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How to Redesign an Existing Website the Right Way

Before you redesign an present web site, let me take a moment to explain an various strategy that may ensure success.

I’ve written before about how I’m not a fan of periodic redesigns of present web sites. I consider they injury the consumer expertise and are often an pointless expense for the enterprise.

See Also: Are you losing money on periodic web site redesign?

Nevertheless, I accept that not each website is in an appropriate state to be iterated upon over time and that a more in depth rethink may have to occur.

In this publish, we’ll discover how I work with my shoppers to manage the redesign of an present web site.

We begin by taking a look at how most organisations are getting the redesign of their present web site solely improper.

Why Most Organisations Get the Redesign of Their Existing Website Improper

Sometimes the redesign of an present web site begins with anyone inside the organisation merely concluding that it wants doing for whatever cause. Nevertheless, not often is this conclusion based mostly on any concrete knowledge. Sometimes it is made because the “design looks a bit out of date” or the “technology is not fit for purpose”. That is as a result of a worrying variety of organisations shouldn’t have any clear concept of their website’s key performance indicators.

See Additionally: What is Success? How To Define Key Efficiency Indicators

Much more regarding, this determination to redesign an present website typically leads to throwing out the whole website and starting again. There seems to be little attempt to isolate the drawback and repair it.

Subsequent, numerous stakeholders are brought collectively to determine what the new web site needs when it comes to performance. Once more, these stakeholders not often base this on knowledge or an analysis of consumer wants. They merely determine based mostly on their observations.

Typically the digital specialists are excluded from the choice around if and how a redesign of an present website happens. Tweet this

Only as soon as these selections have been made does the organisation usher in digital professionals. That is typically in the form of commissioning an outdoors company however also can contain taking the temporary to an in-house staff who is usually treated as nothing greater than a service department that’s expected to construct the website.

In either case, the specification for the redesign of the present web site has already been outlined without any enter from those who most perceive the potential and limitations of digital.

At this point, quotes are offered and timescales set with solely restricted discussions about whether the undertaking is important or its scope right. Once the quote is accepted, work begins and scope creep is the enemy and deadlines are unmovable.

Image showing how most redesigns of existing websites happen.Most redesigns of present websites seem to have little consumer validation till submit launch, at which level the venture ends.

That leaves no room in the redesign of an present website to study and adapt during the build part. Sure, some minor tweaks could also be made alongside the method, however with the constraints of the specification, timescales and finances all set, little real change will happen. As soon as again, consumer suggestions is essentially ignored.

Most redesigns of present websites are run without any clear concept of whether or not they will be successful on launch. Tweet this

The result’s that the organisation has no method to know whether or not all this effort and money was worthwhile till after the website is launched. Only then will they know if the new website performs better than the previous one, presuming, that is, they’ve any metrics by which to measure its success.

Worse still, once the web site is launched, the money dries up, and other people transfer on, which means that there are not any assets to fix any main points that come up. Sure, there shall be some minor maintenance, but that is it.

How then can these issues be prevented?

10 Steps for The Profitable Redesign of An Existing Website

My key to the successful redesign of an present web site is recognising that digital tasks shouldn’t be run like traditional tasks. With digital, it’s straightforward to study what works and what doesn’t, in addition to shortly adapt to what we study.

With that in thoughts, listed here are the 10 steps I exploit when redesigning an present web site.

Have Clear Objectives

Before I even think about redesigning an present website, I establish a transparent vision of what success will appear to be. Without clear objectives, I do not know whether or not I want to undertake a redesign or what the new website will need to obtain.

I’ll want to make these objectives measurable so I can benchmark the present website (see under) and inform testing as I develop the new website (additionally see under).

Sometimes I have a tendency to concentrate on three crucial areas:

As soon as I can clearly categorical my shopper’s enterprise objectives when it comes to measurable metrics, I flip my attention from what the enterprise needs to what the consumer needs.

Do Your Consumer Analysis

To encourage individuals to act on a website I want to know them. I want to perceive what questions they’ve, what duties they want to complete and how they want to interact with my shopper’s website.

Meaning it’s crucial that I perform consumer analysis before I start occupied with the specification for the undertaking. It is unnecessary to outline content and performance before I know that the consumer needs those issues.

