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5 essential steps to a successful responsive website redesign

by Duff Anderson, on Oct 22, 2014


Re-designing a website is not what it used to be. Gone are the days of wholesale site redesigns that focus on delivering an updated image with a modern look and feel. Today a website can serve various objectives from driving online conversions to brand building to customer retention but the quality of the experience underlies all your different objectives.

Website owners can provide a superior customer experience across all their site visitor’s devices by implementing a responsive design. Recently, there has been a flurry of websites that have undergone site updates driven by the need to be responsive. is just one of these companies and for them one of the main drivers to move to a responsive design was the increase of traffic coming from mobile devices and the need to provide a consistent customer experience across devices. According to Monetate Q4 2013 Ecommerce Quarter Report, more than a quarter of traffic to large ecommerce sites now comes from a tablet or mobile device. With this in mind, it is essential to provide a seamless experience across desktop, tablet and mobile.

 Any changes to your website should be grounded in research and the implementation of a responsive web design should be no different. Ensuring the process goes smoothly and will deliver the results you want requires engaging with visitors every step of the way. Continuously tracking customer feedback through a representative survey pre and post site redesign is essential for lasting success. So here are 5 steps on how to implement a successful responsive design leveraging the voice of your customers.

1. Use a responsive research design

iPerceptions sleek and responsive survey interface for mobile, tablet and desktop responsive website redesignsIf you want to implement a responsive web design it is imperative that your research is responsive as well. A responsive research solution solicits feedback across all devices. By only engaging with visitors on certain devices and not others, you limit the amount of insights gathered from visitors and available for analysis. The purpose for a website visit may be very different from one platform to another.

It is important to remember that when a visitor decides to leave a comment on your website or participate in a research study they are engaging with your brand. They are taking the time to provide you with vital feedback and they expect a high quality experience. To tackle a responsive website redesign you will need a responsive research solution that can solicit and collect feedback from all devices.

2. Set a baseline

Following your pre-redesign research, you’ll need to measure how visitors are using your current site, and figure out what its strengths and weaknesses are. Establishing a baseline is essential in order to set priorities and measure performance post launch. The metrics established will allow you to communicate and align your resources to an experience that customers want. Implementing a responsive design typically touches many areas of the organization including marketing, product development, IT and sales.

Having a clear vision of how you are going to align your internal resources to support customer priorities across department is the key driver for success. You can accomplish this by implementing and sharing ongoing research that measures representative feedback from real website visitors with the other departments. The research should focus on measuring visitors’ intent, task completion rates, and the drivers of satisfaction and referral. The research should also focus on how visitor purpose and needs vary based on the device they are using.

3. Beat the recovery curve

Creating a responsive website is a big venture and expectations are always high. It is important to understand that visitor satisfaction ratings often dip immediately after a change before they recover. While no two changes are the same, the dip and subsequent recovery are a very common phenomenon as demonstrated in graph 1.

Graph 1: The overall experience over time for a site that went through a responsive website redesign

Graph 1: The overall experience over time for a site that went through a site redesign

Here’s the confusion. While the ratings of the site drop when we ask how returning visitors view the change, the majority will say it has improved! Searching through the open-end comments visitors provide in their survey feedback, we often see the same outcome. The number of positive comments about the change often trumps the number of negative comments. But still the overall ratings drop.

People want improvement, just not the details of the change. It’s like asking someone if the new house they bought is better. Of course it is – but they may also complain endlessly about all the issues associated with moving in, what’s missing, and how hard this or that is to find. It’s the same with your site visitors. Designers should focus on beating the recovery curve – bouncing back to higher levels of experience as quickly as they can. This is where having baseline KPIs are invaluable and allow you to track satisfaction and adoption of the new design. Making management aware of the potential for an early dip and focusing on beating the curve will focus teams on the right issues and keep internal stakeholders positive.

4. Use comment cards during launch

While continuously tracking a representative sample of site satisfaction during the redesign is essential, using comment cards can be helpful in identifying and solving immediate tactical issues with the new site launch. During the first phase of the relaunch, visitors may acknowledge that your site offers improved long-term benefits; however, their immediate experience is often frustrating due to new navigation or the unexpected consequences that even the best testing plans may have missed. Providing a comment card provides an effective way to capture tactical issues as they occur.  These issues can be immediately addressed and/or prioritized for improvement, shortening the satisfaction recovery curve and smoothing out the transition for your site traffic. For more information about using comment cards in conjunction with a representative tracking study – check out ‘3 reasons for using multiple feedback methods for your digital research’.

5. Continuous improvement - Intent based enhancement

Once the recovery curve is tackled you can now focus on the ultimate goal of surpassing the baseline of performance and satisfaction. Enriching your insights with structured research centered on the digital customer lifecycle can allow you to do this. This is because the way you measure for marketing effectiveness, is different than the way you would measure for purchase optimization and conversion, and again different than experience tracking. Have you ever heard the saying: Start with the end in mind?  Often digital research is created with little or no thought to what the final goals or objectives are. With research frameworks the desired output defines the entire process from beginning to end. Predetermined data structures allow for powerful analysis techniques and associated reporting to be delivered immediately. Real time modeling, enhanced graphic displays, as well as, linguistic mappings are just a few examples of the powerful output that becomes possible. With the end in mind, leveraging a framework around the digital customer lifecycle will ensure your insights are clear and accessible.

Final thought – Don’t waste your time and money

It is imperative that you engage with your visitors during the entire website redesign process to address issues before they become bigger problems. Managing customer expectations through giving visitors an outlet to express their views is essential to quick adoption and beating the recovery curve. If you are about to implement a new responsive website leverage the voice of your customers to align priorities and guide the process. Get it right the first time and ensure you don’t waste significant resources and money.

Duff Anderson
Duff Anderson

Duff Anderson is a visionary in Voice of the Customer research with over 20 years’ experience.

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