Today it is very common to see Redesign of the websites. I am sure that many of those who are reading this article, also think about the redesign of their pages. This is due to the new technologies that become available, and every one of us wants to stay in the top of fashion, as well as due to the emergence of new trends. Whatever the reason you may have, it is important to do a redesign correctly and be sure that the new website redesign will bring you more benefits than the former design of the site.
We do not do a site redesign just for the sake of spending money. We do this because we feel that the site needed a visual reconstruction and our visitors want to see something new, more related to them. Taking into account that the redesign is done for users, it is them who we need to focus on when creating a new image for the site.
The bigger and most visited pages are the more likely to fail in its redesign. Why? Because, frankly speaking, when you need to take into account the tens of thousands or even millions of users, it can be difficult to please everyone, it is impossible to do. People can stop visiting your site which they liked, just because the site has changed.
In order to increase the probability of successful website redesign, here are a few tips that will help you along the redesign process.
Make sure that you need a website redesign
If you already have regular visitors to your site, the majority of them have certain expectations, such as: they know where the navigation is, how to use the search engine where you can find archives and so on. Doing the redesign to your site will most likely influence those changes and users may find it difficult to locate things on your site.
If you are fortunate enough and you have sympathetic visitors, you can conduct a survey and find out their views on the need for changes to the site. If your are not able to collect users’ feedback about your site, then the decision will depend on you and, unfortunately, it will be more difficult to accept. Try to ask fellow designers about the particular website and see what they think of it.
Engage your visitors
The second step in the redesign process is the use of the community site where you gather your audience’s feedback and then able to use the information to make changes in your new design.
Try to keep the basic design elements to their original places, or at least provide similar functionality of the site. Moving the sidebar from left to right the first time is confusing, the same with the navigation, if you had to change the drop down menu, then after a redesign you may need to keep the same functionality or simplify the navigation. You always need to be sure that the new website will not be more difficult to use than ever before. Thus, avoid a complete redesign.
Testing the Web Site
Test the Website not only behind closed doors of your studio, but also with your users/visitors. Offer them the opportunity to test the new design and make it visible to them. After that, make sure that they can send you feedback through forms or reports, and always watch reviews. This is another way to attract users. This approach helps, because the user is again in the spotlight. Allowing them to test the new design before it is finished, you have the opportunity to correct it. Be prepared for the fact that it is a difficult process, because you start with certain ideas, and ultimately, you get a different site. Make sure your visitors will appreciate it and will visit your site next time.
Do not change the layout of the site immediately
This strategy uses the majority of social networks. Whenever they change the appearance of the site, they will either allow you to use the old site for a certain period, or offer to go to the new site and give you the opportunity to return to the old style. Why do they do it? The answer is very simple. Not everyone has the time needed to get used to the new design of the site when the designer wants. Getting used to a new style takes time and if the users does not want to waste time you will need to provide to your users this opportunity.
Allow users to switch to the new design (and specify that this is still a beta version) and give them the opportunity to return to the old. Of course, do not leave this option for all, in this matter should take an example from Facebook: they convert all their users on a new design only after pass one or two months since its release. Take as an example of the new design of Facebook, which is called «Timeline». Not everyone likes it, perhaps just from habit, and people continue to use the old, more familiar view. However, very soon all users on the network will move it to a new «Timeline» view.
This strategy is interesting and very well implemented in the social web. So think about its use in the performance of the redesign.
Provide feedback even after the redesign
So, you have completed the redesign of the site, and now ready to launch it. Users can not go back to the old style, and they have no choice but to accept it as it is. Okay, but let the users to express their opinions. To do this, there are many tools that can be used to get feedback on the Internet, so you can be sure that if something is wrong, then people will be able to tell you about it. It works with mainly sympathetic people, although in any case it is worth a try. If a large number of visitors inform you about the same problem, you should take steps to correct it as soon as possible. They will feel part of a community and will feel that their opinion is valued. They will be happy to continue to visit your site.
Explain the reasons for your decision
It never hurts to tell your users the reasons for the redesign. Some of them do not have any idea about the design changes, usability or new technologies, and they even do not care about these facts, they just want to use the site as much as they used to. Changing the design will not allow them to do it, until they get used to the new style, so make sure there are opponents of change. Therefore, explain to users why you think these changes are important. Use some basic theories and explain that the use of new technologies on the website will allow you to offer them more opportunities, and accelerate the process of downloading it (if this is true). When people hear about the download speed, the majority of them will accept the changes and will be happy about the new design.
Make a guide for new design
If you make major changes to your website, the creation of image, text or video tutorial about this change will be very correct idea, interactive and useful. Visitors, not knowing what to do next will appreciate the tutorial which will allow them to adapt faster to the new design. This will give them the feeling that you care about them, and encourage them to come back to your page.
If you have changed the design of the page, and the changes have been unsuccessful, even in this case provide them with a solution. This can happen if you get too many complaints from users and do not want to spend money again on a new design, but want to do something to rectify the situation.
It’s about your mistakes
If the situation described above happened, then it is your mistake as a designer & developer. Either you did something wrong in the process of developing, or have not been able to establish contact with the users. Clearly, if they are not happy with the new design, then something is wrong with and it requires immediate correction. This is the perfect moment to show how close you are to your users. You can use Twitter, Facebook, or even the website to tell people about the work on the bugs. Let them speak and let them tell you that it was done wrong. It will be easier to decide on amendments to the site.
Use your users’ feedback
When you receive messages through the website’s feedback form, use the information as completely as possible. Acknowledge the complaints and show your users that you are doing a site and want to change things for the better. It will make your life easier, because all the feedback and discussion eventually give the necessary decisions, ideas, and opportunities. It is much easier to correct a mistake when you know the opinion of your community than in its absence.
Come back if needed
Be not ashamed to admit that your redesign has failed, it will urge the community, and you may need to revert the site to the old design. Of course, the return back means that you have to use the new resources to redesign (that is, return to the beginning), but, at least until you prepare a new strategy the number of visitors will not decrease.
It is important that users are satisfied with the visit to the site and if such a situation arose, the best solution would be to return to the old style. But do not force all users to go back to the old site design, as this will confuse those who liked the new design. Just offer the opportunity to choose your own style. This will solve the problem only in the short term, but will give some time to better prepare new design.
Always listen to your users
The most important thing when starting a new design – it is to carefully monitor your users and their behavior. Google Analytics metric is the best tool that you can use for this purpose, because they are free and provide an in-depth understanding of how people spend their time on your site. If the number of visitors decreases soon after the launch of the site, then it is most likely due to the new design.
Now is the time when you need to start more closely interact with the visitors and ask them what they think is not well executed. The bottom line is that many visitors prefer to use a bad page if the designer is interested in their opinion, than to use a very good page, which the designer did not care. You have to show your users that you care about them.
Another way to find out the opinion of your visitors is to closely monitor posts on social networks. The majority of users discuss such changes via Twitter (or Facebook). So, it’s worth to take a closer look at these sites. This is another opportunity to show your visitors that the redesign was carried out for their benefit.
The conclusion from all the above is the following: a redesign of your website is not as easy process as it seems. If you are not able to attract your users to participate in this important process, it is likely that the project will fail and will scare off your visitors. Thus, it is a wise decision to be as close as possible to the users and use their feedback and opinions. In the end, whatever you do, you do it for them. Consider their opinions. This will enable you to be closer to a success.
Wish you a successful redesign of your next website!