Website redesigns can be quite the undertaking for businesses both small and large.
Not only are funds tied to these projects but so is people's time, whether the redesign is being conducted in-house or not. Plans must be addressed, feedback must be provided, testing must be done and teams must be managed. For anyone heading a project of this scope, take a look at questions that should be asked along the way (and, more importantly, why):
How was this decision made?
Those responsible for the design of a Web project should certainly have the support of those that employ him or her but since whole redesigns are so critical to the success of an enterprise, designers/developers should be ready and willing to justify each decision they make. What evidence do they have that x, y or z will help improve conversion, will provide a better user experience, is the better choice than a, b or c?
What testing was conducted?
Despite popular opinion, not every element can be A/B tested, particularly if a site doesn't have enough traffic to support testing or a feature isn't live in the real world. Still, testing should be a common occurrence in website redesigns and companies paying for this service should ask how it is being incorporated into the overall process.
Were employees asked about their needs?
Before any work begins, brands should be transparent about their redesign ambitions throughout their organization in order to collect feedback from the teams that a website redesign will impact. Every department from customer service to editorial will have a say in what a new website will need in order to meet their needs and the needs of those they serve. Likewise, they should be regularly given the opportunity to provide feedback if they are using the site frequently or service those who do (like customers trying to place an order or a visitor trying to download a whitepaper).
Does it meet our audience's expectations?
The expectations of Web visitors about how a website should look and function evolve by the day. Still, there are some wider-known elements that every modern website should address like:
- adapts to different devices
- leverages functionality inherent to mobile phones (e.g., swiping, click to call)
- offers the ability to self-serve (e.g., online appointments, knowledge bases)
- easy access to social sharing widgets
- streamlines navigation regardless of device
- quick loading time
- multiple views for product images
- social login (in non-regulated industries)
- predictive site search
- personalized content (e.g., recommendations, in-context copy, etc.)
- optimized for visibility on the search engines
- large calls-to-action
- mobile-friendly form fields
How is the conversion funnel addressed on pages other than the homepage?
Thanks to search engines, social media and other channels where a person may interact with a brand's content, visitors often don't arrive on a site's homepage to begin their experience. Thus, conversion processes - how can a person directly buy, contact us, download an asset, sign up for an email newsletter, etc. - need to be addressed on each page of the website.
Is the branding (colors, images, copy) consistent throughout?
Making sure branding is on point, will often fall on one person's shoulders within the organization itself. Someone - like a branding, copywriter, marketing manager or an employee with an eye for detail - should be tasked with going through each page and checking colors, images, copy and more for brand consistency. For example, in some places is the company name ABC Enterprise while others it's A, B, C Enterprise or ABCEnterprise? It happens more often than not that even the company name can be inconsistent from one page to the next on a website, which can kill credibility.
Do things just look good?
Brands should test how their pages look on as many devices as possible to ensure everything just looks, well, good. For example, are images cutting off text? Is all the text on a page aligned a certain way? Could there be a more compelling image choice? Should headers be larger or smaller?
How does this change impact speed?
Bells and whistles can be great, but since loading times can impact everything from search rankings to site revenue, brands must choose wisely and ask how an element impacts site speed.
What security concerns exist with that plugin?
Hackers can invade a site a variety of ways and non-secure third-party plugins are a popular choice.
How will updates be made?
Particularly important for sites that aren't being redesigned in-house, brands need to ensure they know that changes to their site can be made in the future, and at what cost and what turnaround time.
How much will this cost?
From how many hours will be spent to what the expected total project cost will be, brands are right to be worried about their investment into a redesign. Even if the redesign is being conducted in-house, lay out a formal plan with set deadlines in order to ensure the project is being given the attention it deserves by the people being paid to attend to it.
What did we miss? In the comments below, let us know what questions should be asked in the redesign process.