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

The website redesign process - how to redesign like a pro pt3

Table of Contents

What is the most valuable source of information for redesign process? Believe it or not, people. Who are these people? They are the real users of the website we want to redesign. Today, we will discuss how to approach these people, what to ask, what to look for, and much more. It is only with these information the redesign can succeed.

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

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

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

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

Figuring out the concept and what matters the most

One big mistake many web designers, especially beginners, do is doing the redesign on their own. Let me explain what I mean. A web designer takes on a new redesign project. She will go through the initial steps we discussed in part 1 and part 2. Then, there is a chance she will decide to close herself in her office or studio and work on the project in solitude.

A beginner’s mistake

This is a very big mistake. And, the reason is following. It is very hard to design something other people will use without any access to these people. The root problem here is that we approach the redesign with a set specific assumptions and expectations about how it should work. These assumptions apply to both, the visual as well as the functional side of the project.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. First, examples of visual-related assumptions. We may think that it is better to use some elements over others, or in specific amount. We may be convinced that some colors work better. There is the never-ending debate whether it is better to use red, green or blue for buttons, or CTAs, for example. Answer is … neither.

We may also believe that certain layout and structure, or pattern, is better for the type of redesign we are working on. And, let’s rather not talk about typefaces because that could be another hour-long debate. Finally, what about navigation? Do you think showing only “hamburger” menu and hiding navigation is better than showing full navigation? And, what about its position?

Next, there are assumptions about how things, or elements, should work. The website should welcome the visitor with a video and it should be set to autoplay, just muted. Or, there should be a calm music on the background. There should be a slideshow showing the latest information, or a section with blog posts. Should we present the user with the top features immediately?

What if the user lands directly on a page dedicated to logging in or creating an account? Maybe she wants to search for something, some product, right when she arrives on the website. In that case, should we there be some kind of a search widget on the landing page? Or, what if we put there a catalog with a few picked products somewhere on the landing and link to catalog?

We are not the only problem

We may have some of these and many other assumptions, maybe even all of them. The problem is that every one of these assumptions has impact on the result of the redesign. What’s worse, we are not the only problem. We have to keep in mind that there is also our client as well as other stakeholders. And, every one of them has her own set of assumptions and expectations.

So, let’s say that we ask what they think about the best layout and structure or functionality. The result? Well, chances are that we will get at least a few suggestions or ideas. The same applies to functionality of the website. In the end of the discussion, we may end up with a number of different websites, or versions, one for almost every person in the room.

This is why some designers prefer solitude. However, this is not a real solution for our problem. Yes, it may help us avoid adopting the assumptions our client and other stakeholders may have. However, there are still those assumptions we have. These assumptions influence our decisions whether we like it, or know it, or not. So, what can we do?

Get out of the building

The solution is simple. We have to forget the idea of working in a solitude, closed in our offices. Instead, we have to get out and talk with people, the real users. At this point, we have two options. First, we can ask our client to conduct a small user interviews with a small group of people. Should these people can be already familiar with current website or not?

I think that the best option is both. This will show us two things. First, interviews with people already familiar with the website will tell us more about their current habits, assumptions and expectations. It can also help us understand how easy or difficult will it be for them to adopt the redesign. No matter how radical the redesign is, some people will not like it.

People already using the website may experience troubles getting used to the new version. This is something we have to remember and take into account. Second, there is the opposite side. Interviews with people not familiar with current website will help us understand what a person expects when she lands on the website for the first time. This is as valuable as the data from users.

So, to conclude this. We will have the highest chance to get the best results when we include both groups of people. We should talk with people who already know the website as well as with those who don’t. This will give us a more complete picture for how the redesign should look like and work. However, we are not done yet. There is another group we almost neglected.

Creating a bridge

We have to remember that our client and other stakeholders have their own expectations for the redesign. Knowing what users want is not enough. This means one thing. In order to create a really workable concept of the redesign we have to include what our client and stakeholders want as well. Do you remember the brief, setting goals and metrics from part 1?

We have to take these data and combine them with what we learned from interviews with all those people. This will be the last piece of the puzzle we need. And, only with this piece, will we have a complete picture we can then use to put together a concept for the redesign. In other words, we have to create a bridge between what we, current users and target users want.

It is only when we find the solution that will fulfill all these expectations, when we create a bridge between the wants we learned about. Only then our redesign will be successful. Success means that our solution will meet the conditions of redesign we discussed in part 1. And, that it will also reach the goals we previously set with our client, and all stakeholders.

The right location

Then, there is one final question we should think about. Where should these interviews take place? Is it better to do them on some dedicated place, such as client’s company office? Or, should we literally leave the building and find some “neutral” place, such as library or cafe, and do these interview there? Does it even matter? Can’t we just use hangout or video call?

First of all, yes, place does matter. Some people may be hesitant to speak openly if we conduct these interviews in client’s company. For this reason, place such as cafe, restaurant, library or some workspace can be a better choice. It will be more comfortable for attendants. They will be willing to speak more freely and openly, without trying to censure themselves.