See Also: Consumer Research: 10 Methods to Get Started or EnhanceMap of the customer journey.Once I have completed my consumer research, I typically map the buyer journey to perceive how the website matches into things.

As soon as I do know what customers are in search of and what my shopper needs to obtain, I can now take a look at the present website and make an knowledgeable judgement about whether it wants redesigning in its entirety.

Benchmark the Existing web site

I take the key performance indicators and consumer research I worked on with the shopper and use them to assess the present web site. Normally, I also carry out some usability testing on the web site too and typically take a look at the competitors for a body of reference.

See Also: How to Get Began With Usability Testing

Doing so offers me with a much more goal view of the state of the website, somewhat than just redesigning it on the hunch of my shopper.

Even if it feels apparent that a redesign is required, this step continues to be advisable. The shopper could also be mistaken and even if they don’t seem to be, benchmarking an present website helps me confirm just how a lot of a redesign is required.

Establish What Can Be Stored (if Something)

I hate waste and inefficiency. I consider in salvaging what I can from an present website, quite than starting from an totally blank canvas each time.

If the website’s content material is sweet, maintain it. If the know-how platform does the job, don’t change it simply because the builders need a new shiny toy. But, most of all, do not create an solely new design when you can evolve the present design.

That isn’t just a financial consideration. That can also be because present users usually don’t respond properly if you make modifications. You break their mental model of the website and so will increase their cognitive load. If attainable we would like to avoid that.

Image showing how Amazon has redesigned its existing website incrementally.Amazon has prevented a redesign of its web site, as an alternative evolving the design over time.

It’s also essential to stress there isn’t a purpose we’d like to change the whole lot in one go. Typically it is easier to ‘upgrade’ an internet site in levels. I have to make this judgement on a case by case foundation and to be trustworthy there are not any arduous and quick guidelines here.

Nevertheless, if I conclude the content wants changing (which it typically does), I all the time start with that before taking a look at know-how or design.

Begin with The Content material

It looks like the content is the most uncared for part of any redesign of an present website. Shoppers are often unwilling to pay cash for knowledgeable to create their content material, and it’s typically the final aspect of a redesign of an present web site that the shopper addresses.

See Additionally: Not every good writer can write for the webit is inconceivable to create an effective design for an internet site without understanding what the content material is it is going to be supporting. Tweet this

This angle in the direction of the content is harmful as it’s the content material users come to your web site for, not the design or know-how. Also, it is unattainable to create a compelling consumer interface for an internet site without understanding what content it is going to be supporting.

I, subsequently, start the redesign strategy of an present web site with the content material and I all the time ensure that content begins with consumer needs, not simply what the firm wishes to say about itself.

Till I’ve the first draft of a minimum of a few of the content material I can’t even take into consideration design. I will even want an define of all the content that needs creating so as to construction the info structure.

See Additionally: How to Get Users Concerned in Creating Higher Content material

Work on The Info Structure

Once I understand what content wants creating, I begin to handle the info architecture. For me, that all the time occurs before the design, as a result of I exploit the process of creating the info structure to establish the visual hierarchy.

I rely on prime process analysis and card sorting to create my info architecture. That ensures it matches the consumer’s mental mannequin and addresses their questions.

Example of card sorting.A card sorting exercise may be an wonderful start line for redesigning the info architecture of an present website.

With my website structure in hand and no less than a primary draft of content for some of the important pages, I can begin to work with a designer to tackle the redesign of the present website. That may be a process that happens by means of the creation of increasingly refined prototypes that I will check relentlessly.

Prototype and Check the Interface

My first explorations into the redesign of an present website might be nothing various sketches. Nevertheless, even these may be examined to see if the consumer understands the primary premise of a website and spots important elements.

Typically I transfer into something like Sketch to start refining the design additional. These prototypes might be examined utilizing flash checks, choice exams and other types of design testing.

Example Moodboard TestEven a moodboard might be tested with customers.See Additionally: Testing Design: How Do You Check a Design Comp?

Nevertheless, the drawback with tools like Sketch or Photoshop is that they’re probably the worst means to show the interactive and dynamic nature of an internet site. That is why I shortly transfer into the browser.

The problem with tools like Sketch or Photoshop is that they’re probably the worst approach to show the interactive and dynamic nature of an internet site Tweet this

As soon as in the browser, I can start to build a prototype of the website structure and even enter the first cross of the content. This prototype might lack a refined design, however it’s going to permit me to perform usability testing on the info structure and findability of content.

