Do’s & Don’ts – Redesign Your Site for #1

Regardless of the size of your website, a redesign can be a big undertaking. There are many factors to consider when redesigning, but today I want to focus your attention on the number one person when redesigning your site. Not your CEO, not the head of Marketing or Sales, not your website designer…YOUR CUSTOMER.

When it comes time for a website redesign, I’ve seen so many companies fall in to the same trap – an overload of fun features, interesting content and supercharged social. Not to mention too many “add-on” requests from marketing, sales, customer service, HR, and every other department. Before you get caught up in the madness, stop and ask yourself, “Would we need a website if we didn’t have any customers?” Probably not. So who are you designing your site for? You guessed it, your customer. “But which customer?” you ask. “How can I cater to all of their different needs, wants and desires?” Think back to marketing 101, if you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to no one. When you uncover the “right” customer, your redesign will almost create itself. Here are some tips to get you started:


Do’s & Don’ts for Designing for the Customer

1.DO DIG INTO THE ANALYTICS. What do the numbers say? Where are people going on the site? What are they clicking on? If you have an on-site search, what are they searching for? What keywords and search engines do they use most frequently? What are the top landing pages? If possible, track your best customers’ online behavior from entry to conversion.

2.DO ASK YOUR CUSTOMER. I know it sounds crazy, but if you ask some of your best customers what they like about the site BEFORE you redesign, you will avoid a lot of headaches after the redesign.

3.DON’T ASSUME. Never assume because you and your team love the new look and function of the site redesign that your customer will love it too. Pre and Post-launch user tests are always best. I hear you saying, “But we don’t have the budget….” To this I say, be creative, there are many tools and techniques you can use to determine if your design is a winner. A user test doesn’t need to come with a big price tag.

a.Pre-launch: Whether it’s a formal usability study in a lab or an informal remote study, asking actual users to perform tasks and provide feedback will quickly open your eyes to any potential roadblocks or missed opportunities. To make this effort worthwhile, be sure you allow time to make any necessary changes before you go live.

b.Post-launch: Once upon a time it seemed to be rocket science to perform an A/B test on a website, then it was cost prohibitive, but today with free tools such as Google’s Website Optimizer, there is no excuse for not testing design and content variations.

4.DO EASE INTO CHANGE. I know it’s not always possible, but for the millions of people out there who loath change, an option to stay with a selected site design or functionality for a little while can make a big difference. Twitter and Yahoo do a pretty good job with this by letting the user decide if/when they are ready to accept the changed landscape. If providing options is not realistic, a friendly note via email and on the old website can go a long way to alert frequent visitors and customers a change is coming.

5.DO BE PROACTIVE. Prepare ALL departments for the change. Most company websites have ties to nearly everyone in an organization. By preparing all departments with a preview or highlights from the new site design, you help your customer who may be speaking with that customer service rep, sales associate or even the HR department.

Putting the customer first is almost always a company’s intention, however, when the rubber meets the road it’s amazing how many forget who is #1.


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  1. Great post. Went through this with a company a few years ago. Keyword mapped the entire site and at the last minute they decided to brand the site content and disregard the targeted organic keywords chosen for each page. They came to me about a month later wondering why they dropped so badly in the SERPs. I spent about 3 months rewritting the content for the user/vistor as opposed to the internal marketer. Tough lesssons to learn as they are still trying to reclaim their first page rankings. Again… great post and very valuable!

  2. Strategy E-ssentials says:

    Thanks Scott. Nice to hear your personal experience. I’m glad you liked the article and it was helpful.