How To Improve Collaboration During Website Revamp
In this session, we’ll share the secret behind how VWO did this exercise in a collaborative way and our learnings from this experience.
Utkarsh: Welcome to VWO Inside where we discuss growth ideas which you can apply to your business. Today, we’re discussing about website redesign and how businesses can plan it better and get it right.
Utkarsh: Hi Ashwin.
Utkarsh: Let’s talk about website redesign! Businesses take this cycle every couple of years, people take the effort of redesigning their website.
Utkarsh: Why you think that it’s important to get it right?
Ashwin: So you know website is a critical piece in the way you connect with your audience especially for customers as the first time that they’re realizing value that you have to provide or you are promising to provide to them. So, to get that right and to make sure that your customers understand what their business is all about is critical and actually sending your services and products. So, website as a way to communicate with your customers, as a way to get your point across becomes a critical piece.
Ashwin: And obviously as you said companies revamped their website every couple of years because the customer’s needs have changed. They talk in a different way and making sure you communicate in the right way and you’re communicating the right things is important. So, from a business perspective it’s incredibly important to get to a website right. Because for a lot of us, 90 percent of the sales or 90 percent of the products or the services we are selling happens on the website itself.
Utkarsh: So, when you talk about a revamp there’s a lot of components that can improve or change – like the very value proposition which business is offering. So, say if a business is targeting toward that, how can they go about it?
Ashwin: Right. So, I think a lot of time we focus too much on the word redesign but essentially as I just said you know it’s about communicating what you are doing as a business for your customers better. And how do you know you’re communicating it better. That means the funnel that you’re optimizing on your website you’re getting more out of it. So, that means more conversions or more traffic whatever your goals are whether you’re hitting those scores are off your funnel through the redesign. So I’ll give an example you know Brian Macy’s from conversion sciences. He recently did a session for us in ConvEx and he talked about Finish Line which sells sports gear and they lost three million dollars after a redesign.
Utkarsh: Wow. That’s Huge!
Ashwin: Yeah. And you know it was really obvious for them as a redesign like their website. Why? Because they had a 90s website. They entered the 2000s and they wanted to upgraded. They went for the minimalistic design. They went for lighter colors, readability and really got that right. But then once they made the website live, they lost three million dollars.
Ashwin: And that’s that’s kind of insane if you think about it. That’s a huge amount. And why that happened? I think it’s because the focus again too much on the redesign aspect whereas website redesign is actually a process and optimizing a funnel. And if you look at from that perspective that means at each step of whatever change that you’re making if you’re one of these let’s say homepage pricing page and check out if you’re making changes to these pages that means you’d really need to get it right.
Ashwin: Otherwise, it will have a significant business impact. So, when I look at the website redesign it’s actually about optimizing that funnel and hitting the business metrics that matter for your business.
Utkarsh: And when you talk about different goals that you have on the website and how do to reiterate these goals when you’re planning a redesign. How do you go about it?
Ashwin: So, I think as I just said you know every website has a funnel for example for us it was taking people to the pricing page and then requesting a demo or starting a free trial. So, these are the two most important funnels that we look at.
Ashwin: I think as businesses we really need to look at three aspects. One is funders. One is standards. And the third one is segments. So what channels are your traffic coming from? How are the customers from those channels taking the path on your Web site? What are the funnels they’re following? And then is it also differing from one segment to another? Because you may have for example for us we have clients who are from SMB segment but we also have enterprise clients. And the path is completely different.
Ashwin: So once you have these three variables into consideration you’ll be able to define these individual funnels based on different permutation and combination. And then once you have that in place it’s important to have the baselines right. So, you should know where you stand right now so that when you do a website you design and you’re measuring success you know exactly where you were and where you want to be.
Ashwin: So, for example if you do it you a redesign it may work for a particular segment and you get great results better but it tanks in other segment, overall when you see the blended performance – you see that your business metrics have moved in the right direction but it has come at a cost of a segment underperforming than they were performing before. So, again having this system right based on the three factors that I just told you about I think having that as a starting point with the baseline study is incredibly important to get started with the website redesign.
Utkarsh: So it’s great that you mention about you know different segments tanking on the website and underperforming at the same time. And there definitely different ways a business can get impacted in a negative fashion. So, let’s start by listing all the negatives ways or the kind of impact which a business can have from such redesign and how to curb that.
Ashwin: So, essentially what we’re trying to do is you know we’re trying to implement a change and change is something you know that you get accustomed to. So for example if I get a new haircut even for me it’s incredibly hard to get used to the new look. And once I get comfortable in it then you know like you really get to know if if this suits your personality or not. And same with customers when they come to a website you design it will not always click in the first go. Maybe, in the first or two first one or two sessions especially for the customers will be visiting your website who have the context of what you were but what you need to make sure when you’re implementing the change you need to take that into consideration. So if you take a call too early based on the data that you have received say in the first one week one month or even before six months depending on on the sales cycle of your business. Then I think it’s a concern you should wait till you have enough amount of data and then you should take a call and it should take into consideration that people would you know react to changes negatively.
Ashwin: Now on the other side when you decide you know that it is not working out. So, I think after that period has gone you really need to you assess the numbers. If they have stayed stagnant or higher then it’s good. If it has gone down you’d really need to assess and I think going back to the funnels that I talked about. So, have all the funnels and the baselines in place. So, then you need to revisit and figured out where it’s working well and where it’s not. And once you have that attribution that you know for these people this has worked out really well but for these channels or these segments it hasn’t or you know this particular funnel did not work out. You start to have those insights based on the data that you have. That’s where you start assessing where it went wrong. And a lot of businesses do not even get to assess this because they haven’t actually started off the website redesign on the right page. So, you know setting those baselines and setting those you know the initial framework of how your website works right now is incredibly important.
Utkarsh: It’s great that you mentioned about so many different aspects of website redesign – you’re talked about funnels, getting them right talked. You talked about data and how you reiterating or debating your entire design for it be on the lines of customer experience and other things.
Utkarsh: You talked about feedback and I know that you were spearheading VWO’s website redesign, recently. How were you able to implement all these things and make a comprehensive experience out of it.
Ashwin: So, the Website that really you designed you know marketing and routines were highly involved in the redesign of the web. So, one thing that we looked at or one of the problems that we had was collecting feedback. So, we understood the channels. We understood the segments. We understood what kind of changes we were trying to put out there but we were not really sure about the direction that we wanted to go into because it was also a positioning change for us.
Ashwin: So, when you’re doing that you know especially the internal stakeholders at different layers so you have the head of the departments you have the you know the leadership layer and then you also have customer facing teams who have a lot of context about how the customers are interacting with your product how the industry is kind of moving along. So, capturing a lot of this feedback where the feedback itself is contrasting from one person to another I think it becomes overwhelming. And then you know your personal biases come into the picture and then you start kind of you know neglecting some feedback and accepting some feedback based on the biases you have.
Ashwin: So, one of the things one of the hardest things I’ve had to do was actually capture this feedback in one place and prioritize it properly. So, we actually used our own tool as you know VWO plan layer has a Chrome extension so the chrome extension is incredibly powerful so we gave that to all the internal stakeholders and then we said you know go and start collecting evidence. So, any kind of competitor Web site or any kind of report that you come across or your feedback on the current web site you can start tagging and taking screenshots of all these snippets and you know putting your ideas into VWO plan layer and then what we did was we started tagging them with teams so you know if there were changes in our homepage and there were change around design we would club them together and make one theme. If around copy we wouldn’t make it another theme and if it’s around storytelling it’s another theme.
Ashwin: So, once we did that then we knew that if we want to focus on home page and storytelling this is the feedback that we got. And then the second layer was prioritization. So, we used the ICE framework that is embedded in the VWO plan layer. So, you know it’s Impact Confidence Execution(ICE). It’s the impact confidence and the execution aspect that you have to rank. So, we focused a lot on the confidence aspect. So, when we took a feedback from an internal stakeholder that was intuitive or maybe we did not have enough data. So, we don’t know discarded. We said you know we need to explore more. And we had teams kind of you know find evidence for that using you know the insights layer that we have. So if you have like a heat map of a particular page where you know the way people are behaving as evidence for that feedback or maybe looking at particular visitor recordings.
