Setting Redesign Goals Through Data and Empathy

By Neil Sniffen
5 minute read | Last Updated: June 8, 2016

Data can tell you how to create a great website, but empathy will make it convert.

Creating a proper plan for your ecommerce or lead generation website redesign project must go beyond content and design, it must be goal-oriented and be fully informed by the data of your organization’s current website.

To do this, you’ll need to ask some difficult questions, realign your thinking about who uses your organization’s website, and have hard conversations with stakeholders about the goal of the redesign (and resulting website). Skipping any steps runs the risk of creating a website that fails its customers and its stakeholders.

Set goals with stakeholders

Every organization will have different stakeholders. For some it’s the c-suite, for others it’s a committee or the sales team. Whoever the stakeholders are, without their direct input and help in formulating the redesign goals, the project will ultimately fail because they will have no ownership of the new website’s performance.

Your stakeholders must be involved in the redesign process, especially at the start of the project. You need to get them to buy into the project, so begin by soliciting their input. Use our Democratic Process to discuss functionality and business goals that need to be met. Use this time to learn and educate your stakeholders, and to focus the project on your company’s business goals for the website.

By focusing on stakeholder input early in the process and by involving them in establishing the project goals, you are setting the foundation for a successful redesign.

Understand your traffic

Involving your stakeholders early will allow you to begin to define, for them, who the organization’s website is for. The next step is understanding the traffic of the current website and redefining how the site’s visitors are viewed. This will often require a dramatic shift in how stakeholders (and the organization) think of the website’s visitors.

They will need to recognize that someone who comes to the website to read, look at, watch, or purchase content and products is not a user. They are a customer—maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday. Without this shift in thinking, it is impossible to create a website that meets the organization’s redesign goals.

Once this shift happens it is much easier to understand (and relate to) the traffic the current website has, and how this data can be used to direct the content and customer experience of the new website.

Here are four key metrics to look at to help you understand your traffic:

  1. How are customers viewing your organization’s website?
    What devices are your converting customers using? What devices are your returning customers using? Are customers who land on your organization’s website via Facebook using their phones more than their desktops? If you sell directly online, what are your best selling products or services by device? Make sure that the content that is popular and profitable is accessible by the device that customers are using to access that content.
  2. How fast does your organization’s website load?
    While this isn’t a standard metric you get from analytics, it is central to the perception your organization’s website gives it’s visiting customers. A website that loads too slowly can project a lazy, rude, and indifferent attitude. Customers often reward slow websites with a quick bounce. Google and many social networks also measure website speed and use it in their search return algorithms. Look carefully at the third party code employed on your site, often these are the culprits for a slower site.
  3. Where are your organization’s customers accessing the website from?
    Are half of your customers accessing the website from their phone? Do their browsing paths indicate they are in store while on your site? Make sure the content they are using is easily consumed via smartphone while navigating the aisles of a store. When redesigning your organization’s website, understand where your customers are accessing your site from and make sure that content is quickly and easily accessible.
  4. Where are your organization’s customers entering the website?
    With the growth of social networks and smarter search engines, any page on your organization’s website is a potential landing page. Know who your top referrers are, where customers are entering, and what those customers typically do during their visit. Often these side door entries to a website are returning, and most profitable visitors who follow your organization on social media or are part of your email list. Having a clear picture of how many access points your organization’s website has (and which ones are most profitable) will help you design a new website to maximize the effectiveness of these pages.

“The future of digital design must be founded in empathy for the customer. It must be focused on use because with today’s impatient and empowered customer, if it’s not immediately easy-to-use, their attention will be lost.” – Gerry McGovern

Design with empathy

The final piece of the redesign planning puzzle is empathy. The planning process of setting internal stakeholder goals and understanding the website’s traffic patterns will help create the foundation for empathy, but the design and customer experience of the new site must focus exclusively on the goals customer’s have for your organization’s website, and not the organization’s goals.

Sites that focus exclusively on organization goals, lack empathy and ultimately, lack results.

Design your organization’s site with the customer in mind. Take the lessons of the old site, the stakeholder goals, and the customer goals and create a site that shows the customer how much your organization values their time.

Create a post-launch data driven testing plan

The launch is only the beginning. Even the most well thought-out, empathetic website will have areas to improve. To perfect (or at least refine) your organization’s website, you’ll need a post-launch plan that focuses on data-driven testing.

By focusing on data-driven testing, guesswork can be reduced and decisions grounded in data can be made. Adopt testing-focused culture where everything is up for review based on how customers actually interact with your site. Set goals for testing, identify metrics to measure those goals, monitor those metrics and be prepared to react if you see trends that are troubling or unexpected.

Redesigning a website is an opportunity. An opportunity to act on past lessons and create an experience that customers will return to time and again.