How long has it been since your website was built? You might have built it yourself a decade ago or maybe you hired an agency to re-build it in the last 3-5 years. We hear from a lot of clients who say they “feel” that it’s time to re-launch, re-fresh, or just plain re-do their website. At Sixth Man, we try to take “feelings” out of the equation (though we definitely empathize). We advise our clients to focus on what their website needs to accomplish. Once you’ve established the goals and KPI’s (key performance indicators) there are tried and true techniques to discover how your website can best support those goals. We’ve outline four ways to identify what to update and why.
Here are four ways to prevent headaches, upset customers, and most importantly, sales.
- Analytics – What is happening on your current site? Where are users getting stuck? Are goals getting accomplished? These are all questions easily answered by diving into the analytics of your current website. By setting up custom segments and dashboards, you’re able to see the user-behavior of specific visitor groups. What pages are users viewing most before making a purchase? What is convincing them to sign up for your newsletter? Understanding your users is good first-step to analyzing your current site and determine what is working and what isn’t. Installing Google Analytics is fairly painless for basic use and adding additional resources like CrazyEgg and KISSmetrics will provide deeper insight to how your website is being used by your target audience.
- User Testing – The amount of people who skip out on this process when building (or re-launching) a website blows my mind. How do users navigate your site? Can they find what they’re looking for easily? User testing addresses these questions directly. Whether it involves extensive live-testing or even just having a few buddies poke around on your dev build to find where people are getting lost will help immensely. BONUS POINTS: Have a prototype built to quickly test your designs without doing any coding! Programs like InVision and Axure great for gaining awesome insight and both include mobile versions as well. Handing your developer a prototype to work from is also going to save you a lot of time and money.
- Research – If you’re feeling the need to update your website, chances are that a business similar to yours already has. What have others done in your industry? Dig around and pay close attention to page elements, their website placement, and how they likely affect conversions. Don’t be limited to any particular site (and don’t be afraid to look outside of your industry as well) as most competitive companies are actively A/B testing their own websites to improve conversion rates. A great example is the adoption of One-Click shopping across a variety of brands such as Amazon, Dominoes, and Walmart as they try to eliminate cart-abandonment issues. A powerful method of checking into other website’s changes over time is using the Wayback Machine which provides snapshots of former versions of websites.
- Ask Your Customers – Adding a survey tool to your site will give your users the opportunity to provide feedback about why they arrived on certain pages, if it was helpful, or what they felt was missing. Take user feedback and criticism with high-regard, as they’re the ones who will be using it (hopefully) regularly. Qualaroo is a great tool to accomplish this with a clean UI that won’t upset your customers with obnoxious pop-ups.
Rebuilding a website is a true test of understanding your customers needs. Do you know what they really want from your website? How can you best provide it that experience for them? Answering these questions before you take the leap will save you a heap of time and cash.