We’ve all heard the horror stories of beautiful (costly) redesigns, causing a whole lot of damage for businesses, yet companies still do them all the time.
Most redesigns are based on gut feelings, best practices someone read about, what “looks good”, new design trends or what corporate wants.
The thing about redesigns however, is that if they’re based on anything but profound research, detailed strategy and experimentation, they’re most likely not going to produce the results you’re hoping for (which is a nice way of saying, they’ll probably completely fail).
This is what most redesign processes look like:
- You redesign an entire website or funnel
- You go live with it
- Conversions start to plummet
- You have trouble identifying what caused the decline in conversions because so many changes were made, nothing was tested and you have no way to identify what went wrong.
So what does work? Is there a good way to do a redesign?
If you do the redesign each step at a time, test each change you make, analyze its results and then optimize again, it can be done. A step-by-step process reduces the risks, allows you to evaluate each change you make, understand its effect, learn from it and iterate again.
Redesigns as a single launch event must be avoided. The myth that a full redesign can solve your sales and conversion problems is a dangerous one. A better way to look at it is evolutionary redesign where you test and iterate and repeat. The test and learn process informs your design and is much more reliable.
The 3-Step Process to An Informed, Successful Redesign
Step 1: Research
Most companies forget about this. Don’t be like most companies.
To get started you’ll first need to conduct thorough research into identifying what needs to be optimized. Questions you should be asking yourself:
- What is currently broken?
- What isn’t working?
- What do people have a hard time doing on your site?
In this step your goal is to identify that friction using the following tools:
#1 User behavior analysis
Step 1: Google Analytics. Analyze it thoroughly. It will show you where something is broken.
Step 2: Heatmaps. You’ll see what users do on problematic pages identified in the previous step.
Step 3: User Testing. See how it works with real users. What is clear, what confuses them, how they really interact with the site (as opposed to how you want them to interact.)
#2 Messaging and content evaluation
Step 1: Surveys. Understand your prospects better, their pains, hesitations, concerns and what stage they are in the customer journey.
Step 2: Interviews. A simple 15-20 call with as few as 5 clients/customers can help you better understand why people took action with you in the first place and what keeps them coming back. No need for assumptions.
Step 3: Chat Logs. Find common complaints, issues, and problems people face.
Once you’ve concluded the research phase, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to change on your site based on a proven research process and not gut feeling or because your competitor is doing it too.
Step 2: Planning
By now you have a great list of pages you want to optimize, however we don’t want to make all the changes at once as that may give us a hard time tracking those changes and their effect. If our goal is not just a cosmetic change, we need to prioritize what change to make on the site and when.
A simple method is to prioritize based on three parameters:
- Time to implement the changes. The less time it takes, the higher the score.
- Resources needed to make the changes happen. Budget, developers’ time, copywriter, designer. The fewer resources needed, the higher the score.
- Impact – potential impact on your business. Doubling a seldom-visited page’s effectiveness would have much less impact than improving your pricing page by 20%.
An example of prioritization:
We’re in the business of improving our ROI and increasing conversions, not making a beautiful site. What will determine if a change you made was successful? Make a list of all the KPIs and metrics you will be tracking for each page you optimize. This list will help keep you in check and will give your team the insight they need when they’re looking at the process you’re going through.
The last step before the actual design process is outlining all the pages you’re going to optimize, creating wireframes that outline every single change you’re going to make so it’s easy to follow and check items of the list.
For each page, write down all the changes you’re going to make to this page and how you’re going to measure it.
Step #3: Build
At this stage, you’ll work on creating the new variations for the first page you’ll be optimizing. This is where you’ll write the actual copy, design the page and follow your hypothesis for a newly optimized experience.
Next, you’ll want to test that new variation. A/B testing this change is the best way to prove your hypothesis and reduce the risk of decreasing your conversions and not knowing why it happened.
If it works well you can gradually start making similar changes to other pages. If it doesn’t work well, then you only have to stop the test and optimize that one page which isn’t performing as well as you would have liked it to. Analyze the results, adjust the variants and test again.
The best thing about testing is that you don’t need to guess, you can verify every change you make and support it with the numbers. You’ll be making evidence-based changes to your site and reduce the level of stress to a minimum.
Avoid redesigns that aren’t based on research and experimentation. The steps mentioned above can save you a lot of time and energy. Instead of redesigning according to what you think will work, use a proven methodology, one that gives you a way to continuously improve and control the outcome. If you follow a step-by-step process, you’ll reduce the amount of stress and that guessing game you want to avoid.
PS. Post-redesign conversations usually go like this:
– We recently did a redesign and conversions have plummeted, we have no idea why this is happening. Can you help?
– What was the redesign based on?
– Our designers created a new, beautiful, sleek, up to date and responsive site…
– Did you test it or elements of it before going live?
– Mmmmm… Test it?