6. June 2013–
For startups, there comes a time when rolling out new features, rebranding or pivoting will call for an online facelift. Recently, travel experience platform GetYourGuide and cloud-based printing startup ezeep both unveiled a new look and feel for their websites.
A successful site redesign and relaunch can help a business in many ways, such as conveying a clearer message, capturing user interest and shaping perceptions. We've gathered some expert tips to help you with the important, yet often overwhelming, process...
In the Internet Age, snap judgements on a company's professionalism, trustworthiness and credibility can be made quicker than you can say "startup". When viewing a website, it takes users two-tenths of a second to form a first impression, according to an eye-tracking study conducted at Missouri University of Science and Technology last year.
While entrepreneurs may dread the hefty task of relaunching a website, we have outlined 10 pro tips with the help of Product Designer Matthias Kretschmann, who helped launch ezeep's latest web iteration, Edenspiekermann Berlin's Creative Director Christian Hanke, who led the GetYourGuide website rebrand and relaunch that was unveiled last week, as well as GetYourGuide's VP of Product Martin Sieber and Head of Design (previously Gidsy's CPO) Floris Dekker.
1) Define your business goals
Early on, it's important to clearly define why your company has decided that a relaunch is necessary and what you're hoping to achieve.
"The main reason for the website relaunch at ezeep was because of a new business direction – we shifted from B2C to B2B. Also, we were tackling a bigger problem, the negative perceptions associated with the printing industry. One of our key goals was to change these perceptions," explains Kretschmann (right), who designed ezeep's lively new homepage and reconceptualised the brand.
2) Identify your target audience ASAP
After determining the purpose of the relaunch and envisioning an expected outcome, Kretschmann says that it's crucial to know who your target group is, what they need and what they want. "You have to identify your target audience from the very beginning – not in the middle – of your design process. It should be one of the first things you do when you decide to relaunch, or else your message will be unclear," he adds.
3) Get an outsider's perspective
"At the beginning, we tried to do it internally at GetYourGuide. But after gathering more information and discussing, we realised that only 60 per cent of what we hoped to achieve would be possible if we did it ourselves – so we chose to work with Edenspiekermann," says Sieber (left).
Edenspiekermann is a strategy, design and communications agency with offices in Berlin, Stuttgard and Amsterdam. In addition to working with well known clients like Red Bull and Ableton, the agency has launched its own digital products, such as Screenfeeder and SoundPrism.
In reality, many startups simply cannot afford to hire someone externally to help tackle the task and are not necessarily trying to overhaul their branding – even so, Edenspiekermann's Creative Director Hanke (right) says that it is crucial to get a outsider's perspective on your brand and website for critical feedback.
4) Think about the bigger picture
In the early stages, entrepreneurs are likely to be more focused on building and refining a product rather than developing a brand identity. But as a startup begins to scale, taking a longer-term brand approach – which involves thinking in broader terms than just the product itself – is an important part of enabling product extensions and expansion to new markets, says Hanke.
"Think about the bigger picture – what is the role your product plays in people's lives? At the same time, there needs to be a healthy balance between thinking broad and not losing connection to the core of the product," he advises.
5) Provide valuable content
Good content and copy is part of the user experience says Krestchmann. "Personally, I think it should be there before you start developing the visual aspect."
6) Take the process step by step
Sieber advises startups to take the relaunch "step by step" and – especially for larger changes – realise that the process will typically take longer than expected.
"For us, what's online now is just the first step, it's the beginning of something much more," adds Dekker (left), who became GetYourGuide's Head of Design after Gidsy was integrated into the company in April. "For things like rebranding and relaunching a website, you have to put it online at some point – even if you're not completely content with it. Using a step by step method helped us focus on when the step was ready, rather then when it was 'perfect'."
7) Choose the right people for the right jobs
Startups are often limited in human resources, so how can you make the best with the team you have?
"We didn’t have 20 people who could work on this project at GetYourGuide. So it was crucial for us to select certain people that could really make things happen," explains Sieber. "People who could iterate on the material that we got from the agency and people who could push it through internally. It sounds easy – but getting approval and acceptance for every detail of the website was time constraining.”
8) Assign someone to push the project out the door
"Implementation of the new branding and website is usually where the most obstacles appear. It helped a lot to have one person responsible for coordinating the team, pushing the project forward and aiming for a concrete completion date. It really helped us focus," Dekker says.
9) Ensure that your new site visually reflects organisational values
"Our website is designed to communicate to the leaders of organisations but, in the end, business people are, well, people like anybody else. Why not give them a fresh, friendly experience with rich colors and graphics to elevate their online engagement?" says an ezeep blogpost on the reasoning behind the new look.
"Creating a successful homepage is no small feat – it must visually communicate the soul of an organisation in the blink of an eye, emotionally and intellectually encouraging visitors to give pause to their busy day, scroll down a few moments more and perhaps even linger."
10) Don't be just another startup website
While this sounds obvious, we've all seen our share of forgettable startup sites. "Don't build a standard startup website with a blurry header and email field," says Krestchmann adamantly. "Strive to be different."
featured image – © peshkova - Fotolia.com
wireframe – flickr user baldiri