Redesigning a site for the benefit of its target audience: a how-to manual. You’re probably in the midst of, or thinking about starting, a website redesign. The design of your site may have become stale and you feel it’s time for a change, or perhaps you’ve noticed a decline in traffic and sales that you’d like to address with a new layout.
For better or worse (as you’ll see in the following story), in our experience, redesigning a product or service can be the answer to many problems. Use the information in this manual to plan and execute a smooth redesign.
Our central thesis in this guide is that designing a website with the user in mind is the most efficient, secure, and fruitful strategy because we think that what’s good for the user is good for the business. In this chapter, we’ll go over the 6 fundamental questions and 6 requirements for a customer-centric redesign; in the next chapter, we’ll walk you through a detailed research framework to help you gather the customer-centric insight you need; and finally, in the final chapter, we’ll share some do’s, don’ts, and tips we’ve learned from our own experience and that of other UX, web design, and optimization professionals.
What is a website redesign?
Redesigning a website means making major changes to the site’s format, design, and functionality with the goal of providing a better experience for visitors. A successful redesign of a website can increase earnings, decrease abandonment rates, and enhance the user experience (UX).
Website redesign vs website refresh
As a preliminary matter, let’s check some terminology to make sure we’re on the same page. The number and scope of the changes you’re making will determine whether your work is a redesign or a refresh.
When a website is redesigned, there are usually major changes made to both the code and the visual design.
A new visual identity and branding is introduced, pages are reorganised from a user experience (UX) standpoint to accommodate new modules and functionality, the information architecture is refreshed, and a new content management system (CMS) is released simultaneously.
When only small adjustments are made without significantly altering the overall design or functionality of a website, it is said to have been refreshed. For instance, a new colour scheme and typeface might be implemented to modernise the site’s aesthetic, or minor user experience adjustments might be made to existing page layouts.
A redesign and a refresh may well be different when it comes to how resource-intensive they are, but they have one crucial thing in common: both of them will significantly impact your customers and their experience of your website. Whatever you’re doing, whether you call it a redesign or a refresh, the HOW of it matters more than the WHAT. And the first step is to pose some inquiries:
6 questions to ask before a website redesign
If you want to know what your target audience wants and how to make your website more user-friendly, you need to do some research before you start redesigning your website. There are some questions about your current website and customers that you must be able to answer before beginning a redesign (or refresh):
- How do you know which pages are the most important to you right now?
- When people visit your website, who are they, and what are they looking for?
- What quantifiable, concrete want of your customers is the current website failing to satisfy?
- How is the rest of your team/company taking advantage of this website?
- Which sections and features are most successful?
- How will you know if the redesign was a success?
If you don’t know the answers right away, that’s okay. In the remaining sections of this chapter, we’ll help you make sense of these considerations and formulate a website redesign strategy, so you can be confident that you’re redesigning for the right reasons and using the most efficient methods. However, as a warning, consider the consequences of ignoring this line of inquiry:
The 6 things you need to know before and during a website redesign
If you’re considering and undergoing a website redesign, consider the following six points.
- Which pages on your site get the most traffic and thus the most money?
- Who is checking out your website and why?
- What motivates or deters your clientele?
- Do you know how the redesign will affect your team or company?
Learn the ins and outs of using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to evaluate progress.
- What should be altered, and what methods can be used to ensure accuracy, are important questions.
1. Know what your website’s most valuable pages are
Website redesign is analogous to home improvement in this way. You wouldn’t start a remodel by swinging your hammer in random directions and knocking down walls without first double-checking if they’re load-bearing. Likewise, before launching into a redesign, you should have a clear map of your website ecosystem, scope out your wireframes, and know which pages need to be handled with care versus which ones can be torn down and rebuilt from scratch.
Investigating the connection between traffic and conversions is one approach; depending on the nature of that connection, each page of your website will fall into one of four buckets.
High conversion, high traffic pages
→These are the most important and profitable pages for your company: any mistake you make here could have disastrous consequences, which is why you need to approach them with caution and 10x more care compared to everything else you are going to redesign on your website.
