The beginning of a new year is a great time to go over your old website and refresh your brand. After all, your website is at the center of your online presence, and an excellent first impression is key for driving sales and boosting engagement. According to a recent study, up to 94% of first impressions are based on web design, and 75% of online users rate a company’s credibility based on the way their website looks. And if aesthetics weren’t enough, 89% of online users will begin doing business with a competitor after a poor user experience on your website.
These statistics are enough to motivate business owners to redesign their websites according to the best practices and follow the trends tech magazines are buzzing about.
But is every website redesign a successful one?
Sadly, no. Even if your old 2014 website isn’t doing your business any justice, a newer design won’t automatically boost your sales or help you compete with the big players. For your new website to be successful, you have to pay attention to several essential factors before, during, and after launch.
1. Determine what worked on your old website and what didn’t.
Not all old websites are embarrassingly bad. Some of them are just outdated and need a bit of sprucing up. Others should be built again from scratch. In any case, before starting work on a new design, ask yourself what the purpose of the redesign is and how it will make life better for you and your customers. Are there any existing features that constantly receive good feedback and that should be migrated onto version 2.0? What are the areas that definitely need improvement? Here are a few key points to discuss with the design and marketing team:
- User experience (how easy to browse is your current website, and how can you improve it?)
- Page loading speed
- Is the website structure SEO-friendly?
- Content quality: do you have too much text or not enough of it, and how well does it manage to sell your products? Are you calls-to-action in the right places?
- Mobile responsiveness
- Color scheme: are your current colors consistent with the rest of your branding? Unless you’re going for a complete brand overhaul, you should keep the colors and general look and feel so that visitors still feel familiar with your brand.
- Is the website navigation intuitive enough?
2. What audience are you redesigning for?
A new website design is a digital product, and, like any product, it needs thorough market research before the launch. Just because your new website follows the latest trends and looks amazing, that doesn’t mean people will immediately love it. Features are only useful when they are relevant for your users’ age, preferences, needs, and level of digital literacy.
Keep all these factors in mind before starting work, and then, when you test the website, make sure the test participants are representative of your target segments. For example, if your website is a community for gamers, the redesign will be different compared to a community for real estate agents. You need different features, colors, and overall, and different look and feel. A professional design team will not only help you discover the best new visual identity for your website but also research market opportunities, analyze what your competitors are doing, and do UX research.
And remember, no matter the audience targeted during the redesign, your website needs to be accessible to everyone and respect W3 standards.
3. Testing is just as important as development.
After you’ve finally finished work on your new web design, you may be excited to put it out there and announce a product launch. But before you do that, don’t forget to leave enough time for testing. This will validate your product’s value and give you an idea if your initial plan matches the experience of the user. The process can be pretty lengthy since it covers things such as usability testing, user observations, A/B testing, and tracking metrics, so plan accordingly when choosing the launch date.
During testing, you may ask your team to check the following:
- Create an account
- Download a free trial
- Contact you for support.
- Subscribe to the newsletter
- Make a purchase
Next up, think of problems that may appear when users are browsing your website. For example, how many clicks/page loads it takes until the user solves the problem, errors encountered while trying to solve the problem, and distractions that make the users leave the funnel. These are quantitative insights and are typically expressed in numbers (i.e., 60% of users were able to find our free trial, which means we need to make that page more visible).
Meanwhile, qualitative insights refer to the observational findings that tell you if certain design features are easy to use or not. For example, how many seconds does it take until a feature catches the user’s attention? How quickly does the text communicate your value proposition?
Even if you’re excited to start a new chapter in your brand’s journey, launching the design without validating its value can lead to underwhelming, confusing, or inadequate experiences on the user’s side. Needless to say, you want to reduce the number of bugs and ensure that your new website looks and works well on all platforms.
4. Don’t draw conclusions immediately.
When people launch a new website, they tend to remember only the users’ initial impression, but that may not necessarily be indicative of their overall impression. But, if you want to truly know what people think of your website, wait for the dust to settle. First of all, not all of your clients will have a chance to see your new design on the very first day. Even big websites like Facebook and Amazon need weeks, even months, to draw conclusions.
And secondly, users respond to change in different ways, and not all of them are indicative of the design quality. For example, men are known to be early adopters and use new products as soon as they come out, while women try new products after about eight weeks. Give your users time to try out all the features and make sure you have enough feedback before making any changes.