Many of us are in the third and fourth generation of our websites and have been through several complete redesigns as well as numerous refreshing exercises. By now you know the complexity and challenges of doing this. Also the importance of getting it right the first time.
Timing and planning are key, so when would be the best time to have a new look at your website? Basically one has to consider the following:
- Is your website traffic stagnating
- Are your customers starting to complain or comment
- Is your call centre busier with website related calls
- Nobody internally has looked at the website in awhile
- business strategy has changed, but the website has not
- Your website is suffering from strategic drift (a separate topic)
- You just know it is time for a new look
- Your competitors have better looking websites
Typically the lifecycle of a website is under 2 years, usually one needs to take a critical look every 12 months as well as regular tweaking and testing. Without key performance measures in place, it is very difficult to determine what is actually happening on your website and whether you are meeting your objectives.
The mantra of “design for your target customers” is easy to say but challenging to do. The first step is understanding who your target user segment is and what would be a measure of success. In a retail environment, the conversion rate of visitors to paying customers is one critical measure, although, like web stats, defining this ratio is dependent on how each element is interpreted.
Doing a formal survey of customers and visitors is difficult and online surveys have a minimal response rate, so how can one get a “feel” for what is going on without a long and involved process? One way is to take the ad hoc approach of getting a random first impression of your website to see how well you are communicating your message. Since first impressions are made virtually instantly analyzing what is seen and understood from your home page can be indicative of how well you are communicating. This can be done by asking people who are not familiar with your website to comment on things like the brand, what message is the website communicating, what is the website trying to do.
If the answers are not lining up with your expectations, it is time to seriously think about revitalizing your website.