Website redesign usually means a complete review and reworking of your website. For complex websites this can be a formidable undertaking with many people involved. Getting started is like getting an ocean liner moving, it takes a lot of energy and effort to go from a stand still to full speed, but once it gets going changing direction and stopping it, is not easy at all. So if you find out that you are going in the wrong direction it becomes very costly and time consuming to alter the course. To avoid that one has to carefully plan and understand why and to whom your website is targeted to.
Many of our customers when facing a redesign come to us to ask what about web 2.0? Our response is what do your customers want? This of course is the point where they hesitate and start to hum and haw and refer us to their marketing team. When trying to implement any new feature or flavour of the day application, the bottom line is what do your customers need and expect.
So where do you start? The most obvious place is of course with your customers, now it becomes an issue of user segmentation – or does it? One of the most effective ways of understanding your user requirements is to develop personas for your main target users. Usually only two or three main personas are required, even though there may be many user segments. This is because you can’t design a site for all users and the subgroups each represents, the variables are too many. However if one takes a different approach by looking at the goals or objectives of your users, then a common pattern will emerge across your user segments.
For example if you are promoting adventure travel, a common user segment would be by age, but you will encounter difficulty when the senior traveler may well want to rough it whereas the youth may want to do a luxury tour, so the more logical approach would be to cater to the adventure traveler and within that group offer different levels of difficulty which would appeal to the different age groups. It is then easy to develop a primary persona with one or two sub personas to accommodate their goals.
Similarly with integrating social networking features within your web redesign, if your users do not fit the profile, then it is not necessary to implement these features unless it fits into your overall corporate strategy. So by understanding the objectives of your users as well as that of potential customers, one can design a website that will appeal to both groups.
Marketing to your target audience will also be impacted by this understanding of what appeals to your users and where they go. You need to be where they are.