High conversion, low traffic pages
You should proceed with caution when redesigning these pages because of the conversions they lead to, even if they do not receive a high volume of traffic at the moment.
High traffic, low conversion pages
→There is a lot of visitors to these pages, but they aren’t converting. Redesign with the goal of making things better; in this case, you are not gambling on new customers, so you have more leeway to be experimental than in the first two.
Pages with low traffic and conversion rates
Due to the low volume of visitors, it is unlikely that anyone will even notice if you make any changes to these pages, and you aren’t losing anything by doing so. Redesign all you want: these are the most risk-free pages on your site.
Understanding which pages must be preserved and handled with care will help you get the most out of your website redesign while a) not breaking something that is working well and b) not tanking conversions.
Here’s the deal: You should consider Google Analytics (or another conventional analytics tool) to be your most valuable resource. The second chapter of this guide gives you a step-by-step process to identify your most valuable (highest-traffic and/or highest-converting) pages.
Tip #2: Find out who is checking out your site and why.
In our experience, identifying your most valuable pages is one of the most overlooked parts of a website redesign. But it’s not enough to simply discover the most vital pages; you also need to learn who is going to them and why.
Several years ago, Google found that there are four main intent types that drive people to a website: “I want to know,” “I want to go,” “I want to do,” and “I want to buy.”
In this model, site visitors could be interested in what you have to offer because
Want to learn more about your company and its offerings
I’m hoping to hear from you (e.g. finding a physical location they can go to)
Need instructions on how to use one of your products.
Are prepared to make a purchase from you at this time
These are all very different motivations for viewing a page, and if you want to redesign with your customers in mind, you need to understand their intentions. An approach is to develop customer personas, which are fictional representations of your target audience based on research into their demographic and psychographic characteristics. Clear decisions are made with the aid of personas, which help you:
How you can best reach your target audience (not just “woman, 42, has two dogs, lives in the city,” but rather “project manager who leads remote team of 5”).
If you have a project manager in charge of a team of five people, you should know that she is probably “looking to buy a piece of software that helps her automate 30% of her tasks” when she visits a certain page on your website.
Reasons why this matters: If you have a clear picture of your target audience thanks to your personas, you can design with their wants, needs, and goals in mind. For instance, if a customer lands on your homepage and all they care about is finding the nearest store, that’s exactly what you should provide. They have no interest in becoming Christians. They aren’t thinking about that right now. Don’t try to coerce a sale; instead, provide the consumers with the data they seek.
Here’s how: if you’ve never built customer personas before, put surveys on your website to learn more about your visitors’ motivations for visiting.
Check out this four-step tutorial on how to build a user persona for more information.
3: know what propels or stops your customers
If you want to redesign your website successfully, you need to know more than just which pages are the most valuable and who is visiting them. What is convincing/helping customers to complete the actions they came to take, and what is stopping them along the way, are the two main gaps in your current knowledge.
These can be viewed as “barriers” and “hooks” for your customers as they navigate your website:
Discovering the specifics of the obstructions and entry points will aid in the formation of:
Problem areas where people get stuck
Individual page successes and failures
Opinions on the whole, including the good and the bad
In what ways your current calls to action (CTAs) are successful
How mobile and desktop experiences compare and contrast
What is almost preventing people from converting
So what’s causing all this uncertainty and irritation
Why this matters: if you don’t understand how your customers’ actions affect your website’s success, and if you can’t tell the difference between elements that work and don’t, you’ll have no idea what to keep and what to remove or re-think, and you risk making many of the same mistakes with the new design.
How to do it: Integrate data from traditional analytics (like Google Analytics) and internal sources (like your success/sales teams, chat logs, customer interview transcripts, etc.) into the behavioural analytics software’s output to create a more complete picture of your website’s user experience. Tools like these might include:
Tools like session recording and heatmaps allow you to see how users actually engage with your site’s various pages and features.
In-the-moment customer feedback widgets and on-site surveys, where visitors can share their thoughts on the site as a whole or a specific page.
A simple one-page template for sharing personas, barriers, drivers, and hooks with your team can be found in the second chapter of this guide.
