How to Plan a Website Redesign

Online retail is taking a massive evolutionary leap forwards. User behaviour is now firmly multi-platform; more and more devices can access the internet; mobile digital media consumption passed tipping point a while back; all digital growth is now coming from mobile; Google will soon start prioritising mobile-friendly sites in search results, and customers expect to be able to do everything from change their energy supplier to do their Christmas shopping on whatever device they want. So is your website ready for the change?

If your website isn’t delivering a true multi-platform experience already (all content and services available on all devices), you should be thinking about a redesign. It can be a daunting task to plan, but instead of thinking of a redesign as a chore, view it as an opportunity to reinvent your customer journey, taking a leap forward into an increasingly mobile and agile world.

Here are five things to consider when planning a redesign of your website.

1. Build on your current strengths
If you look at the most successful companies online, it’s actually quite rare to see a complete website redesign. That’s because those companies constantly evolve their website rather than starting from scratch. If you’ve redesigned quite recently, it may be that you just need to look at making updates to ensure your site is mobile-ready. And if your budget is limited, looking at smaller-scale improvements is a good option.

2. Consider mobile users
Are you losing mobile users at some point in your customer journey? Start by looking at whether your conversion rates differ across devices. Over half of online retail sales in the UK now happen via mobile, so if your stats aren’t reflecting this trend then your site is probably not mobile-friendly enough.

If your site restricts content or services depending on the device a customer is using, or if certain elements display poorly or simply don’t work on mobile, you need to redesign so that they work seamlessly across platforms.

3. Carry out user tests
It might seem counterintuitive to user test your current site when you’re planning a new site, but it can actually give you valuable insight into what works, what doesn’t, and why, and it’s more cost-effective than starting from scratch. If your analytics identify strengths and weaknesses in customer journey and conversions, user testing can give you a detailed understanding of those stats.

4. Look at what your competitors are up to
One indication of what your redesign needs to achieve is what your competitors are doing. Can customers do things on their website they can’t on yours? Does it look and work better on mobile? You can also turn this on its head and learn from their mistakes – is there something that’s super-frustrating to do on their website that you can do better?

5. Look at branding consistency
Modern retailing is all about offering a uniform customer experience at every point that your customers interact with your brand, from a bricks-and-mortar store to your online checkout. That means your branding and design should be consistent everywhere. If your website isn’t reflecting your branding then you should be putting this in to your redesign.

This goes beyond colour schemes and logos. Your website should also be reflecting your brand character. If your in-store experience is based on staff knowledge or fast service, those values should be reflected in your website design.

6. Consider an evolutionary approach
Lean UX, the process of using iterative prototyping and frequent testing to evolve ideas, is a very effective way of making sure your redesign actually gets the results you want it to, focusing on a holistic user experience instead of getting lost in lists of deliverables.

Just as evolution in the natural world causes animals to adapt to their habitats through small changes over generations, so Lean UX creates websites suited to user needs by testing and changing throughout the design process. The Lean UX process involves a cycle of defining needs, coming up with ideas, prototyping, quick testing and learning from results.

7. Document your assumptions
The Lean UX process is based on testing assumptions, and it’s useful at the start of the process to set out these assumptions and decide how you’re going to test them. Using design hypotheses can help you clarify what you want a website redesign to achieve, and help you work out how you’ll test whether it works. A design hypothesis looks like this;

We believe that [doing this]
for [these people]
will achieve [this outcome]
We’ll know this is true when we see [this market feedback]

We believe that making our advanced search function mobile-friendly
will achieve increased conversion rates on mobile.
We’ll know this is true when we see an increase in sales from mobile.

8. Set outcomes
As well as defining the outcomes you want to see from the new site, you should also decide how you measure success. How will you know that the design is achieving what you want it to? Each outcome should be matched with market indicators that will measure success. Again, you can use a design hypothesis structure to do this:

We believe that [doing this]
for [these people]
will achieve [this outcome]
We’ll know this is true when we see [this market feedback]

A chance to stand out from the crowd
With the world literally at their fingertips as customers increasingly shop on their smartphones, it’s becoming harder to compete on price or unique product. But a Lean UX-led redesign of your website allows you to differentiate through experience, focusing on the other part of the retail equation – how the customer interacts with your brand and how that journey makes them feel.

Find out more about how we can help you plan a redesign of your website; get in touch.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to talk more about how Natural Interaction can help you achieve your goals, please get in touch.

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Adam Babajee-Pycroft

Adam Babajee-Pycroft is Managing Director (UX) at Natural Interaction. You may bump into him speaking at a conference or near the front at a metal gig.