Developing a data-driven website redesign strategy

| June 13, 2017
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Managing a website redesign initiative can be a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s an opportunity to gain visibility with key stakeholders within the organization. On the other hand, it’s an opportunity to gain visibility with key stakeholders within the organization. Visibility that can be good, or downright terrible, based on the perceived success of the final outcome.

There are few projects that garner as much attention or rank as high in importance as a corporate website redesign. Done well, a redesign can elevate the brand, attract the right customers, increase consideration, and drive conversion—taking the business to the next level. Done poorly, it can drain the company’s money and resources, damage its reputation, cost it business, and create ongoing internal conflict.

Over half of all website redesign projects are managed entirely internally, often by marketers whose core function is not website development. It’s perhaps for this reason that Hubspot estimates that 51% run late, 63% go over budget, and after all that hard work, roughly ⅓ are deemed internally as a failure.

So, how do you, an enterprise marketer, position yourself, the project, and, ultimately, the company for success when relaunching the corporate site? By following a thorough process, supported with quantitative and qualitative testing and user research at each stage.

In this blog post, and three more to come, we’ll be walking you through how to:

  • Develop and vet a data-based strategy
  • Create and manage a plan for success
  • Optimize your site to perform and produce
  • Communicate and amplify your relaunch

As with all good business decisions, strategy should always come first. There are really three strategic exercises you should undergo when evaluating a website update. You need to first:

1. Define your business goals

To steal a phrase from Simon Sinek, when considering a redesign, “Start with ‘Why?’” Before investing a single dollar, get all of the stakeholders (both internal and external) in a room to hash out what you’re trying to achieve and how you’ll measure success. “It’s been a while” is not a reason to redesign a site that’s performing to expectations. Good reasons to redesign your site include initiatives to improve search authority for important keywords, drive more inbound traffic from targeted buyers, increase lead gen form fills, or improve sales conversion. Make sure you document and socialize the outcomes of your conversation to ensure alignment.

Pro Tip: Base your conversation on a firm foundation of data. Use a tool like Google Analytics to research and benchmark your site’s current performance—looking at things like visits, uniques, bounce rate, time on site/page, top performing keywords, inbound links, and pages indexed. Tap into your marketing automation software/CRM for insights into form submissions and sales generated.

2. Align your goals with your customers’

Great website design happens at the intersection of your goals and those of your customers. After all, you’re not building the website just for you. Use buyer personas to develop a profile of your ideal customers, gaining deeper insight into their background, goals, challenges, research methods, and shopping preferences. What problems are they trying to solve? What do they look for in a product or service? How do they research and choose solutions? How do they like to interact with vendors and brands? Once you know who your buyers are, it will be much easier to determine if your site is meeting their needs, and where you can make improvements that create wins on both sides.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have buyer personas, or they’re out of date, consider conducting some qualitative research to inform their development. This isn’t an area where you want to be making “educating guesses” or assumptions. Conducting interviews and focus groups with current customers that fit your profile can be extremely helpful in this effort. You’ll also want to tap into your current customer base to gather feedback on your existing site which, combined with your earlier research into performance metrics, will give you a better sense not just of what’s working and what isn’t, but also why. Remote unmoderated usability testing is the best approach to collecting this data.

3. Perform a competitive analysis

There are things to be learned from the competition. Take an inventory of their site to assess what they are doing well, and where you can differentiate. Look at where they rank in search results for important keywords, how they categorize their content in the top and bottom navigation, what sort of content and resources they’re offering customers, and how they’ve integrated calls-to-action to learn more or purchase. Spend some time considering their messaging and positioning relative to your own and what you know about your target buyer. And, of course, take note of the user experience. It’s worthwhile to have each key stakeholder perform this exercise, to avoid comparisons later.

Pro Tip: The value of usability testing extends beyond your own site. You may want to conduct a similar study of the user experience on your competitors’ sites. Pick your top two rivals and ask users matching your target buyer personas to interact with their desktop and mobile sites. You may be surprised what you learn.

Taking the time to think through your strategy, gain buy-in from the right stakeholders, and test/ challenge your own biases and assumptions can save you time, money, and cycles, while also preserving the integrity of your brand. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing three more blogs designed to help you take your site redesign across the finish line with the right plan, optimization tools, and launch strategy—based on a firm, tested foundation of data.

Subscribe to the UserTesting blog below for the next installment in our series, as well as actionable tips on how buyer insights can inform your product, website, or digital strategy.