Second, the best approach is to do these, and any other, interviews in person, face-to-face. The reason is that there is often a difference between what people do and what they say they do. It is not that they want to lie. It is just that they don’t think about every single thing they do. When you tie your shoes, do you think about every single movement?

Many things we do are automatic. We are not even aware we are doing them. This is as true about our habits as well as about our reactions. And, this is why it is better to meet with these people personally. We don’t have to rely on the description of what they do, and especially why are they doing it. This is the most important information we can get.

When we do these interviews, or user testing in later stage of redesign process, these are the clues we are looking for. Not the “what”, but rather the “why”. Why are people doing that specific thing? Can’t we just ask? Well, how can we ask on something we don’t know is happening?

If there is some automatic reaction and person doesn’t know about it and we can’t see that reaction, how can we know that there is something we should ask on? So, whenever you can, choose face-to-face meeting. And, no, that doesn’t mean video call. Meet with the group somewhere, physically.

Talk is cheap let them show

When we meet do these interviews, there is one thing one we can do to get better results. Instead of relying only on words, we can bring in our computer and phone. Then, we can let everyone show us how she uses the website right now if she is a user. Or, or she is not, she can show us how would she use the website, being a first-time visitor.

In the world of startups, there is this saying that ideas are cheap and that only execution matters. Well, in the case of redesign and these interviews, it is demonstration what matters. So, whenever possible, make sure to bring at least one device with internet connection for these purposes. Then, when someone says she does this or that, you can always ask for a demonstration.

A quick note about what device is best to bring. If it is in our capabilities, we should bring at least two devices. The difference between these devices is the size of the screen. One device should have small screen. Smartphone will be the best choice. The second device should be something on the opposite range of the spectrum, some notebook.

What is the reason for bringing two devices, with different screen sizes? Quite often, people have a bit different habits when they use different devices. Even in the case of a website, people may use it in a less or more different way while on phone then on computer or tablet. Knowing these information will valuable in later stage of redesign, for responsive design.

Address the pain points

Another good reason for bringing some device with you. It can help find out some of the pain points in current version of the website. We all know these moments when we find some small annoyance. However, it is something so small we forget about it almost immediately. As a result, when we ask people, they are likely to forget these small annoyances and issues.

The problem is that we may transfer these issues into the redesign. This is not our mistake. We don’t know there is some issue because nobody mentioned it. Having a device for demonstration purposes can help us discover these small issues. We then let people use the website as they usually do. There is a chance, the issue will appear again and they will mention it.

When we do these interviews, it is important to reserve some time for addressing the pain points people have, at least the biggest. The goal of the redesign is improving user experience and usability of the website. We need to know what needs to be fixed so we can achieve this goal. So, let’s not leave this to chance and dedicate a few minutes for the pain points.

The future comes first

One more thing we should at least briefly discuss. Is there a right time to ask people about what would they want to see in the redesign? This is not as easy to answer, due to the effect of priming. Meaning, the order of information can influence the information we get. For example, depending on whether you hold a hot or cold beverage before an interview you may create positive or negative opinion of the interviewer.

Another example. Let’s say that you have seen or heard the word “eat” recently. Then, at least for a while, you are more likely to complete the word “SO_P* as “SOUP” rather than “SOAP”. Previous information influenced your answer. It is for this reason why, I think, it is better to start talking about how should the redesign look and work as first.

If we instead start with reviewing and playing with the current website, people may get attached to what is now. Then, when we ask them about the future, they could be still influenced by the previous version of the website and refer to something they didn’t like. In other words, we would probably get a list of annoyances and issues instead of wishes and wants.

So, if we want really unbiased opinions and ideas, free of constrains, we should start with talking about the redesign and the “future” website. When we are done with that, we can start playing with the website, working with it and addressing main pain points and issues.

Closing thoughts on website redesign

We are on the end the third part of this mini series. This was another part focused solely on one stage of redesign process, interviews with people. In a recap, we discussed that we sometimes want to work on redesign in solitude and why is this a big mistake. Then, we talked about assumptions and expectations we, our client and other stakeholders have.

After that, we spoke about the importance of talking with real people and getting out of the building. And why it is good the leave the building literally. Then, we addressed that it is necessary to create a bridge between the expectations of our client, stakeholders and users. Ignoring any of these groups is not an option if we want the redesign to succeed.

At the end, we also discussed why it is better to meet with people in person. And, why we should bring some devices with us for the purpose of demonstration and play. Then, we talked about addressing pain points, issues and how the future version of the website should look and work. Finally, we look at reasons why we should focus on the future first.

I hope you enjoyed this part just as much as the previous and that you learned something you can use right away. Final message? People, the real users, are the most valuable source of information for redesign process we can find. We should include them in the process. Only then our project can succeed. Thank you for your time and have a great day!

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By Alex Devero

I'm Founder/CEO of DEVERO Corporation. Entrepreneur, designer, developer. My mission and MTP is to accelerate the development of humankind through technology.

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