Friday, 14 August 2015

How to Change Something You Like: Lessons from Updating My Website

A common change management challenge is people's dislike of trying new things. Even though the new ways of working could lead to benefits, they hold onto the familiar and comfortable ways that have led to past success. Sydney J. Harris wisely observed, "Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better."

I knew it was time to update my website after I reviewed a free video assessment of it called Peak by a company called User Testing. A reviewer navigates your site and provides real-time comments on what he or she experience.  

My feedback was painful (video here). One comment was, "I would like to see something that tells me what this is. What type of change is it--is it corporate change, is it individual personality change? What type of change are we talking about?" Ouch. 

It was clear that my website needed to change. Even though the reviewer wasn't someone looking for my services, he was someone having difficulty navigating my information. 

My personal challenge was that I really liked my site. Each section was a collection of decisions I had made with the best intentions; they were my best solutions. To realize the benefits of change I had to change what I liked.

Here's how I approached my website redesign that allowed me to move past my "I love this site" bias.

Be clear on purpose
My site objectives are to:
  • Create awareness of what we do and how we do it
  • Build relationships with people who may need our help in the future
All content had to support one of these objects. The new site has 40 percent fewer pages and the remaining ones have been rewritten based on my objectives.

I was surprised to see that a lot of the content was out of date: our client list was missing three new clients, biographies needed updating and our approach to change did not reflect our latest learnings. We will also be updating the "Our Story" video to reflect latest developments.

Begin with the customer in mind
Information on the site needs to answer questions that potential customers would have. The three main questions are:
  • What do they offer?
  • Why should I hire them?
  • How do I contact them?
Now all content answers one of these questions.

Partner with experts in the field
I worked with Krishan Jayatunge who is an excellent webmaster and media professional. He is creative, collaborative and comfortable with giving me honest feedback. I knew that my enthusiasm for a particular idea would not bias his expert perspective. 

Strive for simplicity
The reviewer also commented that the site was confusing. This is understandable, since it had four layers of navigation. My desire to cram as much information onto the site as possible led to complexity and difficult navigation. I was expecting someone to click or scroll up to four times to find what you they looking for. Although the three-click rule of web navigation has been around for years, there is evidence that suggests people want to click only two times to find what they are looking for. Reducing content was the easiest way to reduce complexity.

Adopt a continuous improvement mindset
To avoid similar change challenges in the future, I have taken on a mindset of continuous improvement. Continuous testing and feedback will help me avoid holding onto my preferences. I am committed to and am scheduling regular 'test, learn and update' reviews. 

Today, was relaunched. I think the changes have addressed the feedback I received. It felt good to click through the new pages. My site can always be better though, so please send me a note if you have any feedback. I would appreciate hearing about your preferences.


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