Hayes is an entrepreneur and online business maven. His company, Travel Online Partners http://www.travelonlinepartners.com,
helps small businesses, mostly in travel/tourism, with their online
presence. He’s also the co-author
of the popular guide, Why Your Website Sucks and How to Fix It. You can find him on
Latest posts by Andy Hayes (see all)
- 5 Questions to Ask Before Your Next Website Redesign - June 14, 2011
If you have a website, KEEP READING!
If you don’t have a website just yet, stop reading. These questions are not for you. Instead, visit Tom Shapiro’s list of five questions to ask yourself before starting a website. Bookmark this page before you go, and let’s talk in a year!
Seriously, though, if you’re thinking that your website could use a fresh coat of paint, or you’re considering reworking the entire thing to accommodate shifts in your thinking or to adjust to a changing market, stop for a second. Take a deep breath, and ask yourself these five important questions. When it comes to website design, details are important, but so is the big picture.
1. Remind yourself: what’s the purpose of your website?
Did you build your website because a priced-per-hour consultant told you to? Or are you actively using your site as part of your overall marketing strategy or to deliver your product or service? Some businesses use the web as a lead-generation tool. Others are using the web as an order fulfilment tool. What are you using your website for? Multiple answers are fine, but get really clear on what it means when your site is “successful.” Otherwise, you’ll just be redesigning for the sake of redesigning.
2. What is working?
My second question is to congratulate yourself with a list of what things are working well. Maybe you have a great email list signup rate, or perhaps the amount of visitors to your site end up buying twice as much as your retail store. Doesn’t matter, but write down your accomplishments. Be proud. And make sure you don’t endanger any of these strengths when making changes.
3. What isn’t working?
Ok, before you start thinking about this one, I want to give you some clear instructions here: get specific. Really specific. Here’s an example that is not specific enough: “Not enough people buy from our website.” How can you fix a problem so unspecific? You can’t.
You need to be more detailed, like the following example: “Currently our analytics tell us that 70% of buyers drop off at the checkout screen, so we need to improve this page’s conversion by 20%.” See, now you’ve got a clear action item. Reviewing your site analytics plays a huge role in determining what’s not working.
So does talking to your customers. Speaking of which…
4. What are your customers craving?
Before any major (or even not-quite-major) web redesign, talk to your customers. Do they even use your website? What do they find useful? What do they hate? What’s missing? What would just make their day?
A lot of businesses forget to think about the user when working on website design – which is obvious when you hear the complaints that come fast and furious about banking, retail, and other well-trafficked sites. To you, a website is just a tool, but for your customers, it may be a very significant part of their experience with you. Get out there and get their feedback.
5. What could you change that would improve the way that you do business?
Talking to customers is great, but don’t forget two things. One, your needs are important too, so a redesign may be an opportunity to streamline things or to fix those pesky quirks in the process that you’ve been neglecting. Second and more importantly, though, are the opportunities to use your site to change the way you do business – perhaps in a way your customers didn’t even know they would want. Take your site to a new level.
Can a website redesign revolutionize your industry? Maybe, maybe not –but you won’t know if you don’t ask the question.