Why are website redesign jobs not (just) for designers?

Airnauts
5 min readNov 25, 2022
text by Krzysztof Odolinski Bea Giermsińska, visuals by Filip Dueskau

The commonly-used phrase website redesign does not do justice to the importance of the process it describes. The focus should not merely be on aesthetics, colors, or animations — but also on the most important company metrics: its market positioning and, of course, its revenue. When you decide to do a redesign, there are processes that are ‘good enough’, which will yield decent results, and processes that are much better, and which will deliver superior results for your business.

At Airnauts, we often come across redesign briefs that focus on owners’ ambitions for their companies. This means making business decisions based on assumptions. To successfully deliver value to end users, decisions on how to adapt your website should be made based on clearly outlined business objectives and user insights, not on hunches and guesswork.

Decide what you want to achieve for your business

A crucial step in the website redesign process is to agree on the reasons for the change within your organization. Whoever has initiated the process should clearly outline the problem to internal stakeholders, providing an evidence-based rationale for the change. The website is most likely owned by the Marketing Team, but the redesign impacts the whole business, from Sales, and HR to Product Management. Establishing and prioritizing goals between stakeholders is a must. You don’t want to fall into the trap of beautiful design that fails to help your whole business succeed.

Articulate users’ problems

We often see our clients struggle to articulate the problem(s) they are trying to solve for their users. What you need — as the very first step in the redesign — is a precisely-defined goal rooted in customer needs or customer pain points. What are we trying to improve for the user? How should the redesign lead to better outcomes for them? What are those outcomes? This will allow you to prioritize further design and business decisions.

If the solution to the problem or need is not yet defined, or your team is struggling to agree on what’s most important, consider getting external support. A digital agency with solid Research & Strategy capacities is able to take control of this process, deliver user insights and guide you through their journeys — to make sure you are giving users what they really expect and need.

Translate customers’ problems into opportunities for your business

With a clear focus on user problems and internal alignment, you can now move forward to define how your customer problems will be solved. The essential point at this stage is explaining what added value the new website will deliver to the customers.

Looking at user problems and business objectives, we can now think of a few different scenarios for how your website should change. In this step, positioning must always be on the project team’s radar. This is crucial — positioning is the context that makes your product or service distinct, with clearly outlined benefits that your service or product delivers.

Bring designers on board to sketch out the concept

Only after the vision for the new website is shaped, the design team can lead the way. The well-led design process begins with quick prototypes, mockups, and storyboards. These visual tools focus on showing how the user is able to achieve their goal with your products and allow quick verification without spending hours on shaping buttons or animations. At the end of this process, the new website’s concept is translated into a detailed design brief.

Great content is as important as great visuals

Now the design process starts for real. Although we call it the ‘design phase’ the designers must wait for content. The vision is formed, but it must be communicated in the proper way.

Content is a message to the world — it must be clear, complete, and engaging. We often come across the assumption that a website’s design can simply be filled with text and images after the visuals are done. Without content, the designers are playing a guessing game which means that, in the end, the user experience may be inconsistent or confusing. Additionally, those beautifully laid-out wireframes need to be changed to align with the copy. This means higher budgets and more time.

Finally, it’s time to design

Now that it is time for User Interface and User Experience design, you still cannot focus purely on the visual aspect of the site. Regardless of whether you are introducing new services, changing branding, or adding new features, remember to test them with your current user base to make sure that the alterations lead to customer satisfaction.

The redesign is never only about design

Although designing may seem like a black box process where you hand over a brief and receive a finished design, it’s not. It’s a constant dialog between the design team, researchers, and strategists, who make sure that all requirements are met, the client, and their users, who provide essential feedback on ideas at every stage of the redesign.

A well-defined process makes it easier to lead the redesign toward a common goal, make fact-based decisions and produce consistent results. It adds to the collective knowledge of your entire team and its understanding of your customer’s point of view — to de-risk your roadmap to success.

So, what are the good & bad reasons for a redesign?

Good reasons:

😀 Sales enablement — if your sales team’s strategy changed

😀 Poor user experience — only if proven by data!

😀 Business pivot, e.g. adding a new business line

😀 Marketing strategy change — only if proven by data

😀 Your website is not up to your positioning (change of Ideal Customer Profile), aspirations, or needs

😀 A significant change in content that cannot be made to fit the website’s current structure

😀 Rebranding

Bad reasons:

☹️ Change the look & feel to make it look “better”

☹️ Any changes not driven by data (analytics, user insights, etc.) or confirmed brand needs

The whole process in steps:

Align

  1. Documentation
  • Preparing files for production
  • Design do’s and don’ts in the form of a style guide
  • Building the design system

2. Align

  • Audit the current website
  • Define scope & objectives
  • Research plan

3. Research

  • Market & Trends
  • User interviews
  • Insights, user journeys
  • New Opportunities

4. Strategy

  • Formulating a vision
  • Concept visualization
  • Testing preliminary concepts
  • Project roadmap

5. Presentation of the final strategy and brief

Design

6. Content Strategy

  • Site map
  • Information Architecture
  • Content design workshop with the marketing team, experts
  • Content design

7. User Experience

  • Visualizing user flows
  • Drafting wireframes
  • Working on UX micro-copy
  • Creating clickable prototypes
  • Gathering accessibility requirements

8. Visual Designs

  • Setting up the art direction together
  • Presenting initial design concepts and getting initial feedback
  • Designing all the necessary screens
  • Iterating, getting further feedback
  • Designing bespoke visual assets like icons, illustrations, or 3D elements
  • Completing the design with motion and micro-interactions

9. Usability

  • Usability planning
  • Usability assets
  • Setting usability tools
  • Usability testing
  • Usability report

10. Final design presentation

Development

11. Data migration

12. QA

13. CMS training and documentation

14. Launch

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Airnauts

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