When your company identification has aged a bit (or if it was never a good fit to begin with), when your website doesn’t communicate what your business is all about, when the visual communication with your customers is not cohesive - it might be time to do a redesign.
Don’t worry, we’ve been there. Historic corporate identity that communicated values from a bygone era was the main problem, but we also struggled with clearly displaying our catalogue of services on our website. Adding new services to a fossilised website architecture was a chore. We also thought we could communicate with clients better using more cohesive visuals and wanted to adopt a customer-centric approach, with a client-first message in all of our content.
We were pretty sure this would improve conversion rates.
Redesigning what isn’t broken
Our website worked, but no longer suited our needs. Something had to be done.
We wanted to consider all factors, not just the visuals. Michał Parulski, one of our senior designers, led the design team during the project. Michał mostly worked directly with Radek Zaleski, our Head of Growth, who was responsible for the whole project and acted as the client. Radek is fantastic at clearly stating requirements and getting into a role: he answered questions, helped establish the goals and problems to solve together. The team analysed what worked by conducting an internal UX review on the previous version of the website - this helped us avoid cases of reinventing the wheel.
How do you know you need a redesign?
We wanted to really get into the workings of things and find out what could be improved. Little things can have a huge impact on conversion. We assumed that we just didn’t have the data - nobody had ever asked themselves these questions before. And the visual design of our website was... well. Suffice it to say that its time had come.
It was easy for Michał to treat Netguru as a client, since he was “still new at the company”. We had to figure out what to improve and how. We know the importance of this process - of taking a pragmatic approach and analysing the situation with focus on business and goals. In fact, we always try to educate clients about this. We didn’t need to educate ourselves. “Netguru was one of my easiest clients to work with,” jokes Michał.
We’ve improved many of our processes in a very natural way because our workflow keeps evolving to accommodate our ever-growing team and scope of services. Still, most of the rules we use today originated during the redesign project. It was a bit of a revolution.
The process and the people involved
Michał, Radek and a PM. The project was an internal one and had one major problem: the team kept changing. It all depended on what resources were available at any given moment. Client projects always take priority. But Michał, Radek and the PM, Agnieszka Stanisławska, plus at least one developer at a time, were the core of the team.
They started with a bunch of calls with Radek and establishing Netguru’s needs. They chose a target group to keep in mind when creating the new designs. One of the main decisions was that our website has two main tasks and attracts two main types of users: potential future employees and potential clients.
The team established the main needs of these two groups. For potential employees, it was convincing them to work for us, and for potential clients, it was establishing trust and our image as a company that can deliver a complete, successful project.
Stats from Google Analytics indicated that about 60% of our traffic comes from Poland and 40% comes from abroad. Since 99% of Netguru’s employees are from Poland and only 1% of employees live abroad, it stood to reason that the 60% percent were potential employees from Poland, and the 40% were potential clients.
If we were more international, it would have been more difficult to figure this out, but this was a safe assumption for us.
Another thing we noticed was the devices from which users (both potential clients and potential employees) accessed our website. Turns out it’s mostly desktops. Tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices amounted to about 6-8% of all traffic on our website. It was clear to us we should focus on the desktop version, since that was what users were interacting with. Meanwhile, the mobile version could wait for its turn. The time we would have to spend on the mobile version just wasn’t worth it when compared to the benefits we would get from it.
The next step was to analyse our competition and see what interesting solutions they had implemented. The team analysed a lot of content and created a moodboard with inspirational material on Trello. Michał also created a document with the pros and cons of various solutions.
The next step was creating the architecture of information. The main page was the biggest challenge. The team had to decide which target group to focus on when telling the story of the main page. They decided we don’t need to give extra motivation to potential employees and should focus all our effort on clients.
The story we tell is not about us
The team decided the story of the main page shouldn’t be about Netguru, but about what our clients can gain by working with us. Documenting this with solid results, numbers and other proof was a priority. We also wanted to inform clients about what we could do for them (what services we offer), as well as show the real value we’ve brought to particular projects and the numbers that represent this (case studies of our clients’ projects, real examples of increasing conversion or engagement rates, etc.)
Another thing the team focused on was the content Netguru creates. Not just blog posts, but also internal community projects we create, such as Inbbbox, which helps designers find inspiration on Dribbble on mobile devices. Informative materials, such as ebooks, open source projects and reports that give readers actual value are also part of Netguru’s content strategy.
Analysing our previous website showed us that we created a lot of useful content, but didn’t showcase it. That was a huge waste.
Working with other teams was a must. The HR department was helpful when the team worked on the careers page. The HR team described the questions they get from candidates that they could avoid by getting them answered on the site. It was crucial to engage people who had direct contact with our target users. They knew what needed to be conveyed to users and was missing from the previous version of the site.
The process - nuts and bolts
Next, the team moved to the prototyping phase - wireframes. They did low fidelity sketches first, on paper, which later evolved into interactive prototypes.
Then they focused on visual design. It had to be consistent with Netguru’s new branding. The website was an important element we took into consideration when building our new visual language (which was created by an external studio). We had to implement it digitally so this was a fairly time-consuming process. Everything we did at this stage had direct impact on all other materials we prepared. It established the direction in which we had to go.
Technical limitations were a major challenge. We use Hubspot, which determines the amount of flexibility we have in using visual techniques, interactions, etc. Landing pages had to be editable, so we needed to build them out of modules that could be easily changed or swapped. The site had to look good and function well even without certain parts.
That was the end of the main stage of creating the product. Still, we knew from the beginning that the process would never end. Many clients forget about this - they think launching a product marks the day on which we stop working on product design. That’s not true - this is when we verify our assumptions, correct those that were wrong and continue evolving the product.
We try to educate our clients about this, which is why we’re creating new design services, such as product checkout, during which we analyse our assumptions and watch how real users interact with the product.
Our main methods are A/B tests, which showed how single changes had an influence on our conversion rates. We used scroll maps (how far down the user scrolls) and heat maps (where they click most often). We also had recordings of our users’ behaviour to see what paths they followed on the site.
One notable example was a landing page we built for free downloadable content. We used a box in which users could write down their email and then click a download button. We discovered that users didn’t immediately notice the text input box and started by clicking the button, only to be disappointed by the fact that they had to meet a condition before the download could begin.
What was accomplished as compared to what goals we set for ourselves
We wanted to get more clients and more candidates. We set fairly specific goals for ourselves, such as having more candidates apply for jobs and improving user experience. We also wanted to make the HR department’s work easier by preemptively answering questions they usually get from applicants. This had a direct impact on their efficiency and helped them save time.
We met all of our goals (partially because we were smart about setting them). The main one was to increase the number of clients that engage us through the website - and this we did indeed accomplish.
First of all, we lowered page load time by 30%. This had a direct impact on user experience and simply made our website more usable. We saw a 50% increase in traffic on the homepage, and a 100% increase in traffic to the ‘services’ tab. The impact on our business was significant as well. We observed a 60% increase in Marketing Qualified Leads month to month and a 100% increase in the number of Sales Qualified Leads. No need to explain how that helped us - the redesign was an integral element of our growth strategy as a company.
What we could have done better is user testing with our competition’s solution. We evaluated them, but those evaluations were not as reliable as data gathered from users would have been.
It’s crucial to engage people who won’t be involved directly in the project, but who have specific knowledge about parts of it. Anyone can introduce value. Your job as a designer is to go to them, listen and turn their input into practical, actionable solutions. Designers need to talk to people and use the experience of others to decide what will introduce the most value and meet their clients’ goals. People who have contact with real users can help a project immensely.
This article couldn't have been written without the help of Michał Parulski.