As Co-founder of iPerceptions, I have had the opportunity to help countless Fortune 500 brands do website redesigns. In my experience, it is one of the most critical digital projects a brand can undertake, but equally one of the most misunderstood.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the website redesign process is that the minute you hit the launch button, everything will instantly improve, from customer satisfaction scores to task completion to conversion. Unfortunately, this is not the case. According to our research, visitor satisfaction, typically, dips immediately following a website redesign and only recovers a few months later (more on that later).
The key to any successful website redesign project is to put the customer first. Whether you are starting from scratch or giving your current website a new coat of paint, only with a customer-centric approach should you measure and manage the redesign process.
Below I have outlined three steps to redesign your website so it is customer-centric and data-driven.
1. Do your research before you start deciding what to change
Today, the website is a critical part of the omnichannel experience. As such, it needs to complement the in-store experience and be tailored for whatever devices your visitors may be using.
It’s also important to remember that digital shoppers will have different needs depending on the consideration stage they are currently in, which might influence the device type they will use.
For example, those who are ready to purchase may be more likely to turn to Desktop devices to use the available online cart tools, while those still in the research stage and evaluating the available product selection may be more intent to use mobile devices.
This is supported by research by Business Insider that found US adults spend 59 percent of their time on mobile, yet 85 percent of consumer dollars are spent on desktop!
This means that understanding the intentions, needs and expectations of your visitors is critical before deciding what to change.
Grégoire Baret, General Manager of Omnichannel Experience at The Aldo Group, recently did an interview with eMarketer and spoke about how Aldo went about the redesign process,
“I think the consumer is our source of objectivity. Research has to be part of the development process; the consumer has to be part of the development process.”
That’s why I recommend conducting Voice of the Customer (VoC) research prior to a site redesign. Collect a representative sample of feedback from your visitors using a survey on mobile and desktop, and make sure your research focuses on usability issues and pain points so you can uncover the main factors leading to visitor disengagement and friction. This will ensure that you have feedback directly provided by your visitors at your disposal as you build a redesign roadmap centred on improving the customer experience.
Also, integrating your VoC data with web analytics and session replay tools will provide additional context to your customer feedback, and give you a better understanding of why your visitors are interacting with your website the way they are.
2. Expect a recovery curve, and plan for it
Everyone assumes that a redesign will see immediate improvements, but according to our research, visitor satisfaction typically dips immediately following a website redesign, and recovers approximately three to four months after, depending on the industry you are in.
This is what we call the ‘recovery curve’, which I’ve demonstrated below:
Graph - An example of a website redesign recovery curve
While no two websites are the same, the dip and subsequent recovery are very common phenomena.
This might seem counterintuitive, but it is not. When you think about it, it makes sense.
Repeat visitors who had become familiar with the previous website design and layout will be unfamiliar with the new site design, and have difficulty finding what they need at first. Interestingly, even though the satisfaction ratings of the site drop, when we analyze their open-ended feedback using text analytics, they will say the site has improved! We often see the number of positive comments about the change outnumber the negative comments.
Why is this? Well, 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.
The key is to have baseline KPIs that will be invaluable in tracking the satisfaction and adoption of the new design over time. Making management aware of the potential for an early dip and keeping internal stakeholders positive will be imperative.
3. Have a post-redesign strategy
Now that you have launched, your satisfaction scores have recovered and other priorities are calling. You may think the redesign is behind you. But it’s not!
The key to a website that meets customers’ expectations is to continuously optimize the site using customer feedback as reference when the key decisions need to be made.
One of the most effective ways to continually optimize the customer experience is by collecting an ongoing feed of comments from visitors who are having an experience worth commenting about. This specific feedback will come from visitors having either extreme positive or negative experiences. When asked, these visitors will give the kind of feedback that provides the opportunities for remediation, or at the other end of the spectrum, highlight the strongest aspects of the experience. To learn more about optimizing the customer experience, check out my post on measuring and managing the customer experience, is not the same as optimizing it.
Too often, we get overwhelmed with a website redesign and forget to take a step back. When it comes to redesigning your website with the objective of improving the customer experience, it only makes sense to incorporate your customers into the process.
That is why I recommend that every website redesign idea start by collecting the Voice of the Customer to understand what is working and what is not from their perspective.
By following the 3 steps I’ve outlined in this post, you will stay ahead of the game by designing an effective site that has the customer experience in mind.