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Web Design 101

Trick question: Who knows how to correctly redesign your website?

Answer: No one.

Not designers, not users, and not you or me.

No one knows for sure what will work. But you can get close.

You need a combination of input from different people, and you need to include this one important piece.

People always forget this last part, but it’s essential to success.

Here’s why your website redesign is bound to fail, and how you can fix it before you waste your time and money.

How You and Designers Should Work Together

You know your goals, your target customers, and your company the best. You need to clearly identify your website’s goals, and the positioning of your offer.

Your website is the most important part of online lead generation. Your internet marketing strategy should revolve around your website and support your business goals.

You should brainstorm and thrash in the beginning before anything is actually designed or built. Making last minute changes to a website is the single-biggest cost of time and money.

So make sure you hire a great designer, and then stay the hell out of their way.

Creative endeavors (like websites) cannot be designed by committee. Most people (in your company) have no business critiquing design and user interface changes. It’s important to recognize that the people you’re paying are the experts in design and usability, not you.

Give them creative freedom. It shows them respect.

But when the website is finished, it’s still not done. Now you need the last piece.

The Most Important Missing Piece

Now it’s time to iterate the design based on user behavior.

You (and your designers) really have no idea what will perform best. So you need to observe how people use your website, and then make changes accordingly.

Notice I didn’t say user feedback.

You want to see what people do, not what they say. People don’t always know what they like or dislike.

So put your trust into their actions and behavior.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to do this. I’ll show you one way using this website as an example, and an easy, affordable tool called CrazyEgg.com.


See Where People Are Interacting with Your Site

The first feature is the heatmap.

It shows you where people are clicking by highlighting the “hot spots”. Here’s what that looks like:

FixCourse Heatmap Homepage
I tested several elements over the past few weeks and have made some changes based on this heatmap. Specifically, I’ve eliminated a large footer area, the Hello bar, and the two images in the sidebar.


Because no one was using them!

Over a few hundred visits and 600 clicks, no one clicked on these areas. So they were wasting space.

It’s time to try something else, or use that space for something more important to users.

See What People Are Actually Reading

Next is the scrollmap.

This will show you how much of the page people are reading, and how far down the page they’re scrolling.

FixCourse Scrollmap Homepage
And here’s the legend so you know what the colors mean:

CrazyEgg Scrollmap Legend
My original homepage design displayed the last 5 posts, and had a large footer area.

But again, people weren’t scrolling that far down the page. They weren’t reading or using it. So I eliminated a few posts and the footer area to make the page shorter and more concise.

We’ve also used this feature to test a sales page for my SEO course. So instead of a long, written sales page that people didn’t read, I’ve changed my strategy to using a short, video sales page instead.

The only way to really improve your web design is to see how people actually use interact with your website.

There are no hunches, guesses or feelings. And best of all, not biased opinions or bureaucratic processes.

After all, your company wants the best results, right?

So watch how users actually use your website, make changes to emphasize how they act, and the results will speak for themselves.