I am not a webdesigner, but I know a great webdesign when I see one. People and companies are changing their webdesigns constantly as a result of the hard competition to become one of the top sites in their niche on the Internet. I am not sure how many years a “great” webdesign can last, but to me it doesnīt seem to last for that long. Two of the sites that I have been used to visiting for a few years are Amazon and PayPal and I think that both of them have been with the original design for a long time. But now, PayPal are finally doing some changes. Well, I like their design and I am not sure if they really need a new one, but it doesnīt seem that their new design is entirely new. It looks a lot like the old one, but with some new elements.
There are many ways to test a webdesign, but one of the best I have seen in a while is from PayPal (the link opens up in a new window) and I saw it yesterday. I am not sure how long they have been testing it. I am not commenting their new design (it it will be their new design), but this is just a comment about how well they are doing when it comes to testing the new webdesign.
I believe that there are two ways of relaunching a site with a new webdesign (there are probably many more, but I will concentrate on the two for this post). You can either just make the new webdesign that you think will be perfect for your site and then launch it, or you can make the new design and then ask your visitors what they think about it before you decide to launch it.
The second way is the best way (according to my experience). Your readers opinions are what really counts. It doesnīt matter how good you think the new design is if your readers donīt like it. Always listen to your readers. Many webmasters sends out questionairies to their visitors or to their optin-lists and asks them a lot of questions about the new design. Many visitors might feel bothered to get e-mails like that, and again might donīt want to have anything to do with you after sending out something like that (I am not like that, I would love to answer something like that if itīs short and easy).
Instead of sending a questionairy you could do it the PayPal way. At the moment they are testing a new design for their website and they are doing it by using their “old” design but with a small link at the top (with a grey background) and it says “Preview the new PayPal Homepage”. Look at the images below to see how it works.
If you are interested, you can click on the preview link. If you do, you get to see the new design, and when you are “finished” looking at the new design you can click at the same place, a different link with a different text saying “Switch back to the original PayPal”. After you do that, you will get a short questionairy about how your experience with this new webdesign was. It takes about 1 minute to answer.
Why is this a great way to test if a webdesign works or not?
First, only users that would like to preview the new design will click on it. You will not bother anybody by doing it this way. Second, you will only get the opinions of people who have actually seen the new site and who wants to share their opinion with you. Third, you get to track how many people that have actually seen the new design and you can probably think that if they donīt leave an opinion they are not strongly against the new webdesign.
What I donīt know for sure yet, is what happens if people donīt switch back to the original PayPal design, but just leave the site. I have tried not to switch back myself, and then I didnīt get the questionairy. This is a way not to get people / customers upset. PayPal are not using the exit pop-up method, and thatīs a good thing, but they might lose some great feedback.