4 Key Steps To Build A Peak-Performing Website
Editor's Note: Mike is off blog duty this week. We'll be featuring blog posts authored by a few other members of the Square 2 Marketing team. Happy reading!
Ask yourself, “How important is my website to my business?” If you’re like most, your website likely plays a pretty critical role in the success of your business.
Yet as important as websites are, why do many businesses spend so little time developing a peak-performing website? It’s common to launch a site and let it sit for three to five years with little or no improvements.
It’s time to take a step back and look at how to build and improve websites over time and develop a better process. Let’s take a look at four key practices to incorporate into your web design process that help build peak-performing websites.
1. Learn About Your Visitors
Modern technology has opened the door to make it easy for marketers to learn a great deal about their website visitors.
It’s easier, cheaper and quicker than ever to run qualitative, quantitative and observational research to gain insights on how visitors are behaving and what they are looking for.
Sound confusing? It’s not!
There are many different ways to learn about your visitors. Selecting the right research tools and methods depends on what questions you’re trying to answer.
One example of research methods is click heat mapping. A click heat map will show you how real website users are trying to click and navigate around your website.
This observational data helps you answer questions about what is important to visitors and where there is friction or confusion while navigating around your website.
Learning about your visitors is so important because it helps you understand the most impactful things to be building and improving on your website (as we’ll explore below in #2 and #3).
2. Rapid Launches – Fixing A Broken Process
The traditional website redesign process is totally broken. It focuses on a series of uninformed big bets, which often results in a lack of performance, budget overages, poor efficiency and deadline failures. To create a peak-performing website we need a different process.
- The Big Bet (Traditional) – You give your marketing team all of the website requirements and the team goes off into its “backroom bubble” for four to six months to build a site the team members think will do well.
The problem is that your team has to make a lot of assumptions and guesses (based on industry best practices, latest trends and previous experience) about what will perform well.
Then you launch the website (which is basically one big educated guess) and hope it does well. After it’s launched, it ends up sitting for three to five years with little or no improvements.
- Small Educated Bets (Agile) – In a user-driven process, your team works quickly to get something simple, yet effective out into the hands of real people in the real world in 30 to 45 days.
Once in the real world, your team can research and observe how real people are interacting with the website and choose the most effective and efficient tasks to improve your websites results .
Now you’re not guessing anymore. Your marketing team can build and improve the website based on research, data and what visitors are telling you.
No more “backroom bubbles” — only real-world interactions. No more wasting time and resources or guessing.
To create a peak-performing website, it’s absolutely critical that you shift your website build process to an Agile, lean and user-driven process.
3. Iterative And Continuous Improvement
It’s important to change how you view your website from a “set-it-and-forget-it” mindset to “our website is a living, evolving marketing asset.”
As you’re continuously learning more about your users, you can determine the most impactful things to improve on your website. Generally speaking, they will fall within one of these three buckets:
- Conversion Rate Optimization – Improving the conversion points on the website to move users more efficiently and effectively through the conversion funnel.
- Improved User Experience – Increasing the usability and flow for users to keep them on your website and help them find what they are looking for. After all, you cannot convert a user if they don't stick around or can't find what they came for.
- Building Marketing Assets – Creating new premium resources, tools, blogs and pages that hold great value to the user. This is often something users would be willing to pay for, but you offer for free. These key assets will help make you a search and conversion magnet.
To build a peak-performing website, you must build a process that lets your team continuously work on improving the site so that each month the site is performing better than the month before.
4. Inform Marketing And Sales
Through all of this user research and website improvement, your web and marketing teams are learning some very interesting things about your audience.
This information is important for not only the web and marketing teams, but also all of the teams across the company. Additionally, it’s very likely that your marketing, sales and services teams are also learning about your audience by working on the “front lines” directly with them.
Building steps into your process that facilitate various teams to collaborate with and educate one another on what they’ve learned about the user will improve your business’s overall results.
If you’ve read this far, you’re likely saying to yourself, “Wow, this sounds like a very different website design process than what I’m doing today. Where do I start?”
You’re in luck. There’s a web design methodology and process that incorporates all of these key activities and more, and it’s called growth-driven design.
Growth-driven design is a smarter approach to web design and is quickly becoming the preferred method to driving results from your website.
The traditional web design model is crippling companies trying to compete in today’s rapidly evolving business environment.
Not only doesn’t it deliver the results your business or agency needs, but you’re also leaving yourself extremely vulnerable to project failure.
As part of a comprehensive inbound marketing program, growth-driven design is the new gold standard for successful website redesigns that deliver business value you can measure. This smarter, more Agile, data-guided methodology produces high-performing websites that deliver the information your prospects and clients are searching for.
To learn more about Agile growth-driven design and building a peak-performing website for your business, schedule a free website assessment with Square 2 Marketing.