How to redesign your website — 4 practical tips

Koos
Emilie van Spronsen

Reading time
6 min read

Date
Aug 27, 2018

We’d been planning to redesign our website for about 2 years ago. But projects were calling. And as we value nothing higher than our client’s client - funny cause it’s true - our website remained untouched until one year ago. The shoemaker's children go barefoot you know. But hey, our MVP is live and kicking now (woohoo!). And as one might expect from a service design company we service designed the heck out of it! Before we enter refinement phases we want to take time to reflect. And share our insights of course! Here are four practical tips on how to service (re)design your website:

1. Plan an internal sprint

Christmas time at Koos means finishing our internal backlog — aside from wearing dreadful Christmas sweaters. One of our UX designers, Kaspar, took the post-it stating ‘website’ from the backlog wall. Time had turned the post-it pale. Kaspar asked for advice internally: ‘what do you think of our current website?’ and ‘what would you like to see in the new one?’. He made a proper benchmark and started wireframing on paper. But New Year brought a load of new projects and the website project was put on the shelf again.

It would still have laid there peacefully if Hidde did not take ownership, blocked agenda’s and scheduled an internal sprint. He carefully created a team of four – consisting of one of the founders and Service Design oracle, Jules; a service designer with a feel for freshness and crazy good copy, Jeroen; Hidde himself to pull the cart, direct the whole project and oversee the design; and yours truly to actually design it. We listed and prioritized our biggest battles, formulated topics to sprint on, divided the team in two, and sprinted in duos simultaneously. We held stand-ups every morning and sprinted our poor asses off. Our website project took off with rocket speed, and finally in one direction.

Whether you’re self-employed or part of a big company, everyone’s busy making money. Sure. But your future website (or any huge, internal project) will stay on the shelf for another five years if it’s not scheduled and assigned to people. Also when your project comprises a lot of complex aspects and fuzziness you need time to discuss, unravel, and define together. Four people working apart on the project for a week doesn’t do your project any good, really. So our tip: schedule internal sprints if you want the get the job done with self-amplifying energy. That’s exactly what you need with a massive, internal project.

2. Plan internal user tests and assign roles of user types

The sprint team showcased a first prototype of the new website to our 20-person company on a Friday afternoon. The prototype comprised a Sketch file, printed and taped to the wall. We divided the company into teams and assigned user type roles to every team: two teams represented warm and cold clients; another team wanted to apply for a job; the last team was Service Design illiterate (Customer journey? To where exactly?). Every team was given a reason for consulting our website (e.g. ‘As a cold client you have a project in mind and you consider Koos as one of your go-to-companies’, or ‘As a Service/UX Design champ you want to apply for a job’), and a unique post-it color to write insights on. One member per team was asked to come forward – give his very best in acting to perform his role –  and stick the post-its onto the prototype while explaining the experiences of his team to us and the rest of the company. 

“Radical change needs to be digested in spoonfuls.”

We received a huuuge amount of valuable feedback from ‘customers’ perspectives’. At the same time, we were taking along the whole company in the development of a new website. Radical change needs to be digested in spoonfuls.

 

Time to iterate

One month and design iteration further, we planned another internal user test. We assigned the same roles to new teams. The new collected feedback validated that we had made a great design iteration since the previous internal test. The project – and the changes – received full internal support.

Feedback from our whole company, empathised from customers' perspectives.

3. External user test

After some tweaks we were ready to ask actual end users: it was time to validate all the assumptions that we’d made in terms of hierarchy, design, and content. We asked warm and cold clients how they experienced and liked our new website. Next to a lot of positive feedback (“I love the new colors”, “So refreshing! This fits Koos so much more”) we received issues in terms of copy (“I’m still puzzling what you can offer me really…”). Issues that could be traced back to positioning decisions we’d made earlier (i.e. Explaining our services in terms of the value for the client instead of in terms of actions and tools).

The copy of our service page and academy page was rewritten from scratch. These were our final steps in completing the design and copy. We were ready to hand the damn thing over to our website builder.

After some tweaks we were ready to ask actual end users: it was time to validate all the assumptions that we’d made in terms of hierarchy, design, and content. We asked warm and cold clients how they experienced and liked our new website. Next to a lot of positive feedback (“I love the new colors”, “So refreshing! This fits Koos so much more”) we received issues in terms of copy (“I’m still puzzling what you can offer me really…”). Issues that could be traced back to positioning decisions we’d made earlier (i.e. Explaining our services in terms of the value for the client instead of in terms of actions and tools).

The copy of our service page and academy page was rewritten from scratch. These were our final steps in completing the design and copy. We were ready to hand the damn thing over to our website builder.

4. Fight the fuzziness

Were we still on our initial schedule? No, we were months behind. But we had answered a lot of positioning questions (e.g. how do we explain our services, what is our tone of voice, how playful do we want to come across) along the way. So that’s our fourth and final learning: redesigning your company’s website means distilling a complicated narrative into a very clear and simple message. That needs a lot of demystifying practices, numerous iterations, and hence a lot of time. Decisions were sometimes very hard to take. Which makes sense: we care about Koos! Funny that this project has put us in the position where we put our clients in all the time.

Stay tuned to see our MVP evolve here: www.koosservicedesign.com

Want to ask Emilie about service designing your website?

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