A website redesign is a task that most UX designers end up having to undertake at some time in their career. Starting a redesign from scratch may seem exciting – getting rid of those horrible content spots, update the UI and rework the navigation – but as a UX designer, we want to support our designs with real data and understand the impact our designs have.
The design industry is so subjective, what you may like someone else may hate. That’s why designing from scratch can bring out so many strong opinions and emotions which ultimately will be decided on by the stakeholders – rightly or wrongly.
Large organisations would be taking a huge risk redesigning their website or app from scratch. On the other hand, smaller companies can experiment a little bit more due to the fact they will have fewer features to implement and consider.
Take Apple for example
They have shown years of consistency without making radical changes. Each iteration displayed (over 17 years) has the same site structure; a navigation, main promo image, 4 secondary promos and a footer navigation but the visual style has followed the brand development.
You may have received a brief to redesign a website or app but there are three things you need to do to ensure the project goes smoothly.
There are so many reasons for a redesign, including increase conversions, improve website KPIs (key performance indicators) or simply to update the brand look and feel.
Before taking any further steps into the project you first need to understand why? why redesign, and why now?
Many organizations are uneducated on UX design and don’t realise that often small changes backed up by data can have a significant impact rather than redesigning the whole website.
Jim Kalbach’s UX strategy blueprint is an excellent framework to use for a collaborative meeting which can help uncover the objectives of the project.
Print out copies for everyone or recreate the strategy blueprint on the wall so that all the team can work collaboratively. It is important to speak with key stakeholders and understand their priorities and objectives at this point as it will help clarify any assumptions and identify problem areas.
It is all well and good discussing how the site can improve but we need the data to justify the time we are going to spend fixing the problems. Gathering analytics, popular pages and key drop off points is a great place to start. The more complex websites will profit from usability testing to define problems with key tasks users perform on the site.
Know your boundaries
Once you have got the goals of the redesign and understood how the pages are performing its time to comprehend what you are working with. Are there any limitations with development? Are there any brand guidelines in pace? Does the content need rework or it is small tweaks?
Investigate the current information architecture of the site and look whether this needs updating – don’t fix something that isn’t broke!
Design and test
We have clarity on the objectives and a solid understanding of any limitations which is a great position to be in to start the redesign. Begin by creating wireframes and prototypes using real content – remember mobile first and test your designs early!
It is important to involve other teams such as developers, designers and content strategists. As a UX designer, your role is to ensure all aspects of the site redesign are being considered – usability, site speed, SEO etc..
Once the designs are ready for launch this is by no means the end of the project. It is important to set up A/B testing to ensure the site is achieving the desired results.
Within UX design, a lot of success comes from the understanding of the projects context, goals and user needs. If you get given a brief that is to ‘redesign’ the whole website, be sure to ask the most important question.
“Why? what evidence do you have that these requirements will solve the problems?”
More often than not you will get the famous ‘blank stare’ – that way you know there is more information required to define the problem(s) before any work is carried out from the design teams. Take your time to perform the three key phases listed above and this will ensure your project runs smoothly.