04
MAY 2010

Posted by Nicole at 01:42 PM EDT

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How To Redesign Your Homepage: A Bootstrapped Process

This blog is part how-to, part documentary, and part funny. It is the story about the OnSIP.com homepage redesign.

The story begins when I joined the OnSIP marketing team - a few months back. I was immediately supposed to work on our social outreach and some new marketing campaigns. But, to Rob's dismay, one of my first statements was, "We need to redesign our homepage."

Today, a homepage is a company's face to its customers. This is especially true for web-based apps, like OnSIP. When a company focuses on SEO, SEM, social outreach, and ads, the majority of these backlinks point to a homepage. So, it makes sense that you should put some maketing magic and analysis into your homepage.

Eventually, Rob caved, and we began the journey to a homepage redesign.

We are a small business. (We don't have a large design team on the 99th floor somewhere.) The major players in the homepage redesign were Joe, Rob, Leo, and I. As a team, we wanted to bootstrap our design process and make the decisions, ourselves. The major hurdle here was our differing ideas on what makes a good homepage. Plus, three of us are pretty stubborn. (Joe is the only polite one). This could have been a smack down. We needed some structure.

So, we set up a game plan:

  • 1. Stick with our Drupal backend, and only redesign the homepage. The purpose of this is to limit the size of the project and increase the speed, keeping the development in-house without disrupting our other development. And, to limit Nicole (me) from more wild ideas.

  • 2. Use CrowdSPRING for design concepts. This is to bootstrap our design process while taking advantage of, essentially, a global design team.

  • 3. Add a focus on our plethora of dynamic content that few people know about and to our Share buttons. The dynamic content includes: our Knowledgebase, blog, and Developer API. This is to help build our community, and to relieve Leo from manual labor of changing content on the homepage.

  • 4. Follow design guidelines from people who know what they're talking about. This is to ensure our homepage turns out to be appealing, intuitive, and clean. And, to limit Rob from his excessive use of words on homepages. I found this great Web 2.0 How-To guide. In fact, using this article, we created a system to rate the design concepts we received. The rating categories were:

    • Simplicity
    • Central layout
    • Fewer columns
    • Separate top section
    • Solid areas of screen real-estate
    • Simple nav
    • Cute icons
    • Gradients
  • 5. Use tabs and video. Because we have a lot of information to present, which tabs are good for. And, because video is cool.

  • 6. Ask our customers, our sales team, and our engineers what people like about OnSIP. (We did this via phone, email, and Twitter.) Then, pare down those messages to the main points and ensure we express them to potential customers in each tab.

  • 7. Ask our customers and internal team to rate and provide feedback on the design concepts. (We did this by keeping our design project public and using CrowdSPRING's share on Twitter/Facebook feature.)

  • 8. Have a meeting to choose a design, and don't have lunch until a design is chosen. The choosing process is based on our rating guidelines and others' feedback on CrowdSPRING. The lunch limitation is to ensure a design is chosen in a timely fashion as people will eventually care more about food than personal preferences on website graphics.

Following our game-plan, we were able to manage a design process in about 2 months at a totally reasonable price. Plus, we feel more confident in the design and messaging because it was a group effort. The main message you see is

The smart approach to business phone service

This is our way of saying that we have a smart software platform with endless possibilities; we have a smart team of engineers and salespeople; and, we have smart customers who have total control of their phone system at a reasonable price.

The homepage launched yesterday, and we've already received positive feedback. Moving forward, we'll be making a few tweaks here and there, so we're open to suggestions. Oh and, SHOUT OUT to The Jar Group, featured in the video in the header. Thanks again!