Looking Back To Look Forward

Looking Back To Look Forward

“Today would be a great day to redesign my website! It’s fun to do. And I don’t have anything else going on.”

Said no one, ever.

We shouldn’t embark on website redesigns for kicks. We should do it to solve a problem. Maybe users can’t find information. Or they aren’t converting the way we want them to. Or it’s been 10 years since our last redesign and you look outdated. Whatever the reason, your website redesign should have a purpose.

So it also needs goals. And you need to know them before you put marker to whiteboard, finger to keyboard, or stylus to Photoshop layer. Every brush stroke should contribute to these goals.

I’ve Got Goals. Now What?

How will you know if you’re succeeding? You need to measure. Think of the ways you want your users to be on your site. Figure out how that happens. And then pick the metrics to see if, indeed, it is happening.

So you’ve got goals and metrics. You’ve got wireframes. You’re starting a design. You know exactly how you’re going to measure success once the site re-launches. Fabulous.

But you’re not done. How will you know your new website is doing better than your old one, if you have nothing to compare it to.

Before You Look Forward, You Need To Look Back.

To measure the success of your redesign, you need a baseline. You need to compare apples to apples. You need to consistently measure the same thing before your redesign as after.

This means:

  1. You need to know the metrics you want to measure;
  2. You need to know the measurement tool you will use to measure it (Google Analytics, your eCRM, your online store, etc.);
  3. You need to confirm that your measurement tool is accurately measuring your metrics;
  4. And if it is not, you need to fix that.

A lot of folks have a problem with #4. No one wants to fix something on a site they are about to get rid of. But if you don’t, you will never know if your redesign is effective. You’ll be guessing in the dark.

Let’s say you run a news and media website. You goal is to have articles so engaging your users read them from beginning to end. You can measure this by implementing scroll tracking in Google Analytics. Don’t do it before your new site launches, and you won’t know if the redesign had any impact. You need to implement scroll tracking on your current site and on your redesigned site.

No Rest For The (Data) Weary

Congratulations! After all that hard work, you re-launched your redesigned website.

Keep Measuring. Consistently. Don’t wait for a board meeting or a quarterly report. Look to see if you are doing better, the same, or worse as before. And depending on the result, make adjustments. Conduct A/B tests if you can. The end of the redesign may mean the end of the large project. But your website should be ever-evolving and improving.