4: know how your team will be impacted—and get them involved early on
Rather than waiting until the website redesign is complete to announce it to the company, you might want to start gathering feedback from employees as early as possible. Your website has an impact on all aspects of your business, and everyone who works with it (and with customers) should be aware of what’s going to change. For example:
User experience (UX) and design teams will need to keep users in mind at all times, and they will provide invaluable feedback on what features and refinements to make to the website.
New copy and editorial decisions will be made by content and copywriting teams, so it’s important for them to know where their content will be displayed and how much room they’ll have to work with.
SEO (search engine optimization) and dev teams will want to oversee the technical aspects of the redesign, including a potential URL migration, to make sure nothing breaks on a page and existing search engine rankings don’t tank post-launch
Right now, salespeople might use the website to gather prospective clients, so they need to be familiar with its updated design.
The Key to Your Success and Support Teams need to know who to point customers in the direction of if they have questions or problems.
Reasons why this matters: When redesigning something that will affect multiple departments, it’s important to get their buy-in and support from the beginning. Your sales and success reps, for instance, have one of the best sources of data when building user personas or working with the drivers/barriers/hooks framework, and they likely have some insights that you missed.
5: Know how to measure success with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
If you run an online store, the metrics that matter most are those that directly affect your bottom line. They cut right to the chase and want to know if your redesign improved business performance.
The goal of your redesign should be to increase sales by making your site more appealing to your target audience. Those things are:
Quantity of Changes
Percentage of change
Normalized Billing Amount (AOV)
LTV of a Customer (CLV)
To fully understand the results of your redesign, you can also use qualitative metrics. Consider the following as an illustration:
I was wondering if there has been a decline in the number of support inquiries and tickets since the site revamp.
CSAT, NPS, and CES are three metrics used to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty (CES)
Reasons why this matters: You can’t tell if your website redesign was successful or by how much without definite key performance indicators.
6: Know what to change—and how to test it
You’ve organised your Key Performance Indicators, gathered the necessary data, and are now prepared to launch the redesign. There’s probably a nagging thought in the back of your mind to completely revamp your site all at once, but a safer, more efficient approach is to start with the little things that can make a big difference, implement those changes, and then evaluate the outcomes.
If your site receives a substantial amount of visitors, A/B testing may be a viable option. The impact of one of your new features on your site’s goal can easily be tested by comparing it to the existing site. It’s possible, for instance, to
- Try moving the video on your homepage (which previous customers have said they enjoyed) above the fold to see if conversion rates improve. Assuming that…
Investigate the impact of social proof on your sales by implementing it on the order page. In that case…
It is recommended that you make yet another adjustment.
However, if you don’t have enough traffic or an A/B testing tool set up, you can still test the efficacy of several website designs by conducting moderated usability testing sessions, either in-person or remotely, during which you show your new page(s) to real people, get them to interact with it, and ask questions about their experience and any obstacles they’re encountering.
Because only a small number of your landing pages are responsible for the bulk of your traffic and conversions, this is vital information to have. To put it simply, you should not violate any of them. So, evaluate the research’s most significant suggestion, put it into practise if necessary, and move on to the next.
Here’s the deal: When faced with the question, “okay, but which one is the most impactful idea that came out of my research?” ConversionXL developed the PXL Prioritization Framework as a means of answering this question.
’ Fill in the first column with your test hypotheses and proposed alterations, assign points to each, and select the ideas with the highest’result’ total. That’s the ones you should base your work on.
Final thought: a website redesign is never really done
After the redesign is finished, you may think your work is done, but that is not the case.
Browser innovations, design best practises, and accessibility standards all evolve to accommodate shifting consumer tastes. Furthermore, results from the redesign may not be replicated after a year. Since the website is meant for your target audience, it is imperative that you remain attentive to their wants and needs.
Method: Reuse the same behaviour analytics and feedback tools that you employed when identifying drivers, barriers, and hooks. You could, for instance, add a permanent on-page poll to your site and find out if a user’s motivation for visiting your site shifts over time, or you could examine heat maps of your older and newer website pages to see if new design elements are attracting a user’s attention differently.