Feb 8, 2021
By Nikolai Bain
Nothing is ever perfect in its first iteration. If it was, we would all still be rocking the original iPhone. The majority of digital and physical products that exist are constantly going through an iterative refinement process of how it can be better, bit by bit.
Most start-ups will begin their empire by building an MVP, taking it to the market, and seeing how it fares once people start using it.
What's working? What's not? What do people love about it? What do they hate?
They then go back to the drawing board to figure out how they can improve on it, send it back, and the cycle continues.
Build it, get it out there, get feedback, add on to it, and repeat.
This process is an overly summarised version of the agile methodology, and probably one that will annoy those who know it's a lot more technical than that.
But how does this apply to a marketing website?
When a business goes through a website redesign, they often pay big bucks to get it overhauled to something completely new. Once it's been redesigned, it's often not touched again until it's eventually evaluated again years later.
The big problem with this is that, at no point is the website being assessed on how it's performing, so who's to say the original website is really that bad?
Businesses will spend thousands to redesign their website without knowing how their current website performs.
That's like upgrading your laptop to the same model in a different colour because you assumed the silver colour made it slower.
Redesigning your website without the data to back it up can have you spending thousands while having no impact, or could even make your website conversion rates worse.
The alternative is building the agile way, by making small iterative improvements to your website over time.
All major websites are doing exactly this; constantly tweaking their website pages through copy and image changes and in return, slowly turning their websites into a non-stop sales machine.
Slack is known to make major updates and changes to their website constantly, and their conversion rate is among the highest in the industry.
That's no surprise when you know that their website gets over 100 million visitors every single month, so a simple copy change could be the difference between thousands of new customers signing up or not.
When you build based on data, you have metrics to see whether the updates you're implementing are making your conversion rates better, or worse.
This way you can have concrete evidence that the improvements you're making are having a positive impact, and all without having to fork out thousands on a complete redesign.
Here’s an outline for the Agile steps on updating your website:
These are the steps you need to iteratively take to always be improving your website.
To update your website iteratively with improvements, you have to do so based on data. Not surprisingly, if you’re updating iteratively based on ideas you came up with in the shower rather than data, your website will soon be a hot mess.
Make sure you have the tools set up to be able to gather data on your website, and keep in mind that setting them up is only the first step. You’re not going to make any sort of impact if you are setting up tools but then abandoning them never to be looked at again.
If you want to start improving your website, you have to go back through your analytics on a regular basis to be able to evaluate and implement tweaks.
I would recommend that you set aside a chunk of time to go through your data on a monthly basis. You want to make insights depending on what's changed, what's new, and what's unusual.
You then take your insights, implement changes to your website based on them, and go through the same process after a month to see if it's helped.
When you find it too hard to say what's happening based on the data, you can always go through a round of user testing and give tasks based on what you need to know more about.
For example, if you have a high bounce rate on one of your product sign-up pages, you could user-test this page and ask your tester if there is any information that is missing to help them sign-up without worrying.
The other way to work iteratively is to implement changes with A/B tests. By doing this, you can test your new change with the old design, and be sure that any updates you make are helping.
If you decide to go down the A/B testing route, make sure you have enough users visiting your website to ensure a clear result.
If 14 people are signing up compared to 8 with the old design, then it's not concrete enough to say it's working better. If 400 people sign up instead of 100 people with the old design, there you're going to have a lot more confidence that the new design is superior.
Anything that is created once and not revisited for improvements is going to be set up for diminishing returns over time.
As with a digital or physical product, you want to constantly be creating new hypotheses about how you can make your marketing website better and more effective based on data. From there, you want to implement changes and set up tests to ensure your changes are having a positive impact.
By working iteratively, you know that you are working towards a website that is optimised for peak performance.
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