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Web Site Redesign: user research is critical

June 2, 2006 by  

Does your client think the Web site redesign can be done without benefit of any basic research? That’s a sure sign of trouble ahead.

You need to understand how the site is currently being used, who is visiting and are their needs being met.

You can gather this information from a variety of sources:
– Primary research
– Secondary research
– Site logs
– Interviews with stakeholders
– Customer service

If you can’t get the above, set up an online survey triggered by site visitors. If you want to assess customers, set up a survey triggered when a customer logs into his account. If you have email addresses for consumers who registered at the site for something, send an email inviting them to participate in research. In my experience, inviting 50,000 consumers by email usually yields 1,500 completed surveys within 72 hours. That’s a significant representative sample to gain some learnings from.

Questionnaire design is an art form. Most research professionals keeping survey length to 10 questions max. Best is to sketch out what the most critical learnings your after. Then prioritize the questions, rewrite and rewrite again until you’ve come up with a good balance. Don’t forget to include 2-3 profile questions at the end to help segment your responders.

A good survey should:
1. Set expectations upfront as to what you want the participant to do and how long it should take.
2. Include clear, easy to understand questions. Include instructions (e.g. Please select one of the following choices.)
3. Set expectations as to how much longer the survey will take (e.g. “Almost done, just 3 more questions please.”)
4. Use form field validation to ensure you questions are answered.
5. Be error free. No spelling errors, confusing text or broken functionality.
6. Include a thank you message at the end.

Interested? Check out these easy to use and relatively inexpensive online survey tools:
Insight Express
Zoomerang
Survey Monkey

What do you think? Please post your comments. Thanks.
-Roland

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