Redesign Your Website to Do What Your Customers Want

January 16,  2020
Contributor: Laura Starita 

For better customer conversion, use customer focus to drive your website redesign.

Whirlpool had a problem with its website. Despite a range of features and information, customer surveys revealed that only 11% of customers found all the information they needed. Calls and emails to customer service were increasing, affecting costs for customer conversion.

How did Whirlpool address the issue? By improving its focus.

“Brands make the common mistake of designing a websites to focus on what they want the customer to know."

“Many organizations design their websites for everyone, rather than for key customer personas and customer journeys,” says Jane-Anne Mennella, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner for Marketers. “Websites then go into production without input or validation from the customer that it lets them easily and effectively accomplish their goals and tasks.”

In Whirlpool’s case, the company had designed a site trying to address all possible issues for all possible customers, but ended up creating a confusing experience that pushed customers away. 

Whirlpool examined its website data and identified the tasks people came to the website to complete. It also identified high-priority customer personas. Those insights informed a major website redesign that narrowed the focus of the site to enabling high-priority groups to accomplish their goals more quickly, resulting in a $3.7 million annual profit improvement.

What lessons can marketers with underperforming sites learn to more effectively drive customer conversions? Start with these three:

Assess whether your website design serves your company and your customer

Brands make the common mistake of designing their websites to focus on what they want the customer to know, not on what customers want to accomplish. The result can be unintuitive, hard to navigate and, frankly, irrelevant sites. If your site experiences a high rate of abandonment, this could be why.

To find out if your site is more company-focused than customer-focused, examine site elements like structure, content, imagery, features and the role the site plays in customer journeys. For example, is the site organized around your company’s internal functions or products (company-centric)? Or is the site organized to be consistent with how customers use your product or seek information (customer-centric)? Can customers easily find relevant content with few clicks (customer-centric)? Or is the customer journey through the site circuitous, requiring many clicks to find important content (company-centric)?

Brands must also consider data from customer research, like focus groups and website usability testing, to identify opportunities for improvement. The insights gained from this research lay the groundwork to set priorities for a redesign.

Decide on the audience

Customers quickly get annoyed, distracted and baffled by sites that try to serve everyone with every need. Instead, brands should decide which customers the website will prioritize and what it needs to do for them. Customer personas and customer journeys will help with this effort.

Understand which key customer groups interact with the website and for what purpose. Use this information to plan the needed structure, content and features for the redesign. When website teams ground redesigns in customer insight, they can more easily defend against objections or pressures that dilute the focus and alter the scope.

Understand your audience

User research and testing is key throughout the website planning and development process, and even after the site has gone live, to drive continuous improvement.

The methodologies you use will depend upon the insights you are trying to uncover. For example, A/B and multivariate testing works to identify which versions of a customer experience perform the best. Heat maps reveal the parts of the site that attract the most focus. Card sorting invites customers to categorize topics according to how they think about them. This method lets marketers use customers’ way of thinking to determine website structure.

Conduct tests with actual users. Feedback from people inside the organization won’t capture the needs of real customers addressing real needs with the brand.

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