Cool Summer Refreshment for Your Website

Summer is coming to a close and back to school campaigns are taken care of. Now is a great time to turn your attention to a website refresh that is likely part of your holiday readiness to-do list.  Instead of approaching this task in the pure technological sense, a refresh should reinvigorate your website, and give it new strength and energy to attract customers and get them to buy.

Start with a user profile

Go about your refresh just like the summer recipe you keep perfecting year after year.  Have a customer, or user profile, in mind, plan and write down the instructions, try different ingredients and then have a bunch of people over to pick a winner through A/B testing. Go after a long neglected user group or a current group you want to grow. Give this faction a name and a personality profile.  This profile will be the key ingredient as you determine the different aspects of your refresh, from design look and feel, to content.  For this example, we will use “Elizabeth,” a working mom with two kids who likes to shop for her clothes using recommendations and social media.

Once you have chosen your profile, pick the pages on your site that would most impact your user.  If it is a current customer group, think about key areas that would revive their interests or boost their online engagement.  As you plan the key features or content to update, settle on two or three page designs to take into your testing phase.  Let’s say you pick the product page to redesign for Elizabeth.  You might pick one design that includes multiple social media plug-ins to share with friends and one that includes user generated recommendations with images.  Both reflect the user profile, and are different enough to perform an A/B test.

Put your designs to the test

Take the time to pit your original design, test A, against the new design, test B, using customers on your website.  For many, this step is omitted for various reasons, but it is vital to ensure your refresh is as successful as possible.  You would not enter your apple pie in the county fair without letting your family try it first, would you?  Your website refresh requires the same scrutiny. With so many online testing alternatives available, this can be done with very little time and money. Crazy Egg, for example, is one popular option because of its visual tools and easy instructions. Before you start testing, one additional suggestion is to set goals that help determine a winner. Finishing out with our example, the goal may be to increase the number of items Elizabeth puts in her shopping cart.

Go through each page with the same user profile, planning and testing. Do not forget to top off your perfected website recipe with a dash of mobile and tablet optimization.  In the end, you will not only give your site a new look and feel, but will also motivate your customers to keep shopping through the fall and into the winter holidays.

Mike Auger is chairman of the board and chief strategy officer of Pinnacle Cart, a hosted shopping cart and eCommerce software application that allows you to create, manage and effectively market your business.