Should we re-design?
As with so many things, a website design is an ongoing process that needs maintaining. If you leave it or add more to it without thinking from the outside in, it becomes like a wardrobe you keep stuffing things into: Sometimes you have to take everything out and start again to find what you're looking for. But if you have maintained your web design, all you'll need to do is the odd minor adjustment.
Re-designing is always a big decision. When is the right time to do it, and is it even necessary? If one or more of the following statements sound familiar, it's probably worth re-designing your website:
- We still have just as much content on our website as 3 years ago
- Our website hasn't followed the company's development
- User tests show that our users are dropping off before they buy
- Our users struggle to find what they're looking for
- We get a lot of support calls and enquiries after people have visited the website
- We don't get the results we want
- The purpose of the website has changed
- Our website isn't responsive
If these remote controls were a website, which one would you prefer to be yours?
We've all had remote controls full of buttons, but how many of those buttons did we ever really know what were used for? Not very many. The same parallel can be drawn with websites: Websites that are still stuck in an era where we want them to do a bit of everything and to tell our whole life story. In reality, 75% of content is rarely of any relevance to visitors - just like the buttons on a remote.
Several examples show that removing content and replacing it with focused content adds far more value and significantly increases conversion rates. Here are a few thought-provoking results:
- Telenor in Norway deleted almost 90% of their pages. Conversions rose by 100% and support enquiries dropped by 35%.
- The American Ministry of Health deleted 150,000 of their 200,000 pages. No one noticed.
- Columbia University in Chicago deleted 97% of their pages. Student applications rose by 80%
Times have changed. Users are busy and don't want to waste a second of their time. Meanwhile, Google looks for a high level of user-friendliness, whether the website is mobile friendly, how many users drop off and to what extent users engage with the website, when selecting who is going on page 1 and page 10 in a Google search on relevant search words. If you don't meet the above and are still stuck in the era where you have to tell your whole life story, the chances are you won't be on page 1.
How much should we re-design?
Each case is different. Some need an entirely new digital strategy; others are successful in a number of channels but struggle on the website; some need to tidy up their navigation and information architecture; and others need to focus on a specific area such as a checkout flow. Even if you have a good idea about what you need, it's always worth supporting this idea with facts. Take a look at Google Analytics, test their website and ask your users before you start.
A good place to start is also to look at what else is on the market. Compare competitors' strengths and weaknesses. Spot the opportunities and areas you want to focus on - and be aware of functions you want to avoid, and which don't add any value to your company. All this leads to the next important question:
How do we re-design?
The romantic image of the talented solo designer coming up with some genius idea while everyone else sits back and waits, doesn't exist - and thank goodness for that. Design doesn't work in this way - and never has. Good designs come from having a thorough understanding of a problem and being prepared to solve it, and then knowing how to check if the problem has been solved.
Such a process is rarely achieved by just one person but by a team that works together as a unit, marching towards a common vision and direction.
Make sure you have a plan for your re-design. A plan you're all on board with. And remember, you need a target for your re-design, so you can measure its effect. Ask yourselves the following:
- What are we trying to achieve?
- How do we know the project is a success?
- What do we need to do?
- Why do we need to do it?
- What are our must-haves?
- Who are we doing it for?
During a re-design process, it's worth testing the solution on the right users. Use all of the above points as indicators to validate whether the solution is on track. Once the re-design is ready for launch, prepare to measure it to see if it has the desired effect. Evaluation falls into four phases:
- Setting up one or more hypotheses.
- Measuring and analysing the re-design's performance with both qualitative and quantitative data, such as think-aloud protocols and Google Analytics.
- Evaluate whether the re-design has met its goal and validated the hypotheses.
- Adjust and maintain the solution from here on.
Examples of results of a re-design
When you invest in a re-design, there must of course be a Return on Investment. The focus area varies form customer to customer, which is why it's hard to say how big an effect you will see. We often see major improvements, but it's also important to point out that improvements don't stop with a re-design. As already mentioned, maintaining your website is an ongoing job. You also have to keep track of other factors involved, such as how your customer service is performing. Are we visible enough, where are our customers? And are we managing to retain our customers?
Here are a couple of specific examples of how to achieve results with a re-design:
- 15% increased total turnover
- 86% increased turnover on mobiles
- 40% increased conversion rate on mobiles
SOS Dansk Autohjælp
- 73% total increased turnover
- 275% rise in unique purchases on mobiles
- 17% increased conversion rate for e-commerce
- 86% growth in turnover on jysk.dk
- 318% rise in tablet transactions
- 162% value increase of site search on mobiles