Continuous Improvement: Extending the Life of Your Website
Sarah Chula, Account Executive, Strategic Marketing
Continuous Improvement, the third and final stage of the Growth-Driven Website Design Process, is also the final installment of our three-part Growth-Driven Design blog series.
Missed the first two stages? Here’s a quick recap:
Much like traditional website design, Growth-Driven Web Design is all about understanding your audience and how you can solve their problems. During the strategy phase you set performance goals, develop persona profiles, chart customer journeys and leverage your existing site’s analytics and user research. In doing so, the guesswork is removed from the equation—establishing in its place a strong understanding of your business goals and website users.
Launch Pad Phase
Upon completion of the Strategy Phase, the next phase of development is the LaunchPad website. The Launch Pad is a fully functioning website that looks and performs better than what you have today, but it is not a final product. The Launch Pad is where all the essential components necessary to help your visitors understand your business and activate them to seek more information is determined and developed. Once the Launch Pad site is live, it can be used to immediately collect user data so that you begin to identify high-impact website improvements that through continuous improvement, will help spark business growth.
The last stage of the Growth-Driven Website Design Process, and the topic of this blog, is Continuous Improvement.
The Continuous Improvement Cycle
Continuous website improvement is the process of constantly updating and improving your website through incremental changes that are based on site analytics, performance metrics and user research and feedback. Taking a continuous improvement approach allows you to improve and reap the benefits of new features quickly, as opposed to traditional website design, where you may not see results for months, or even years.
At this point, we have launched the new site, and we have real users interacting with it. Their behavioral data will tell you what they think is important and help guide you to make impactful continuous improvements.
Already have an existing website?
No problem, you can use your existing website as your LaunchPad and jump right to continuous improvement.
The continuous improvement cycle consists of 4 steps:
1. Plan: Every plan starts with a focus metric that you want to improve. Every month, determine and prioritize the most important/impactful actions that will provide value to your website visitors and achieve your goals.
To help prioritize, review the current performance of the website and contrast it with your goals. This will help alert you to important opportunities. Once complete, prioritize the highest impact ideas and develop action items for each one.
Generally speaking, you can categorize your action items to fit within the following four buckets:
Since website updates will come up from time to time, you can add a fifth “bucket” for General Website Updates.
2. Build: This is the “get stuff done” phase, when you set into motion the priority items identified in planning. Continual monitoring is important here to ensure goals and measurements are being achieved.
Experiment with each action item you implement, and measure the impact it has on website performance. Measure your experiments by setting up validation tracking.
3. Learn: A key part to optimization is reviewing experiments and analyzing data to extract learnings about your audience.
Learning what works (and what doesn’t work) will help inform the ideas generated in the planning step of your next sprint cycle.
4. Transfer: Once you’ve learned about your audience and customers, it’s time to share those learnings with other parts of the company, including marketing, sales, service, etc.
Cross-department collaboration helps your growth team better understand how to make adjustments for peak performance.
Benefits of Implementing a Continuous Improvement Approach:
Compared to a traditional web design project, continuous improvement provides better results for several reasons:
- Quicker launch for new websites
- Site changes/updates are based off real data from your users, allowing you to make more informed decisions
- Allows more flexibility for A/B testing
- Extends the lifecycle of your website because you are constantly making improvements
Your Website is Never “Done”
It’s important to keep in mind that things change—and they change quickly. From design elements to Google’s latest SEO algorithms to changes in how users want to interact with websites, the digital industry is always evolving. Over time, your site can become outdated and may not be performing as well as it once did. Continuous website improvement offers you a way to extend the life of your website through ongoing monitoring and by addressing needed changes incrementally.
If you want to learn more about taking a continuous website improvement approach to your website, contact Sarah Chula, Account Executive, Strategic Marketing.