Finally! It’s done! You just spent the last several months going through a website redesign and it’s finally live. Now it’s time to sit back and relax right? Although celebration is definitely in order, the fact of the matter is that your website is never truly done. As cliché as it may sound, it’s the truth. If you wish to remain competitive, you must continue to evolve and adapt. Just think if someone hadn’t updated their website since mobile usage skyrocketed? The out of date site wouldn’t display well on mobile phones causing users to have a poor experience and bounce rates to skyrocket.
Now that is a pretty drastic example. But the message is loud and clear. Websites must continuously adapt to changes in the industry, technology, society, etc. That’s why we recommend a continuous improvement cycle for any website. Whether your website just launched, or your site has been working for you for some time, everyone can benefit from continuous improvement.
So why is continuous improvement important?
There are a number of benefits you have to improving your site.
- You can test and confirm hypotheses about what is effective on your site. You can see how users perceive your site and company as a whole.
- Collecting data on your users will allow you to make changes to better optimize your site for search engines, UI/UX, conversion rate optimization (CTR) and much more.
- In addition, you may find new opportunities to better engage your users or provide additional value that you don’t have currently.
- Keep up with the times. As mentioned, things change. Technology changes, trends change, style changes. Your website (being the face of your company) needs to be able to keep up.
Unless you have a finger on the pulse of your website performance, you’ll surely fall behind your competitors.
Who can benefit from implementing a continuous improvement cycle?
Everyone! As mentioned before, if you hope to stand a chance in this competitive market, your new site should be launched with specific next steps in mind. But if your site is a few years old and you haven’t thought about how effective it is, now is the time to start. However, depending on your situation, you may want to approach it a little differently:
New Sites: Hopefully your site was designed and built with conversion paths in place. These are a set of specific user actions we want them to take. This can ultimately lead to signing up for a demo, requesting a consultation or maybe even something as simple as watching a video. Putting some thought and strategy into guiding the user down these paths is the first step in making a website that is more than just a business card.
But let’s assume you have some conversion points set in place. What’s next? You should identify the specific metrics you want to test. Don’t be afraid to add/edit/remove as needed. These should be indicators of performance and how well you’re trending toward your focus metric. Because your site is brand new, you won’t have much data to work from. So know what you hope to achieve, and then start measuring how well you’re doing getting there.
Tip: If you are redesigning a current website, try and gather as many metrics as you possibly can before making the switch. The better baseline you can set with your current site, the more you can track the effectiveness of the design and strategy that went into your new site.
Existing Sites: Unlike brand new sites, existing sites have some history behind them. This can be good for getting a performance baseline as mentioned above, but does present some unique challenges. One challenge is that older sites can be sometimes forgotten (Especially if you never had a continuous improvement plan in place). This can lead to outdated material and lack of visibility into performance. So the first step is to take an audit of your current site. In addition to auditing the site, it’s best to also audit your business plan, materials, content strategy, etc. Knowing where you’re at and where you’re going is critical to improving the website.
What do you improve?
It’s easy to say well, the site? But that’s not very helpful. What specifically should one look at to improve? The Growth Driven Design methodology explains that every website has a hierarchy of needs. Each step is a prerequisite for the next and they build on each other. Depending on where you are at will determine what you should focus on improving:
Website Hierarchy of Needs:
- Audience – the first step is to build traffic to your site. Depending on your business, traffic metrics will vary. On average, for decent size markets you’ll want to shoot for 2,000 – 3,000 visits per month.
- Value – is your website providing value? Knowing why users come to your website and making sure you provide that information is crucial to the success of your site.
- Usability – How user friendly is your site? Are users getting stuck? Do they follow the intended conversion paths? You want to make sure visitors can easily “shop” your site.
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO) – How are users converting on your site? You should be tracking your click through rates for any calls-to-action you have on the site. How many people complete the desired actions from start to finish?
- Stickiness – You don’t want users to immediately leave the site. Focus on driving users deeper into the site through more pages and more clicks. Increasing time on site and decreasing bounce rates will result in increased conversions.
- Personalization – Once the site is converting, consider using personalization in your website and emails to further engage users with a more personal connection.
- Assets – Build assets for your users. Having offers like eBooks, white papers, guides, demos, resources, etc. allows you to provide more value to your visitors. Gating these offers behind landing pages also allows you to increase your leads generation efforts.
- Promoters- Once everything is working perfectly, find your biggest promoters and help turn them into evangelists. Use them to reach other influencers and build an organic promotion base that works on and offline for you constantly.
How do you improve?
GDD uses a simple 4 step process for improvement.
The goal of this approach is to effectively implement a strategy and close the reporting loop with the rest of the team so that everyone can share the knowledge gained through the improvement cycle. First you determine the most impactful action items to implement. These will get you closer to your focus metric goal. Then you implement through a collaborative sprint to build the highest impact agenda items quickly and efficiently. After you’ve implemented these, you analyze the data to gain a deeper understanding of the users in order to make future decisions that drive more value. Then you help the other teams improve their efforts by informing them of what you learned (and vice versa).
So how does this keep you competitive?
As we’ve seen, there is a lot of thought and strategy that goes into continuous improvement. This is all driven by data as opposed to assumptions. By staying on top of your website performance, you can implement and test hypotheses that will provide better user experiences and ultimately deliver more value to the business. By adjusting to changes in your industry, with technology, or trends with your audience, you can remain at the forefront of the market and ensure your digital presence is effectively working for you.