.
3. Analyse Competition
Apart from checking their website and social media pages, you can check their Alexa rank which will give you an insight about their visitors, the countries they are popular in and a lot of relevant and useful stuff.
4. New functionality and look
Be accessible. Your website should be easy to navigate and users should find what they want fast. And focus not only on the design appeal but also on the functionality. Be concise in terms of hierarchy, visual content but also in the way you present information and lead them around.
5. Check analytics
Google Analytics or any other tracking tool will be extremely useful to check for errors, broken links and other problems on your website.
6. Be visually delicious
Apart for the content, the visuals on your website should be consistent and evoke emotions. Also, restrain yourself from putting stock images which are staged. Now, the images used on website should be as close as possible to the real situations, people and products. If you have the urge to put “perfect” people in offices smiling in a cheesy way. Or if you sell food, hire a good photographer/designer to make good images of your products. If you cannot afford it, find visuals that are similar to the food you offer.
7. Better SEO
Pay attention to H1 and H2 tags. Use alt=”” tag to describe your visuals and optimise loading times. Paying a few dollars for SSL certificate for your website can do miracles with Google.
8. Future Goals
If possible, try to outline what are your future goals in terms of promoting services or product on your website. Make a plan of how you want content to be changed and presented to the users. Also, try to imagine how to keep visitors coming to your website or how you are going to ask them to subscribe to your newsletter.
Redesigning a website can be really hard and should be done when you have done all the work that precedes it. Knowing users is crucial. As well as having a good service or product.
If you cannot afford to make a complete redesign, try with changing sections which do not work well for customers. Do not be afraid to try new things. Stay informed with the trends but do not follow them blindly. Also, do not jump into redesign just because your competitor does it.
Change is good when there is enough reasoning that it will be a positive one.
Featured image designed by Freepik.