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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