Using Research to Create Impactful Websites

Jeffrey Zeldman was a featured speaker at An Event Apart in Washing, D.C. and gave a presentation called “From Research to Redesign.” It got us think about the ways we counsel our clients when redesigning their websites.

Zeldman, who you may recognize as the founder of e-magazine “A List Apart” is an acknowledged leader in all things websites: coding, design, US, accessibility, copy, SEO, etc. so when he said “research” BEFORE redesign, we sat up and listened.

Whether we’re creating a brilliant new website or designing holiday postcards for a client, research is the key to success. Learning, planning, and preparation determine the success of any project or campaign.

Understanding your market better than your competitors is key to becoming the solution to your audience’s pain points. Here’s a simple overview of what you need to ask before beginning your next website update:

Know Your Audience

Where are they at today and where do they want to be tomorrow? What is preventing them from moving? What do they value? Based on your quantitative analytics from applications like Hotjar and Google Analytics develop qualitative questions to understand their website user behavior.

Listen and Ask Questions

Effective communication is more about listening than speaking. Hold a focus group and have ask open-ended questions that allow for a free flow of discussion among your stakeholders. You’ll gain valuable insights from their organic responses. As Zeldman says, “You don’t have to be an expert to have a conversation.”

Define Goals

What is it you really want for your business? You can’t develop an effective website if you’re focused solely on its features. A website is a business tool to help you achieve your larger business goals. If you don’t know where you want your business to go, your website won’t take you anywhere.

Clear Direction

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work on that beautiful new website. You’ve gathered insightful information and established clear goals. Let’s figure out exactly how to put that information to work for you.


Before you ever launch your website, you need to establish metrics. How will you know if your website is delivering for you? When, and how often, will you measure? How will you measure specific campaigns? These are all important measurements to take on a regular basis to ensure your website remains a vital business investment.

Zeldman’ s three-day conferences are an annual event and bring to life what you read about in “A List Apart” through engaging speakers and presentations. We originally attended an event in July 2018, and have since updated this post reflect current trends.