Basic Browser Based PrototypeEven a primary browser based mostly prototype allows you to start testing info structure and content material.

This prototyping part is all about testing and iteration with the prototypes shifting increasingly in the direction of an strategy I might be confident about.

The final iteration of this prototype will turn out to be the template from which the last website is built. That replaces the specification, but is as an alternative constructed on proof and allows me to avoid infinite discussion and debate.

See Additionally: How to undertake an iterative strategy to UI design

As soon as I am confident in my prototype, we transfer into constructing the remaining redesign of the present web site.

Construct a Beta

The beta construct mainly uses the prototype as its start line however produces it to a launch prepared commonplace with full functionality and the capacity to work at scale.

I work with the shopper to refine, and after testing, finalise their content. I spend time with the developers serving to them perceive the prototype and be clear about what they are building.

A totally fledged design system is important for a website’s long run success.

I also spend lots of time with the shopper, builders and designers establishing a design system and related pattern library for the redesigned website. From my perspective, this can be a important part of the process as this can help guarantee the website can evolve post-launch.

That’s necessary because I don’t await the website to be good before going reside.

Launch a Minimal Viable Product

I’ve seen too many redesigns delayed as those concerned endlessly tweak and agonise over each detail. That strikes me as absurd because typically the website is already considerably higher than what is at present stay.

Stop making an attempt to make your website good before going stay. The online shouldn’t be print; you possibly can and will change things post-launch! Tweet this

I feel this stems from a print mindset and the feeling that when it’s revealed, you’ll not have the opportunity to change issues. But that shouldn’t be the case with the net when you’ve got the proper angle, funding and relationship with builders in place.

Normally, I treat this preliminary ‘go live’ second as about two-thirds of the means by means of the ‘project’ somewhat than at the finish. As an alternative of launching an ideal website, I begin with a minimum viable product.

Some shoppers worry that they could alienate customers in the event that they launch a not quite perfect website. In such instances, I begin with a public beta. In this state of affairs, the present website stays on-line, and users are invited to attempt the new website.

In both case, I intently monitor consumer behaviour once we go reside in order that we will study and iterate upon it.

Embrace Continual Iteration

Once a website goes stay, you can see me obsessing over analytics and using instruments like Fullstory to watch consumer periods.

If the website is an open beta, then I watch intently what number of customers who take a look at the new website then keep on it, and how many retreats to the previous website.

However whether open beta or stay website, I am monitoring the metrics I defined with the shopper at the start to set up how nicely the website is performing towards the previous model.

Based mostly on what I observe, I will begin to optimise the website and make improvements. If I spot something that’s under-performing I’ll run an A/B check using attainable fixes and see if they carry out higher.

See Additionally: A Novices Information to A/B and Multivariate Testing

Over time, I sometimes step again, however the work continues with the shopper taking over the position of monitoring the website and testing attainable improvements.

By regularly optimising and iterating on the present website, it avoids the web site getting right into a state the place it should ever want an entire redesign again.

Redesign cycle.An internet site must be in a continuing cycle of redesign and evolution submit launch.

In fact, to make sure that the website continues to get the attention it needs it is going to want a staff of individuals regularly engaged on it. The location will transfer from being a capital expense to an operational one.

At the very least, the website will want a product owner who is finally liable for its success. Sadly, all too typically, and regardless of my greatest warnings, I see websites flounder as soon as I step again because no one is devoted to its success. As an alternative, duty is shared throughout many and so it ends up at the bottom of everyone’s to-do record.

So, let me end with some key takeaways to ensure that your subsequent redesign is your last redesign.

Key Takeaways

  • Keep away from redesigning your web site if in any respect attainable. As an alternative, evolve and improve it as required.
  • Cease treating your website as a capital expense every few years and as an alternative regularly spend money on it.
  • Have clear objectives on your website.
  • Validate and check at every step of the journey.
  • Use prototypes as an alternative of writing long specs.
  • Begin with the content.
  • Be sure that anyone owns the web site and is accountable for its success.

So, I hope this glimpse into my methodology has helped, and should you need a guide by means of your next redesign process, I’m here to assist. Just hit the button under!

I need help with my website redesign!

Stock Photographs from Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock