Not too long ago we discussed our experience with learning about Website Redesigns at Inbound ’15, when low and behold, one of our own had a run in with a re-design gone wrong! In the spirit of show and tell, and bringing awareness by example, we decided to recap that experience and discuss where things went wrong.
My Poor Experience with a Website Redesign
Of course every company wants their website to not only function properly but to also look its best. But, what happens when a brand completely overhauls and redesigns their website to look better but doesn’t take the user’s experience into account?
Well, from personal experience, I, Mojo Media Labs Social Media Specialist, Megan Radke, can tell you, it’s incredibly frustrating.
As a person is prone to do on payday, I went to go pay my monthly car payment by logging into my automaker’s online customer portal. I noticed the website looked different and much flashier than I had remembered but didn’t think twice about it. I clicked “Sign In” and entered my username and password. Instead of seeing my statement as per usual, I’m told to re-register with their new customer portal.
Ok, that’s fine, I guess, but now I’m wasting time doing this instead of giving the company the money they’re owed. Not totally frustrated yet, I entered my previous username and password for the sake of my memory.
STOP! You can’t use the same password you used for the previous portal. Great. Thanks for the security measures. (Sarcasm should have a font.) Slightly irritated, I entered new information and made a new note in my phone to remind me of the change.
Eventually, I am able to click next, which I am hoping will be the page with my statement and the ability to finally pay my bill. Alas, that’s not what happened. Instead, I see a page asking me to enter the account number associated with my car. But, I can’t. Why? Because in the old customer portal, I opted for paperless statements, those paperless statements had my account number on them.
Now, instead of doing what I came to the website to do, which was pay my bill, I click close on my browser knowing that I’m either going to have to dig through paperwork when I get home in hopes of finding the number or call customer service, where I’m likely to be put on hold, in a queue and finally proving my identity to a point where they’ll hand over my account number.
When Redesigns Work Against the User
It’s clear from this that the redesign was done for the company, not for the user, and this is the result. Let's look closer at portions of Megan's account and examine where the redesign failed her, failed the user experience, and failed the customer experience.
“I noticed the website looked different and much flashier than I remembered, but didn’t think twice about it.”
Like most web users (i.e. web users who aren’t ux experts or designers) Megan didn’t really process the site’s redesign. Instead, she just went to do what she needed to do. The majority of the users on a site are only looking for what they need. This is why strategy and focusing on the user is important in a redesign.
“I’m told to re-register with their new customer portal.”
An optimal customer experience only has the exchange of core customer information once – when the customer signs up! The change here leads to a lot of questions about what the company was thinking—could they not find an integration if they changed systems? Did they not find a way to transfer information? What if the information got lost somewhere in between? If your customer is thinking any of the above, or could even consider these questions based on your redesign, be prepared for some major customer experience problems, complaints, and even a loss of trust!
“Ok, that’s fine, I guess, but now I’m wasting time doing this instead of giving the company the money they’re owed. Not totally frustrated yet….”
Megan’s not frustrated yet, but she’s not thrilled either. Psychology tells us people are more likely to remember a negative experience than a positive one, so it’s not good for the company that Megan is already thinking about the process as a waste of time.
“STOP! You can’t use the same password you used for the previous portal. Great. Thanks for the security measures. (Sarcasm should have a font.)”
We’ve reached the point of a negative customer experience. Already. It doesn’t take much for a customer to feel the effects of a redesign. But in a strong website redesign, they won’t. The website redesign should only affect the customer in making things easier and more visually pleasing. If the customer experiences your redesign in any other way, it was not successful.
“I see a page asking me to enter the account number associated with my car. But, I can’t. Why? Because in the old customer portal, I opted for paperless statements, those paperless statements had my account number on them.”
A previously helpful customer experience item has now had a negative effect on Megan. Again, we wonder why her account number is not tied to the information she’s already had to reprocess, and furthermore, what it means that company did not do so.
“…instead of doing what I came to the website to do, which was pay my bill, I click close on my browser knowing that I’m either going to have to dig through paperwork when I get home in hopes of finding the number or call customer service, where I’m likely to be put on hold, in a queue and finally proving my identity to a point where they’ll hand over my account number.”
At this point, Megan’s experience cannot be redeemed, and it wouldn’t be surprising if this is a deciding factor in the future when she has to decide on buying another car from this company. She’s upset, and rightfully so! She was put through a process she shouldn’t have had to go through if the company was maintaining their data wisely, and if the redesign had been successful, and in this instance, a previous customer experience actually worked against her. These are not promising signs.
So now that we’ve had the full experience of this redesign, what went wrong?
First and foremost, there was obviously not a clear strategy before the redesign took place. It’s likely the company opted for a beautiful design instead of a design that’s both beautiful and functional, and user experience suffered. The company designed the site for themselves instead of the customer. This is clear by the extra steps the customer had to take to use the site. A site designed for the user would eliminate these steps and have them fall back on the company. There was no attention to the flow of the site as evidenced by this as well. Megan was given too many questions that went unanswered, and no choice in the matter, which effected how she felt about the site. This was so much so that we don’t even know from her account what happened to the rest of the site. Was the design truly nice? How was the content laid out? Were things optimized for conversion and easy to read? This information doesn’t exist because the customer, Megan, had a poor experience on the site and did not stick around. This example shows the failure on strategy alone – who could say if any of the elements of the redesign went well! The truth is, likely not. The remaining elements of redesign are all dependent on strategy, and clearly this was not in place.
We hope the sharing of this experience will help you take the steps of a website redesign more seriously. If you want our summary on redesigns again, you can find it here.