The Website Redesign Process – How to Redesign Like a Pro Pt.1

What it is redesign, and what it is not? Why we, or our clients, may want to do redesign? What questions should we ask before we start this process? Who are the people we should ask these questions? What should be part of project brief? We will discuss these and many more questions in this article so you can redesign websites like a professional!

The Website Redesign Process – How to Redesign Like a Pro part 2.

The Website Redesign Process – How to Redesign Like a Pro part 3.

The Website Redesign Process – How to Redesign Like a Pro part 4.

The Website Redesign Process – How to Redesign Like a Pro part 5.

What is redesign

Before we move any further in the redesign process, let’s make one thing clear. What is actually redesign? This may sound like a simple question, but it isn’t. Redesign is about making specific changes to that aim to improve user experience and usability. It is also about creating new user journeys based on both, quantitative and qualitative data.

Finally, redesign is also about creating new content for the website and then shaping the design around it. Now, what is not redesign. It is not rebranding. Redesign can be part of rebranding, but not rebranding itself. Redesign is also not about changing the look of the website for the sake of it, without making improvements to user experience or it content.

Finally, redesign is not about changing the placement of the elements in the layout while ignoring or neglecting usability. Now I hope we have a better idea about what redesign is and isn’t. Next, let’s take a look at why we, or our clients, may want to do redesign.

Why we (or our clients) may want to do redesign

There are usually three main reasons why someone might consider a website redesign. First, our client is not getting the results she wants. For example, the website has a relatively high traffic, but that is still below what our client wants. Also, it can happen that the main page or homepage is bringing less traffic and more of it is concentrated on wrong pages.

Another problem might be that although the website generates leads, it is not as fast as our client wants. Second, client’s goals for the website have changed. This usually happens when client wants to introduce new product or service or wants to start a new marketing campaign. When one of these changes is about to happen, website should follow the suit and reflect that.

Third, client wants to put more emphasis on content. In recent years, content got a lot of attention. It became the new hot thing. Many websites now use it as the main thing to attract visitors and capture leads. People want to learn about product before they make the sale. The problem is that many websites are neither embracing it nor highlighting enough, or at all.

Many people are now asking questions such as can people find the information they want? Are our blog posts easy to find? Is the design optimized for reading experience? How readable is it? Is our content optimized for search engines? What about legibility? It can be a big shift when the decision to make content the driver is made.

Talk with all stakeholders (stakeholder interviews)

The first step of every redesign process should be talking with all stakeholders. This is the best way to get familiar with the project, its scope, expectations and so on. It is important to put an extra emphasis on the word “all”. We have to talk with everyone who is involved in the redesign project. It doesn’t matter how important he or she appears to be.

The importance of each and every stakeholder is subjective and highly debatable. Anyone involved in the redesign project may have some interesting and information that might help us in the future. So, we have to make sure that we include really everyone in our initial interviews. The form of our talk doesn’t matter. It can be in person or over hangout.

What questions to ask

The question is what information should we look for during these interviews, what should we ask on. This is hard to answer. We should be interested in almost everything related to the project. Any piece of information can be useful in the future. So, it is hard to make any recommendation. Ask for anything related to the project and redesign.

In a concrete terms, we should ask stakeholders about main pain points, vision and mission statements, brand guidelines, style guides, content that will be used on the website, user persona and target audience, data from analytics, upsides and downsides of current design, motivations for the redesign, goals, deadline, must-haves, team, conditions, useful materials, etc.

Some additional tips

One good thing to do is to talk with all stakeholders as a group, at the same time, as well as individuals, one-on-one. This can give us more information about the project because some people might be more open during conversation in private than in group setting. Private setting allow them to share their personal opinions they may not say otherwise.

Another useful tip is to record all interviews. This is not for the purpose of having a proof for everything that was said. We should record all interviews so we can listen to them later, when we are alone. Then, we can focus solely on the content of interviews instead of on stakeholders. It will be also easier to create additional notes, for the same reason.

How much to ask

When it comes to questions and gathering information, we should keep in mind this simple rule of thumb. It is always better to ask more than less. This is one of the many mistakes I was making in the beginning. I was afraid to ask. I was even afraid to talk. This is a problem that needs to be solved. People we are talking with don’t usually know what information we need.

When we let our fear stop us from asking, there might be information we will never know about. We need to remember that someone hired us as an expert to do a certain job, the redesign. Our clients don’t know what we need to get this job done. What’s more, they will assume that when we will need something, we will go and ask for it. And, we should. Nobody will bite us for it.

So, ask more than you think is good. Get more information than you think is useful. Forget fear. It is your part of job to ask all these questions. It is necessary to get the job done. Remember that asking more question will also make you look better. It will look like you know what you need.

Create a brief

Before we any farther in the redesign process, we will write a project brief. This document will help us keep everybody on the same page. It will allow us to ensure that everyone has the same information and expectations for the project. If there are any misunderstandings, or different expectations, this is the time to address them all and then solve them.

Project brief can also help us answer some of very important questions. As a result, it can provide us with additional useful information. Some of these questions are: What is the goal we are trying to achieve? What will be the ideal outcome. How will we know if the project is a successful? What exactly do we need to do? Why exactly do we need to do it?

What are the necessary features, or the must-haves of the project? Who is our ideal user and target audience? In other words, who are we doing this redesign for? How will we announce the redesign and let them know about it? Who are the members of the project team? What’s the deadline for the project? What is the budget?

