It can be tempting to look at a website that’s underperforming and hope the problem resolves itself. However, that’s never going to be as effective as putting in the work to redesign your website — which is why we’re going to explore Commerce website redesign in detail.
What is an eCommerce website redesign?
In short, an eCommerce website redesign is an overhaul of the way your online shop looks, feels, and even performs.
A complete redesign will typically involve changing most, if not all, major aspects of your website. For example, if you wanted to change the layout, color scheme, and contents of your online store, you’d be giving it a complete website redesign.
Many people also opt for partial redesigns. These are less all-encompassing, though they have the potential to be just as impactful.
Whether you’re looking to fully or partially redesign your website, you need to know what to change and whether anything should stay the same. That’s what we’ll discuss below before we get into the right time to launch your redesigning efforts.
Elements to Change
The easiest way to determine which items you should change in your eCommerce website redesign is to consider where you’re looking to bring in improvements.
For example, let’s say you’re hoping to improve the customer experience for your website’s visitors. If that’s the case, you might change your layout to be more user-friendly, or you could make it quicker and easier for site visitors to access customer support.
To put that another way, you’ll want to align the changes you make with your business goals.
So, if you were looking to rebrand, you’d likely choose a lot of elements to change. From your color scheme to your font choices, a complete rebrand should come with a complete overhaul.
If you’re only looking for an update as opposed to a total change, you’d only want to change things that will leave your eCommerce website recognizable. In this case, color schemes would usually be the last thing on your list of elements to change.
Elements to Keep the Same
Much like the elements to change, this depends on the specific goals you’re aiming for. However, when it comes to leaving things the same, there are two extra rules to bear in mind.
First: if it isn’t broken, you don’t always need to fix it.
Let’s contextualize that. In the first example above, we wanted to optimize the website’s design for a great customer experience, and we considered changing features to that end. But what about the features that are already improving the customer experience?
Perhaps your customers love your strong branding, or maybe they’re happy with how many payment options you provide. Any factors about your eCommerce website that contribute to customer satisfaction need to stay largely the same or only be fine-tuned a little bit.
The second rule is this: unless you’re rebranding, make sure your website is still recognizably yours.
Your loyal customers know your brand well — and even many of your new leads will recognize your logo, signature colors, or overall website look. If you change too many of these core parts of your brand identity, you can create confusion and make it harder for customers to remember you.
When should you launch your eCommerce website redesign?
A complete (or partial) eCommerce website redesign can do wonders for you when you’re looking to grow your online business, particularly when it’s done well. But how do you know when it’s time to prepare to launch that effort?
The following factors can act as useful markers to help you determine the best time to kick-start your website redesign.
After Major Changes in Your Company
Your eCommerce website should be closely tied to your company itself — after all, it’s a major portal through which your customers can interact with your brand.
To that end, major changes within your company should be reflected on your website.
For example, let’s say your business is moving towards implementing new eco-friendly solutions. Maybe you’re making all your packaging recyclable, or you’re investing in renewable energy. This is a great part of your brand identity, and your customers should recognize that change in the new design of your website.
When your company changes, let your website change with it. This ensures your branding is consistent across the board, that you tell a compelling brand story, and that you always implement updates to your website when you improve major aspects of your company.
Following a Rebrand
Earlier, we mentioned that rebranding is the one instance when it’s advisable to change the whole look and feel of your website. It also represents an ideal time for a website redesign.
If you’ve made the choice to rebrand, chances are, you don’t want to be the same exact company with a new color scheme. You’re changing your brand identity; that means your eCommerce website needs to change too.
It’s a good idea to overhaul your website at the same time as your overall branding as well. This helps you present a consistent brand identity and remain memorable to your customers. As long as your new branding is consistent, you can create powerful, lasting impressions on your customers.
As anyone who works with software can tell you, testing regularly is absolutely crucial. When those tests point to a need for change, it’s a good idea to listen to them.
Maybe your usability testing has helped you pinpoint a number of errors or glitches that you could resolve with one major patch. Or, perhaps you’ve found out through performance testing that your website won’t be able to handle the volume of traffic you’re expecting it to see in the next quarter.
