Sometimes, business people think of their website as an ornament or an accessory. Everyone else seems to have one, so they decide to get one too.
They build the website—or they hire someone like us to build it—and once they have gone through it with a fine-tooth comb and analyzed all the minute details to make sure it is absolutely perfect, they take it "live." The average length of one of these website build projects is about 12-16 weeks, though sometimes it can last much, much longer.
After the site languishes on the internet for a year or two or five, these business owners might decide to update it. So they start from scratch (trends and user behaviors change a lot in half a decade). They throw away the old and start the whole 12-16 week process over. The new site goes live again and and sits for another stretch of time. And then the process starts all over again.
As you may have sensed already, there are some major problems with this approach to web design. Here are some things you should know about your website and what it means for your business.
Your business website isn’t just an accessory. It’s one of the most important tools in your toolkit.
Now, some readers may be thinking, “Wait a second, we don’t use our site for that much. It’s just a couple of pages that give visitors some basic info on our business.”
Certainly, a website will mean more to some businesses than to others. But here’s the thing: These days, if people can’t find info about you online, it’s almost like you don’t exist.
Even if you don’t sell anything through your site, it still lies at the heart of your overall marketing efforts. And if you must change your site to help meet your marketing goals, you need to make those changes as soon as possible. Which brings us to…
As we hinted at above, the traditional approach to web design has some serious flaws:
In our experience, there’s a better approach. It’s called Growth-Driven Design or Website Optimization:
Growth-Driven Design/Website Optimization has three steps:
You gain an empathetic understanding of your users and determine what they want your site to do for them.
You build your site so that it meets your users’ core needs. No fussing over bells and whistles—you just set up the bare necessities. Any extra stuff you’d like the site to have can go onto a wish list.
Once your site goes live, you analyze how people actually use it on a regular basis. Next, you can make changes to your site based on that documented user behavior. This is also the stage in which you can begin implementing your wish list items as priority and budget allows.
Optimizing your website isn’t a one-shot deal—it’s a continuous process. Develop a strategy, build a launch pad website accordingly, collect data and then make improvements (based on that data) as you go.