Your customers aren’t static, and neither is your business—so why should your website stay the same? It should be dynamic and flexible, accommodating new technology and shifting user behaviors.

Whether you’re switching to a new platform, incorporating responsive design for mobile users, or your site is overdue for a graphic refresh, the key to a successful redesign is testing and optimizing along the course—not just at the finish line.

A Risky Proposition

There’s nothing cheap or quick about a redesign project. Plus, there’s a great deal of uncertainty—even after online surveys, usability testing, and careful selection of talented designers, there are still plenty of unknowns. What if the visitors don’t respond well to change? What happens if the site looks great, but doesn’t meet your key performance indicators? What if you invest all of your budgeted resources and don’t see a positive return?

Let the Data Decide

Testing helps to mitigate the risks involved in a redesign. Many businesses make the critical mistake of waiting until right before launch—or even after launch—to put on their testing hats. By then, it may be too late to catch and correct fatal flaws.

To help ensure a successful redesign, fold the following tips into your testing strategy.

Keep it simple. You don’t always need complex testing schemas. In fact, the most basic and straightforward tests often yield the most valuable results. For example, a simple inclusion or exclusion test of a particular content module can produce valuable lessons and have an immediate revenue impact. A little analysis goes a long way.

Divide and conquer. Everyone in the organization—marketers, designers, and even creative groups—should play a role in testing the layout and functionality of a beta version of the new site. Not only will you gain valuable insights, you’ll also help these users grow in their jobs by gaining testing experience.

Roll it out gradually. Tools like Adobe Target let you throttle the rollout to a small percentage of users. Monitor how users interact with the site in real time, closely measuring such data as page views, page errors, conversions, order size, internal search results, live chat sessions, and cart abandonment. This enables you to gather early feedback and minimize adverse impacts before making the new site available to everyone.

Get the right tools. If you’re already using a tool like Adobe Target, you can leverage it as a mini redesign. Your marketers can simply select a site component and then test or target it with a few clicks. Solutions like Dynamic Tag Manager enable simpler, more agile implementation, allowing you to easily set up business rules for when and where to test.

Remember, waiting to test is a surefire way to delay success. A flaw in the design will be difficult—or even impossible—to pinpoint after launch. You’ll run the risk of losing not only revenue, but also the trust of your customers and the strength of your brand. By testing as you go, you’ll gain a clear understanding of what’s working and what needs to be tweaked to deliver the best possible user experience.

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