Keep in mind that project brief is not a static document. We can change and update it during the redesign process as we need. It is important that the project brief is always up-to-date. Meaning, it has to always reflect the current state of the project. Also, keep in mind to discuss every change with project stakeholders and make sure they all agree. No surprises.

Set goals and choose key metrics

When we are done with brief, and everybody agrees, we can move on to the next step. This is setting clear goals and choosing key metrics. We need to set specific conditions that will help us find out if the redesign project was success. Unfortunately, every client will have different expectations and goals, every project will have different goals and key metrics as well.

Therefore, I can’t tell you exactly what goals and metrics you should set. However, that should not be even necessary. If you did talk with all stakeholders and created a brief everyone agreed on you should know exactly what goals the project have to meet and what are the key metrics to measure these goal. If not, go back to brief or talk again with stakeholders, or both.

A couple of things about goals and metrics. First, both has to be specific. Don’t use anything that sounds vague. Goals for the project must be easy to understand and evaluate, without a shadow of a doubt. The same has to be true about key metrics. They have to provide a clear picture of how well, or how badly, the redesign project is doing. And, if something should be changed.

Second, less is more. It is usually better to have fewer goals and key metrics for the project than more. When you decide to pursue too many goals and track and measure too too many metrics it can dilute the results and skew the whole picture. Remember that not all metrics and goals are equally important. Focus on those that are the most important.

However, let’s say that you want to set a higher number of goals and measure more metrics. In that case, divide the goals and metrics you want to pursue and measure to two groups, primary and secondary. This will help you keep it clear which goals and metrics are more important and, if there is any confusion or uncertainty, which goals and metrics should you follow.

One last thing. Goals and key metrics have to be part of project brief. This also means that all stakeholders agree with them. Remember, no surprises or guesses. If you are not sure whether this is on 100% true, go to the stakeholders and talk with them. Always make sure you are on the same page, pursuing the same goals.

Analyze the current website

This step is not entirely necessary. However, this step can be beneficial. Doing, at least, a quick review and analysis of client’s current website can provide us with some additional information. We may not know about these information otherwise. Also, reviewing client’s current website may give us a better understand of the issues and pain points stakeholders mentioned.

Doing this quick review will let us experience the issues on our own skin and see the pain points on our own yes. It also gives us the opportunity to try and test the usability of the current website and level of user experience. This can give us a precious insights into what current users expect from the website and how they might be currently using it.

This direct experience can provide us with a good starting point for our redesign process. It is not necessary, or recommended, to always start from scratch. Sure, if current website provides really bad user experience and its usability is poor, it will be better to start with a blank slate. However, if there are some elements that work, we may want to consider using them.

Finally, there is one more thing this review can give us. It can also give us a better picture about client’s business and her current presentation of it. This may not seem as something that is important, or something useful. However, the opposite is true. We need to keep in mind that our goal is creating design that will perfectly fit client’s business and brand.

As we briefly mentioned in the stakeholder interviews section, it is likely that our client’s business is built on specific vision. It has some mission statement, clear and established brand guidelines and style guides. We need to take all these things into account. And, not only that. We need to actively work with them and make sure our design will reflect them.

Otherwise, we are taking a risk that the result of this redesign project will not work as it could have, or at all. This is something we have to avoid. Our new solution, the design, has to work as expected, or better. It has to improve usability of client’s website and user experience it provides. Finally, our solution has to improve client’s business.

What should we analyze

So, what are some of the things we may focus on during the review of client’s current website? First, there is the first impression we get when we land on the website. What emotions and feelings the website evokes in us? Next are first steps. How user-friendly is the website? How well is it structured? Is it clear? Did we find the information we were looking for easily?

Since we talk about the content, is it easy to digest, understand and is it useful? What is the preferred type of content (video, audio, text, infographics, etc.) Now, to visuals. Is the website using custom-made or stock assets? Are all assets served in high quality? Are the assets reflecting connected to the content and client’s brand?

What about the site architecture? Are navigation links clear? Does the navigation contain the links you would expect? Are some links missing? Is the navigation intuitive and usable? What about elements on the website, buttons, forms, typography, color palette, etc.? What about the overall design direction and style of the website?

I understand that this review may still seem like a waste of time. This is a wrong view. Think about it rather as learning opportunity. It can teach you a lot and, in the end, help you increase the odds your client will be satisfied with the result of redesign. So, set aside some time and do this review, or analysis. Chances are, it will be time well spent.

One more thing. Make notes about everything hat comes to your mind. And, when you get the chance to speak with your client and other stakeholders, start a discussion about the review and what your notes. Not only will this give you more information. It will also make you look more like a professional in the eyes of your client and other stakeholders.

Closing thoughts on website redesign

This is all for the first part. We discussed a lot of various things about redesign process. In a recap, what we learned today? We started by specifying what is redesign and what it isn’t. Then, we briefly debated over the three main reasons of why someone might consider a website redesign. Next, we took a look at stakeholder interviews, who should we talk with and about what.

After that, we addressed project brief, its benefits and what should it contain. Next, we covered the importance of setting specific goals and choosing key metrics. And, that less is in this case often more. Finally, spoke about doing an analysis of client’s current website, the benefits of doing it and what are some of the things we may want to analyze.

I hope that what we covered today will help you refine and polish your redesign process. With that, get ready for the second part. In that, we will explore topics such as analyzing competitors, conducting user interviews, creating information architecture, wireframes, mood board, prototypes and delivering assets. Until then, thank you for your time and have a great day!

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