1. What’s already working and what’s definitely not?There may be things about your site that you find really hideous or unappealing. Those very same things, though, could be very successful elements to your site. On that same token, your favorite elements could be big blockers to conversion. Before we change anything, we need to know.
- With any luck, you've got some analytics set up on your site. Maybe you've learned the basics, but you don’t quite have the time or expertise for a deeper dive into the data. What’s lurking behind all those numbers, though, is a TON of leads to guide the direction of your site redesign.
- At one point, a full usability test of your site would have been quite a costly undertaking. While a full, guided usability test would likely give you the most detailed assessment of the site, there are more options available these days. For a few hundred dollars, you could utilize one of several online options for remote usability testing. For the money, you can learn a lot.
2. What audience do you WANT and what audience do you HAVE?Through analytics, surveys, and sales data, you should be able to paint a relatively clear picture of who your audience really is. Now compare that to the audience you want to have. If it’s the same, we’re good to go. If it’s different, you need to make a decision. Are you willing to put in the marketing dollars to change the type of traffic you’re getting to your site? Or would you rather tailor the new site design to the traffic you already have? I’m not saying one direction is better than the other, but the answer will most definitely affect what UX and design decisions are made down the road.
3. What can we learn from competitors?Too often, a competitive review is looked at in one of two ways (both of which could result in unsuccessful sites). To guard yourself from these views, just remember these words: No Frankenstein’s or doppelgangers!
- The Frankenstein is patched together from various elements of other sites. A competitive review is not simply an opportunity to cherry pick what you find appealing from companies you compete with or emulate. The result of this process is often a disjointed and confusing experience for the user.
- The doppelganger is the copy of another site. It might not be an exact copy, but when you’re so focused on the site of a single competitor, the similarities will be readily apparent. Almost inevitably, your site will appear to be the copycat that doesn't quite live up to the original.
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