Advice needed for a contract role


I landed a contract role and the first thing they want is to redesign their homepage. First my question is if that is the right approach? To start from one page and not multiple pages? And how should I start? What I am thinking is first asking them what the problem is with the home page. Also thinking about a competitive analysis to see how other top competitors do their layout.


So much this.

But I agree that you need to back up and have a bigger conversation here. Is the contract for UX work or web design? Have they given you some kind of brief?



I didn’t get a brief. They gave me their brand guide and a persona as well it seems. They told me that they want the home page redesigned and want research backing it. That is what gave me the idea of competitor analysis as the research method since it seems to make the most sense. But yea it is both ux and web design but it seems like there is a persona I can work with. Will need to ask them if the persona is based on research or assumptions.


Ah, ok. That makes things a bit different then. I wouldn’t start with a competitor analysis. I’d ignore the competition and focus on your own audience. Research them…


Research them in terms of conducting interviews? Maybe through their social media?


It depends on your budget. You could try surveys or user interviews. More info here:


start with user needs. The clients persona is maybe a start but is probably biased to all hell with business requirements.

Research to get user needs could be desk based competitor stuff or Google Analytics (nice!) and depending on the market finding some prospective users to interview.

Once you have user needs can you begin to build some kind of homepage to hang things off. You’ll also have enough data to build an IA of some sort.


Like @HAWK said, might need to take a step back. Why just the homepage? What are the business goals? Who are the users and what do they need?

Research both with stakeholders and users. Homepages can be contentious, be careful. :slight_smile:


hey. the business goals is more than just the website correct? what should I be looking for when asking them about that?


Right. What is the purpose of the site? What should it achieve for the business?


I think you would want to know as much as you can about the business; their history, mission statement, etc. I’m writing a fictional business plan for one of my classes this semester. I’m amazed at how much information is in those. I believe, and don’t quote me, that the more you know, the better you’ll be able to do.


Yes, echoing what Piper said… Why the homepage? Why did they decide to redesign that page only? What do they hope the redesign will achieve?

Hope that helps!


Hey so I asked questions about the problem and company goals. The problem is that they aren’t making sales on their eCommerce website, they see a big drop at the home page. So it seems most ignore the home page itself. And it isn’t the homepage only to be redesigned, this one was assigned to me but there are other designers working on other pages. I let them know about metrics and how will we measure success and it was if we see an increase in sales. Although I think I should be specific in how much correct? Also I told them if we could bring in users for research and they seemed fine with it. Did I do everything correct or missed some things? Let me know so I can bring it up next time. Or do you think I should do user testing with the current home page instead? My thinking is since there is a drop off at the home page I can do interviews to find out why. Either that or user testing, what do you guys think?


Yes, for users who are abandoning a cart, or exiting from the home page, I’d start with a few types of research. First, I think I’d like to observe a few people engaging with the site for the first time. You can do this remotely, or conduct it in person with a few people you know. It’s important to form your questions ahead of time either way. I’d want to know, when they first see the home page, what they THINK the site is for, what they’d EXPECT it to do, and what they notice first. Then I’d ask where they would go from there.

Depending on what your site sells, I’d construct a couple of tasks. For example, if your site sells shoes, “Please show me how you’d find a pair of shoes in your size, to go out hiking, on a budget under $200, and you want to make sure the shoes will work well in a muddy and wet climate.” Ask them to talk aloud about where they THINK they’d go to do this, and then as they do it whether it is what they expect or not.

Then at least you’ll know whether the site accurately portrays what it does at a glance, and if it matches the mental modeling of a person trying to accomplish a primary task of the site.

That’s a start.


thanks, I appreciate the feedback. I created a script to test some things out and yea I also had some of those in mind. since it’s an e-commerce website that sells jewelry, should I look for users specifically that shop for jewelry or general online shoppers is fine? also is a screener required or are those only for specific cases and not something broad like e-commerce?


Always start with the question you’re trying to answer.

If your question is: “do people shopping for jewelry…?” then you need people shopping for jewelry.
If your question is more “do people who shop online…?” then you can go broad.

Same goes for a screener. A screener helps you find the right people.

Imagine yourself presenting your findings to the group. What insight do you want to give? What questions will you be able to answer? Carefully construct any screener and questions to answer that, and only that.


The goal I have on my script now is to test the homepage for the website. I’ll be looking for certain things and have tasks in mind. Also should the users I look for be current users of the website or completely new users?


How much time do you have?

Also, who primarily uses the home page? Is it returning users? Any chance you can look at the actual web site analytics to know?

What you need to figure out is, what is the home page intended to do? It sounds like it is a place to give some immediate signification to new users about what to do with the site and get them engaged, and at the same time to update returning users and let them get back to what they want to see. Verify what the home page should do, then test with both kinds of users to make sure it’s accomplishing those goals. If time is limited, and you can only test with one group or the other, focus on the goals of the company. Do they want to focus on new business or repeat?


I have a week. I checked the analytics for this year so far and it is definitely mainly new users vs returning. For your question about what the home page is intended to do, should I be deciding that or the stakeholder? I was thinking that the insights from the usability test will give me an idea of what the home page should look like. An earlier conversation with the stakeholder, they mentioned issues retaining users so it should be repeat.


the home page is just a small part. All it does is tell users “yes, this website will fulfil your needs” from which point they can branch off to deeper parts of the site.

One thing you said earlier: different folks are working on different pages. Everyone should be working on everything in a coordinated way.