People hate change. No really. People do not like when things change. We like things to stay the same. We may tell people that we like change. We might try a few new things once in a while. We might even have ourselves convinced we like change.
But the truth is almost nobody likes change. Change means work. Well, in most cases change means work in the short-term. Change can be beneficial in the long-term, but when humans are presented with change they immediately panic and think about how they have to adapt in the short-term. Let me put this idea into context.
Website Redesign vs. Website Redesign Series
Change in the website design world means a redesign. People don’t like redesigns. Sure, the initial design will capture people’s attention. Visitors to the site will have a moment of marvel as they look at the new images and the new format of the site. All the first impressions of the new site will be positive.
Then the site visitors will think about how they have to relearn the processes on the site. For a shopping site this could mean learning where all the links are to favorite categories. The person might also have to get used to the new location of the search bar. The checkout process might change and that will throw some returning customers off when they are making their first post-redesign purchase. For a software site, change means learning a new interface.
For folks that work with an online software every day that means relearning how to do their job. People don’t like change. We’re short-term thinkers. People seem to instantly judge a situation by the short-term. It takes training and experience to learn that some things will have short-term discomfort, but will eventually lead to a higher quality of life in the long-term.
Are you concerned about your website redesign now that we’ve discussed peoples’ view toward change? Well there is an alternative to a one-off website redesign. The alternative is to do a website redesign series.
You’ve determined that your current website is in need of a few touchups. You have learned that there are inefficiencies in your website process. You want to clean those up. You have also made it a point to focus the website to be more in line with what your brand stands for today.
A redesign would be a great way to focus the website on the key differentiating points of your business and really communicate your brand value message to your customers. These are the reasons business leaders decide to change their websites. The next step is to engage with a design firm and start planning for a redesign.
Here is where you can take things in a slightly different direction. Work with your design team to create a series of redesign steps. Focus on how your customers will react to each change in the process. Do some research with some web tracking tools like Crazy Egg and UserTesting. These tools and many others will show you how your customers use your website. You can also do one-on-one interviews with customers. It’s better to have a real discussion than a survey because you can ask additional questions and also elaborate on more complex questions if your user doesn’t understand.
Once you understand how your customer uses your site you can better take on the task of a website redesign series. It might make sense to change a few elements of the site that less important than others. Another tip would be to remove elements that aren’t beneficial, but that’s for another post. Focus on the elements of the site redesign project that will be less invasive for customers. For an e-commerce site this could mean changing the way product pages are laid out. Most people shouldn’t overreact to the change in the look of the product page. They might even welcome something like larger images, more evident customer reviews and a longer page with more expert insight. The elements of your redesign that you’ll want to focus on in subsequent steps are the items people use more often such as the search function or even the checkout.
The checkout process is important. People can be uneasy with spending money and there is still an element of distrust with online transactions. You want people to be comfortable with money processes. Set your website redesign up into steps. Focus on making change happen slowly. This will allow your customers to react without freaking out over one huge change to the site. You should see less instant change on the site and sometimes full on redesigned sites will see a loss in conversion rates before eventually seeing them even back out.
A website redesign series allows people to gradually adjust to change.
It’s much easier this way. People will probably still freak out. They’ll just be in better position to accept the small changes and continue learning how the new site works. People hate change. People don’t really hate slow changes that make their lives better.