There are lots of reasons to contemplate a website “redesign.” It’s dated. It’s drab. It’s dense, confusing, and overgrown. It’s hard to maintain. Or, we’re rebranding, revamping, rethinking…
The fact is, that a “redesign” is rarely just a re-skinning of the look and feel of the site. It often incorporates navigation changes, a new content management system, integration of social media and new functionality for starters. Then there’s the whole business of content migration and creation.
No matter the reasons, the “redesign” will often involve redevelopment or a rebuild. That’s a tall order, so take the time to plan it right.
It should be user centric – based on what your key users want to accomplish when they come to your site. It’s your business to know what that is. And, if you listen, they’ll tell you.
There are many ways to collect user feedback. Hopefully, you’ve been gathering it all along and channeling it to those whose job it is to care.
To find out how they are really using it to accomplish specific tasks, turn to usability testing. That will tell you and your design and development team what really works and what doesn’t. You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Learn from what works, not only from what doesn’t work.
“Practical and functional websites rarely win prizes for design but they do win sales and make profits.” ~ Gerry McGovern
If you don’t have much user data, and you don’t want to spend money on testing something that you want to scrap entirely, consider getting an expert (heuristic) review. You’ll learn a lot about best practices and how you can do better in the next generation site.
Once you are into the design phase, avoid design by committee. Everyone has different tastes, and different ideas of what is hot and what is not. Your design should be driven by your strategy, your brand, and best practices in web design.
“People are on the Web not to enjoy your Web design, but to get something done.” ~ Jakob Nielsen
It’s amazing how much time it can take before a design is finalized. Be careful not to underestimate the time needed for design reviews and revisions. Some changes are easy to make down the road when your design has been rendered into code, like font choices and colours. Other changes will cost you development time and fees.
Like renovating your house, some changes are cosmetic and others are structural. How it’s going to be used should drive the design.