Whatever the reason, you’ve got to pay attention to what your tests are indicating. If they indicate that it’s time for an eCommerce website redesign, make sure you trust them.
Following Customer Reviews
Your customers are on the receiving end of your eCommerce website changes, for better or worse. Of course, we all want to create the best possible experience — but what about when customers aren’t happy with what you’re providing them?
When your customers complain or submit suggestions for improvement, it’s always worth your while to listen to them. That’s particularly true if multiple people seem to comment on the same thing.
For example, let’s say you’ve gotten great feedback on your website, except from mobile users. They find your fonts difficult to read and your links tough to find. This is an indication that it’s time for some changes to happen to the mobile version of your eCommerce website.
Anytime You Want to Implement New Features
If you’ve been putting your software updates through extended automation testing to make sure you’ll be able to use them to upgrade your website, you’ll likely need to change your website’s design to make room for them.
For example, you might want to introduce a chatbot feature to your website. This would help customers navigate your online shop and resolve their queries through the power of automation.
This is a large new feature, and it merits a website redesign to create space for it.
It can be helpful to think of your eCommerce website as a room in your house. When you bring in new furniture, you’ll often have to move what’s already there to create the right kind of arrangement, space, and feeling for your new additions. Ecommerce website features are the same.
How can you start an eCommerce website redesign?
Now that you know when to begin your redesign, you might be wondering what your first steps should look like. The following tips will guide you through them.
1. Plan carefully.
There’s no use launching a redesign if you’re not sure what you’re doing or which elements you’re changing. That’s why the planning stage is arguably the most important one.
Take the time you need to lay out the precise details of your redesign. This helps you figure out exactly how to implement them and how long that implementation process might take. It also helps with determining which tasks you’re going to need to complete, and from there, you can more easily find out which experts you need on the job.
It’s always better to over-plan and not need all the things you wrote out than to under-plan and leave a project careening off the rails.
2. Set aside the right amount of time.
Nothing is worse than trying to cram an important project into a deadline that’s too tight to complete it to a high standard. To avoid this, make sure you leave enough time to plan and execute your website redesign.
It’s also better to err on the side of caution in this regard.
You’ll always make customers and site visitors happier by releasing a redesign ahead of its scheduled release date than you would by putting out something that’s not ready just to meet the deadline you’d set.
3. Test, test, test.
Never, ever skip your testing.
You need to test extensively as you’re developing your redesign. In particular, if you’re planning to redesign some aspects, but not all, you’ve got to pay attention to your regression testing so that your new elements blend seamlessly with the old ones.
The more tests you conduct, the fewer bugs you’ll leave in your code when the website redesign is made public. That makes for happier customers and easier future updates.
4. Always get feedback.
There’s no such thing as too much feedback when it comes to major business-impacting decisions like eCommerce website redesigns. That’s why you’ll want to search for opinions among in-house employees and customers alike.
Employees can tell you how it feels to use the website on their end. For example, they can give you insight into the things that can be improved and the ways in which your website does or doesn’t work for them. This helps you design an optimized website.
At the same time, customers are a valuable resource for letting you know what the website looks and feels like to users. Their feedback helps you deliver the best possible experience to them.
5. Consult experts.
This tip is especially valuable if you’re not particularly experienced with website redesigns.
People who have extensive knowledge on the subject will be able to give you the best advice and counsel. That includes experts that work for you, as well as external ones. Depending on the size and scope of your company, it can be very worthwhile to outsource at least some of the website redesign workflows.
Experts can help you hone your vision for your website into something you can realize. If you’re being too ambitious or not ambitious enough, experts can tell you this and guide you in the right direction.
Once you’ve determined that it’s time to start redesigning your eCommerce business, remember this: don’t panic.
It’s deceptively simple, but it’s true; a redesign that was put together in a rush will look sloppy and carry errors and glitches. On the other hand, one that was created with care can last for years and help your brand image enormously.
You know your business best. If you feel it’s time for a redesign, chances are, you’re right; that idea generally doesn’t spring up out of nowhere. Trust your intuition while leaving room for others to tell you what they think.