Ashwin: So, as I said you know if you have channels and segments set up properly then you’re able to see OK. These are the visitors who are not performing really well. So if they’re not performing really well can I find certain evidence you know that kind of supports the hypothesis or the idea that has been proposed. So once you start collecting this feedback what’s happening is that you’re not suddenly thinking about what kind of language you should use to communicate what you already have in mind. You start you start looking into what you need to say or what you need to project. And if it’s actually true or not. So, setting the base for that exercise. Collecting feedback is very important. And having that within VWO plan layer there was highly useful for us.
Ashwin: So, that’s one aspect of it. And then the other aspect is obviously the customers. So, you need to again you know have these segments those and the web pages are totally examined. All you need to look at the heatmaps and recordings of people who are not having a great experience. Maybe, you can even segment based on the NPS surveys or the CSAT surveys you have ran. What about the people who did not have a great experience, collect that feedback and then use that to kind of prioritize your ideas and that itself was one of the most comprehensive exercise and the most difficult part of the entire exercise that we have to go through.
Utkarsh: So, it’s great that you talk about feedback comprehensively and talked about the essence of why feedback is at the center of everything what we’re doing here in terms of website redesign. Now, there comes a case when you know we have so much feedback and we’re gunning towards having a perfect website and you know all ideas which we plan to implement after having a priority list and everything is that we just like being a perfectionist till the very last second of it.
Utkarsh: How we ensure that you know that there is still some velocity of progress happening every month every 15 days and also have that quality at the same time.
Ashwin: So what we did was you know like we did not put stakeholders against each other. We did not say you know this take all that has got a better feedback than the other. What we did was we went out there and tried to figure out if we had evidence about that idea or not. So, that objectivity that we brought into the process really helped us you know compare feedback to each other and even convince the stakeholders that we are taking the right direction. Instead, the other process that we would have done in the past would have been you know have discussions around it have a lot of people in the room and maybe take a decision based on how a group things about that idea. And I think that’s very counterintuitive. And at the end of the day you know whoever is in charge won’t make those changes after the numbers have been affected. But what we did here was you know we objectively decided that we would collect evidence for individual ideas that people pitched. And that makes a huge difference. And the amount of evidence you want to you want to collect in our case we looked at surveys we looked at heat maps and we looked at recordings and we also looked at the conversations that we had you know that our product team had with these customers and tried to incorporate that into what we were trying to do.
Ashwin: But you can go even a level deeper if you had more time we would have probably done focus groups, we would have you know actually made variations and run experiments that we did not do this time but I believe we should have probably you know phase it out and use experimentation as a way to kind of make sure that each of the pages that we’re revamping from homepage to plan pages that we have to do pricing page even to the checkout page or the free trial page once someone signs up. All of this is actually having a positive impact. Ideally, we should have done that. But what we did right was collect evidence and prioritize it correctly. And I think what we are looking at in the future is to incorporate experimentation to not do it every couple of years retake a piece.
Ashwin: Again, as I talked about you know the baseline, you know whihc segments and channels are performing better than the other. With the channels or the pages or the segments that are underperforming. That’s where you need to start you know pitching your ideas and improving that part of the funnel like as much as you can. For that channel, for that segment and we want to make this more of a continuous process from now on. And that’s what I would recommend businesses to do as well. Don’t do it every year or two, do it every month! And that’s an incredible shift in how you would think about the entire process. But if you’re objective about collecting feedback I think it is. It is easy. You should not discuss feedback. You should collect evidence against feedback or against ideas.
Utkarsh: So I think there are two takeaways which you discussed from your experience.
Utkarsh: One is that the evidence or data that you’re collecting was vetoing all the ideas whether to pick, priorities or not. Whether to invest in that or not.
Utkarsh: Second was once you’re pacing it right in terms of the kind of chunks you need to pick up and then execute and then move to the next phase. So, these were two things working for you. About your experience, what were the hardest things which you came across in terms of planning and implementation?
Ashwin: I think for us positioning change was huge. So when we’re looking at positioning you know we had, so one thing that we did really well we we hired a small group of three people who were looking from marketing growth and product that got together and took calls on what the positioning would be like and why we selected these three people were because these three people knew about the market. One of them was expert in understanding what customers felt and one was an industry expert.
Ashwin: So, once you have these three different flavors then this could be different for each of the industries. You know when you have these three different ways of looking at the same thing. Once they came up with something, we did not we do not put it through the lens of group thing where we got you know like a lot of stakeholders together and question that. What we did instead was you know again have questions that you know the stakeholders submit to this group. And they would assess and write the answers on you know how this would how this addresses that particular point and if it does then they take a call on iterating positioning.
