How you can ensure continued success for your website

Posted 7 March 2017 12:00 AM by Faizan Shaikh, User Engagement Analyst @ ClearPeople

If you've been part of a website delivery team you'll probably agree it's a bit of a rollercoaster. You'll also probably agree that using rollercoasters as a metaphor for emotional peaks and valleys is tired and boring, but just bare with me for a moment. I'm not talking about the highs and lows of the project, but rather how long the ride goes on for...

For instance consider where this rollercoaster's "drop" might be, was it when your designs were getting rejected by your stakeholder? Maybe when you realised you're way over way budget and nowhere near finishing?

I'd say everything before Go-Live is the 'Chain-Pull' (the part that slowly takes you up to a height) and the 'drop' is when you launch your website. How much continued success you have with keeping your visitors engaged and visiting the newly launched website is analogous to how long this ride goes on for after the initial excitement of Go-Live (...or "the drop"). No more rollercoaster terminology after this paragraph

Oftentimes Marketing and Communication teams will be excited at the prospect of Go-Live and miss the wood through the trees. The Website is a marketing/sales tool and needs to be received well when it is first launched...and be continued to be received well through it's course as one of your company's premier lines to your customers and clients.

This month we're going to explore ways to continue your websites success a long way after launch.  

User Needs

"If I want people to continue to use my website, it needs to look nice."

Yes, you're right, it does. But looking great is only a single part of the design, there's so many aspects of your site that needs be driven by you (or your marketing department) based around the needs of your customers/visitors.

The first question you need to ask is whether the website fulfills the needs of your visitor. If the website is not designed to make the visitors objective as easy and pleasant as possible to accomplish, then its worth redesigning the site to make it so. For instance, if you are running a commerce website, then there is a chance that you have a competitor running a commerce website similar to yours. If customers can fulfill their needs (i.e. search for products quicker, checkout easier with a variety of payment options) more completely on your competitor’s website, then you've found your most crucial and urgent change. A user can stomach troublesome website design for their first visit, but after their second or third visit, even the most patient of visitors can feel tested.

Having an experienced pedigree of UX consultants and designers at ClearPeople, we could go on and on about design decisions which will impact your websites continued success. These would include the Look and Feel, Balance of Image to text, User Experience, Mobile Access, Information Architecture and many other important considerations. In the interests of keeping this blog post a succinct read, we'll just stress the importance of making sure your user needs are met by the design.

(Editors Note: We have written a variety of blog posts and whitepapers on the subject of UX, so do check our website Blog for more on this). 

Content is King

The timeless adage of website creators, "Content is King". In short, users will not visit your website if they have no reason to. The most compelling reason to not visit your website is that they've seen it before and they got the gist of what you're trying to say to them. So freshen it up every now and then.

Most organisations, even those without a marketing department, have a message it wants to send out to it's customers and clients. Assuming you have invested in a website, you most likely want your customers and clients to know of your existence. Assuming you want to use your website to it's fullest potential you're going to want to send a message out to your visitors and this is the perfect avenue for new content to be created for your website.

For instance, in your field or industry, has there been a new breakthrough or technology upgrade? Tell your customers about it via a news page. Is there some specialist insight you wish to give your visitors? Consider implementing a blog. These may sound like obvious features to include on a website but they help in a variety of ways; 

  • Keeps your Content Fresh - So your clients and customers have a reason to visit your website more than once. 
  • Keep your visitors informed - Of your products, services and specialist knowledge (leading to a feeling of always being "in the know") 
  • Boosts your website SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) - Meaning your site shows up more often in searches, to help bring you customers. 

Build on your Strengths and know your Weaknesses through Website Analytics

Those of you are more strategically minded know that being both pre-emptive and reactive is important to adapting to your clients and customers needs as they change. Your website can be generating a variety of different data points that can be extracted, transformed and understood to become valuable information for your organisation.

Just to emphasise that point further, it's all well and good that you are able to design a website that follows best practice in design principles and have a solid content strategy, but without being able to monitor user behaviour you're losing a lot of insight into your visitors habits. Without the ability to monitor, you lose the ability to adapt... and without the ability to adapt to the trends in your data, you lose the ability to preemptively strike your visitors with content and an experiences that are relevant to them.

While ClearPeople do not currently favour any specific solution to Website monitoring, we do recommend that a tool is used to keep informed of even the most basic metrics.

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) help you to realise whether your website is reaching the lofty goals your business has set for it to attain. Try defining these so you can better contextualise the data you pull from your website. 
  • Be Careful with 'Vanity Metrics'- 'not all that glitters is gold'. If your data shows an increase in visitation, what does this actually tell you? Is it really a useful metric if you are unable to action or keep the uptrend alive with just that data? 
  • Keep your website KPI's succinct- In this day and age, your CMS can tell you more about your visitors than you care or need to know. Remember to tie back your KPI's to your business goals and try not to get flooded by the minutiae. If our business objective is to increase a certain action on the site, consider a KPI around conversion rates, I.e. of all the people that visited the site/page, how many committed the action you had hoped they would? 
If you have defined your analytics to focus on KPIs you'll find that you are able to better gauge how well your website is acting in accordance with your business goals. To be able to do this implies you will take actions to adjust it if it ever falls below what you consider to be ideal performance, which in turn helps with both continued success of your websites engagement as a marketing tool and it's existence as a strategic asset.

In terms of analytics spend the 90/10 rule is what we'd say is smart. If you have £100 to spend on analytics, spend £10 on reports and data, and £90 on someone who can decipher the data and give actionable advice. Because without a proper understanding of the information, the raw data remains as unused raw data.

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In the foreseeable future we're going to be covering a lot of topics around the continued success of your websites and intranets. While we've only touched the tip of the iceberg with this article, call us up to find out more on any of the above.

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