Last time we talked about how to decide whether to redesign or improve your existing site. After careful analysis of your existing problems it is quite possible you have still come to the conclusion that a site redesign is the best path forward.
As mentioned previously, you will want to engage your UX team as soon as possible – if you’ve got a strong internal team that’s great, otherwise there are lots of experts out there who can help you do your due diligence before moving forward with your project. If you do decide to stick with your internal team, this guide should set you up for success.
The first thing you need to do is gather as much information as you can about your existing site. What is already working, and what needs extra attention? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Things you should absolutely reference if possible include:
- heatmaps for all important pages
- user testing
- on-site surveys
- customer service common problems
- analytics, particularly goal flows
- heuristic analysis
Ideally, all of this information should be viewed in light of your site’s personas and acquisition channels. Email traffic will behave differently than paid traffic, and will likely follow a different path through the site. Likewise, you may serve more than one demographic who look for a totally different set of products or use different tools. Putting yourself in the shoes of all of your major cohorts, with the help of the tactics above, should help you identify the glaring pain points for each user group on your site and help you determine what changes to make with your redesign to alleviate these problems.
As you move through this process, with design wireframes, early development, and ultimately your final version in staging, you should consider each of these same cohorts again. Did the changes you made address the pain points of these users? If the answer is no you should try to figure that out as early in the process as possible to minimize the duplicate work. On the flip side, be sure to retain anything that is working with these existing cohorts.
Another really important item to consider as you prepare your new site is your analytics. Ideally, you want a seamless transition between the old site and new in terms of tracking, and in order to do this you have to consider early on what changes to site structure are being made. If the main hierarchy is changing you’ll need to figure out what new pages and flows are equivalent to your existing ones and tag them similarly.
If page URLs are changing you need to make sure your existing goals map to the new site. In this case, it’s also very important for SEO to 301 redirect the old or removed URLs to the new ones. New sections of the site need to be tracked similarly to existing (updated) ones for consistency. Be sure to not only track the final goal but any funnel steps relevant to that goal as well.
Once you’ve got a finished version of your site in staging you’ve got one last opportunity to identify major gaps in the user experience. While your team is conducting QA, you should be having real users test your site to see if you’ve covered all of your bases. To be clear, you’re not necessarily looking for bugs here, rather trying to identify UX problems that QA testers may not see as “bugs.”
It may be too late at this point to impact the initial release for additional minor issues, but if it turns up anything major you’ll be happy you tested. This also sets you up for success in the weeks following the release – while the dust is settling on the newly launched site you’ll have a backlog ready to keep things moving forward without a hitch.
Hopefully, the above tactics will help you run a smooth redesign that maximizes your opportunity. If, after considering all of the above, you still feel like you don’t have to tools to make the most of your redesign there are plenty of places to turn for help.
Just be sure when selecting a consultant that their project plan is focused on your customer experience and your goals rather than their expert opinion.