In an earlier post, I told you that we still do major website redesigns at Adobe. Some advise against sweeping redesigns, claiming they disrupt user experience and make it difficult to determine which changes are contributing to conversion. But I have found it’s possible to implement cutting-edge redesigns that delight users and set us apart from competitors as well as do the crucial testing and analytics work that is necessary for a data-driven website.
Performing a major website redesign that delivers results (i.e., increased conversions, better user experience, and more engaged visitors) is a careful balancing act. It requires that you identify and pursue the redesign opportunities that will make a positive and lasting impact for your brand while mitigating the risks with a well-defined strategy and rigorous testing.
These 4 steps will show you how to avoid risk while seizing redesign opportunities:
- Test Wide
Before doing anything new, test the major site-wide elements that combine to make up your site’s current visual design and user experience. Your header, navigation and search functions, persistent calls-to-action, headlines, fonts, copy, blog content, graphics, videos, downloads, and more can all be tested to see which specific variables have the greatest impact on conversion rates.
If you discover your web copy and calls-to-action are working well, you can choose to retain them—avoid scrapping these powerful motivators and instead work to support and enhance them. On the flip side, if you discover your search function is frustrating users and not leading them to the information they want, you will know to make this a priority in your redesign.
This is also the ideal stage for qualitative research. When quantitative tests reveal which landing page has the highest bounce rates, your qualitative research can tell you why. Through usability tests, live onsite chats with users, and user interviews and surveys, you can go beyond just measuring behavior to also understanding the reasons for that behavior.
- Test Deep
After you’ve gained a wide view of the factors that are influencing conversion rates on your site, you can drill down deeper. The goal of “testing deep” is to zero in on specific variables that influence behavior. Optimize these variables by exploring and testing multiple creative variations of the same headline, navigation header, or image. Each variation can expose surprising insights into what truly motivates users.
This is also the time to define your user groups, or segments, in vivid detail. As you clarify what kinds of people are using your site, as well as what kinds of people you would ideally like to attract, you can focus in on how each variable influences conversion for your most valuable audience. This way, you can avoid investing in a redesign that serves an audience that isn’t relevant to your organization. Testing deep for your target users lets you maximize the ROI of your redesign.
- Redesign for Reflow
We’ve already surpassed the mobile tipping point with increasing numbers worldwide using mobile devices for browsing, shopping, and entertainment. In the US, “users are now spending the majority of their time consuming digital media within mobile applications.” We’ve certainly seen significant, steady growth in mobile traffic to Adobe’s web properties.
Any redesign must take into consideration user experience across smartphones, tablets, laptops, and monitors. Redesigning for reflow is about making the most of your site and content (both old and new) by ensuring they are accessible across every type of screen and device. Make your content evergreen with responsive design that allows it to flow seamlessly from one device to the next.
- Seize the Opportunity to Update and Differentiate
Think about the reasons you are redesigning in the first place. Chances are, you have one or more of the following goals in mind:
- Staying fresh and avoiding that stale, dated website look
- Gaining an edge on the competition with unique or innovative user experience
- Creating an experience that both delights users and keeps them wanting more
- Upgrading to better tools and improving site performance
Redesign goals should be user-centric and prioritize meaningful, personalized interactions. When choosing between similar services, content, or products, people will often return to the brand that offered the best digital experience. This is your chance to be bold and creative and take (calculated) risks to differentiate your brand and create an innovative, memorable user experience.
A redesign can also be a much-needed chance to update your CRM, CMS, and other digital marketing and analytics tools and platforms. You can seize the opportunity to solve internal workflow problems, improve site functionality, and rebuild for the long term.
Redesigns are ultimately a business decision; your investments will yield more returns in the long run if you do the difficult work of overhauling outdated systems now. But remember, the “fanciest” technologies, like parallax scrolling or sticky and sliding elements, are not always the best in terms of usability and site performance—yet another reason to test and test again! Balance what is possible given the latest cutting-edge technologies with what best supports your unique business needs and goals.
Don’t Redesign if You Want to Stay in the Middle of the Pack
Use your major redesign to position your brand as an industry leader. Don’t be afraid to pour creative energies into the places where user experience and business objectives overlap—this is where conversion counts most. Redesigns are part science, part art, and they are most successful when we balance analytics with innovation. As long as you remember the crucial steps of testing wide and deep and considering reflow across devices, you are sure to see meaningful results.