Ashwin: So, what this means is because the website is also telling a story, right. So, a story needs a narrator and you know narration can not be done by a hundred people, narration should be done by one or two and even in our case I think three was a stretch, it should not be more than two. The narration should be tightly held by one or two people at max so that you avoid group thing and then they have time to assess and reflect on this story. And iterate based on the feedback that they’re getting. So that was incredibly hard and I think we took a tough call of keeping a very small group to take these decisions but I think it has worked in our favor.
Utkarsh: That’s a very interesting insight and I definitely want to unpack that for any business and they might be a lot of people you know witnessing and listening tuning into this conversation. What are the right people? when you talk about picking up stakeholders that have this group which take decisions off you know whether to go forward, whether to iterate and think all of those things.
Utkarsh: What are the qualities of those people? What are these things? Whether it’s experience, time spent in the organization or are they head the key positions in the organization. What are those qualities?
Ashwin: I think I think it’s not all related to positions of any of the people involved. I think you really need to know who is the closest to the customer. And when I say closet to the customer it does not mean like having conversations with customer. Customers who’s empathetic to their needs who is able to articulate you know what are the gaps in these solutions that we are providing to them right now. What are their struggles and struggles not just with the product that you’re selling but struggles in their workflow struggles with you know that they have in their day to day life and then you were part of that solution and you’re just being a very small part. Someone who was able to understand that you know you really need to have that person in the room. And wherever that person is that person as I didn’t support that person can be in success that person could be in your marketing. That could be a CEO, that could be your head of product.
Ashwin: But having this representation in the group is important. I think you definitely need one person who’s able to narrate a story very well. So if you have someone who who has a knack of storytelling, have them in the room. Because they’ll be able to absorb these ideas and really articulated in a very packed manner and having that person is important. And I think the third person that talked about someone who understands the market, who understands you know how the those are kind of behaving where the market is heading what kind of innovations are coming in so that they can also make sure that it’s future proof, in order to be doing similar kind of things that the other competitors are saying.
Ashwin: And you have something differentiated. Because being different also connects with your audience if you’re repeating the same thing. Just like your competitors are saying it’s very hard to stand out. So you should have someone who understands what’s going in the market and make sure that you know you stand out and you don’t need to have three different people reading these three different hats. You can have one person wearing two hats and that’s absolutely fine. But having these three roles filled as well as you know assessing the feedback and assessing what needs to be done and what needs to go into the website is important.
Utkarsh: All right. So, if I talk about my takeaways for the session – first would be listening to your customer and gathering feedback. A lot of feedback which I think very much relates to the core value of empathy. Any business or individual who is spearheading this process needs to be empathetic about the needs with the customer wants, what kind of an experience you want to deliver.
Utkarsh: Then I think another interesting point which you picked upon was picking the stakeholder in a particular way that you know you ensure that they are the people who understand the market, who understands your competition, who understand it in a different way how your product works and they can take a collective decision in terms of making the project go through.
Utkarsh: And then you talked about setting up expectation of the stakeholders. And it’s not just internal stakeholders like CEO or people in your leadership team but also your external stakeholder. And if you get to these three things right it would be a much much better way of revamping your website experience. And one key thing which we talked about is breaking the entire process phases and not trying to do the entire process in one go. It’s better to iterate and give a one month time time three months time.
Ashwin: Ideally you know your customer needs are changing every day you know their behavior is changing the way they’re reacting to your messaging is changing. So if you have a framework where you have the baselines or how do how are your most important segments and channels are performing on individual pages and individual funnels.
Ashwin: Once you have that analysis you can really pick and choose where it’s not performing well and start fixing those leaks for your business. And I think that would have an impact and that should be a continuous process when you need that when you have enough small small changes that pile up and giving you signals that your business is going in a different direction. That’s where you need to do this entire exercise and kind of you know bring the entire business on to the same path or telling the same story. But you know it’s an ongoing process. It’s not it should not be done once in a year. I think it should be done every month as we just discussed and experimentation and listening to your customers has to be a central piece to the entire process.
Utkarsh: Thanks Ashwin, that’s it! To check out more resources on plan layer to manage your experimentation program check out the link below. Thank you.